“So let me get this straight. He wants you to come find him? What does that even mean? Are you sure that it wasn’t a dream? Because it sort of seems like a dream to me,” Preston said the next morning as we sat at the kitchen table, eating breakfast.
“No. I’m not sure. It felt like an omen or a vision or something. I can’t shake it,” for the past couple of hours, I hashed out the whole story out for him, from beginning to end.
I wanted to tell Preston about my dream and had to explain about Jude to talk about my dream in the first place. The backstory was necessary, but felt so tedious and not to mention ridiculous the moment the first words left my lips. Alas, there was no way I could take back anything I said now.
“Okay... So, you don’t know how he died?”
“Or his last name?” Preston said rubbing the back of his neck.
“Right,” I agreed with a nod.
“Or basically anything about him?”
I shrugged, “Exactly. What’s your point?”
He cleared his throat, “My point is that he tried to kill you.”
“Well we don’t know that he was actually trying to kill me. He was angry,” I said with one hand held, palm up.
“And he lifted you in the air like you were a rag-doll to what? Give you a better view of your kitchen floor?”
“Okay, when you put it that way it sounds stupid.” I groaned, covering my face with my hands, wishing I could scrub the exhaustion out with my palms.
Preston scratched his scalp, shaking his head, “Sorry bro, I’m just trying to help you figure this out.”
“I know, I know.”
“So,” he said, taking a sip of his orange juice, “You’re in love with a ghost. How did that happen?”
“I wouldn’t say that I am in love. I mean, I barely know the guy. The ghost. The ghost-guy, person,” I sighed, “I’m not in love.”
Preston chuckled, raising his eyebrow, “Right, right. Not in love. Got it.”
“What?” I said, biting my lip as I caught him staring at me, “What are you thinking?”
He inhaled a deep breath, biding his time before jumping in. “You know that this is never going to work out between you two, right?”
I sighed, looking down as I picked at the stray thread on my hoodie sleeve, “Yes.”
“You’ll never be anything more than what you are now,” he pointed out bluntly.
“And that one day he’s going to see his light or his door or whatever and leave? And that you’ll be left here to pine someone that you never even had a chance with in the first place?”
“Yes. I know. But I can’t help it,” I said with a frown.
“I get that, but this is weird. You know that too, right?”
“Yes. I know that, too, but I don’t know what to do. I feel compelled to help him.”
“You do? Why?”
“Because…” I trailed off, not really wanting to answer the question.
“Because why?” Preston prodded.
I narrowed my eyes, “Do I have to say it out loud?”
“I think it will help if you do. Maybe you’ll see how ludicrous this all sounds to the normal human brain.”
“This all did start with the accident…” I said quietly, pondering the meaning.
“Quit stalling. Admit it,” he said, putting the dishes in the sink.
“Admit what?” I said, feigning innocence, as I put my head in my hands.
“Don’t play dumb,” he said, turning around from the sink, illuminated by the rising sun. “Admit that you’re head over heels for a ghost.”
I grunted, “Why does it matter?”
“It just does.”
“Do it!” He laughed, I shot him annoyed look.
“Fine. I admit it, okay? I’m in love with a ghost. I feel dumb enough as it is! I don’t know why this is so important to you,” I shouted as I stood up, annoyed.
He chuckled, drying his hands on a towel, “Don’t you see? It’s not important to me, it’s important to you and you proved my point right there.”
“What the balls man?” I shouted in frustration.
Preston laughed, “My bad. Couldn’t help it.”
“Have you been talking with a therapist again?”
He crossed his arms and pursed his lips, “Why do you ask?”
I rolled my eyes. “Because you periodically go through this ‘tell me all your problems because I want to solve them’ phase. That’s how I can tell.”
“I like psychology,” he said with a shrug, “What of it?”
“Is that what you’re going to major in?” I pressed, grabbing some milk from the fridge and a glass.
“I don’t know for sure,” he shrugged again, this time with only one shoulder, “We’re getting off track again. Quit changing the subject.”
I sighed, putting the milk away and closing the fridge door, my eyes pleading. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore. Let’s find a different subject, please?”
He narrowed his eyes, contemplating, then nodded, “Okay, but we’ll pick it up later. And you’re going to have to tell Kayla. She’s worried.”
I grunted, then decided to clarify my response, “Okay. Wait. How did you know she’s worried?”
It was his turn to roll his eyes, grinning like a lunatic, “We’ve been texting since last night.”
“Talking about me, I presume?”
He crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall, “Some.”
“And the rest of the time?” I prodded with a grin, enjoying his discomfort.
“Other stuff…” he gestured helplessly, out of his element.
He threw his hands up, “Yes other stuff. Private stuff. Geez dude.”
I chucked, “So now you see how annoying it is right?”
“Yes, yes. Okay, I get your point.”
“Good,” I nodded, draining my milk glass and rinsing it before putting it in the sink.
“I’ll try not to pry too much, but I won’t make any promises. I’m worried bro.”
“I know,” I said, slapping him on the back as we went into the living room.
“Geez. Hey, it’s almost noon. Is your mom up yet? I haven’t seen her,” he said looking around the corner for her.
“She’s at her new job for that factory that opened up. They make alarm parts or something.”
“Sounds boring,” Preston said, propping his legs up on the coffee table as he sat on the loveseat, putting his hands behind his head.
I chuckled, laying down on the couch, glancing over at him, “Yeah it does.”
“She works too hard man.”
“Yeah I know. I’ve got an interview on Monday. I’m going to help out.”
“Well, good on you. That’s pretty awesome. I should get a job too when I get back home.”
“Yeah right,” I rolled my eyes.
“What?” He shrugged with a smirk, “It could happen.”
“Yeah, I suppose miracles could happen,” I winked at him and laughed as I dodged a pillow he threw my way.
“Shh, quiet you,” Preston warned, looking shifty eyed, “So, we hanging out with Kayla today?”
I sighed, “Yes, I need to text her back and I’m sure your new obsession will be right over.”
“I’m not obsessed.”
“Practically her stalker,” I joked in a sing song voice.
“No way!” he protested loudly, laughing at his outburst.
“There,” I said, setting my phone back down, “She’s been texted and she wrote back to say she’d be right over.” “Wow. Fast texter.”
“You have no idea. Or maybe you do. Why didn’t you text her? You have her number now.”
He flicked a piece of lint off of his pajama pants, looking pensive. “She said early this morning that she wouldn’t come over unless you texted her yourself to let her know it was all right.”
“What? Why? I’m not like mad at her or anything,” I said sitting up with a start.
“She said she didn’t want to intrude.”
“Oh. Weird. Okay. Well you’d better go change then unless you really want her to see you in your Family Guy pants,” I said raising my eyebrows at him.
“Crap! No. Right. I’ll be back,” Preston said jumping up and running off to the guest room to get ready.
I giggled, knowing it would buy me some alone time to prepare to talk to Kayla. I must have nodded off on the couch, because the next thing I knew, I heard whispering voices.
“Is he okay?”
“Yeah, he’s fine. Must have been tired or something.” There was a small pause before he continued, “Did you really have to bring that cat in?”
“What? Why wouldn’t I?” came Kayla’s soft reply, “It’s so cute and fuzzy.”
“No way! He told me about that thing. It’s like, possessed or something,” I suppressed my smile at this.
“You’re being dramatic.”
“Whatever, dude,” Preston sighed, “Your funeral.”
I imagine Kayla made a face at him then, because he chuckled and then there was a loud slapping sound.
“You definitely do not hit like a girl.”
“Glad to hear it. So, has he said anything more about what happened? I was thinking about it all night. He seemed so scared,” came Kayla’s soft voice, edged with concern.
“I’ll let him tell you,” Preston said in a normal voice, “We should wake him.”
I sat up, making Kayla squeal and Preston swear, “I’m awake.”
The cat let out a loud meow then hissed at me, clawing the air before she scampered off towards the hallway.
“Aww, you scared the kitty…” Kayla said with a pout.
“Dude, what the heck?” Preston was clutching his chest and breathing hard.
I offered a sly, amused smirk, “Sorry, not sorry.”
“You butt,” Preston grunted.
“Told you it hated him,” Preston pointed out to Kayla.
She rolled her eyes, “No. You said it was possessed. You said nothing about it hating him.”
“Whatever,” he mumbled, a small smile on his face.
“Am I interrupting a lover’s quarrel?” I asked with one raised eyebrow.
“We’re not lovers,” Kayla protested at the same time that Preston said, “Yeah, kind of.”
I laughed and they exchanged a look, then a smile. All was forgotten for now and they seemed to visibly relax.
“So, Kai, I was up all night. I could hardly sleep. Are you okay?” Kayla said in a rushed tone, moving quickly to sit down beside me.
“Yes I’m fine, Kayla. Don’t worry,” I said putting up one hand to ward off her onslaught of questions.
“I did tons of research on poltergeists and possession and demons. You wouldn’t believe some of the stories out there. They’re insane. Truly,” she gushed.
I chuckled in amusement, “Oh, I definitely believe you, but I wasn’t possessed and he’s not a demon. I suppose that him being a poltergeist is a possibility, but that doesn’t explain how I can see him or why he’s the only one I can see.”
“Woa! You can see him?” She asked with wide eyes, her voice higher pitched than usual as she covered her mouth with her hand.
“Oh right. I haven’t told you yet. Yes. I can see him and talk to him.”
“That’s so great! What’s he look like? Has he told you his name or how he died? Is he always that violent?”
Preston laughed, sitting back down in the recliner, “Geez, dial it back a bit Kayla.”
“Oops, sorry,” Her mouth quirked up as she giggled, “It’s so crazy! I’m having a hard time containing myself.”
I shrugged, smirking, “It’s cool. He’s really handsome with blonde hair and sky blue eyes. He doesn’t remember how he died and he said his name is Jude. That’s pretty much all I know.”
“Ooh, handsome?” Kayla squealed causing, Preston to cover his ears, then she quickly covered her mouth, “Sorry.”
“Yeah, Kai here has a little crush on his ghost friend,” Preston grinned, winking at Kayla.
“Really?” Kayla asked, her eyebrows quirked up and her mouth forming a small O.
I blushed and ducked my head, “Yeah, a little. I know it’s dumb though and pointless.”
Preston nodded in agreement, leaning back in the recliner with his hands behind his head. “Exactly.”
Kayla shook her head, tilting her head to one side, “Actually I don’t think that. It’s not dumb or pointless at all.”
“But they could never be together!” Preston exclaimed, hands in the air.
“Doesn’t matter,” Kayla smiled and shrugged one shoulder, putting a hand on my knee, “You can’t help who you like, right?”
I sat back, turning my head to look at her, “I suppose not, but I wish I could.”
“So, you wish you’d never met him then?” Kayla asked, putting her hand in her lap.
I sighed and leaned forward, putting my elbows on my knees, “Not even a little bit.”
“Well there you go then,” Kayla said clapping her hands together, “Things happen a certain way for a reason.”
“Like fate?” Preston asked, listening with interest to our conversation.
“I don’t believe in fate exactly, but I do believe in Karma and that life is a series of chances, of choices. Your ‘fate’ as it is, depends solely on what decisions you make throughout your lifetime. You choose your own destiny. At least that makes sense to me,” she laughed.
“Thanks,” I said with a smile.
“Anytime,” she grinned.
Preston narrowed his eyes at us like we befuddled him, “You guys are strange.”
I heard a whisper and felt a chill on the other side of me, “Kai…”
I could barely hear the voice it was so quiet, although I knew immediately who it was. I shushed the others, looking around for any sign of him. The curtains fluttered and a hanging light fixture began to sway. There was a rush of wind towards me and Jude appeared in front of my face. It happened so fast that I gasped and jumped back. The other two were staring at me, I could see them out of my peripheral vision, but my attention was focused on Jude’s frightened, sickly pale face.
“Kai, I need your help.”