Image By: Caitlin Worthington on DeviantArt
Never Talk to Ghosts
By: Robin Gagnon
“I can’t believe what she’s wearing,” one of Victoria’s friends muttered, staring at a girl wearing a puke green coloured turtle neck. “Did she pick that out on purpose? Or does her mom hate her?”
The table laughed and Victoria flipped a strand of light brown hair over her shoulder. She hadn’t eaten much of her salad, but that was because that little kid was back again and standing behind one of her friends.
She poked her fork into a cucumber and tried not to let the little boy’s intent staring get to her. After all, no one else at the table could see him.
“That’s not nice,” he was saying. “They shouldn’t be making fun of her. Tell them Victoria.”
Victoria bit her lip and tried not to flinch when he used her name. Just pretend like he’s not there, she told herself.
“Oh, loser alert,” one of her guy friends announced. “Dirty Damien has entered the cafeteria.”
Victoria looked up to see the guy, who was in the same grade as her, walk quietly across the cafeteria with his lunch tray. His black hood was up, his black hair was greasy and his pants were the same from yesterday.
“Hey,” the little boy yelled. “Don’t call him that! Victoria, tell them to stop being mean.”
Victoria stood up quickly, causing everyone at the table to look up at her. She needed to get out of there.
“Are you alright?” one of her friends asked with concern. “You look pale.”
“I need to go to the nurse’s office,” Victoria replied. “I think this salad was bad or something.”
She took off toward the exit, dumping her salad in the trash along the way. She didn’t want to lose it on a ghost in front of her friends. They’d think she was crazy.
“That was so mean,” the boy went on, appearing out of thin air. “They shouldn’t make fun of people like that.”
Once Victoria had left the school, she called her mom and told her she’d be coming home because she didn’t feel well. The whole way home she tried to ignore the boy, but he didn’t let up.
Realistically, she didn’t want to go home at all. Her mother would probably demand to know what was wrong and eventually she’d find out that it was because of ‘the voices inside her daughter’s head’. This would earn her a trip back to the doctors and she’d be put on pills again. She didn’t want that to happen.
“I used to go to this school,” the boy commented, as she walked past an elementary school later that afternoon. “I was in grade two.”
Again, Victoria ignored him and kept walking like she couldn’t hear what he had said. When she came across a rural road, she crossed the street to the other side, where there was no side walk, so she didn’t have to talk to anyone.
“You shouldn’t be on this side of the road,” the boy replied sadly. “It’s not safe.”
There was a monotone sound in the boy’s voice and it sounded almost like an ominous warning. Chills crept across Victoria’s skin.
A little further up the road there was something colourful attached to a wooden fence. When Victoria finally reached the spot, she saw that it was a memorial. There were flowers and stuffed toys sitting there with a single candle.
“You shouldn’t be on this side of the road,” the boy repeated. “It’s not safe.”
Finally, after two days, Victoria looked directly at the boy. He had blue eyes and dark hair. He was wearing a green backpack and had on a pair of jeans with a shirt that had race cars on it.
Victoria’s heart broke and she asked him solemnly, “Did you die here?”
He nodded, staring at the spot as he replied, “I was walking home from school and a car veered off the road and hit me. My big brother was supposed to pick me up, but he didn’t show up in time. I decided to leave on my own and wanted to try walking on this side of the street…”
He trailed off and Victoria sighed frustratingly. Now that she knew his story, she wanted to help him. She had broken her rule number one and talked to a ghost. You were never supposed to talk to a ghost because then others would know you could see them. Luckily, there didn’t seem to be any around right now. Maybe if she was careful, none of the spirits would notice.
“You can’t tell anyone that I’m helping you,” she warned the young boy. “Now, what do you want me to do?”
“I promise I won’t tell a soul,” the boy vowed, making Victoria smirk at the irony in his words. “I just want you to tell my brother that it wasn’t his fault.”
“Ok,” Victoria agreed. “Where is your brother then?”
“This way,” the boy pointed, further up the road. “But can we cross over to the other side of the street, please?”
Victoria nodded and once they were on the other side, he led her to a fairly nice neighbourhood with large homes and nicely manicured lawns. She was pretty sure a few of her friends lived on this block.
“Here we are,” the boy announced proudly. “Stopping in front of one of the larger homes.”
Victoria went up to the door and knocked. As she stood there and waited for someone to answer, she realized that she had no idea how she was supposed to say what the boy wanted her to.
“Hi, I’m Victoria,” she imagined herself saying. “I was talking to the ghost of your younger brother and he wants you to know that it isn’t your fault. Okay, have a nice day.”
Somehow she couldn’t imagine that going over very well. Before she could make a run for it, a middle aged woman with blond hair and a business suit answered the door.
“Hello?” she greeted with confusion. “How can I help you?”
“I’m here to talk to your son,” Victoria answered awkwardly, realizing that it was too late to back out now. “I’m a friend of his.”
A look of disbelief crossed the woman’s face as she replied, “He’s not home from school yet…but you’re welcome to wait for him in the living room.”
Victoria thanked her and went to sit on the couch, while the lady suspiciously watched her before heading into the kitchen. It wasn’t until a few moments later that Victoria realized her mistake. She had no idea how old the kid’s brother was. For all she knew, she could have just told this woman that she was friends with her twelve-year-old son.
Looking for the boy, she saw him happily sitting on the a chair across from her. When she was sure the mother wasn’t paying attention, she tried to get his attention.
“Psst,” she whispered until she had gotten his attention. “How old is your brother now anyway?”
The boy thought for a minute and began counting on his hands, as he tried to figure out how old his brother was. After a while, he looked up a little confused.
“I don’t know,” he replied, looking a little distraught. “He was in grade nine when I was in grade two.”
Victoria’s eyebrows furrowed as she asked, “How long ago did you die?”
A new fear crept into the back of Victoria’s mind. What if this boy had died thirty years ago? If that were the case, then the boy’s family might not have even lived here anymore. She nervously looked around the house, which was incredible to say the least. It was almost as big as her parent’s estate. Whoever lived here had a lot of money and she was impressed.
“Oh,” the boy suddenly spoke up, after having remembered something. “It was 2015 when I died.”
Victoria breathed a sigh of relief. If that were the case, then the boy had only died two years ago, which meant that the young boy’s brother had to be in grade eleven. That had to mean that he was in the same grade as her. Did she know him then? She thought back to her friends and couldn’t recall any of them having lost a younger sibling. Perhaps he went to another school, or maybe they had moved in the past two years.
Suddenly, the sound of the front door opening was heard and Victoria’s stomach did a flip flop. Before she could even see the person, footsteps were heard thundering up the stairs.
“You have company,” his mother called out, but she got no response. “Why don’t you just go upstairs and talk to him? I’m glad he has someone to talk to after what happened. I was worried that he didn’t have any friends. His room is down the hallway and the last door to your left.”
Victoria nodded and climbed up the huge staircase with a sigh of relief. It definitely sounded like she had the right person. Finding his room, she stood outside the doorway and listened as the kid blasted some type of rock music. Victoria cringed with her hand in front of the door.
“What are you waiting for?” the young boy asked with a cock of his head. “Aren’t you going to knock?”
Victoria looked at the innocence on his face and wondered if the boy had even gotten to see his older brother since the accident. The thought made her sad and she knocked on the door with determination. She hadn’t done anything useful with her curse and she figured now was a better time than never. Maybe after she did this good deed, she’d stop seeing dead people.
At first, no one answered, so she tried again a little louder. Still, no answer. Getting frustrated, she pounded on the door. Why did trying to be a good person have to be so hard?
The door opened a crack and there stood ‘Dirty Damien’ as her friends had called him. They were both staring at each other with their mouths hanging open, completely shocked for different reasons.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, once he had composed himself. “What did I do to earn the Queen’s attention?”
Victoria cringed at the harshness of his words and almost said something rude back, but stopped when she looked down and saw the excitement in his younger brother’s eyes. Obviously, this was the first time he had seen his elder sibling.
Biting her lip, Victoria replied, “I’m here to tell you that the death of your younger brother wasn’t your fault.”
Damien looked as though he had been slapped in the face and he glared at her with cold, blue eyes. He slammed the door in her face and she stood there a little stunned. Clearly, she hadn’t thought what she was going to say all the way through.
“I,” she started, unsure what to say. “I…can see dead people or…um…ghosts.”
“If this is you and your friends idea as a joke it’s not funny!” he yelled through the door. “So go away.”
She swore she could here him choke up a bit as he said it and she began to panic. Sure her and her friends teased others at school, but she would never purposely hurt someone this bad. She looked down at the younger boy for help.
“Try telling him that if he doesn’t open this door, you’re going to send the boogie man after him,” the boy suggested. “That’s what he used to tell me.”
Victoria looked at the boy in disbelief, but tried it anyway. She had come this far already and it would be nice to have someone believe that she could actually see ghosts and wasn’t just crazy.
Even as she said it, though, she felt silly, “If you don’t open this door right now, I’m going to send the boogie man after you.”
Standing in the hallway, Victoria waited. She didn’t know if Damien had even heard her and it was beginning to get more and more awkward, as she stood alone in the empty hallway of a house she had never been in before.
“Damien?” his mother called up the stairs. “Is everything alright?”
Victoria turned toward the stairs, unsure what to say. She didn’t want Damien telling his mother what a horrible person she was and that she had said she could see ghosts because if Damien’s mother reported that back to her own mom, it would be another trip to the doctors.
“Everything’s fine mom,” Damien suddenly called out, after opening his door and grabbing Victoria by the arm. “Don’t worry about it.”
He pulled her into his room and she let out yet another sigh of relief. There had been too many close calls today.
Looking around Damien’s rather large room, she was surprised to find how neat and big it was. He had a large bed in the middle, a walk-in closet filled with all sorts of clothes, a computer desk to one side of the room and even a small workout corner with a weight lifting machine.
“Who told you to say that?” he demanded with slightly puffy eyes from crying. “Was it my mom? Does she have something to do about this?”
His anger was starting to frighten her and she began to back away slowly as she replied, “No. I was being serious. I can see ghosts and your brother has been following me around for the past couple days. He just wants you to stop blaming yourself.”
She tried to explain herself without shaking, as Damien slowly made her way toward her in fury. Eventually, she backed up against his bedroom wall and found herself stuck, as he glared at her with clenched fists.
“Calling me ‘Dirty Damien’ and making fun of me with your friends wasn’t enough?” he asked menacingly. “Now you have to go straight for the throat and attack me where it hurts?”
“No, no, no,” Victoria repeated, as she put her hands on Damien’s chest to stop him from coming any closer. “I’m telling the truth, I swear.”
Damien glared down at her and through his hoodie and t-shirt, Victoria could feel his muscles underneath. With his hoodie on, he didn’t seem that muscular at all. Shaking her head, she tried to clear her mind. Now was not the time to be checking Damien out as potential boyfriend material.
“Tell him that I drew him a birthday card and hid it between my mattresses,” his younger brother finally spoke up. “He’ll have to believe you then.”
Looking back up at Damien, who was inquisitively looking over his shoulder to where his younger brother stood, she told him what he had said, “He wants you to go to his room and check in-between the mattresses. He says he drew you a birthday card.”
Damien opened his mouth to argue, but backed away from her slowly with an unconvinced look on his face. Regardless, he left his room and went down the hallway. Victoria let out a sigh of relief and while he was gone, she took the time to appreciate how tidy and organized his room was. Even the clothes in his walk-in closet had been organised by colour. Victoria awed at it all, since messy people were her pet peeve. It was the one thing stopping her from getting a boyfriend, since she couldn’t find a guy that didn’t have fast food wrappers littered in his car or old pizza boxes and dirty laundry tossed about in their room.
When Damien finally came back, he had a piece of folded paper in his hand and tears running down his face. The sight of him crying and the child drawn birthday card caused Victoria to break down too. She didn’t have any siblings, but that didn’t stop the sadness of losing one from ripping through her own heart. Damien sat on his bed with his hand covering his eyes and the card clutched in the other. When he finally composed himself, he looked up at her with beautiful blue eyes that sent Victoria’s feelings into a frenzy.
“I’m so sorry,” she blurted out, falling to the floor in sobs. “Not just about your brother, but the way I treated you. I had no idea what you were going through. We just saw that you always had greasy hair and wore the same clothes everyday and just started to make fun of you. It was wrong and I’m so sorry.”
Victoria bawled her eyes out for many reasons right then. She cried for Damien and the brother he had lost years ago. She cried for the young boy and the life he had missed out on. Lastly, she cried for having such a power that no one would ever believe that she had.
Damien sat beside her and pulled her into a hug, resting his chin on the top of her head. They sat there for a while and when Victoria had finally finished with her break down, they broke apart.
“You’re not supposed to be sad,” he smiled softly at her. “And the only reason why I wear the same clothes everyday is because they were the clothes I was wearing when Jake died. That was his name, by the way.”
“I didn’t know that,” Victoria replied, wiping the tears from her eyes, which had ruined her make-up and streaked it down her face. “He didn’t tell me his name. He didn’t even tell me that you were his brother.”
Damien looked at her seriously and asked, “Would you of come here if he had?”
Victoria looked away because she knew she wouldn’t have. Damien sighed and thought quietly for a moment.
“I’ll forgive you if you agree to tell everyone that your my girlfriend,” he suddenly bargained, making Victoria’s eyes fly open wide in surprise.
“What?” she asked in disbelief. “Why do I have to do that?”
“Because right now your social status means everything to you,” Damien answered. “So I’ll only believe that you can see the ghost of my brother and that you’re truly sorry if you toss it all right out the window.”
“No way,” she immediately denied, her popular persona kicking in. “That card is enough proof that I can see your brother.”
Damien regarded her for a moment before replying, “I’ll tell everyone that you came to my house and claimed to see dead people.”
“No one will believe you,” Victoria stammered, hesitating for a bit too long. “You’re an outcast.”
“That’s not true,” Damien smirked, seeing through her bluff. “You’ve already told people that, haven’t you?”
Victoria crossed her arms and looked away from him in a huff. Jake, Damien’s younger brother, smiled at her sweetly and slowly began to vanish in flickers of bright light. Why did she ever break her rule and talk to a ghost?
“Oh, come on,” Damien teased playfully. “It wouldn’t be so bad, would it? Don’t think for a second that I haven’t noticed you checking me out this whole time.”
Victoria’s face turned red at his words, as she struggled to come up with something to say. Damien chuckled at her, which only flustered her more.
“You don’t have to, if you don’t want to,” he finally sighed, getting up and putting the hand-made card carefully on his computer desk. “Just remember that if you have any more ghosts talking to you, I wont be able to help you with it. People will wonder why the Queen is talking to an outcast like me.”
“Don’t call me that,” Victoria muttered, suddenly feeling silly about the nickname. “We can still be friends. I’ll just convince everyone that you aren’t an outcast and get them to stop making fun of you.”
Damien grabbed hold of Victoria’s chin and forced her to look at him before replying, “You’ll get your friends to stop making fun of everyone. Not just me.”
Victoria bit her lip and turned away. She knew he was right and she never was totally onboard with making fun of the other students, especially not now that she knew what Damien had been going through.
“Fine,” she finally gave in. “But first you’ll have to go for a shower and get out of those old clothes right away. Throw them out. They’re way too small for you anyways.”
Damien cocked an eyebrow at her and asked with a playful tone, “Right away?”
Victoria nodded, “Right away.”
Damien shrugged, “If you say so.”
Just then, he began to strip off shirt and sweater right in front of her. Victoria gawked at his body structure with an open mouth and only when he grabbed for his pants did she speak up.
“Not right now,” she exclaimed, jumping off of the floor. “I meant after I leave. Starting tomorrow.”
Damien laughed and walked over to her before asking, “Is my little brother still here?”
“No,” Victoria mumbled, looking at the floor. “He, uh, he left a little while ago. I think he, um, moved on.”
“Thanks you,” he replied with a small smile. “It really does mean a lot and, seriously, if you ever need to talk to someone about your ‘powers’, I’m here for you.”
Victoria looked up into his sincere blue eyes and found something she had been looking for, for a really long time. She finally had somebody she could rely on and talk to. Someone that believed her and didn’t think she was crazy.
Making Damien’s eyes widen in surprise, she leaned up and kissed him.