When I look through my bedroom window into the darkness that is the backyard, I cannot help but feel curious about what I see beyond the frigid pane. I cannot tell if it is reality or just a part of my imagination. I have a notebook, chock-full of pages that describe nights like this, of how I see a tall black being at the end of a slithering pathway near the back gate at the corner of our paint-chafed garage. I know that when we create eye contact, that we can see each other. But, I feel as if though, that when I see him, he is not an ordinary person. He feels ethereal. I guess I can say he is a silhouetted form of a ghost.
My interactions with this…person…began only a few weeks ago. I remember getting ready for bed and looking out of my window to see the foggy park behind my house just for the fun of doing so. That's when I suddenly felt my nerves jump. My eyes saw a black mass by the gate. I had quickly thought that this was a criminal who snuck on through, looking to rob us, but then I noticed he did not move. He was as still as a statue, feet super-glued down on the slate-like pathway. Who was he? What was he? Questions entered my mind, desperate for answers.
I wrote about him for nights, seeing him outside between ten and midnight at the same place, but, in order to have my questions answered, I would have to do more then just see him. I had to go out there and speak to him, and, being ten, I had that advantage in communicating with the other side, just like they say in books and shows. It took me until night five to get the courage to sneak out, and that night, with my filled-up notebook of journal entries, I did just that.
Who are you? What's your name? Why are you here?
I had to find out.
As I walked down the driveway to the back, I felt the chilly, night air go through my tee and baggy black pants as my bare feet tiptoed across the icy-cold, granular concrete, of which I hoped contained no worms or slugs creeping around. It was easier sneaking out without the use of my shoes on; it made less noise. The final stretch felt electrical, like an aura shooting outward in all directions, and my body felt it. Standing face-to-face with this being was no different than standing next to an actual person, except he wasn't—well he was, just different.
The night is like a blanket over his chilly body, for I see no features. His breaths are few and far between, and when they do come through, they sound raspy and drawn out. His legs dangle as if a string holds him up. I asked him my questions that night, and I got answers, chilling ones at that. He died in a car accident down the street on a walk home, his name is surprisingly the same as my own, and he stays behind the garage for it reminds him of where he lived.
The more I talked to him the more I couldn't help but notice he knew a lot about me. He was like a tall, ghostly stalker in my backyard, but he assured me he was friendly. He knew my favorite colors, my favorite food, and even knew what I was thinking that night. It was like he was a doppelganger, of which I knew I would be dead if I saw mine, but I found myself alive and well…and definitely not transparent. That night, I knew I had to come back to find out more.
Now, I watch him, and I can spot the backlight from the park clearly through his body, giving further proof to him being a ghost. I don't know how he knows of me, or why we share a name. It's a strange coincidence in a strange world I live in.
How does he know me so well? What is it like on the other side?
I want to see him more to fetch answers, but it's my bedtime, so…goodnight.
It's a brand new morning and I can see the sun's bright rays poking through the same window I looked out of only hours ago. I try and hide from them under my blankets, but a beeping alarm signaling seven doesn't make it any easier on me. It's like evil is surrounding me on all sides.
"I don't want to go to school," I mumble sickly.
I want to stay home and think about tonight. I have questions that no teacher can answer for me. It all must come straight from him, the ghost I see outside every night. Only he knows.
A shower and a couple of cartoons later, I walk into the kitchen, the main hub where we always gather to get the day rolling, dressed in a school uniform of navy blue shorts and a white top, all in compliance with the rules of my school. My mother told me that a dress code makes things a lot easier, but being a kid, I don't see that. I'd rather wear Avengers clothing.
"Hi mom!" I shout on my way in.
"Good morning!" she replies with a bright face.
Along with my entry, I also see my smiling father coming from the dining room.
As my parents say goodbye, I'm out the door. A spring morning is definitely warmer than a spring night, but still, it's slightly chilly out, a temperature my young metabolism can handle.
"Bye, dad!" I shout on my way down the driveway to the walk.
I get no answers, but know he's busy when he heads to work, fumbling around in the front seat of the car. So much work in the adult world, it's crazy. I don't know how he can do it everyday.
A daily walk to school for me is not like any other. It's a time to think about the daily schedule and a time to let the mind roam free before the strict rules of school bind it down to a chair with the rest of the body. It's not all bad if you count a partly cloudy sky, the whirring sound of traffic, and a friendly, old neighbor down the street from you.
A porch down the ways catches my attention. "Hi, Mrs. McGregor!" I call out.
I can see her face light up from where I stand. "Hello, dearie!" she replies back.
With a frail hand and a cheery grin, she waves and smiles back at me from her old, wooden porch filled with a few knickknacks and small plants. I say hello to her like this every morning.
I once did the lawn for her, and since then, we have become friends. I think about that day as I make a turn at the corner where my mind transitions to pondering over tonight. I hope I get the answers I am looking for when I sneak out into the backyard. I feel as if I need them like my life depends on it. It most certainly doesn't, but it feels that way.
"Good morning!" says a crossing guard, the first of two I always see.
She works for another school on my route to my own. I am surrounded my kids here, all of whom seem too busy with their schoolyard gossip to notice me, even just to say hello.
She helps us cross the street and on the other side I bypass stores where the owners are setting up shop for the day. I like the local convenient one, always finding myself shopping there for packs of gum. The store owner likes to say how funny I am when I make jokes before I leave.
"You should meet him," I hear him say through the open door to one of his other friends, of whom I don't really know. "He makes me smile, even when days are long and busy."
The honorable mention puts a smile on my face that stays there until the final stretch.
The towering prison of brick and mortar stares me down at the final corner, where not even the second friendly crossing guard can help ease the feeling of nervousness and dreadfulness, all balled up into some strange, indescribable feeling.
"Good morning!" he says in a jolly tone which reminds me of a Santa at the mall.
I walk in through the doors where I hope I am not late. I don't think I am. I see people swarm the hallways before the bell will corral them into their classrooms. I'm not the type to stay and chat with a back up against a locker, only to see some bad guy walking my way with fierce eyes and cracking fists, ready to stuff me inside in the most bone-crunching of ways just so I can fit.
I take what I need from mine, minding my own business like I am invisible to the others. I walk in my classroom that smells of Lysol and education, bringing out my notebook I brought with me when I reach my desk. I need to go over how tonight will play out.
What time should I sneak out? Will he even be there?
I see my friend across the room chatting it up with the popular kids. He told me he took a liking to one of them, and since then, he hasn't talked to me about heavy metal music or sites he likes.
I can only wish the best of luck to my friend, who now treats me like I am not even in the same class as he is in. I just sit and watch him as he tries to move up the ranks without me.
"That's okay," I mumble to myself.
I'd rather be the geeky kid at the bottom of a tall ladder, working on talking to a ghost than trying to fit in just to get a girl to like me—or to go to a movie they are all seeing this weekend. I bet my life could be just as exciting as the next big summer blockbuster if I really put my mind to it.
Agitating ringing comes from the bell and the names in attendance fly by. It's the start of the always thrilling morning classes that get me in a bad mood. The days of playing with action figures in the park at sunup get replaced by…by this!
If two trains are traveling at the same speed of sixty miles an hour, what size is the shoe of the businessman in seat forty-three of a Boeing airplane going to Tokyo, Japan at 6:00 A.M.?
God help my soul if the teacher calls upon me for that! I should thank Him too, for she chooses some other student playing around with a ball-point pen near the back—sad to say it's my friend.
Language arts, the class after math, isn't as bad as it seems. I'd rather learn a new definition actually found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary than one from the back of a three inch thick mathematics book. Though, I'm sure those terms are in the dictionary.
"What is the definition of 'Hiatus'?" my teacher asks.
Eager to answer, I raise my hand a few times, only to have it ignored amongst the open sea of other just-as-eager hands. I feel nonexistent after several tries, but, I guess I should feel lucky today for I never really want it to happen. Wish the same was true for my friend with the ball-point pen.
Lunchtime is no different. All because of some group of "do-nothing goofballs", I have to sit in an assigned seat. I hear it's to meet new people and make new friends, but I'd give them a silver medal just for the excuse whilst I pass out gold to my old friends for being awesome ones I can count on. I don't know who I sit by and I don't plan to. They seem to have the same idea like I do; "let's ignore the others we don't know." It's a common theme whenever this happens to all of us.
There isn't much to say for the afternoon that is noteworthy of putting down. I hear the final bell and its time to go back home. I bypass a mass of gossipers near the doorway. It's time to go home, guys, I think to myself. I wouldn't want to stay there after hours chatting away.
"Have a good night!" Santa the crossing guard says to us group of kids that cross.
"Bye!" I reply, though I'm not sure if he hears me amongst the craziness.
I ask myself if it will really be a good night for me. I don't even know if I will see him there tonight—or if I will even be able to head outside! Night five felt like one lucky strike in a million.
The convenient store goes by to the right of me, and inside, I see the same worker.
"Hi!" I shout through the open doorway.
I stay to wait, but I only see a smile come my way before he goes on to focus on a customer.
"You should hear some of his jokes!" I overhear him say. "He was really funny."
I bet he means that one day I was really funny, telling a joke about a chicken crossing the road.
The second crossing is the same way as the first and I soon find myself turning the corner to go down my street. It just so happens that Mrs. McGregor is still watching from the porch.
"Hello!" she shouts out the best she can. "Good day at school?"
I look past how bad school is to answer with an honest nod. She smiles at me and I go on my way down the road with home in my site. Just a couple more minutes away, I tell myself.
All of a sudden, I pick up on the loud revving of a car engine and I can hear the tires emit sharp squealing noises. It gets louder and louder within only a few seconds. I stop by a pole and turn to see a black Cadillac careening right at me! I feel frozen in my tracks, so I can only shut my eyes and send a prayer to the good Lord in hopes that he will keep me safe—-I am too young to die!
"Look out!' Mrs. McGregor screams, fearing for my life.
Petrified like solid wood, I can only brace myself for impact. I feel a huge breeze coming right for me. I know what is coming, and I wish so badly to say goodbye to my parents, but, it is too late.
In the blink or two of my eyes, I am sure I will see the gates to Heaven after suffering a traumatic death, but all I see are houses and the street corner I was just at. I use my hands as sensors and they feel no metal, but the wooden telephone pole that my back is up against. I realize I am not in Heaven after all, unless…this is what it looks like.
"Are you alright, dearie?!" I hear a concerned voice ask.
It's old Mrs. McGregor wondering if I am alright.
My nervousness settles down along with my fast-beating heart. I do not hear the sound of the car going off into the distance, but I must have lived through it somehow nonetheless. It all happened so fast that I am unsure if what I see in front of me is really real.
"It missed you by inches!" she tells me.
Missed me? I must've lived, and all this must be really real!
I am unable to remember the climax of the event in my head on the rest of my shaky walk home, but I guess it does not matter. I am still here. I survived. It scared the crap out of my young life, but I am still able to stay on this Earth longer—just like I planned!
"I'm home!" I shout once I finally reach the latter, and boy, am I ever glad to be.
My mom must be busy cleaning, for I hear nothing back.
When dinner comes along, I soon find myself around the warmth of family; my parents and I, all around the dining room table for the last big meal. And by last, I mean of the day. I sit and hear my father's work stories of how boring it was, but when I hear about the jokes told around the water cooler, I laugh at how funny some of them are. Maybe I can use them on the store owner next time I see him when I am there for gum. That would get a laugh or two out of him for sure!
It's my turn to share what happened to me. I don't feel like poking through the files of school memories from today, because I have a more important event to share.
"I was almost involved in a car accident!" I begin to tell them.
"I thought I heard a reckless driver outside," my mom replies. "Crazy drivers, I swear!"
"I wonder where these people get their licenses," my dad adds.
My mother can only shake her head, unsure of how to answer such a hard question.
My helpfulness around the house helps get the dishes put away faster, leaving me free to galumph on back to my room where orange rays from a setting sun touch the ground.
"Hmm," I hum, "I wonder…"
I look out my window and this time, I see nothing. A quick wavering after hearing a sudden sound that turned out to be glasses clanking against each other and there he is! I see him by the gate!
I am so quick in putting on my shoes and running out the door that I cannot say goodbye to my parents. I hope they know I went outside to play—and by play, I mean in interviewing a ghost, hoping that I can put my curiosity to rest. I reach the back and I can definitely feel a tingling sensation from the static charge around a pocket of crisp air that is this figure.
"Hello!" I say in excitement. "I'm back, and with more questions!"
To my surprise, I get a feeling that I shouldn't ask him any. He has other ideas it seems.
Suddenly, I feel a web-like static charge engulf my hand and I can only think that the ghost is making contact with me. I look back through my own bedroom window and I see my parents standing next to each other in my doorway; dad's arm around mom's shoulders. It's in that moment that I can feel my body reaping sadness. I feel like fighting it, but I can't any longer.
"Come…" a young, disoriented voice says in my right ear.
And in that moment, I have all the answers I need when it comes to my curiosity I have towards the ghost. I slowly turn my head to look into my own eyes, and I come to realize that…it's me.