What It Took For Her To Stay

Making friends with the ghost in your attic brings you many benefits as well as faults. For example, you always have someone to confide in without the fear of them spilling your secrets to someone else. After all, you’re the only one who sees them. The only problem is coming up with different excuses to go up to the attic everyday after school. It’s usually easy to convince my brother that the attic is quiet enough to focus on my homework, but he’ll occasionally check up on me to see what I’m doing.

I carry my backpack on one shoulder as I climb the stairs to the attic. I push open the attic hatch and swing the bag over to the floor.

Suddenly a voice not far away startled me to the point where I almost fall back down. “Hey there.” I manage to catch myself and look up. He stands there, arms crossed, leaning against the wall.

“Idiot,” I say and close the hatch. “What if I fell?”

“I’d laugh.” You could hear the grin in his voice.

I roll my eyes and lay my binder out open on the ground. If my brother does come, he won’t question it why I’m here.

“You know, you never do study,” my friend says as he pushes back from the wall and sits across from me. He’s a boy around my age, black hair and grey eyes, a plain sky blue T-shirt and snow light skin. Not scary, like in the movies, or evil, like in the books. He’s actually really caring. At least for me.

“Who needs this trash. Math isn’t my priority.”

“Then I’m guessing your priorities include finally making amends with your brother?”

I shake my head. “He doesn’t talk to me since our parents passed. The only time we get together is to pay the bills or when he checks up on me here, probably to make sure I’m not doing drugs in secret.”

“Clearly he has trust issues.”

I shrug. “We could rephrase it to post-trauma delusion. It makes the two of us.”

“I don’t really like your brother.”

I laugh. “You don’t like anyone.”

“That’s not true,” he says. “I like you.”

“Well, considering no one else actually knows you exist,” I say and shrug. Then, in a more serious tone, I say, “You’re not tied to this house. You can literally go through walls. Why don’t you ever leave?”

He chuckled. “Is that some rephrased way of saying you’re tired of my company?”

“No,” I say and tilt my head as if to think. “I mean maybe…”

He smiles at me and shakes his head. Then he looks down at my binder. “Open it.” I do. “It’s not that hard. You can finish it in fifteen minutes.”

“You know this stuff?”

“Give me a pencil - I’ll do it for you.” He grinned again. I couldn’t hold my smile either. We both knew he couldn’t touch anything.

I change my tone again. “I know you don’t like to talk about this,” I began. “But maybe today will be the day when you finally tell me how you became a ghost.”

His smirk drops almost instantly. I hate to see him this serious. He’s usually the funny one. “I would rather talk about you.”

I ignore his attempt to manoeuvre out of this question. “I don’t know who you were before. It kind of scares me.”

Something flashed in his eyes and I could see he was upset about my words. It was like he couldn’t believe I’d be afraid of him.

He sighed and held a pause before he spoke. “I got myself into this mess. A gang of people who…” he cleared his throat. “Weren’t nice. We were on this mission, and they decided to test me. I don’t really know what happened. All I know is something hit me and I died.”

I shook my head slowly, processing. “I’m so sorry this happened.”

“You should go.” He averted his eyes.

I didn’t say anything. I’ve never seen him this sad before.

The ghost stayed in the attic as the girl left. He didn’t tell her the whole truth. That the mission was to trip a car, that in the car were her parents. That his death was a result of an attempted murder. He was afraid she would leave him for it. It was his little secret. He would keep lying forever if that’s what it took for her to stay.

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