The dark silhouette of a man caught Greg’s eye as he passed Emily’s house. Greg followed it, keeping his distance as it led him through the back wall of the building. It passed quickly through the woman’s kitchen and down the steps into the basement. Greg quickened his pace, speeding through the kitchen and down the stairs after the mysterious figure.
He found himself in the center of the unlit basement. He couldn’t see anything or anyone. Whatever it was, it was gone now. Hmmm. Did that mean Emily was telling the truth? Was something else living here besides her? He decided to tell Alison the second he saw her again.
Upstairs, creaking sounds jolted him from his thoughts. He could hear the sound of walking. He moved quietly up the staircase, floating through the door and into the kitchen. Emily and Alison were stepping into the house. Had they gone somewhere then? He watched as Alison noticed him and made shooing motions with her hand. That’s right. Emily could see him. He didn’t want her to see him again. Especially not in her house.
Emily made an unexpected turn in his direction. “Do you want anything to drink before you go?” she asked. She didn’t look like she noticed him. Actually, she walked right through him and appeared none the wiser.
Alison looked dumbfounded. Greg could see her point. That was strange. Did that mean Emily could only see him on certain occasions? He didn’t know there were people out there like that. When he thought about it, that did make sense. Since the first time Alison had come to check out the house, Greg had wandered around the entire day without Emily saying anything to him. Was that morning conversation with her just a fluke then? He had no clue.
“No, that’s okay,” Alison said. “I really have to get going. Thanks though.”
“All right,” Emily replied.
“Bye. Thanks again for the.. uh… the knife.”
“Athame,” Emily corrected.
“Right. Thanks.” She moved to the front door. “Give me a call if you need anything.” She began heading out and Greg followed her. The moment they were out of sight, Alison turned to Greg and started talking. “Where the hell have you been?” she asked, looking annoyed. “You completely disappeared on me.”
“Sorry,” he replied. He didn’t want her to know how glad he felt getting to see her again. If he had given in and crossed over to the other side the night before, they wouldn’t be talking like this right now.
“You know, Emily told me she talked to you this morning. How’d that happen?”
Greg shrugged. “She didn’t see me just now.”
“I know! What’s up with that anyway?”
“I don’t think she’s that much different from you. She can see spirits… I just don’t think she’s very good at it.”
“Yeah… I suppose anything’s possible.” She frowned. “It does make me wonder about her ghost sightings then. If she can see you, that means there’s a good chance she’s seen others like you.”
“Spirits pass through all the time though. That’s not the same as being haunted,” Greg reminded her. He thought of the dark silhouette that entered through the back of the house and made its way into the basement. It could’ve been nothing. Just a wandering soul, unaware of the physical world and that had no idea it was dead. It happened all the time. Still… “I did see something go into her house a little while ago. I followed it.”
Alison narrowed her eyes. She lifted a hand, punching him in the arm. Well, she tried to anyway. Her hand went straight through his shoulder and rib cage as if he weren’t there. “You should’ve told me that sooner.”
“It just happened!”
“Well, where is it now? Is it still there?” She looked up nervously toward the house. He knew how self-conscious she got when she was talking to him outside. It was embarrassing for her because people always thought she was talking to herself.
“No, it disappeared. It might not’ve been anything.”
She let out a sigh, stepping toward her car. “Well, just check one more time for me. Just to put my mind at ease. I don’t want to go back in myself or she’ll never let me leave.”
“Do I have to?”
She looked up at him, her blue eyes pleading. “Come on. It’d make me feel a lot better if you did.”
He nodded quietly. “All right. I’ll be right back. Just wait in the car. I’ll make sure nothing’s there.” He watched as she climbed into the driver’s seat before heading back towards the building. It probably wasn’t a big deal, but still, it never hurt to double check. He made his way to the front door of the house, poking his head through the wood and glancing around for Emily. Just to be on the safe side. It wouldn’t do them any good if she spotted him now.
He heard rustling sounds coming from the second floor and decided she must be in her bedroom. Heading in, he made quick work of scanning the living room before flying through the wall into the kitchen. With nothing to report, he worked his way down the stairs to check the basement once more. After checking there, he went through the ceiling to the first floor and then through the ceilings two more times until he was in the attic.
Still, everything appeared normal. He went through the floors until he was on the first floor again, ready to go through the wall and head back outside.
He froze at the sound of the voice. He turned around slowly, catching sight of Emily standing in front of the couch, staring at him. Was she talking to him?
“W… What are you doing in here?” she asked, looking dumbfounded.
“I… was just looking for Alison,” he replied lamely. Now, she could see him again? Damn it.
“Oh, Alison. You were looking for her this morning too, weren’t you? I’m sorry. She just left a second ago.”
“Sorry about that,” he apologized, “I wasn’t trying to scare you. I knocked and no one answered… so I just….” What? Decided to break in? He wasn’t used to being noticed. He wasn’t sure how to reply to people anymore. The only person he had talked to since his death was Alison, and now this?
“Don’t worry about it,” she replied, smiling. “It’s what I get for leaving the door open like that when I’m upstairs.”
“Yeah, sorry about that.” He reached for the door knob to the front door, his hand falling right through it. Shit. He had almost forgotten. Talking to her like this was making him forget what he was. It was almost like… like being alive again. Having a real conversation with another human being. It was so strange. How was he going to get outside without walking through the door? He couldn’t let her see him do that.
“Is something wrong?” she asked, moving her head to the side and peeking over his shoulder.
“It’s just… my hands,” he lied. “They get like this sometimes… Where I can’t move them right.”
“Oh, I’ve heard of that. Something with the nerves, right?”
“Yeah, I think.”
“I’ll get it for you.” She stepped forward, pushing the screen door open for him. Then she lifted a hand, setting it easily on top of his shoulder. “Tell Alison I said ‘hi’ if you see her.”
He couldn’t believe it. The woman had just touched him. She had actually been able to touch him as if he were a real, physical being. How was that possible? Even Alison couldn’t do that. For whatever reason, he was the only spirit Alison couldn’t make contact with. “Yeah, I’ll tell her.”
He hurried through the open door before she could close it. Alison had moved her car from the driveway, leading him to wonder if she had left without him but a few steps further down the sidewalk revealed that she had simply parked a little further down the street. He moved down the sidewalk, doing his best to make his legs look like they were walking on solid ground until he was out of sight. Then he went back to his usual stance of floating and sped up toward Alison’s car. He popped into her passenger seat.
“So, what’d you find?” she asked, looking toward him expectantly.
“Nothing. She should be fine.”
She let out a breath. “Well, that’s a relief. Good. Now I can finally go home and listen to my answering machine.” She started the car, pulling back onto the road.
“She saw me again, though.”
“Again? Are you serious!”
“She did look pretty confused.”
“I bet she was. Didn’t she think it was weird you were in her house?”
He replied, “I told her I was looking for you. Thank god she caught me next to the front door. If she found me in her basement or in her attic I don’t know what I would’ve said.”
Alison burst out laughing. “That’s so weird! Actually, I don’t know. It’s kind of cool, you know? I always wanted to meet someone that was like me.”
“The problem is, she doesn’t know it. She talked to me like I was just some normal guy. I don’t think she can tell the difference between the living and the dead.”
“Well, that’s no fun at all. Too bad. I’d love to talk to her about it. It’s hard finding people you can relate to, you know?”
“Yeah, well, I wouldn’t bring it up. Her ability doesn’t seem very consistent.”
“Doesn’t that make you think though?” she asked. “That maybe that’s why she thinks her house is haunted. She’s probably seeing all kind of weird things and people in her house. They might not even realize she’s there and she doesn’t know how to deal with it.”
“Do you think that she’s really seeing her daughter then?”
“I was just going to say that. She could be seeing her actual daughter’s dead spirit wandering around. No wonder she has no grip on reality. Her daughter’s supposed to be dead and I bet she’s seen that girl every day of her life since the miscarriage. I mean, I feel bad. I told her brother she was nuts. I told him she needed a doctor. It was just like… I was just as bad as… It was just like when…”
She stopped herself but Greg knew what she was going to say. She was going to say that it was just like what had happened to her when Alison had first seen the spirits, and her father had put her away in a mental institution. Alison didn’t talk about it much, but when she did, she always sounded upset.
“It’s okay,” he assured her. “I know what you mean. You don’t have to say it.”
She nodded, turning her attention back to the road. Already she looked angry, and he could tell she was thinking about it.
Greg thought of the way Emily had casually set her hand on his shoulder. It had been such an odd feeling. It had been… warm. Of all the things to ever feel, he had never thought he’d ever know the warmth of another person’s touch again. “There was something else too,” Greg said.
“She put her hand on my shoulder.”
Greg said, turning to her, “I mean, she really touched me. She was able to put her hand against my shoulder like I was alive.”
“Oh,” Alison said, looking almost surprised. “Wow, I guess that is pretty neat.” She made a face. “That’s weird. I wonder why that is, anyway. Why can she touch you if I can’t? I can feel other spirits, but you’re different. I go right through you. Jeez, I’m almost jealous.”
“Jealous that she can touch me and you can’t?” he asked, cocking a brow at her. “That’s interesting. I didn’t realize you cared.”
“No, not that,” she said. “I’m jealous that she can hit you and I can’t.”
“Just break my heart in half, why don’t you?”
“Please, only you would take it that way,” she smiled.
“Well, I can’t help being a man in love, can I?
She made a turn down the road, glancing behind her before switching lanes. She looked flustered by the comment, something that he found cute. All the more reason to do it, he felt. “You make me wonder sometimes,” she said quietly.
She shook her head. “I don’t know. Just wonder.” She paused for a moment, looking thoughtful. “Like what it would’ve been like if we had met when you were alive.” She looked at him. “Do you think we would’ve fallen in love?”
He was going to say something but chose not to, turning to the window instead. That was a good question, wasn’t it? What if? What if they had met back then? What would’ve happened between them? Would things be different now? Would everything have turned out differently? He closed his eyes.
“You never want to tell me how you died. Why’s that?”
“I told you, I’ll tell you eventually, but not now.”
“It’s not because you’re embarrassed about it, is it?”
He shook his head. “I just don’t think you’d believe me.”