My therapist recommended I start a journal to help me work through my issues. What he doesn’t understand is my issues aren’t internal, they’re external-well most of them anyway. I see spirits. Not of the alcohol variety, though drinking sometimes helps to blur the lines of communication between me and the ghosts, but a person can’t remain drunk twenty-four hours a day so I have to silence the voices somehow in order to live a half-way normal life.
Dr. Franklin suggested that journaling would help, so here I am sitting here writing words in a book to help me sort things out. Nothing coherent, mind you, just a jumble of words that spill from my mind onto the white lined paper through the blue ballpoint pen.
‘I hate to break it to you, Dr. Franklin, but writing does nothing to stop the visits.’ I threw my pen down and closed the notebook. He wants to view the journal at our next appointment. Let’s see how he likes that last entry. I chuckled to myself and leaned back in my chair. Then I quickly opened the notebook and ripped the page from the book. He didn’t know about the ghosts, and I didn’t plan on spilling those beans to him anytime soon. Every time I did, I got that look. You know the one, that look that says, ‘is she serious or insane?’
I probably would’ve gone crazy if it weren’t for Abel. He makes life livable, which is ironic since he isn’t of the living variety. People think Abel is an imaginary friend, but how many twenty-one year olds do you know with imaginary friends?
He is a ghost-not a figment of my imagination as some people might think. Kind of like my ghostly bodyguard. He is also my best friend, has been since I was old enough to understand what friends are. How he found me, I don’t know, but I will forever be grateful he did. He is like a big brother even though I’m technically older than him now. I keep aging, and he stays young and vibrant at seventeen.
Without his intervention I would’ve been institutionalized years ago. Instead, I’m a contributing member of society, going to college, working on becoming a psychologist, which is why I know my psychiatrist is a quack. I still don’t understand why I keep going or keep completing his assignments. I guess it’s comforting in a way. And my mentoring professor told me all great psychologists see psychologists themselves. I’m on my way.
“What are you doing, Cassie?” Abel’s familiar voice broke the silence of my bedroom. I felt the chill first, an obvious sign a spirit is in the vicinity, and then the hair on my neck stood at attention. I knew it was Abel before he spoke. He rarely let others through without my consent.
My fingers slapped against the cover of the journal; a protective mechanism, I guess. I didn’t want anyone reading my random thoughts, least of all my spiritual brother, and turned to greet my buddy. The smile disappeared from my face when I noticed he’s not alone. “I’m tired, Abel. Can’t this wait until tomorrow?”
Abel ran his fingers over his dark brown curls as he shook his head. His brown eyes looked sad, and his chocolate mocha-colored skin was paler than I’d ever seen. His clothes; the jeans, white t-shirt, and high school letterman jacket which were the clothes he died in, were disheveled, not their usual perfect condition. “No, I’m afraid not.”
I sighed, then yawned, and then stored the notebook and pen in my nightstand drawer. “Abe, unless this is life or death, I’m going to get some sleep.” Who was I kidding? It was always life or death where a spirit was concerned. I looked at the teen ghost standing next to him only out of curiosity, disinterest in helping her clearly written on my face.
She was wearing a white nightgown covered in blood splatter. Her hazel eyes were full of unshed tears, the streaks down her face indicated she wasn’t afraid of letting them fall. The quiver of her lower lip told me she was trying to control her emotions-probably because of some advice Abe gave her. I really hated waterworks-I know I’m cynical and sound harsh, but I’ve been seeing ghosts since my father died in the car accident that almost took my life when I was seven. After a while, you get desensitized to all of it. I mean, we all have problems, including me, but we need to find a way to get through them, and emotional outbursts only made things harder. “I’m sure your need is great, but…”
“Please, he’s going to kill my parents and my little brother.”
Ghosts had no concept of time in their realm. Usually, what they think are time sensitive issues are in the past-long ago past, and from the looks of her nightgown, perhaps the 1800s or early 1900s. I closed my eyes and silently counted to ten as I ran my fingers through my red curls. “Look, I get that you’re worried, but…”
“This one really needs your attention, Cass. Gina just died. Her boyfriend killed her by accident and now he’s unraveling.”
The girl nodded her head, her long black hair bouncing around her shoulders. “He thought I was cheating on him, but I wasn’t.”
I held up my hand to stop her. It’s not my job to judge, only to help when I could. “I don’t need to know the details. Whatever you did or didn’t do will be sorted up there.” I point to the sky-honest, it was always better when I didn’t get emotionally involved in the spirit’s life or tried to get to know them. That always ended badly, and I was the one who wound up getting hurt. “Are you sure this is happening right now?” I asked Abe, and gave him my because-if-I-get-dressed-and-run-out-in-the-middle-of-the-night-to-help-someone-and-it’s-an-incident-from-the-past-I’m-going-to-be-pissed look.
Message received. His soulful brown eyes grew large and he nodded his head. “Believe me, this is one you need to help with.” The conviction in his voice was strained and the worry on his face struck a chord in me so I relented.
But I did so loudly as I groaned and headed toward the closet, casting a mournful look at my comfortable bed and pillow where I wouldn’t be laying my head for a couple of hours yet. If I had half the intelligence my GPA eluded to, I’d call the cops and be snuggled up in bed. But I’d been burned using that tactic.
Nope, I had to first go and make sure there was a crime happening before I called and reported it. Payphones are scarce nowadays and ninety-nine percent of the time there are security cameras watching them. Don’t get me started on cell phones. Very few people can sneak by ‘big brother’ anymore and I wasn’t financially able to swing another thousand dollar fine for reporting a non-existent crime. I’ve been down that road one too many times.
All this was a tiresome responsibility, but Abe made things easier and safer. Thanks to his diligence I’ve avoided the evil spirits for the most part. I don’t know how he does it, but he manages to keep me from seeing the bad. I know it can get scary. I’ve read the online chat rooms for mediums. For his protection, I owe him, and that is the reason why I’d be going out tonight in the cold and helping this girl.
“Can I have a few minutes to change?” I asked, indicating my bedtime shorts, worn down ‘I Heart U’ t-shirt, and pink fuzzy bunny slippers-yes I like pink, sue me.
Abe shot me a toothy smile, and the girl looked down and managed to look embarrassed. They both disappeared into the mist-or wherever it was that spirits went when they weren’t in my line of vision. For all I knew, they were still there, staring, just invisible, and giving me the illusion of privacy.
There I go again, assuming the worst. Abe had been nothing but a god-send to me. An angel sent here to help. I quickly changed into a pair of ripped jeans - ripped from being worn too much and a green hoodie sweatshirt that matched my eyes. I tossed my red hair into a ponytail and grimaced at my freckled, peachy face. Without makeup, I looked like a ghost myself, but there was no time to fuss. I just hoped no one saw me, not that I had the guys lining up outside my door, even with makeup. I was the epitome of ‘the plain-Jane-girl-next-door’ and my anti-social attitude didn’t help matters.
I grabbed my purse and keys and headed toward the door. “Let’s go.” I said to the empty room, and headed down the darkened hall to the stairs. The elevator was broken, had been for a week. The jog down the twelve flights of stairs had me cursing out my landlord while appreciating the time I was saving from skipping the gym the last few days. There would be no appreciation given and plenty more curses when I’d climbing back up the steep steps later.
Abe and the dead girl, Gina, were waiting for me at my car. Ghosts had certain advantages. They could think of a place and be there. They could also fade through matter which means they could’ve been sitting in the car waiting for me, but Abe made sure no one surprised me from my backseat after the last mishap. So they waited impatiently outside the car. I slipped my keys into the late model gold Honda and slid in, my two passengers passed through the car exterior, and took a seat in the back.
The car was old and beat up, but I took care of it as best I could. I wish I could say what I did was lucrative, but other than the reward of a good deed done and maybe a few karma points every now and then, there was very little in the way of pay, which was why I was in college. I figured a girl had to live and becoming a psychologist would help me, hopefully, work through my own issues. Survivor’s guilt was not as easy to overcome as one might believe. Especially when you were left with a curse from the crash.
I turned on the ignition and warmed up the car. The night brought about a chill. “Okay, where are we going?”
Abe looked at the girl and back at me. “Home, Cassie. We’re going home.”
A shiver slid up my spine. “I don’t understand?”
“Gina and her family live next to your mother.”
I didn’t think, I simply put the car in reverse and sped out of the parking garage. If Gina died of a gunshot there would’ve been a pop from the gun. It would’ve woken the neighborhood and probably my mother. She was always a good neighbor and would’ve tried to help.
The more I thought about it, the more fear, anxiety and worry filled me. I dialed my mother’s number at the stoplight, “please, please, please pick up!”
“Mom? Mom are you there?”
“I’m not available right now. Please leave your name and number after the tone and I’ll call you back when I’m free.”
“Crap! Abel can you go there and be with her?”
He nodded and disappeared. He couldn’t do much, spirits had little luck in manipulating physical matter. It only happened in extreme moments when the ghost was experiencing high emotional responses, and I’ve only seen it happen twice in the last fourteen years. Manipulating living beings on the other hand was a little different.
“I had no idea we were neighbors.” I stated as I sped across town at speeds that were far from safe. I figured if a cop stopped me, I could have them chase me all the way home.
Gina shook her head. “I didn’t, either, until Abel found me. I hope your mother is safe. I don’t know why Ricardo went so crazy.” The tears that moistened her eyes fell down her cheeks.
I handed her a Kleenex from the center cubbie, then realized the futility of my gesture.
At another stop light I dialed my mother’s cell phone and got the same irritating voice mail message. “Mom! You need to call me. Now!”
I bit my lower lip and decided to dial 911 as I continued racing down the road. It would take me at least fifteen minutes to get across town. Maybe the cops would get there faster.
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