151 Old Mill Road- 4:00 pm
Did you ever just randomly get the feeling that you were being watched? There you are, alone and comfortably preoccupied with some other matter- and then your skin begins to creep with a prickling sense of danger. You can feel it behind you, boring into your skull. Someone else is there in the room, their eyes carefully regarding your every move. But you turn around quickly, your heart beating faster in fear, and you see no one.
I had been laying on my stomach, sprawled across a blue and yellow quilt on my friend Sarah's twin bed. We'd walked here directly after school, to finish our art project; A big painted checkerboard with the words "Make your move" across the top. Very Modernist. Sarah had gone out to the garage to grab a measuring tape. But a few minutes later I began to feel spooked. Sarah lives in a very old house with big rooms and hardwood floors. Something is always creaking somewhere within it, even when there's no one home. Especially when you're alone.
Almost as soon as she had gone, I began to feel uncomfortable. Each antique porcelain doll in Sarah's collection appeared more menacing. Somewhere in the walls a mouse scratched. Even the painted birds on the old silk wallpaper resonated with Victorian colors. A living human was out of place here. It was as if the house was swallowing me up- and it knew no time in all of its very long memory.
My neck suddenly flooded with goosebumps, certain that someone was behind me. I steadied myself and I turned instinctively to where I felt the presence. A face was there- staring back at me. I nearly screamed with shock. I then felt my body relax as I realized, with relief, that it had only been my own face in Sarah's mirrored vanity.
The vanity was carved from dark oak, and it had big drawers and a nice tabletop to apply makeup. Sarah kept only a hairbrush and a small jewelry box on top of it. She was much cleaner than I was. My room at home was strewn with clothes and books and plastic bags, and contained my entire life's contents. Sarah seemed to keep everything neatly folded in her closet.
My friend was back to the room in a few minutes and we began working on the board again.
I took a seat on the floor across from her, marking the halfway point on the board. Occupied with work for ten minutes or so, the job was nearly done. We both looked up suddenly when we heard a very faint laughter coming from downstairs. We were home alone, and the TV wasn't on.
My first thought was that perhaps I had imagined it. But Sarah's forehead was furrowed with lines of anxiety.
"Sarah," I whispered to her, carefully holding her hazel gaze "Do you ever feel like your house is haunted?"
She laughed at first. Nervous. She glanced around the room from left to right. "All the time. When we first moved in, my sister and I were so excited by the size of the place, we would explore it every day. We had a lot of fun doing that. We found so many things all over the house, even some of those dolls" She gestured to her collection "We even found a secret passageway in the basement that leads to another basement. We had no idea it was even there."
"A secret passage? That sounds cool!" I exclaimed.
Sarah took a little breath in, and focused on the floor. "But this one time, we went up into the attic. There was tons of stuff up there; old clothes and paintings and even a rocking chair... It was this really old wooden rocking chair. When I saw it, I never imagined what would happen. That section of the attic's right above my sister, Lacey's room. She swears that some nights, she hears that old chair rocking on the floor up in the attic- like there's still some old lady going back and forth in it."
My breath came out slowly. "That's spooky."
Sarah hung her head- as if she were embarrassed. "It's true though. I don't know what it is. I can't explain the voices we hear downstairs all the time, or even the lingering scent of rosewater perfume which just suddenly pops up in certain rooms. I'm too old to believe in ghosts anymore. At least I shouldn't believe in them anymore..."
"There are plenty of adult people who believe in ghosts. Haven't you ever seen one of those telephone psychics? Supposedly they can speak to the dead. There's also the people on the Discovery Channel who try to prove ghosts exist. They go into castles with night vision equipment and sound recorders. They're not too old." I argued.
Sarah laughed and lounged back against the bed. There was no point in defending my opinions. I was ready to believe in anything spooky. Not because I'm particularly Gothic or anything, but for an odder reason. For me- the existence of ghosts would be proof of an afterlife. Hard evidence that our deaths don't forever wipe our consciousness off the planet. For me- that would be a greater comfort than simply hoping for an afterlife. I would finally know for sure.
41 School Street- 1:05 pm
"Erica Mauser is such a bitch!" Sarah slammed her locker door shut. I stood by her side, and placed a hand on her quivering shoulder.
"Chemistry class again?" I asked dryly.
"She cheats her way through everything, and bullies whatever else she wants from people."
I nodded in sympathy. Erica and her best friend Marley had been the "in crowd" girls since Kindergarten- stealing boyfriends and starting rumors against nearly every other girl we knew. They wore constant expressions of annoyance. Yet- everyone seemed to like them! Oh well- freshly spilled blood under the bridge.
"She's been copying Galena Jordon's homework all month, and she just got the highest grade in the class. So Mr. Dryden paired us up as lab partners! As if I wanted that. The worst part is, she whined and complained to Mr. Dryden that she can't possibly work with me and he switched out my lab partner to go and work with her!
"But you and Melissa worked really well together. He should have just left it alone."
"No, it's not his fault. The teachers don't know the true Erica. You know how she's always careful to pretend she's a nice person when a teacher is watching. She's so good at lying. They never get to see her in action. Only us- the lucky ones- get to see the evil queen." Sarah picked up the chess board we had completed yesterday.
"At least we only have one year left of high school after this month." I added cheerfully.
The bell rang loudly over our heads, announcing that we had five minutes to make it to class. I slung my bag over my shoulder and Sarah and I walked to last period together. It was nice to end the day with art class, because it was a fun subject, but also because Sarah and I had that class together.
It was the silver lining to the cloud of having to go to school.
We usually made it to art class on time. Art classes were up on the third floor, and both of us had lockers in the basement, so we were at best always out of breath when we got there.
"Good afternoon, girls." Miss Wilson greeted us. She smiled genuinely. You can always tell a true smile by the person's eyes. If their eyes are crinkled and shining, they mean it. Miss Wilson liked me.
"Please leave your art projects on my desk" She pulled out a brown box and an LCD projector. "Since you've all worked so hard on your final art projects, I'm going to give you all a special treat today."
The lights in the room were dimmed, giving the air a cool, relaxing feel. The classroom took on a gentle lull. Miss Wilson glided over to the projector. She pulled up the first picture on the screen. A huge crowd of Asian people were in the foreground of a big city. The sky was almost yellow. China...? I wondered.
Miss Wilson had traveled all over the world as a college student, which hadn't been long ago. She was an extremely interesting teacher. Still, with the heat from the late May sun and the lack of lights, I felt myself nodding off.
My ears pricked up several minutes later, however, when Miss Wilson mentioned ghosts.
"Here you can see these strange orbs of light in the temple. Many people believe that these spirit photos are a type of art. You just take a picture in a place that you think may be haunted, and see what shows up. It happens a lot by accident. There are even cash prize contests dedicated to this type of art. Documenting the supernatural." Miss Wilson grinned mysteriously.
I raised my hand "Do you believe that?" I asked her, turning my head with skepticism.
"Spirits are taken very seriously in that part of the world. I certainly saw some strange things during my travels."
I glanced across the aisle at Sarah. She was formulating an idea in her mind- the same one that I had been thinking.