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The Ghost and the Girl

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The energy in the room is static, and Alice feels a tick of irritation in the back of her head.

Chancing a glance out of the corner of her eye, she nearly huffs out loud. She knew the two men at the edge of the table were going to make this difficult for her from the moment she woke up that morning.

Intuition, foresight. Different names for different games.

And Alice was the master of every board she set.

“Inhale,” she instructs once more, “and exhale.”

The younger man, a teenager still, by the sound of it, stifles a laugh. Alice pretends not to hear it and pretends not to notice as someone kicks his leg under the table.

“Terrence,” the older woman at her side—the one who had booked her, and invited her across state lines to help—scolds the boy.

Alice simply ignores the exchange. The night was set to be boring from the start. The house wasn’t really haunted. Neither was the family. The poor young widow simply had an overactive imagination. Most regular people who believe in the supernatural did. And when a person went into mourning, their subconscious  would concoct any farfetched idea that they could to explain things.

But, if she tells the woman that her one-hundred-and-twenty-one-year-old house needs new windows it will do Alice no good. And Alice has bills to pay. So Alice has to make them believe that the house has skeletons in its closets.

On the count of three, she requests silently, beckoning her favorite entity forward.

Where do you want me?

His call back is immediate, and Alice has to stifle the joy at the sound of his deep timbre that echoes through her mind. 

It had been difficult at first, to find a way to make a living when you were as haunted as she was. But Alice had never backed down from a challenge. And no amount of supernatural threats to her wellbeing had ever scared her into silence.

Or compliance, for that matter.

The cabinets against the wall seem awfully easy.

Want me to break something?

Alice pretends to think about it for a second. Maybe something small.

“Spirits,” she’s perfected what she calls her ‘stage voice’ over the years, and at the sound of it the woman on her right grips her hand tighter, “we demand that you leave this family, and that you leave this house, alone.”

The boy at the end of the table laughs again. Someone else speaks up to scold him. His sister, Alice thinks.

A little help? She asks.

Seconds later, the boy jerks in his seat. “What the fuck?!”

“Terry! Sit down!” His sister nearly yanks him back into his seat.

“Hell no. Fuck that. Someone touched my neck.”

“I thought it was ‘a bunch of bullshit’,” the girl’s responding words are mocking. “Sit down and shut up.”

“Then don’t touch me.”

“With what?! You’re holding my hand, idiot.”

“Quiet!” Their mother demands, and Alice remains still as she feels the woman shaking in her seat. “I’m sorry,” she apologizes swiftly.

“Breathe together now,” she instructs the family, ignoring the boy at the end. She wouldn’t mess with him any further, but sometimes her entities have a mind of their own. So when he jerks again, but remains seated, Alice has to bite back a smile.

Okay, that’s enough. Get to rattling.

It’s what I do best.

Flirting with the supernatural is something she’s done all her life. But literally flirting with the supernatural is an aspect of her job she never expected to experience.

Or to enjoy.

When the china cabinet begins to rattle across the room, Alice continues her mantra. Her voice is both haunting and loud enough to fulfill the role of ‘powerful medium’ and when a tiny wine glass shatters behind its locked cabinet doors she finishes up her spiel and quickly wraps up the seance. 

“Now, we cleanse the house and wish the spirit all the best.”

The poor widow is in full tears now, the older daughter comforting her as another older member of the family quietly scolds the younger boy in the other room. It’s been enough of an emotional release for the family that even Alice acknowledges how the energy in the room has changed.

But emotional energy is not the same as paranormal energy. And although this house is not, and by the feel of it, has never been haunted, Alice always has been. So Alice uses her spirits to her advantage, giving families closure in the most peculiar of ways.

Her clothes smell like sage by the time she slams the car door behind her. Disposing her bag on the seat beside her, she lets out a laugh.

“I think we did good,” she grins as she speaks, because she knows he’s still lingering.

“You know,” and now, he’s more corporeal. It’s not how he usually converses with her, but when he does (in a way where she can see him, instead of just sense him), Alice can’t help but acknowledge her good fortune.

Spirits can choose their own form. It’s something she’s learned over the years, but this one is different. He only shows himself to her as he was. Tall, handsome, horribly dressed. “I could’ve done much more damage in there if you’d wanted me to.”

She eyes his spot in her passenger seat, hardly paying mind to her bag that now appears to exist somewhere within his legs and hips. “I know, but I didn’t want you to.”

He grins at her, and it’s almost painful how handsome he is. He nods, “And that’s why I didn’t.”

In another life, she knows there’s more to what they have here. But Alice tries not to think about the next life as she manages her way through this one.

Besides, if this entity knew what she knew—that her days were, and always had been, numbered, and that they’d be together on the same plane sooner rather than later—she doesn’t know what he’d do.

So instead she works. And he accompanies her. And she flirts freely because at some point, she won’t be able to. Because at some point, either she’ll pass or he will. So she has to enjoy what she can while she can.

“Where to?” He asks, leaning back in the seat as if he can actually feel it beneath him. Alice only grins in response, turning the key in the ignition and shifting the car into drive.

Eventually she shrugs. “Wherever I’m needed.”

Before he vanishes—like he always inevitably does—she swears she feels something brush against her cheek. And as no stranger to affection, she knows what a kiss feels like.

His voice is the last thing she hears before she’s alone again.

“Then, I guess I’ll follow.”