Excerpt for A Day For Ghosts by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

A Day For Ghosts




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Published by Britany Elizabeth at Smashwords

Copyright 2018 Britany Elizabeth




Chapter One


Dead leaves rose from the ground and swirled through the air as a chilly wind blew. She looked up at the sky as gray clouds moved to cover the sun, and blinked when a raindrop fell onto her face. She pulled her hood up and a heavy sigh fell from her lips as the rain only began to fall harder, forcing her to walk faster.

She turned down the block, eyeing the house at the end of the street. Kids were standing outside, laughing and peering into the windows. They shouted as the rain suddenly came down harder, and they ran to their bikes that lay on the sidewalk, getting on and peddling away.

Where she lived was only three houses away from the house at the end of the block, but by the time she made it to the tiny white house with chipped paint and the broken fence she was soaked and freezing. She rushed up the steps, fishing her key from the pocket of her jeans, and struggled with the lock for a moment before she could finally go inside.

The inside was just as dumpy as the outside. The living room was very small, and directly across from the front door was the just as tiny kitchen. To the right side of the room was a staircase with only seven steps leading to the upstairs. The white walls were washed out and stained from who knows what over the years, and the carpet an ugly brown. An old brown couch displaying a few rips here and there was to the left side of the room, and the television sat upon another brown table against the wall on the far side. There were no photos or decorations, the room empty and bland. Not that anyone cared. It was cozy, anyway.

She closed the door and went to the kitchen. Faded yellow tile flooring and a lone brown table sat in the center of the room. She went to the counter top, starting up the coffee maker, and then made her way upstairs.

The upstairs hallway was very short and narrow. There was a bedroom door to the left, and one to the right across from it. Straight across at the end of the hall was the bathroom. She went to the bathroom and flipped the light switch, watching as the light flickered twice before brightening up the tiny room with light.

She took the towel that hung on the wall to dry her face from the rain. Hanging it back up, she turned to the mirror. Her long chestnut brown hair was wet and starting to look frizzy from the rain and wind. She pulled it back and tied it into a ponytail.

Leaving the bathroom when she was done, she made her way into her bedroom. She pulled her hoodie off and tossed it on the floor before changing into black sweatpants, and pulling an overly large t-shirt over her plump frame, something much more comfortable. She left the room for a moment when the coffee maker beeped downstairs, and she returned with a cup of coffee. She set it on the desk and turned on the laptop, sitting down with a soft sigh.

The door downstairs was heard a while later, and only minutes passed when there was a knock on her door, which was opened immediately after. Her sister smiled at her from the doorway.

"How was work today, Ellie?" Alexia asked, moving a wet strand of light brown hair behind her ear.

"Fine," Ellie replied. "You?"

"Okay," she replied with a gentle sigh. "Make whatever you want for dinner, I ate earlier. We'll order something tomorrow."

"Okay."

"Oh, by the way," Alexia began, "I told Mrs. Norris that I would help her clean the Gutermuth house tomorrow. Do you want to help us after work?"

"Yeah, sure," Ellie replied.

"Thanks. Just come by, we'll be there." With that, the door closed.

The Gutermuth house. The house at the end of the block. It had been empty for two months now. The family had moved away after their daughter was found dead inside. Murdered. And what made it more disturbing was that the murderer had not been caught, and there were no suspects. Ellie heard people talking about it a lot still, especially the kids and their ridiculous story.

This little town of WillowWood was known for its ghost stories. The town was surrounded by forest that was easy to get lost in, and there were stories about people entering them and never coming back out. Ellie had no idea if that was true, and she doubted that it was. Still, some pretty neat stories came from it. Besides that, murder was not something that happened often in WillowWood. Ellie could not recall ever hearing about another, and she had lived here for all her nineteen years of life. According to the words of children, the woman had been killed by a ghost, and that was why there was no evidence to form a suspect. That was the reason they dared each other to go near the house and look through the windows. They believed that they would see something inside.

Now they were planning on fixing up the Gutermuth house to try and sell it again. Ellie did not know the people that used to live there because she never really paid much attention to anyone. She could not even picture the woman who had been killed, even though she had probably seen her many times in town or passed her on the street. The thought made her shiver.

It would be weird to be in there after what had happened. She only hoped that they would get the work done fast.






Chapter Two


Ellie stopped in front of the black house at the end of the block. A chilly breeze blew past and she shivered as she started up the stone steps. The door was ajar, and with a soft push it creaked open loudly. "Hey, Ellie," Alexia greeted with a smile. She and a thin old woman with gray hair tied in a bun were standing in the living room.

"Eloise, hi!" Helen smiled wide. "I haven't seen you in so long!" Ellie gave her a smile. "What have you been up to?" Helen asked.

"Just working," she replied.

Helen chuckled. "You look lovely, dear. It's nice to see you."

"Thanks. You, too." Ellie looked around the house from where she stood. The living room was medium sized, a little bigger than her own. The floor was hardwood and the walls mahogany. Spots marked the walls where picture frames once hung. It was eerie and empty. She could see the empty kitchen in the room across from the front door. There was a staircase to the right, leading to the upstairs.

"So, um, what was the girl's name?" Alexia asked.

"Arielle," Helen replied.

"I never knew they had a daughter," Alexia commented back, a frown on her face.

"She was twenty-one years old, I believe, and lived in an apartment that she shared with her roommate. She had a busy life with school and work and this was her first visit to her parents since they lived here."

Twenty-one. She had been only two years older than Ellie herself, and her life was already over. The thought left Ellie feeling disturbed.

"Ah, I see." Alexia gave a nod.

"She was spending a week here. During a night she was home alone, it happened. No one knows exactly what happened."

"It's horrible." Alexia gave a shudder. "I heard it probably wasn't anyone from town."

"Hopefully," said Helen. "No one here knew her or had really met her. She was only here for four days before she was killed. It's suspected that it was someone from her life that followed her here."

"Well, I hope they get caught eventually. I didn't really know Mr. or Mrs. Gutermuth well, but they were nice."

"Yes," Helen agreed. "They had almost been living here for a year, and they were very kind people. I will miss them."

Ellie felt a little relieved at the fact she had never met the murdered woman, knowing it would have been weird if she had a face to put to the name. She would remain a faceless ghost in her mind, and somehow that was better. Still, it felt weird being in there knowing what had happened. The air was almost heavy feeling.

"Eloise, can you start on the hall and rooms upstairs?" Helen asked. "Just clean them up a bit. Me and your sister will do the rooms down here."

Ellie gave a quick nod in response. "Yeah."

"Thank you, dear. There is a broom, mop, and bucket of clean water up there already for you."

Ellie made her way upstairs, the creak of each step nearly sent shivers up her spine as she reached the top. There was a short hallway and two bedrooms across from each other, much like back at home. The broom, mop, and bucket were against the wall alongside a small trashcan. She took the broom and dustpan and proceeded to sweep the hallway. The floor creaked with each step she took, and Helen and Alexia were talking downstairs, but Ellie paid them no attention, her mind blank with no particular thought while she worked, like a zombie.

In the corner of her eye she swore she saw a long shadow falling over the wall. Her head snapped in its direction, but there was nothing there. It must have been Alexia or Helen, she figured.

She finished sweeping the hall before finally moving on to one of the bedrooms. It was small and empty, the space alone making her feel uneasy. It didn’t help that as she began to sweep, a disturbing thought crept into her head. Which room did it happen in? She gave a shudder, feeling her skin crawl, and the urge to get out of the room nearly overcoming her, but she continued to sweep and tried to push those thoughts aside.

For a while the broom sweeping against the hardwood floor was the only sound. Helen and Alexia had gone quiet. There was a creak of the floor behind her, and she looked over her shoulder, expecting the other two to appear, but no one did. Brushing it off as best she could with just a mere sigh, she continued sweeping.

Another loud creak echoed through the empty rooms. Someone was coming up the stairs. She listened close, hearing as they stopped just at the doorway. She waited for them, waited to hear a voice, but instead the footsteps continued. They came closer and closer, creeping into the room with her. She could feel the presence right behind her, the air heavy, almost suffocating her in there, and her body felt cold. She spun around fast, in a panic, and expected to see Alexia, hoped to see her. However, what greeted her instead caused her heart to skip a beat.

No one. Nothing was there.

Her eyes darted around. Someone was here. She had heard the footsteps enter the room. She had felt them coming toward her, and yet, she was alone. "Creepy ass house," she muttered under her breath, now feeling a stab of fear. With a shaky sigh she left the room, not really caring how good of a job she did sweeping, and went to the other room. She hastily swept that one too, now in a hurry to get the hell out of there for good.

She began mopping, making sure to finish the hall quickly. When she had finished she found herself standing in front of that bedroom again, staring into it, waiting for the footsteps to come back. It felt weird suddenly, it felt like the air was thin. She swallowed, feeling a little shaken.

Everything from there on was her working in a panic, going as fast she could, inhaling deeply a few times when she was suddenly feeling short on breath. She finished mopping, and turned around to start toward the doorway, but froze when a wave of nausea suddenly came over her. She put a hand over her mouth and coughed, coughing that soon turned into gagging. Her vision was blurred by tears and her legs began to shake, a stab of panic hitting her when she saw someone stop in the bedroom doorway.

"Ellie?" came Alexia's voice, to her relief. "Are you okay?"

Ellie nodded and cleared her throat, inhaling deeply. "Almost threw up," she said hoarsely. "I don't know what that was."

"Have you been eating?" Alexia asked.

"Not today," she replied.

Alexia sighed in annoyance. "That's why." She went to her and took the mop. "I'll finish."

"Okay."

Ellie stayed with her until she was done, and then they went downstairs where Helen was getting ready to leave. "Thank you so much for your help, girls," she said, a soft smile on her face.

"No problem." Alexia gave a smile. "Come on." She turned to Ellie, elbowing her softly. "Let's go home and order something to eat."

Ellie nodded, and followed them both out of the house. She looked back as she pulled the door closed, still feeling shaken and startled about what had happened upstairs.






Chapter Three


At home, Ellie sat on the couch in the living room, staring at the television while she searched for a movie to watch. "What do you want to order for dinner?" Alexia asked from the kitchen.

"Pizza," she answered, and smiled at the sigh.

"Like I ever have to ask," Alexia commented.

"What kind of movie do you wanna watch?" Ellie asked.

"I don't know," Alexia gave a shrug. "How about something scary? It's that kinda night."

"That's my kind of every night," Ellie said, browsing her list of horror movies. "I found one that sounds good." Something about possessed killer dolls. Alexia would probably hate it.

"Good. I'll be there in a minute."

While Alexia ordered the pizza, Ellie went to the window to close the curtains. It was a dark, grim evening outside with barely any light to provide illumination besides a few lights still on in the other houses. While she pulled the curtains closed she noticed a dark figure across the street, and noted that it was a little weird. They were just standing there as if waiting to cross, but there was not a single car preventing them from doing so. She closed the curtains and returned to the couch, deciding it was just her overreacting, where she was joined by Alexia.

Ellie had to get up early for work the next morning. Alexia was always gone already when she got up. She walked to the restaurant she worked at, Arnold's, which was only two blocks away from her house. While she walked she had the feeling like someone was behind her, like a presence right there with her. She looked back to see a woman a little ways behind, walking with slow steps while looking down at her feet. Ellie stared for a moment before looking away. She was a young woman, probably around Ellie's age. Ellie had never seen this woman before, and wondered if she was new or just passing through.

"Morning, Ellie!" the cheerful voice greeted her when she entered the restaurant, like usual.

"Hey, Jess," Ellie gave her a smile. In the recent days Ellie found herself relieved to see Jessica's smile, and to see the life had returned to her bright green eyes. Jessica had always been a very cheerful person, but lately had been a little different. Three months ago her younger brother Ben had passed away. Ellie had not seen Ben as much as she had Jessica because their parents were separated and Ben lived with their mother while Jessica lived in town with their father. Still, the siblings had talked everyday and remained very close. Jessica had been crushed after his death, but lately seemed to be a little better.

"Guess who's coming over tonight?" Jessica grinned, tossing her long blonde hair behind her shoulder.

"About time," Ellie said. "You haven't been over in a while."

"Lives have become busy." Jessica sighed dramatically, leaning her arm on Ellie's shoulder. "But I was talking to Alex and she's so boring without me, so I have to make time."

Ellie chuckled. "What time are you coming over?"

"Around eight or nine, so be ready for me!" She ruffled Ellie's hair before starting the coffee machine.

Ellie noticed the woman that had been walking behind her again during the morning hours. She stood outside for a few minutes, reading the signs on the restaurant window, and then she was gone. The day went by like every other day then, and in the late afternoon, Ellie left the restaurant. "See you tonight, Jess," she waved on her way out.

"Later!" Jessica waved back with yet another cheerful grin on her face.

Ellie looked up at the sky while she walked. She saw a flash of lightning ahead. She hoped that she would make it home before she got caught in it like yesterday. She stopped at the streetlight, waiting for the cars to pass, a distant roar of thunder ringing in her ears. "Come on," she muttered, really not wanting to be caught in the rain. She turned her head and jumped in surprise, startled at the person standing next to her. She had not heard or seen anyone close by, and stranger than that, it was the woman again.

As if feeling Ellie's eyes on her, the woman lifted her head. "Hi," she said in almost a whisper, and smiled, though it looked like a sad smile.

"Hi..." Ellie said quietly before she looked away. The next minute or so was an awkward one, and when the street was finally clear, Ellie walked across.

As the sky turned dark gray she walked faster, hurrying to get home. She made it at the perfect time, rushing up the front stairs as the rain came down hard. As she took her key from her pocket she looked back. She still felt like someone was there, but there was no one in sight. The streets were empty of any people. She unlocked the door in a hurry still and raced inside.

She went straight to the kitchen, where like every day, she started the coffee machine. While she waited she opened the refrigerator, which was empty besides the bottles of iced tea and the leftover pizza from dinner the night before. She opened the box and took a slice of pizza, eating it cold.

A sound caught her off guard and made her jump. A creak coming from upstairs. She froze, staring up at the ceiling as another footstep creaked across the floor. They were striding across one of the room upstairs with slow, short steps. She jumped when the coffee machine beeped, and quickly turned it off. Alexia wasn't home yet, but there was definitely someone up there.

With a shaky breath, Ellie went to the living room and stared at the upstairs for a moment. You could almost see the entire hallway from down there, except for the bathroom at the end. She waited, listening close and swallowing hard. As though on cue there was another creak, making her give a little jump again. She breathed in sharply, suddenly feeling like she was suffocating. It was coming from her bedroom. She swallowed again, nervous and afraid, and started up the stairs slowly and warily, hands balled into fists when they began to tremble almost violently.

She reached the top. Her bedroom door was open as she always left it. She looked inside, and a startled gasp escaped. Someone was in there. Ellie wanted to dart back down the stairs and out of the house, but was stunned in shock. The woman that was standing in her bedroom turned around. She was quite short in height, and had straight brown hair that went a little past her shoulders, the ends of her hair were dyed a light shade of pink. She was wearing a white hoodie and jeans with white sneakers. She was the woman Ellie had been seeing all day.

"What are you doing?" Ellie's voice shook with fear and surprise. "Why are you in my house?"

The woman only smiled. "Have you been following me?!" Ellie yelled.

"In a way," she answered. "I just can't seem to stop."

Anger mixed in with the fear. "Who the hell are you?!" Ellie demanded.

The smile remained on the woman's lips as she answered calmly. "Arielle."






Chapter Four


A long silence dragged on as Ellie remained stunned, watching the strange intruder scan around her room. She wondered if she could be dreaming. How had this woman come into the house? Ellie had just seen her on the street on the way home, so she could not have entered before Ellie did. Ellie had been standing in the kitchen, right next to the back door, and where the front door was in full, clear view. This woman had not entered the house. So, how was she up there? It was impossible. Ellie's eyes wandered to her bedroom window, which was tightly shut, the rain pounding loudly against it. The woman couldn't have climbed in from there, either. It wasn't very high up, but there was nothing outside that could assist anyone to reach that window, and it was still closed, not to mention the woman was not wet from the rain.

"You have a nice taste in books," the woman said, taking a book from the bookshelf. "This is one of my favorites. Very creepy, isn’t it?"

"How did you get in?" Ellie's voice still shook with fear.

She slid the book back into its place. "With you."

"What?"

"I came in with you," she said.

"What are you talking about?!" Ellie yelled. "You didn't come in with me, I would've seen you!"

"But you didn't."

"Get out of here!" Ellie yelled. "Or I'm calling the cops!"

"That won't help you."

Ellie trembled with anxiousness. "What're you saying?"

The woman smiled, and right before Ellie's eyes, she was gone. She had disappeared. "What the hell is happening..." Ellie whispered shakily, her wide eyes darting around the room. Her chest tightened, either suffocating with the fear that engulfed her or the complete disbelief that any of it could have been real for even a second.

"Because," the woman's voice returned before she did, "I'm dead." She appeared again, right before Ellie's eyes.

Ellie gasped softly, backing away into the wall in the hallway. The woman stared back at her. "You were in my house," she started, "and I don't know what happened. I was led to you, and now, apparently, I'm stuck with you. I can't go too far away from you."

Ellie was speechless. This wasn't happening. She had had hallucinations before, but they never were like that. It was new, and it was terrifying. "I've been like this for a while," the woman went on. "I know I'm dead. I heard people talking about it, after it happened, I guess. They couldn't see me. I couldn't leave my house for a long time. Until yesterday, when I was able to follow you out. You can see me."

Ellie's bottom lip quivered and her eyes burned with tears. "Since I was able to leave, I think I can control it now," the woman went on, "if I want to be seen or not. When you went into that restaurant earlier, I walked away to see how far away from you I could go. It wasn't far, but an old lady came by, and I wanted her to see me. I said hi, and she said hi, too. Whatever you did to make me able to leave the house, I can control who can see me now."

The front door opened downstairs. Alexia was home. "I'll only let you see me for now," the woman said. "To give you time to take it in."

"Ellie?" Alexia stopped at the bottom of the stairs, looking up at her. "What are you doing?"

Ellie shook her head and wiped her eyes with her sleeve. Alexia hurried up the stairs. "What happened?" she asked. She turned her head to the bedroom, where the woman was still standing, but then she looked back to Ellie, obviously unable to see her. "Ellie?" she asked worriedly.

"N-Nothing," Ellie sniffled. "It's nothing."

Alexia stared for a moment, her light brown eyes filled with concern and worry written all over her face. "Ellie," she said quietly, "what's going on?"

"Nothing," Ellie said again. "I just don't feel good."

"You're not... you're not on something, are you?" Alexia asked. "Please don't tell me you're doing it again-"

"No," Ellie said quickly. "I-I'm not. I promise."

Alexia stared for a moment, looking into her eyes to decide if she believed her. "Okay," she said. "Are you hurt somewhere?"

"No. Just nauseous again. I'm okay now, I think."

"Okay," Alexia put a hand on her forehead, soaked with rain and a layer of sweat, and Ellie closed her eyes at the touch. "Go and rest. Call me if you start feeling bad again, okay? I'll make you something."

She went downstairs almost in a hurry, and Ellie opened her eyes only to be greeted by the the woman in her room still. Upon seeing the woman was still there, Ellie could feel more tears almost start to well up again, realizing it was real but not understanding how. She went into her room, closing the door behind her. They stared at each other for a moment before Ellie passed her, going about with what she usually did. "Ignore me and I'll go away, right?" the woman asked. "I'm not sure it works that way." Ellie continued to pay her no attention. "But if that's how you want to do it..." she said softly, and then said no more.


Jessica came over at night and Ellie spent time downstairs with her and Alexia. She tried her best to act normal and she thought she was successful for the most part. Jessica noticed when she became too quiet, and Ellie used the excuse of not feeling well again. Not that it wasn't true. She was shaken and still afraid.

As Ellie laid down to sleep at night, she had the eerie feeling that she was not alone. It made it difficult to sleep, but the woman did not appear again. She wondered what could have happened to make her hallucinate like that. Had the house really scared her that much? She supposed it did. The only thing she could do was hope that it wouldn't happen again.






Chapter Five


It had taken hours for Ellie to finally fall asleep as she laid awake most of the night in fear. She kept imagining that she was being watched in the darkness, that if she'd look, she would see someone there. She was glad that it was her day off from work today, or she probably would not have made it through the day. She finally woke up and got out of bed at noon. She was quick to make coffee, returning to her bedroom immediately after and sitting down at her desk, turning the laptop on.

Wonderful minutes of silence passed by, relaxing and peaceful, until Ellie shuddered at the touch she felt on the back of her neck. She turned her head fast, her heart skipping a beat at the woman that was standing next to her. She had to bite back a few bitter words and blink away a few tears, more out of frustration by that point. Why? Why was this happening to her?

"I can touch you," said the woman. "Doesn't that prove I'm real?" Ellie ignored her. "I was gonna leave you alone," the woman said, "but I can't because I don't know what's going on, either. I'm stuck with you for a reason and I don't wanna stay invisible and forced to watch you live your life. We have to figure out why this is happening. Together."

Ellie swallowed. In the corner of her eye, she could see the woman was staring at her. She continued on pretending that she was not there. "So, then, I'll prove it to you," she said. "I'll prove I'm not just in your head."

Finally, Ellie looked up at the woman when she walked away. She went to the other end of the room, and stopped in front of the bookshelf. With one last glance over her shoulder at Ellie, she proceeded to pull down three books, watching as they dropped to the floor. She spun around and looked at Ellie again with a look of utmost satisfaction, as if that was the most impressive thing she had ever done. Ellie probably would have laughed if she wasn't so afraid at what was happening. Instead she just looked away.

"Oh, come on!" the woman complained. "This has to prove something to you!"

"The mind can do crazy things," Ellie whispered.

"You'll see," the woman whispered. "I’ll show you..." Ellie glanced back at her again to see her cross her arms tight across her chest and cast a glare in Ellie's direction.


The day went by. Ellie tried to draw to take her mind off things, and after a while it worked, even though drawing had been difficult for her lately from lack of inspiration. As it had been, the picture wasn't coming out well, but it didn't matter. It was able to keep her distracted from everything that had been happening, and the woman did not appear again.

In the evening, there was a knock on her door, and Alexia entered mere seconds later. "Hey, how are you today?"

"Okay," Ellie replied, frowning at what she felt was a shitty drawing she had just finished of a warrior woman looking adoringly at a sword.

"Feeling better?" Alexia asked.

"Yeah, a little."

"It's good that you had a day to relax."

"How was work?" Ellie asked, setting the drawing pad down.

"The usual," she said with a tired sigh. "Why are those books laying on the floor?" Ellie's blood ran cold. "Ellie?" Alexia asked.

"I... I don't know," she said quietly with an awkward shrug. "I forgot to pick them up, I guess."

Alexia stared at her for a moment. "I'm gonna put a lasagna in the oven. I'll call you when it's ready."

Ellie nodded, and Alexia closed the door. "Where the hell are you?" she whispered. The woman appeared. Ellie stared, wide eyed, stunned in confusion. Was it possible that she herself had knocked the books over, and in her mind saw the hallucination do it? Was that possible?

"Need any more proof?" asked the woman, looking satisfied. Ellie licked her dry, cracked lips, clenching her hands into tight, trembling fists. "Because if you do," the woman said slowly, "I'll show myself to your sister next."

"You're Arielle," Ellie said shakily. "The one who died a few houses down?"

"Yep."

"How?"

"I don't know," she answered. "I don't remember."

"Oh, really?" Ellie asked testily.

"I came to WillowWood to visit my parents, and then everything... I don't know. I don't know what happened. I saw the police searching the house. I tried to ask what happened, but they didn't answer. They didn't see me. I heard them talking about how Arielle Gutermuth was murdered. I was murdered. I tried to leave, but I couldn't go out any door or window. I tried to talk, to scream at my parents when they came back, but they couldn't see me, either. I watched... watched them move everything." She looked down and ended quietly, her words trailing off into barely a whisper, "I watched them leave..."

There came silence. "I've been trapped in that empty house for a long time," she continued softly, "or at least it felt like it. I just stayed in my room, watching the days pass by. But then everything changed. You came to my room, and I tried to leave, but I couldn't leave you. You were cleaning, and I couldn't walk away. I was... drawn to you. When you left the house, I left with you. Things changed then. I can make people see me now. Something happened because of you."

They stared at each other for a long time. Arielle tilted her head slightly to the side, as if studying Ellie. Ellie hastily pulled on her hoodie and strode to the door. "Come on," she called.

"Huh?" Arielle blinked.

"Come on," she demanded, hand on the doorknob. "You're proving it to me."

She left the room, and Arielle followed. "I'll be back in a few minutes," Ellie called to her sister in the kitchen. "Gonna go get a few things."

"Okay," Alexia answered.

She left the house, walking hastily down the street. She looked to the woman next to her, who was looking at her in curiosity and confusion. "Those kids," Ellie nodded at the kids ahead, circling around on their bikes. "Say hi to them."

When they reached the kids, Ellie stopped. Arielle did, too. The two kids looked at them. "Hi!" Arielle gave a cheerful wave.

"Hi..." they stared.

"You saying hi to her?" Ellie pointed her thumb at Arielle.

A look of confusion came upon the face of one of the boys. "Yeah?" he said. "She said hi, so..." he shrugged.

"What's she look like?" Ellie asked.

"What?"

Ellie twirled her fingers around Arielle's hair. "What color is her hair?"

"Brown and pink?" he said, looking startled at the question and general weirdness of the situation. "I gotta go..." he looked to his friend, who obviously shared the discomfort, and they rode away together.

Ellie watched them ride away, stunned. She turned her head to Arielle, who was running her fingers through her hair to fix it. "Unbelievable..." she said.

"Yeah, I told you."

"How is this happening?" Ellie asked her.

Arielle shrugged. "I already told you everything I know."

Ellie covered her face with her hands, exhaling shakily. She was real. The woman was real. Others had seen her, too, and yet, Ellie still had the doubt struggling to talk sense into her. Maybe you imagined the kids. Maybe that didn't just happen. Maybe you're just insane.

Ellie let out a heavy breath, her hands falling back to her sides. "Come on," she continued down the street. They stopped in front of a grocery store. "Are you see-able?" Ellie asked as she opened the door to the grocery store.

"Yep," Arielle replied. She followed Ellie around, stopping by a shelf. Ellie picked out a bag of potato chips and held it out to her. "Go and buy this," she said, and then took some money from her pocket, putting it into Arielle's cold hand.

"Okay..." Arielle said, a raised brow. Ellie stayed back where she was, and watched. Arielle set the bag upon the checkout, and handed the cashier the money. When she was finished, Ellie left, and Arielle quickly followed.

Ellie walked fast down the street back toward her house. Her mind was a mess with thoughts, pounding with a headache from disbelief and shock at what was happening. "Wonder what happens if I try to eat these..." Arielle pondered at the chips.

They went up the stairs to the house, and Ellie put her hand on the doorknob. "Be visible only to me," she said.

"'Kay," Arielle said, and the bag of chips fell from her hand. They looked down at it. "...Guess I can't keep hold of things like this."

Ellie swallowed. She picked the bag up and went into the house. Alexia was in the living room, sitting on the couch and flipping through channels. "Dinner's about done," she said, looking at Ellie.

All that Ellie could do was look at Arielle, who was standing next to her. "Okay," she said. Alexia couldn't see her.

Ellie went upstairs to her room, closing the door. She leaned against it for a moment, breathing in and out deeply, watching Arielle walk around the room. "You're real," she said finally. "A real ghost..."

"Yep," Arielle said, falling backward onto her bed. "Glad we're on the same page now."

"How is this possible?"

"I don't know," Arielle said, and sat up. A smirk spread across her lips. "But we're gonna find out."






Chapter Six


Arielle was talking, but Ellie wasn't listening. The ghost had been there when she woke up, looking through her things, and had been following her around as she got ready for work. Then even as Ellie strolled down the street, Arielle still followed, speaking rapidly, unseen and unheard by everyone they passed.

"Hello?" Arielle leaned close. "Are you ignoring me again?"

"Like that'd be possible," Ellie muttered.

Arielle chuckled. "You're not listening to me."

"I can't talk to you when I'm outside and no one else can see you," Ellie said quietly. "How's that gonna look?"

"Like you're a little loony," she grinned. Ellie rolled her eyes.

Arielle stayed outside the restaurant, unseen by others while Ellie was working all day. A few times she knocked softly on the window, startling whoever was seated next to it, much to her amusement. Other times when Ellie looked at her, Arielle would press her face against the window and make a funny expression, glaring at her to creep her out before giggling behind her hand. A few times Ellie was surprised at herself for smiling and had to try not to laugh aloud.

After work, Arielle made herself visible to everyone, who cast her glances as she talked loudly and rapidly to Ellie. Ellie still remained silent until they were at the house. "You know," she began, closing the front door, "maybe that's not smart."

"What's not?" Arielle asked.

"You showing yourself to everyone."

"Why not?"

"You were murdered," Ellie said. "Can't think of a reason why," she gave a shrug with a sarcastic tone, "but you were. What if your killer is walking around out there somewhere?"

"Then the sight of me will give them a heart attack," she smiled.

Ellie sighed. "Or it could make them do something else. It could be dangerous. And what about anyone else that saw you while you were staying at your parent’s house?"

Arielle frowned. "That whole time is a blur... I can't remember what I did or where I went."

"Exactly," Ellie said. "You don't know who saw you. It's dangerous."

"Yeah, fine." She shrugged, a sigh to follow, and all Ellie could do was stare, feeling a little sorry for her.

They went upstairs to Ellie's room together. Arielle went to the window to stare outside it. "Tell me about you, Ellie," she said.

"I..." Ellie did not really know what to say. "I'm nineteen, dropped out of school when I was sixteen, and have pretty much been working at the restaurant since then, thanks to Jessica. She's the manager and I've known her forever. Our parents died a few years ago, and me and Alex live here alone. Not much else to add." She shrugged, and then frowned. "Anyway… sorry.”

Arielle looked at her. "Sorry for what now?"

"For what happened to you."

"Oh..." She turned her head back to the window. Ellie stared at her for a moment, and rubbed the back of her head. She went to her desk and sat down in the chair. "So, um..." she began awkwardly, "what are - were you like? You know... what'd you do?"

Arielle looked at her, a warmth in her gray eyes. She sat down at the edge of the bed. "I'm twenty-one years old," she began. "I'm... I was an assistant to a vet. I love animals. I have... had a dog. His name is Slippers. Don't ask." Ellie smiled, and she went on. "I worked part time as a babysitter. Diana is like a little sister to me... was," her voice became quieter. "I had a roommate who was my best friend. We have known each other since we were kids, met when we were ten years old at school. Her name is Kelly. Kelly inspired me everyday. I liked to paint. I painted a lot of pictures of her... she's beautiful."

A silence came, and Arielle stared down at her hands. "We were going to-"

"Hey, what do you want for-"

They froze. Ellie looked at Arielle, wide eyed with shock, Arielle's expression the same, both taken by surprise "Ellie," Alexia began slowly, standing in the bedroom doorway, "who is this?"

Ellie looked back at her sister. She had not even heard her come in. "This is... we met a few days ago," Ellie tried to think fast. "She's..." she froze, having no idea what to say. Alexia stared at her expectantly.

"Geez, wow, we met days ago and you still can't remember my name!" Arielle said, folding her arms together across her chest. Ellie looked at her. "Come on, what is it?" Arielle asked. "What's my name?"

"A-Ari..." Ellie stuttered, names flooding through her mind. "A-A...llison?"

"Allison," Arielle said flatly. "Yup, that's it. Good job!" she leaned forward and patted Ellie on the head.

"Okay," Alexia said slowly, staring at her.

"I'm Allison," Arielle smiled. "I met her at the restaurant. We've got a lot in common, so we decided to hang out."

"Really?" Alexia asked, looking surprised. "That's... that's great," she smiled.

"Yeah, she'll be leaving soon," said Ellie.

"Stay as long as you want," Alexia chuckled. "We never have visitors. It's really great to meet you. I hope I see you often."

"No worries, you will!" Arielle said.

"I'm going to make dinner now," Alexia said, looking happy, but also looking a little awkward. She turned quickly, heading back down the stairs.

Ellie stood, and watched her go downstairs, and then she closed her door. "Allison?" Arielle asked. "Really? Allison?"

"What the hell was that?" Ellie spun around to her. "You couldn't give me some help?"

"You worked it out," she smiled.

"Damn," she sighed, resting the back of her head against the door. "Alex saw you..."

"Sorry. I didn't mean for that to happen."

"Nothing we can do about it now," she shrugged. "Now you'll have to come by for a visit sometime, Allison."

"Why'd you have to pick Allison?" Arielle wrinkled her nose. "Way to make me sound like the town murderer."

"You're thinking of what happened in the town next to this one, and that was years ago."

"Whatever," she sighed, falling backwards onto the bed. "These creepy little towns are all the same to me."

"Well, come on," Ellie said. "Let's pretend you're leaving before she invites you to stay for dinner. I really don't wanna see what happens if you try to eat."

"Yeah, me neither," Arielle frowned.

Ellie did not mention it, but now that Alexia had seen and knew of Arielle left her with a feeling of dread.






Chapter Seven


As Ellie had feared, Alexia had a series of questions for her the next day. They were sitting at the kitchen table eating dinner, and Arielle was standing by the counter top, invisible to Alexia's eyes. "How long has she been in town?" Alexia asked. "I've never seen her."

"Only for a month or so," Ellie said.

"What does she do? Does she have family here?"

Ellie struggled to come up with answers quick, saying the first thing that came to mind. "She's visiting a friend."

"Who?"

"I don't know, I forget." She glanced at Arielle often, in a way of telling her to remember this information for any other time she was seen by Alexia.

"Is she working?" Alexia continued.

"Not right now."

"What do you two have in common?"

"Books, drawing, music," she shrugged, becoming irritated at the questions. Mostly because she was growing more nervous with each one, and her answers were getting slower each time, but she understood why Alexia was curious and excited. In all her life, Ellie had never had an actual friend. This was the first guest in the house that had been for her. Ellie was amused that her first friend was the ghost of a dead woman.

She was relieved when Alexia's series of questions about Arielle came to an end. "Do you want to go out for dinner tomorrow?" Alexia finally changed the subject.

"Yeah, sure."

"Come to school after work, we'll leave from there."

"Okay."

"How've you been feeling?" Alexia asked.

"Fine," Ellie answered.

"No nausea?"

"Not lately."

Alexia smiled, looking satisfied. "Good."


After dinner, Ellie went upstairs. "So," Ellie said, closing her bedroom door, "get all that?"

Arielle sighed. "I think so. Thanks for making me so un-interesting."

"What was I supposed to say?"

"Anything!" she threw her arms up dramatically. "You're creative."

Ellie chuckled. "You don't even know me."

"I've been looking through your stuff," she smiled.

"You what?"

"All your stuff," she pointed to the desk, at the laptop and stacks of papers.

"You sneaky ghost bitch."

Arielle grinned. "Your art and your stories are pretty neat, you know," she said. "You come up with interesting things."

Ellie shrugged. "Thanks, I guess."

"Why's it all buried, though? You should share it."

"I don't think so," Ellie said.

"Why?" Arielle asked.

"I just don't think it's good enough for that."

Arielle frowned, and Ellie quietly sat down at the desk, not giving another thought to it.


After work the next day, Ellie turned down the other way, on her way to the school. "Your sister's a teacher?" came Arielle's voice.

"Are you-"

"Only visible to you," she answered before Ellie could finish.

"Yeah, she is," she answered quietly.

"That's so cool. I thought about being a teacher, too."

"Don't understand why anyone would wanna be surrounded by annoying ass kids everyday."

"That's so mean," Arielle shook her head slowly in disapproval. "They just need guidance."

Ellie scoffed. "Yeah, okay."

The school was very crowded as kids packed the halls on their way out of class and out of school. Ellie's expression was of annoyance as she was continuously bumped into and elbowed. She rolled her eyes at Arielle, who was showing off the fact that she could walk through people with a grin. She also began showing off that she could walk through walls, and while Ellie was watching her with much curiosity, she walked right into someone, causing them to drop their armful of books.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Ellie said quickly.

The woman rubbed her forehead. "Usually when that happens it's my fault," she chuckled. She knelt down to pick up the books she had dropped, and Ellie did too. "Hey, thanks," she said.

"No problem," Ellie said. "My fault. I wasn't paying attention."

They stood, and the woman smiled at her again. Ellie had never seen her before. Her eyes matched her hair color, her short hair was dyed a light shade of blue, though dark brown roots were showing. She had a nose and eyebrow piercing, and wore jeans and a black hoodie. Ellie realized she was staring, and looked down. "Sorry again. Your head okay?"

"As okay as it ever is," she shrugged.

Ellie chuckled. There was a short silence. "Should get going," she said. "My nephew's waiting in the car."

"Oh, yeah," Ellie stepped out of her way. She gave another smile as she passed.

Ellie made her way to Alexia's classroom, which was almost empty of giggling young children. "Hey," Alexia greeted, packing her bag. "I'm almost ready."

Ellie stopped by the desk and waited, watching Arielle excitedly look around the room as children charged through her on their way out. "Okay," Alexia breathed. "Where do you want to go?"

"Anywhere's fine with me," Ellie said. "I'm hungry."

"At least you didn't say pizza."

Ellie grinned. "I can always go for that."

"Oh, I know. But we're getting something nice today," she added with a smile, leading the way out of the empty classroom.

Alexia drove a little ways out to a restaurant on the other side of town. They sat across from each other in the restaurant. Unlike the one Ellie worked, this one was considered fancier. She kept glancing at Arielle, who was looking bored while she wandered around. Ellie felt sorry for her. It must really suck having to be attached to her of all people. Ellie was not one who did many exciting things.

"Jess wants to come over tomorrow," Alexia said, looking through the menu. "She's going to have dinner with us, and then we're going out for drinks. Maybe you can invite your new friend over."

Ellie shrugged. "She's pretty annoying. Just thinking about her gives me a headache." She smirked behind her menu at Arielle's open mouthed, offended expression.

Alexia chuckled. "I think she's cute."

Ellie rolled her eyes as Arielle put a hand over her chest and gave an aww at the comment, and in that moment, it finally hit Ellie, seeing her standing there like that, no one but her able to see Arielle. A restaurant full of people and only Ellie could see her. Arielle was stuck with her. She was a ghost, an actual ghost. An actual spirit of a murdered woman was attached to her, and she finally wondered why. It was then she was hit with a sudden fear. Mrs. Norris had gone in that house several times. And police, ambulance, Alexia, and even Arielle's parents.

So why was it her, and only her, that Arielle was attached to and unable to leave? It left her feeling terrified for the rest of the night.






Chapter Eight



Ellie didn't have to work the next day, so she spent her day at home. She realized that Arielle was a little too quiet today, and invisible to her eyes. She looked away from the laptop and scanned around the room. "Hey, where are you?" she asked.

Arielle appeared, sitting on the bed. "How come you're not being irritating?" Ellie asked.

She shrugged. "It feels like you feel bad," she said. "Like... I have a bad feeling."

"What?"

"I don't know. I have a... bad vibe."

Ellie stared. "From me?"

"I think so."

Ellie looked down at her hands on her lap. It was true. What she thought about last night was still bothering her at that point as well. "It's just..." she began slowly, "I was thinking about why it's me you're stuck with. I mean, why not your parents or something? So many people have gone in and out of your house since you died, so... why me?"

Arielle frowned. "Yeah. I get it."

"I'm sorry. I'm not mad at you or anything. I just don't understand."

Arielle stared at her, a flicker of sadness in her eyes. The silence was broken by Ellie's phone ringing loudly, and she read the message she had received. It was from Alexia, asking her to go shopping to pick up some things for dinner. She replied with an ok and set the phone down.

"What do you think happens if you eat?" she asked suddenly, staring at the bag of chips on the desk.

"Huh?" Arielle asked.

"I'm kinda curious."

"Actually, me too," Arielle giggled.

Ellie opened the bag, and then tossed them to her. "Try it," she grinned.

Arielle took a potato chip from the bag, and stared at it for a moment. She took a deep breath, and then put it into her mouth. Ellie watched intently as she chewed, and then swallowed. There was a long, tense silence as they both waited to see if Arielle would maybe explode or something, but nothing happened.

"Huh," Ellie stared with curiosity. "So you can eat."

"Yeah, but..." Arielle looked at the bag. "These are supposed to be spicy, right?"

"Yeah."

"They're not. I can't taste them."

Ellie stared. "You mean..."

"I can eat, but I can't taste."

"Wow. That sucks."

"I know," Arielle groaned. "What's even the point of food now? Being dead sucks," she fell backwards and laid down, staring up at the ceiling with annoyance written all over her face.

Ellie snorted. "Sorry," she looked down, smiling.

"But I can eat. Hey, hey," she said excitedly, sitting up again, "invite Allison over for dinner!"

"What?"

"I can eat anything, even if it's gross! Come on, please! It's so boring just watching!"

Ellie sighed. "Fine, then."

"Wooo!" she threw her arms up, few chips spilling out of the bag. "Whoops, sorry," she picked them up, putting them back into the bag. Ellie watched her with a smile.


Ellie went to the grocery store later in the day, accompanied by Arielle, once again invisible to others, and her mood seemed a little cheerier. She talked quite a bit while Ellie silently shopped, just giving little nods to a few things once in awhile. The fact that Ellie could not talk back to her did not seem to be an issue.

As Ellie turned to the aisle of snack foods, she was surprised. The blue haired woman turned her head to her, and an expression identical to Ellie's came upon her face. "Hey," she said. "Running into each other again without literally running into each other."

Ellie chuckled. "So, are you new around here?" she asked quickly in attempt to start up a conversation.

"Yep. Just moved in with my sister about two months ago. She and her boyfriend split up, so I'm here to help."

"Liking WillowWood so far?" Ellie asked.

"Yeah. Everyone's been friendly. I love the forest, too."

"I've been here my whole life and never really wandered the forest much. I work at Arnold's, the restaurant."

"Oh, cool. I've been meaning to go there."

"Come by any time."

"My name's Amy, by the way," she said.

"Ellie. Well, Eloise, but nobody really calls me that," she said, to which Arielle shouted loudly in her ear "Your name is Eloise?! I love it!"

"It's cool to meet you, Ellie," Amy smiled. "I hope we can get to know each other."

"Yeah, definitely."

"I'll stop by your restaurant soon."

"I look forward to it."

Amy nodded and smiled, and then strolled off in another direction. Ellie was surprised at herself. She never spoke to random strangers, especially not on her own. She wasn't sure what it was that made her want to. There was something that made her feel comfortable talking to Amy, and it was weird. She had never felt that way before.

Ellie returned home and unpacked the groceries. "I'll invite you over for dinner tomorrow," she said. "So Alex and Jess can focus on each other tonight."

"'Kay," Arielle said, putting some things into a cabinet. Ellie watched her, amused. She had not asked for help, but did not mind it. They both froze when they heard the front door open, and looked at each other. "Ellie!" sang Jessica. "I'm here!"

Arielle quickly made herself disappear, dropping the can she had been holding and about to put away, and it hit the floor loudly. Jessica came into the kitchen, smiling wide. "How'd you..." Ellie stared.

"Still got a key, remember?" she jingled her set of keys.

"Oh, yeah."

Jessica's eyes stopped on the fallen can of pasta sauce, and then on Ellie. Ellie realized that it was nowhere near her, and she couldn't have dropped it, but Jessica had heard it hit the floor, the sound ringing through the house. "That fell right when you opened the door," Ellie said with a slow shake of her head. "Knew you were a bad omen."

Jessica laughed, to Ellie's relief. She picked it up and set it back on the countertop, and Jessica pulled out a chair to sit. "So, how're you doing?" she asked. "We haven't had the same hours much so I've missed you. Alex was saying you haven't been feeling good."

"That passed. Was really nauseous for a few days, but I'm fine."

"Good. She also mentioned you've got a cute new friend," she grinned.

"Oh, yeah."

"What's her name?"

"Allison," she said, trying not to smile at Arielle's disgusted expression.

"When do I get to meet her?" Jessica asked.

"You'll just scare her away."

Jessica laughed. "Hey, I'll try to be on my best behavior!"

"You don't have one. You're just you, and that's bad."

"Now I can't wait to meet her," Jessica grinned. "She'll hear some stories about you."

"I'm sure she'd like that," Ellie said with a glance at Arielle, and then proceeded to make dinner with Jessica's help.

After dinner, Alexia and Jessica went out. Ellie and Arielle were alone, sitting on the couch together in the living room. "What kind of things did you like to watch?" Ellie asked, browsing through the movies.

"Scary stuff, suspenseful stuff, mysteries..."

"Me too," Ellie said.

"You've got a lot of my favorites!" Arielle said excitedly. "Me and Kelly watched that one every year," she said as Ellie stopped on a movie. "Our first night living together, we both chose that one. It kinda became special to us. I'll miss that," she ended quietly.

Ellie stared, feeling sad. "Wanna watch it? I actually haven't seen this one yet."

"Oh, sure," Arielle smiled. "You're gonna love it!"

Ellie chuckled. "I'm gonna make popcorn. Did you like popcorn?"

"Yes!" she nodded. "With a ton of butter!"

"Just the way I make it," said Ellie. "I know you can't taste it, but we're gonna share a giant bowl anyway. Sound good?"

Arielle nodded with a smile.

Despite that they watched the movie quietly that night and not much happened, for Ellie it was one of the nicest nights of her life, peaceful and all.






Chapter Nine


As Ellie was busy getting ready for work in the morning, she thought more about Arielle and her attachment to her. Besides not knowing why Arielle was attached to her specifically, there was also how to break the attachment. How to free Arielle from her. She reached for the shower handle to turn off the water, but stopped when she heard a sound at the other end of the curtain. "Arielle?" she asked. "Are you in here?"

"Yes," came the reply.

"What the hell are you doing?" she asked. "I'm in the shower. Get out, you little pervert."

Arielle giggled, and then there was a knock on the bathroom door. "I'm out!"

Ellie turned off the water. "Don't come back in," she warned.

"You know, I could just appear in the shower with you," Arielle said. "Alas, I am proper."

Ellie scoffed, pulling the curtain open and stepping out. When she was dressed, she opened the door and was face to face with Arielle. "God, you're weird," she said, passing her.

"I wanna tell you something," Arielle said, following her to her bedroom.

"What?" Ellie asked.

"I felt something yesterday," she said. Ellie looked at her. "It hurt a little," she said, putting a hand on her chest. "Right here..."

"You felt pain?" Ellie asked.

"Kinda, I think," she looked worried.

"When did it happen?"

"In the middle of the day, after you went shopping, but it was gone at night."

Ellie stared. "What do you think it was?"

She shrugged. "I really don't know. I'm dead. I shouldn't feel anything at all, right? I mean, I can't even taste."


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