Death is not the opposite of life. It's a part of it.- Haruki Murakami
That's the first quote Parker ever heard about Death. It'd become her favorite as it seemed the closest to the truth. She, more than anyone, should know as she's close to it. She's not sick or dying but she sees it everyday in the people she talks to. The Spirits she talks to.
It’s not something people like to think about. Kids don’t understand and the old are far too familiar with it. The rest just watch as it passes by on occasion. Death has never been something Parker didn’t understand. It’s not even something that just passes by her every now and then. She’s closer than familiar with it. Death is there when she wakes up when she takes a biology test and goes to sleep. In fact, death is her best friend.
Or at least he is dead.
Very few people in the world do what she can. Do what her aunt and she can do. They see the dead. They help the dead with what's leaving them in their world and to pass on. Parker doesn’t know anyone besides her aunt who can do what they can.
Parker’s heard of them. People getting into accidents suddenly able to feel or see more than they use to. Those who were born sensitive. But never to the extent that they do it. Seeing a ghost for her is like seeing another person. She’s learned to tell the difference.
As cool as it may sound, it’s far from it.
“Wake up Parker,” Parker pushed her pillow harder onto her head making her best friend's voice become less loud. Tanner leaned forward a small smile on his face knowing he’s getting to her. Parker has never been a morning person and she didn’t plan on that changing. “Parker, I’ll sing,” After letting out a huff she sat up throwing a small accent pillow at him watching as it just flew through him and under her desk. “Girl, I’m dead.”
“You’re annoying for a dead boy.” Parker stood. “You’re stuck at seventeen, have been dead for fifteen years, and you still act like your five. Why?”
“I can answer that just as you can answer number eighteen on your homework last night.” Parker’s lips pursed as she remembered skipping and never returning to that question in her Algebra two class. “Your alarms didn’t go off and I know its time for you to get up because your siblings are up.”
“You know they hate it when you watch them.” Parker walked over to her dresser starting to pull clothes out for the day. “Now go so I can change.” Tanner soluted as he walked through the door leaving her alone in her room.
Tanner is the one and the only ghost she could never get to cross over. Instead of haunting a building or where he died, he stuck by her side. Tanner is the invisible best friend she’s had by her side since she was six. Having just found out that she was not seeing imaginary friends but a ghost and that she’d always see them she wasn’t scared of him. No memory of his death or most of the time after as time moves differently for him he stayed by her side.
Parker couldn’t get rid of him now if she tried. She cared for him too much.
After changing and gathering her school things she made her way downstairs where she could hear not only her parents talking but Tanner’s one-sided conversation with them as well. “You woke up late.” Parker looked at her father as he put down his tablet showing the morning news. “What, bad night?” he asked.
Parker shook her head glancing at Tanner who weather she liked it or not watched over her. Her night generally consisted of the ghost she had to help to leave her with nightmares for dreams but this night was only hard because of the impending test that could raise or ruin her grade. “Not that way but yes.” Parker took her seat on the stool watching as her mother continued to fill the plates for Parker and her siblings. Brian stole bacon from the plate making Catharine slap his hand away. “I’ve got a big test in math so I was studying most of the night. It was...Tanner who woke me up.”
“Oh...Tanner. How’s he?” Parker turned to her older brother Max as he walked down the last few steps. “He wasn’t watching me again was he?” Max looked around nervously.
“No, he’s on the counter talking to dad.” Brian turned slowly looking at the counters as Tanner smiled and waved not caring Brian couldn’t see him. “Go away, Tanner.” After sticking out his tongue he vanished. “He’s gone.” Max blinked at his sister then took his seat.
“No other ghosts are around right?” Parkers’ appetite became lost as her mother set their plate down in front of them and he continued to look around. Her family’s inability to keep their uncomfortableness about ghosts hidden. They’ve never been comfortable with it even though she was raised with them. A downside to being the only one in the family besides her aunt who can see ghosts.
“I’m just going to take this to go.” Parker stood heading to the cabinets grabbing a container.
“No, it’s fine.” She stopped her mother as she slid the contents of her plate into the container. “I’m going to study with Violet and Amir.” She clicked the top into place then grabbed her bag. “I’ve got work too so I’ll be home late.” Parker walked off passing bye her sister Raegan. Parker slammed the door behind her.
Reagon took a deep breath recognizing her sister's anger and walked to the kitchen. "Celest is getting dressed and what's wrong with Parker?"
"We made her uncomfortable again," Brian said his voice dropping clearly upset. "We've been dealing with this for sixteen years how are we not-"
"I've been dealing with it my whole life and I still can't handle it." Catharine leaned back crossing her arms. "Max, Rae, go upstairs please finish getting ready." She watched as her kids started to disagree but snapping her fingers and pointing to the stairs. Max grabbed his plate shoving eggs into his mouth as he followed his sister. Once out of earshot Cathrine looked to her husband. Leaning on the counter next to her. "Should we tell her? She's old enough now-"
"No, we made the deal with her. We made a promise. Parker can't know."
"So what? We just keep letting her resent us because we can't deal with it. She can see ghosts and we still can't deal with it."
"No, we do. We just can't deal with how it affects us or her. Her closest and best friend is dead. Honey, if we tell her, she will more than resent us. She will push everyone away. Including her." Cathrine nodded her head agreeing. "We don't want to lose her telling her the truth."
"Fine." Brian kissed her cheek then walked away. Cathrine only hoped they were right with their decision.