A/N: Not... an amazing chapter. Purely plot progression. I promise something more compelling the next time around; this will have to due for now, though. XD;
The stew simmered on the pot, vegetables floating all around like an ocean full of vessels. Edwina studied the pot in a bit of a daze, even while her glasses fogged up from the steam.
Edwina jumped, getting off the counter clumsily before answering, "Yeah?" she called back, wiping the fog from her glasses before putting them back on.
Her grandmother walked backwards into the kitchen, her grey head moving all around, "Did you hear that?"
Edwina blinked, "Hear what?"
"Oh, gracious," her grandmother brought out a handkerchief to wipe her brow, "I'm going senile..."
"What did you hear, grandma?" Edwina took her grandmother's shoulders and led her to a chair.
"Oh, honey, you'll just think me an old fool," the old woman laughed, fanning herself a bit, "I must be hearing things, that's all."
Edwina nodded, but still kept her eyebrows strewn in thought. Abruptly, the front door clicked open.
"Sorry I'm late, mom," in a flash of red and khaki, Edwina's mother rushed in past them, putting groceries onto the counter.
"It's all right, Mariem," Edwina's grandmother said, waving off her daughter, "So long as you have your work done."
Mariem took in a large breath, taking off her coat at last, "Yeah," she smelled the air, "Mm! Is that stew?"
Edwina rolled her eyes. They all had stew every Saturday.
"My specialty," her grandmother answered, walking back towards the brew, "It's almost ready. Edwina helped me with it."
"Really? Well, maybe someone can help me more with handling dinner, huh?" Edwina's mother winked at her. The ginger haired girl forced a smile on her lips, but allowed it to fall as her mother looked away.
She strayed away from the kitchen, a rush of melancholy filling her system and leading her to a sigh. It was an average Saturday at her grandmother's house for Edwina. While other teens she knew (besides perhaps Chancellor) were out on dates and outings with friends, she was, once again, eating stew with her mother and grandmother, both of whom would no doubt end up bickering by the end of the night like they always did until she and her mother left.
She strayed over to her grandmother's living room and to the mantel. Pictures, some new and some old, all littered the surface. Her eyes wandered from a black and white, beaten up picture of her grandmother as a little girl, to a picture of two little girls with bright red hair. Her face sobered as her stare wandered to a single picture of a red headed girl, aged somewhere near twelve.
"Edwina," she looked back, blinking in response to her grandmother who had trekked over to where she stood, "Do you want to know what I thought I heard earlier?" the teenager nodded her head, then watched as her grandmother's eyes directed to the picture of the girl, "I heard... your Aunt Missy."
Edwina put her hand on her own chest, "Grandma..." she lowered her voice, "Missy's been dead for twenty years. It couldn't have been her you heard."
Her grandmother shook her head, "I know it seems impossible, deary, but I've been hearing her for some months now and I'm not sure why. I'm not superstitious, but... oh, I hope you don't think me crazy for this," she grabbed the box on the mantle, opening it to reveal a silver locket, "But I somehow feel this will make you feel better. I feel as though it's been... calling to me." Her grandmother's look was weary, her hand shaking slightly. Edwina couldn't refuse when her grandma looked so unsettled.
Edwina blinked, looking down at the locket. She took it gently, opening it to reveal a two separate photos of a man and a woman.
"That's your great grandfather and great grandmother. I passed it down to Melissa when she was young. She wore it everyday," her grandmother looked at the pendent oddly for a moment, "Except... the day of the fire."
"Dinner's up," both jumped as Mariem's voice sounded toward them.
"Don't show it to your mother quite yet," they both began to walk back to the kitchen, "You know she's not... really over it yet."
"I won't. Thank you," Edwina put the locket in the pocket of her jeans before sitting down to dinner, sighing at the familiar contents of her plate.
"What were you two talking about over there?" Mariem asked.
"Oh, nothing much. How is your father, Eddi dear?"
Both Edwina and her mother choked a little on their food at the question.
"Uh..." Edwina wiped her mouth before continuing, "He's fine... I suppose."
"Still paying for that school of yours I hope?"
Mariem coughed to clear her throat of stew, "Yes, mom, he is. Certainly has the money to do so these days. He's working with that big shot architect, right? I can't pronounce the guy's name for the life of me."
"Yeah... actually I met him," Edwina shifted nervously, "He said Mr. Xiao likes to get familiar with his clients and such."
"That's a little odd."
"He's rather eccentric, actually," Edwina shrugged, "His son goes to Chancellor's school though," she finished with a faint blush.
"... Ohhh," her mother and grandmother sounded in unison.
"Nothing, nothing," both Mariem and her grandmother chuckled.
"Speaking of which, is Chancellor doing fine? You are still friends, right?"
"Yes, grandma. He's doing fine."
"Still just friends then?"
Edwina nearly choked on her stew once more, "Grandma! He's just a friend."
"Okay, okay," both her grandmother and mother giggled, making her pout just a bit.
"May I be excused?" Edwina sighed, getting up from her chair.
"What's the matter, dear?"
"I just don't feel that good," she left the table, causing the two women behind her to shrug.
She went up the stairs, cringing as she heard the echo of their voices. The last words she heard as she came to the top was, "I dated boys at her age..." making her leave faster into a room.
It was dark upstairs, but she managed to feel her way to a door and step inside it. All she saw was a black board in front of her eyes. She felt her way around, touching a bed. A cold chill went down her back. She was familiar enough with the house to have identified the room by the bed's comforter, the contours of its pattern, and the position of the window, which only bled some light throw its curtains.
She felt for a lamp, then turned it on, and light burst throw the room. She sat down one of the twin beds of the room as she looked all around. The wallpaper was peeling a bit, she noticed, and felt a little disheartened. Black scorch marks were still on the walls.
She quickly diverted her attention away, instead looking to the night stand next to her as she leaned back on the bed. She picked up a picture which, once again, held the images of two identical red headed girls.
She put it back with a sigh, shifting herself so that she was laying down vertically.
Edwina heard laughter burst from down below. Roughly, she moved to lay on her side. Feeling a weight in her pocket, she reached inside, blinking as she remembered the pendent. She opened it again.
She closed her eyes, putting the locket to her heart. She fell into a very light sleep.
A burning sensation slowly filled her nostrils. It smelled of thick smoke. She shot up, looking all around. The room glowed with a hellish red. She looked to her left, yelping as she saw flames bursting out of the wall just next to her.
She scrambled out of bed, going to the door, realizing with a start that it was completely different--even the knob was new to her. She attempted to wrench it open, only finding it hopelessly locked.
"Help!" she banged on the door, "Mom! Help me!"
"Stay... with me..."
Edwina looked back, whimpering when she realized the whole rest of the room was different--girlish paintings lined the wall, the beds covered in floral design... and a body rested in the bed just next to the other.
The body rose up. It turned to her, looking on with as a scorched skull of a face.
Edwina screamed, tears blotting out her vision. Suddenly the room blinked with light as a strobe, confusing her until the door opened, pushing her out of the way.
"Edwina?! What's the matter? What's going on?"
Edwina shook, looking all around. Everything was as it was. She burst out sobbing as her mother took her shoulders.
Chancellor breathed in the cold air, stretching his arms for a moment with a great yawn.
"You look like you got sleep last night," Edwina commented, keeping her eyes straight ahead.
"I have been for the last couple nights," Chancellor scratched his cheek. He looked at her curiously, "You don't look like you got much sleep at all."
Edwina stopped in her tracks, looking back at Chancellor, "You might think I'm crazy, Chancellor," she bit her lip, looking away.
Tentatively, Chancellor put a hand on her shoulder, "It's fine. You can tell me," he said stiffly, looking at anything else besides Edwina.
The ginger haired girl's eyes widened, "Really, Chance?" she smiled slightly, "Thanks... but it's still so weird." Chancellor waited for her to continue, growing more uncomfortable by the minute. Soon she released a sigh, "I... I think my grandmother's house is... haunted."
Chancellor raised an eyebrow, "Ghosts don't exist."
"Chance, just listen," Edwina snapped, "Something really weird happened to me. I... I was upstairs, and I went into my mom's old bedroom. You know what happened to my Aunt Missy, right?"
Chancellor rolled his eyes, "Don't tell me you think it's her."
"Chance--I don't know," Edwina bit back a worse reply, "All I know is that it was the room my mom shared with her until she passed on, and afterwards she refused to sleep in it. But what happened to me I really can't explain. I was in the room, and I laid down on the bed. Oh! And earlier, my grandma gave me this," she reached behind her neck, pulling a locket out of her shirt, "It used to be my Aunt Missy's."
"She wore this everyday! That's significant. Anyway. I was laying on the bed, and then all of the sudden..." she tensed up, "The whole room looked like it was on fire."
"She died in a fire, right?"
"Right. But... she died because she breathed in too much of the smoke. She wasn't burnt up... like the..." she turned pale.
"So you saw a ghost?"
"I don't know what it was," Edwina bent her head down, "I just know it scared the hell out of me. And I think it was in my Aunt's old bed."
"You were dreaming," Chancellor took his hand off her shoulder.
"I wasn't," Edwina scowled, "I was out of bed when it was all over. Plus," she lifted up her hand, "You didn't notice, did you?" she showed him her palm. A large band-aid was over it.
Chancellor paled, "What happened?"
"I tried the doorknob. It didn't budge. I was too scared to notice it had burned my hands, too," Edwina shivered, "I don't know what happened... but something isn't right. My grandma told me earlier, too, that she had been hearing Missy's voice."
"Why is this all happening now, then? Aren't you over there every Saturday?"
"I don't know. I think it has something to do with the locket," Edwina bit her lip as they neared both their schools.
Chancellor put a hand on her shoulder once more. He paused, seeming to think of what he should say. "Don't worry about it. I'm positive it was a dream."
Edwina sighed, shaking her head. She left him silently. Chancellor allowed his hand to drop.
"... Quit staring at me."
Chancellor was once again watching over Decker in detention, and annoyingly enough to latter boy had taken up the hobby of leering at Chancellor whenever there was a silence between them. The silence this day, though, had lasted since the beginning of the hour for some twenty minutes.
"Sorry," Decker smiled widely, scratching the back of his head, "You just seem bothered is all."
"I'm not," Chancellor continued to hold his concentration on the wall across from him. After a moment, he closed his eyes, "I can't believe I'm asking you this, but... do you believe in ghosts?"
Decker's eyes widened, staying like that for a moment. When Chancellor finally looked to him, he blinked rapidly, "Well, uh, why?"
"I... suppose I can tell you since you know her."
"Edwina," Chancellor reclined back on his chair, "She thinks her grandma's house is haunted."
Chancellor scowled, "Don't say ëwhen, where and how' next, please," he sighed, "It's a long story, but she thinks the ghost of her Aunt tried to kill her."
Decker was about to open his mouth, but instead closed it. He bit his lip, "Wow. Uh..."
Chancellor sighed, "Go ahead and ask ëhow'."
"How did it haunt her?" Decker asked with a smile.
"What? Did she die in one or something?"
Chancellor rolled his eyes, "So you believe her?"
"I was just asking. You don't need to believe in ghosts to know about stuff like that," Decker shrugged, "Kind of an obvious question..."
"With an obvious answer. She did. Answer my question; do you believe in ghosts?"
"Well... it depends," Decker put a hand on his chin for thought, "I think there are other explanations out there other than ghosts... but I kinda do."
Chancellor stared at him for a moment, "Have you had experience at all?"
Decker laughed slightly, "I guess you could say that," as Chancellor turned away, he tipped his head, "So you're... worried about her?"
"She's physically hurt and can't sleep because of it, so yes," Chancellor played with the pages of his abandoned book absentmindedly, "Not enough to believe her story, though."
"Oh. So you think she's crazy."
"I didn't say that," Chancellor scowled, then blinked, "To be honest, I really don't know what to think."
"I think you should check it out before assuming stuff," Decker tipped his head to the side, "Try and help out as much as you can."
"... Would she want that?" Chancellor looked at Decker sharply, "You know about girls. Do you think she would want me interfering?"
"Uh..." Decker frowned, "I dunno. Is she kind vulnerable?"
Chancellor thought, "I'd say so."
"How defensive is she about it?"
"I don't know. What do you mean by that?" Chancellor scowled.
"Well, did you really have to torture it out of her or did she pretty much spill her guts out as soon as you asked about it?"
Chancellor shrugged, "The latter I'd say more."
"Well, then I'd say she might want some support," Decker put a hand on his shoulder, "She could use a couple knights in shining armor."
"... A couple?" Chancellor glared at him.
"Me and you, of course," Decker smiled brightly, "Who else?"
"Hey, who's the one with experience, here?" Decker smiled confidently, sitting back in his chair.
Chancellor sighed, "Fine."
"It's settled then. When do we get to see the ghosts?"
If possible, Chancellor scowled more darkly, "Possibly this Saturday. I'll set something up."
"Cool," Decker's heart leapt, feeling a mixture of anticipation and excitement. He faced away from Chancellor to smile to himself.
Chancellor frowned, looking back. Decker smiled at him in a quirky fashion, continuing to walk down towards him.
"Why are you following me?"
"Well, you are going to go meet with Edwina now, aren't you?"
Chancellor scowled, "Yes..." Decker smiled more--which was enough for him to know what he was going at. The flaxen haired boy sighed roughly, "Fine."
Decker's eyes sparkled, and he dashed up to Chancellor without a moment's notice. Chancellor allowed his mouth to settle into a firm line, making sure to keep all eyes off the youth next to him. His eyes wandered instead around the autumn colors. The trees blazing orange, reds and golds were stark contrasts to the grey sky above them.
Soon, however, his eyes only wandered onto Decker. It seemed almost as if his turquoise eyes were literally glittering, matching his glowing smile.
Chancellor quickly looked away, "What're you so happy about?"
"Huh?" to Chancellor's surprise, the boy blushed, "Uh, I dunno."
Chancellor narrowed his eyes, "Is it Edwina?"
Since Decker didn't seem terribly caught off guard, blinking in honest naiveté as Chancellor continued his glare, the other boy merely sighed, "Never mind."
"Okay," Decker chirped, "Where we headed anyway?"
"I didn't say that," Chancellor made a quick turn, almost losing Decker in the process.
"How far away is she?"
"Mildly," Chancellor said in a deadpan fashion. He took to looking around disinterestedly again.
"Hey, can I ask you question?" Decker tipped his head to the side, "She your girlfriend?"
Chancellor's eyes widened, blushing slightly, "No."
"Oh," he laughed slightly, "I didn't really think you were. Just wanted to see how you would react."
Chancellor scowled, not answering.
Decker's face sobered up a bit, "But... you like her, don't you?"
"Who asked you?" Chancellor snapped.
"Sorry," Decker said, watching his feet for a moment.
Chancellor sighed harshly, "I liked her throughout middle school and freshman year. I got over her months ago. Happy?"
Decker laughed, though in a more hollow manner than before, "Sure." As Decker looked back up, he had to stop abruptly. Chancellor had stopped in his tracks.
"Bus," was all Chancellor said before sprinting down the street, and only a second later Decker realized why and ran after him.
The two boys barely made it onto the bus, but did so with blushed and sweating faces.
A rush of sadness swept over her. Staring at the locket, she felt enraptured with the object, even though it brought such an odd feeling of depression.
"Edwina! Some friends are here."
Edwina jolted out of her state, blinking rapidly. She almost forgot she was at home in her room; staring at the locket brought such odd thoughts to mind...
She bounded down the steps of her house, stopping in her tracks at the first face she saw.
"Hi!" Decker beamed at her, his eyes ablaze with a particular exuberance.
"H- hi," Edwina said, wishing she could help the blush that was creeping up in her features. As Chancellor came up behind him, however, she became more confused, "Chancellor?"
Chancellor raised his eyebrow. "Don't sound so happy to see me."
"What're you both doing here?" she came down the steps, walking them both into the living room.
Chancellor appeared to think for a moment--exactly how he should put the matter was abruptly solved by Decker's loud mouth.
"Heard you had a ghost problem!" Decker said, bright face faulting at Edwina's reaction.
Her face blushed, looking to Chancellor, "What..."
"You never said I couldn't tell," Chancellor mumbled, looking in all sorts of directions.
Decker looked back and forth, realizing Chancellor suddenly had a bout of guiltiness, while Edwina looked just plain confused. He sighed, though couldn't help retaining that bubbly mood that had hit him at the end of the school day.
"Wini?" both Chancellor and Edwina had pitched in--though with different expressions and tones.
"We gotta plan something, cause we can't have you getting burned by some nasty specter every week or so," he put a chin to thought, a glint coming into his eye, "Now what can we do about that...?"
A/N: Thanks for reading. Please leave a review.