I just turned ten today! When we stopped for lunch, a nice waitress brought me a piece of chocolate cake and sang Happy Birthday to me. Mom gave me this book so I could write in it. Dad said it was a diary, and they're for girls, but Mom said it was a journal, and plenty of men write in journals.
I think it's a cool idea, to have something I can write in. I want to grow up and write books some day; good books, with knights and dragons in them.
I tried to see if our waitress tonight would bring me another piece of cake, but when I looked at her and said "Guess what?", Dad grumbled and said, "Shut up, Stevey, we've got to get moving. We're already running late." So I didn't get any more cake today. And he called me Stevey, even though I already told him I wanted to be called Steven now that I'm ten. But he was in a really bad mood, so I shut up.
September 4, 1979
We're here, but we're still staying in a crummy motel. It was dark by the time we got here, and Dad said it was too late to look for our house. Mom didn't argue with him, so it really must have been too late. I hate this motel. This weird old guy runs it, and I'll bet he sneaks into the rooms and kills people whenever he gets bored. And the sheets smell bad here.
September 5, 1979
We went to an office today to look for our house. It was pretty boring. Dad talked to a lady for a while, and he got pretty annoyed, because he was getting all loud and sweaty, like he does. Then Mom talked to her, and she was trying to be nice, I could tell, but the lady didn't want to help us find our house. Finally she sent us to another office, to bother the lady there.
The second lady was really fat, but she was nice. She gave me a root beer to drink while she talked to Mom and Dad. Then she took us out to her car, and drove us to this big old square house. We all went inside, and I think Mom liked it okay, but Dad kept poking at things and grumbling and shaking his head. So we left, and the lady drove us to another house.
This one was smaller, and it was awfully dark inside. I was afraid we were going to have to live there, but Mom said she couldn't stand it, and Dad didn't even argue with her. The lady shook her head and said there wasn't anything else except a house a lot of people said was haunted. I was pretty bored, but when I heard the lady talking about a haunted house, I started to listen really careful.
Dad said he didn't care, and I almost cheered, but Mom said maybe they ought to think it over. She sounded uncomfortable when she said it. Dad argued with her a bit, but he couldn't get her to change her mind. So we went off, and we're staying in the smelly motel with the creepy guy again.
September 6, 1979
We went back to see the lady again, and she gave me another root beer. I wondered if she'd talk about the haunted house again, so I listened to the grownups talk, even though it got pretty boring. Dad said they wanted to look at the other house again, but they'd like to have somebody else look at it too. So the lady called this guy on her phone, then we drove out to the square house again.
The guy was already there, leaning on a pickup truck. He came in with us, and Dad started pointing to things and asking him questions about how much they'd cost to fix. He didn't say too much, and he kept looking at the lady who was with us and then at Dad. Finally, he just shrugged and told Dad it was going to take a lot of work.
Dad looked at Mom and said, "I told you so, Ruth. We just can't afford to fix this place up." She looked at the floor, like she does when she doesn't want Dad to see she might cry, and said, "I don't know, David. Even if it's expensive, it might be better than living with a..." she stopped and looked at me. "Well, with other problems."
Dad snorted and said, "Ruth, we're living in the nineteen seventies! You don't really mean to tell me you believe in ghosts, do you?" She shook her head. "No. But Steven might be afraid, if anyone told him about it at school." I just couldn't keep quiet, so I said "I'm not afraid of any old ghost, Mom! I think it would be cool!" So she sighed, and said we could go take a look at the haunted house.
We all got into the lady's car again, and she drove us down a long street without many houses on it. There were a lot of trees, close to the road, then all of a sudden we saw this really neat house, sitting in a little open space under a bunch of tall pine trees. It was painted yellow, with fancy little bits of wood painted brown all along the edges. It had a big porch out front, and lots of funny shaped windows.
The lady turned into the driveway and stopped, and she got out and then Dad and Mom got out and stood there. I had to remind them I was there before the lady would move enough to let me get out. She looked a bit scared, but she pulled out a big old key and walked up to the door. As soon as she got the door open, I started to run inside, but Mom called me back. "Steven! Stay here with us."
We walked all through the house. It was pretty neat, but we didn't see a single ghost. There weren't even any funny noises, or anything. Mom looked a lot happier, and Dad didn't grumble too much when he poked at things. When they were all done looking, Dad looked at Mom. She shrugged. "I guess it's not so bad. We've got to find someplace, because Steven needs to start going to school soon."
They started talking to the lady about boring things, and I'd already figured out we were going to live there, so I slipped off as soon as they were too busy to notice. I went upstairs and tried to decide which of the rooms I wanted for mine. I was standing in the hall, spinning around and peeking inside all the doors, when I saw a lady standing in the middle of one of the rooms.
"Hello", the lady said. "Uh, hello, are you the ghost?" She looked at me funny and laughed at me. "Where did you get that idea?" I felt pretty stupid, but I said "The lady who drove us here said there was a ghost in this house. I didn't see you before, so I thought you must be the ghost. It would be pretty cool to live in a house with a ghost." She looked confused. "Cool?" "Yeah, cool, neat, great, you know."
She still looked confused, but she said, "Oh." "So who are you?" "I live here." "No you don't, we're going to live here." She opened her mouth, then she shivered. She looked all around, like she was scared, then she put her hands over her face. "Where have all my...?" Before I could stop her, she walked into the wall. Only she didn't hurt herself or anything, she just walked right through the wall!
So I knew she really was the ghost, even if she said she wasn't. I ran downstairs, yelling "Dad! Mom!" "Steven? Where are you?" "Up here!" I hit the bottom stair and skidded into the room they were talking in. All of a sudden, I remembered Mom might not want to live here if she thought there was a ghost. And Dad would just say I was making it all up.
"I found this really cool room!" "That's nice, Stevey, now leave us alone." "David, you can't blame Steven for being excited. It's all right, Steven, you can show us later." I wandered off again, but I went outside, to see what the yard is like. It's nice and big, with lots of cool hiding places. It's even big enough to have a dog! I hope Mom will let me get a dog, now.
After a while, everybody else came out, and we got into the lady's car. Dad and Mom still have to do all this boring paperwork stuff, sort of like homework only worse, so we have to sleep at the crummy motel again. These sheets smell so bad I can't sleep, so I snuck into the bathroom once Dad and Mom were asleep to write about seeing the ghost.
September 7, 1979
Today was really boring. Dad and Mom were doing all sorts of stupid paperwork stuff, and we had to go to a couple of stupid offices to do it, too. Then Mom started talking about how I have to go to school. I wish Dad didn't have to take another job. Or maybe at this school I can pretend I'm not so smart, and then the other kids won't always pick on me.
September 8, 1979
Dad called the men today to bring our stuff to our new house. Most of the stuff is still in boxes, but at least we aren't sleeping in the crummy motel tonight. Mom made me help her clean, so I'm pretty tired tonight. I haven't seen the ghost again.
September 9, 1979
Dad and Mom were pulling stuff out of boxes all day. They both got really mad, then they got so tired they didn't even bother yelling at each other any more. Some of my stuff is unpacked. Dad and Mom picked the room I saw the ghost in for their room. I almost told them about the ghost, but I decided it didn't matter that much. My room is just down the hall. I'm sure the ghost can visit me if she wants.
September 10, 1979
Mom made me go down to this crummy school with her today. They sent me to a class with this really mean old teacher. All the kids were staring at me, and she told me to introduce myself. I got up and said "Hi! My name's Steven Saxon." and sat down. All the other kids laughed, but the teacher yelled at me. How was I supposed to know she wanted me to tell them stuff about me?
At recess all the kids ignored me, but at lunch one fat kid who wears glasses asked if I minded if he sat next to me. I don't want the other kids to think I'm a dweeb, but I told him it wasn't my chair. I'm not sure if I hurt his feelings or not, but he sat down. He didn't talk much, though, except to say he thought it was funny the way I introduced myself.
September 11, 1979
I saw the ghost again today! When I came home from school, she was sitting on my bed. "Hey, I didn't know ghosts could sit on things. I thought they just sort of sank through, or something." "I told you, I'm not a ghost. I'm..." All of a sudden, she looked like she was going to cry. "I'm sorry, Mrs., uh, Ma'am. I didn't mean to make you cry."
"You didn't do anything. It's just... you really wouldn't mind if I were a ghost?" "I told you, that would be cool. Besides, I know you're the ghost. You can't be a real person, or you couldn't have walked through the wall the other day." "Oh, dear. I did lose control, didn't I? I'm just so lonely... No one wants to talk to a ghost."
"Hey, I like talking to ghosts. Besides, I'm lonely, too. The kids at my school all ignore me because I'm new." "That's terrible. They ought to be trying to make you feel at home. What's your name, dear?" "Uh, I'm Steven Saxon." "Steven, I'm Audrey. I never could abide the notion of children treating adults as equals, but these are extraordinary circumstances. We're both lonely, so in a sense, we are equals!"
"You mean I can call you Audrey? Thanks!" We talked for a while, and she asked me all kinds of questions about things. I told her it was funny a grownup knew so little about things, but she said she'd been a ghost for a while, and things had changed while no one would talk to her, so I told her everything I could. After a while, she stood up and said, "Now, you don't have to go making up tales just to entertain me!"
"I'm not making anything up! There are a lot of things I don't know, but I'm telling you the truth about stuff." "Surely you don't expect me to believe..." "Wait!" I grabbed one of my school books and opened it. It didn't take me long to find the right chapter. "See, here. Read what this says." She read awfully slow, for a grownup, then she started to cry. I didn't know what to say, and she ran off, anyway.
September 12, 1979
The fat kid, Henry, has talked to me a couple more times. He's not too bad, but he spends part of the time hanging around me and part of the time trying to get the other kids to like him. So it's not like he's a real friend or anything. They give us a lot of homework at this new school, so I guess I'll only write in my journal if something really important or interesting happens.
September 14, 1979
Audrey came around again today. I asked her if I'd made her mad at me, and she said no, it was just really weird the way the world had changed so much since she died. So I asked her when she died. She got this faraway look in her eyes for a minute. "It was Christmas Eve, 1896." "Wow! You mean you lived way back then?" She laughed, a little. "It wasn't way back then, it was just then."
She looked a little afraid, but she asked me "What year is it now?" "It's September, nineteen seventy-nine." She just sat there a minute. "That's not even a hundred years! But men have really gone to the moon and come back?" "Yep. The same year I was born." "But how could the world have changed so much, so quickly?" I didn't know, so I just shrugged.
"You see, Steven, it's very strange to think the world could be so different. And to think it's all happened in such a short time!" "Didn't the world change when you were alive?" "There were some new things, but they didn't happen so quickly! I've heard of horseless carriages, but I've never seen one." "Horseless carriages? Oh, you mean cars?" "Is that what they're called, now?" "I guess so."
It made it less like she was an adult and I was just a kid, because I know so many things she doesn't. It's fun, having a friend to talk to. And it's so cool that she's a ghost!
September 17, 1979
We had to write a story in Language Arts class today. Mrs. Gisquesne said we could write about anything we wanted. She told us we could take them home and work on them some more, because tomorrow we're going to have to get up in front of the whole class and read them. I think I wrote a pretty cool story. I read it to Audrey, and she laughed, once I'd explained the bits she didn't understand to her.
"Henrietta and Ebenezer Mold lived in a mausoleum. That's like a kind of little house with shelves full of dead people. Henrietta and Ebenezer had lived there a very long time. They had their own shelf, near the very back. They almost never went out anywhere, because people got scared when they saw them.
"It was pretty boring in there with all the other dead people. After a long, long time, there was this creepy guy who started to come to the mausoleum. He was really old, and he worked in a motel. When he got bored at night, he'd sneak into the rooms. Then he'd kill people, just for fun.
"He might have been old and creepy, but he was still pretty smart. He knew if the police found a lot of dead bodies at the motel, they'd want to know how they got there. So he figured if he took them to a mausoleum and hid them there, nobody'd notice. There are supposed to be dead bodies in a mausoleum.
"He'd drive the people's cars away, and say they'd left. Then everybody would just think they'd disappeared somewhere. When he took the bodies to the mausoleum, he dragged them to the back, so anybody else who came in wouldn't just see them. He was really careful.
"Henrietta and Ebenezer watched him do this a couple of times. It gave them something to do, and the extra dead people were more company for them. But one day, Henrietta said it wasn't right to let the creepy old guy get away with killing people like that.
"Ebenezer wanted her to leave him alone, but one of the dead girls stuck up for her. She asked Ebenezer what he'd think if somebody'd killed him. Wouldn't he want that person to be stopped? He couldn't think of an answer for that, so Henrietta won. They planned what they were going to do when the creepy guy came back.
"Henrietta and Ebenezer had an easier time moving around than the other dead people. So they decided they'd take care of him. They waited and waited for the creepy guy to come back with some dead bodies. Finally one night, when it was dark and rainy, they heard the dead guy come in.
"He piled up his bodies in the front, then started dragging them back. There was a father, a mother, and a boy. Henrietta and Ebenezer climbed off their shelf and waited in the shadows until he dragged one of the bodies back beside them.
"Then they jumped out and grabbed him. He tried to fight them, but they hung on tight. He screamed; he was so afraid he didn't even care if the police heard him and came and found the bodies. Then there was a flash of lightning.
"The windows of the mausoluem were small, but the lightning made it bright enough that the creepy guy could see Ebenezer grinning at him. He yelled really loud and then he dropped dead, he was so scared. They dropped him on top of the other dead bodies, and nobody ever found him. The End."
September 18, 1979
I had to get up and read my story today in front of the class. Some of the girls squealed, and Mrs. Gascan (that's what we call her when she can't hear us) looked like she'd eaten something sour. Or she looked like she'd eaten something even more sour than what she usually eats, I mean. When I was done, she told me it was a really nasty story and she was giving me an 'F'.
I got so mad I told her I'd read the story to Audrey and she liked it! She asked me if Audrey was my sister, and I said "No, she's our ghost!". All the kids laughed. Mrs. Gascan got really red in the face and sent me to the principal. He was mad at me, too, and I had to stay after school. When I got home, I found out they'd called Mom.
I had to convince her I was just joking, because I'd heard the house was supposed to be haunted. I think she believed me. She told me I was grounded for a week. Well, that doesn't matter too much. I don't really have anyplace to go. Audrey is my only friend, and she's here. I told her what happened, and she's still laughing at me, but not like she's making fun of me. It's kind of nice. It's like having a sister or something.
September 19, 1979
When I got on the bus today, some of the kids from my class pointed at me and said, "Oooo, he lives in the haunted house! He talks to the ghost! He even reads his homework to the ghost!" I just sat there and didn't say anything. I could tell some of them thought I was making the whole thing up, and some of them were scared and trying to hide it.
I guess they've all decided I'm weird now. Even fat old Henry wouldn't talk to me today. Hey, even back at home I never had many friends, so I'm used to it. And I've got Audrey. She's cool, and she's a ghost, which is so cool! How many guys have a friend who's a ghost?
September 22, 1979
I've been talking with Audrey a lot the past few days. She told me I ought to try to make friends with some of the kids at school. She said it was best for me, that she didn't want to ruin her life. I told her I didn't know how; kids just seem to hate me because I'm smart and because I'm weird. So we talked about things, and she tried to explain how to make other kids like you. I guess she was good at it.
I promised her even if I made a lot of friends I'd still spend time talking to her. She smiled at me and told me she wished she'd had a brother who was like me. "I had two brothers, but both of them were like Father." "Your father was mean?" "He was... yes, you could call him mean. He didn't care about me at all, he only cared about what he wanted from me."
She got really weird and sad after she said that, so I told her some jokes to try and cheer her up. She didn't get a lot of them, but she said I was making her feel better. Then she told me some jokes, and I couldn't get a lot of them, either. I guess jokes have changed along with everything else.
September 25, 1979
I knew some of the things Audrey said I ought to try wouldn't work, but I tried some of the others. Things must really have changed, because all the kids think I'm even more of a dweeb now. I tried not to let Audrey know, but she asked me how things went, so I had to tell her. She felt really bad, and told me she should have thought of that. I told her I didn't think of it either, so don't worry about it.
September 27, 1979
Today I went to the library to get some books for me and Audrey to read together. I wanted to read some of the ones she told me about. The librarian wanted to give me a card for the children's books, but I told her they already gave me a regular library card at home. She asked me where I came from, and called the library to ask them, but I guess she decided it was okay, because she gave me my library card.
I took out a big pile of books, some for me and some for Audrey. I've got to turn the pages for her, but that's okay. I can prop them so the pages stay open, and just flip a page every couple of minutes. Sometimes we read them aloud to each other. Audrey didn't mind that the library didn't have all the books she told me about. She said she thought that might happen.
October 1, 1979
Today when I was in the library to drop off some books, I heard a guy talking to the librarian. He said he wanted to find out more about his grandfather, and she was explaining how to do that. I didn't know you could find out about people like that in libraries!
I thought you had to hire somebody, a private detective or something, like on TV. The librarian was pretty busy helping the guy, so I didn't get a chance to ask her about it, but I wonder if I could find out more about Audrey and what happened to her at the library?
October 4, 1979
I went back to the library today. I was afraid the librarian would be mad, but she wasn't. I told her I wanted to know how to find out more about people, and she looked a little surprised, but she asked me what I wanted to know. "Uh, I live out on Cedar Street, in the old house..." She actually smiled at me. "The haunted house! And you want to know about the ghost?" "Uh, yes, please."
"I suppose you're trying to get ready for Halloween. At least you're learning something!" I just nodded. She showed me how to use the film reader, and she got out the rolls of film for me, from a drawer. She told me to give them back to her, and she'd put them away. I thanked her, and she went back to her desk. Old newspapers were pretty hard to read, so it took me a while to find Audrey.
It was in the paper after Christmas. Audrey Warren was found dead in her father's house. They didn't say it right out, but I think she hanged herself. Noboby could figure out why, or at least if they did, they didn't say so. Her father, Joseph Warren, was a pretty important guy. He owned a factory or something. Maybe it was what she told me about him, but I got the feeling he was a real jerk.
The paper even mentioned she had an older sister who'd run away from home. It made it sound like there was something wrong with the family, like maybe they were crazy or something, but it didn't really explain anything. There were a lot of funny words, so I had to read it carefully, and even look up a couple of words in the dictionary. I even made a copy of it.
"Tragic Incident on Christmas Eve
"Mr. Joseph Warren's household was struck by tragedy just before Christmas. Miss. Audrey Warren, an unfortunate daughter of that household, was found by her mother, lifeless, having apparently succumbed to melancholia and despair. The poor victim was taken down at once, and Doctor Merton was summoned, but she had been found too late to rekindle the spark of life in her still form.
"The valiant Doctor's efforts were required, however, to sustain the nerves of Mrs. Sophie Warren, who had borne the shock of beholding her beloved daughter's horrible visage bravely, but who collapsed in a faint when told she could not be saved. Mrs. Warren has endured more than her share of tragedy, having previously lost three of her dear offspring to the onslaught of disease.
"Our readers may be aware Mrs. Warren was also called upon to bear a further burden two years ago, when Miss. Pamela Warren, then a tender fifteen year old maiden, fled the bosom of her family under cover of darkness. Although Mr. Warren, owner of the prosperous Columbia Felt and Wollens Manufactory, spared no expense in the effort to locate his daughter, she succeeded in vanishing amongst the unwashed throngs of New York City.
"Despite Mr. Warren's prominent position in this community, and his desire to avoid the harsh glare of publicity, these events have become once again the subject speculation. What curse has driven one fair and tender member of the Warren family to turn her face from life itself? Is it the same malady that so afflicted another she departed her comfortable residence to seek her own ruin in the slums of the city?
"Whatever her reasons for committing such a desperate act, Mr. Warren has rejected the pleas of Mercy on his daughter's behalf. There is to be no service held in her memory, and her mortal remains are to be denied rest in the family plot. Mr. Warren has so far refused to reveal his plans for the disposition of the poor, sad remains of one once so fair. Those gentlemen and ladies who shall undoubtedly mourn her must do so in private."
October 5, 1979
I showed Audrey the copy I made from the newspaper today. I knew it would make her sad, but I couldn't hide it from her. She wasn't as sad as I thought she'd be. She read it, then read it again, then shook her head. "So Father thought he was too good to lie down beside me in the end? Good." I couldn't figure out what she was saying. She looked at me. "I shouldn't talk like that. You're a good boy."
"I'm sorry. I just wanted to know more about you." She sighed. "There are things I can't say. I'm too ashamed, and you're too good, and too young, to know about such things. I doubt you'd believe me even if I explained them to you." "I'd believe you! You're my friend!" She smiled, a little. "Perhaps you would. Still, there are things no one should have to know about."
I felt really strange. I was curious, but Audrey was so sad that she'd done something awful to herself. Whatever made her that sad was probably something I wouldn't want to know about. "I'm sorry. I guess I shouldn't have looked." "You couldn't have known. I'm surprised the newspaper printed so much. That must have been Oscar."
"Oscar?" "Yes, Oscar Sachausen. He never said anything, but I thought he was sweet on me." She smiled a little. "He must have been, to dare anger Father like that. He even wrote about poor Pamela. Father did find her, you know." "He did? But the paper said..." "I know. No one outside the family knew. By the time he found her, she'd 'sullied the family's reputation'. So he wouldn't let her come home."
"That's awful!" "I know. I don't even think Mother knew that. I only knew because I eavesdropped on Father when he was talking with one of the Pinkerton men." "Pinkerton men? Weren't they detectives, or something?" "Yes, very famous detectives. Father only hired the best." "But he wouldn't let your sister come home?" Audrey was crying too much to talk. "I'm sorry." I left her alone after that.
October 7, 1979
Audrey came to talk to me today. I'm glad she isn't mad at me. I only wanted to know more about her and what happened to her. We talked about books, and whether Mom would ever let me get a dog. I told her I wasn't nearly as lonely since I had her to talk to. She said she'd been lonely, too, until we moved in and I made friends with her.
October 12, 1979
There's a girl at school who always sits by herself at recess and at lunch. The other kids say she's crazy, but she reminds me of Audrey a lot. She gets that same sad look sometimes. Today she looked really sad, so I went over to her. "I'm Steven." She must not have seen me coming, because she jumped, then looked at me for a minute. "I'm Linda. What do you want?"
"Uh... I'm sorry. I just... you just... looked so sad." "Yeah? What are you gonna do about it?" I didn't know what to say. "I don't need some stupid boy!" I almost ran away, but I remembered Audrey. "Look, that's not what I meant. I know this girl..." "Oooo, you know a girl. I feel so much better now!" "Look, this is important! She hurt a lot, too. She tried... uh, the thing is, she still hurts, and she's still lonely."
I didn't even know she'd slapped me until I heard it and my whole face started to sting. The other kids all laughed, and a teacher ran over and brought me to the principal's office. I guess he thought I said something mean to her. I just got a lecture, though, about leaving girls alone. I told Audrey about it later. She didn't lecture me, but she did tell me I might not be able to do anything.
"I know what she's thinking. She's wrong, but she doesn't know that. I know you want to help her, Steven, but just leave her alone." I almost cried then. "No! You didn't do anything wrong." "I didn't? But Linda thought I did, and the teacher thought I did, and you just said..." "I said to leave her alone. You tried to help her. There wasn't anything wrong with that, but she won't listen to you."
October 15, 1979
Audrey's been really nice to me. I think she feels bad about something. I tried to tell her I'm not mad at her or anything, but she still acts funny. She keeps starting to say something, then stopping. It's almost like she's afraid, but I don't know what she's afraid of. And Linda, at school, watched me all through recess and lunch. It was pretty creepy.
October 18, 1979
Linda came up to me today. "Um, Steven?" "Yeah?" "Do you really know a girl who wants to die?" "She wanted to, yeah." "Why?" "I think it was something to do with her father. She didn't want to explain too much." I thought she was going to slap me again, but she just stood there. After a minute, I saw she was crying and trying not to show it. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you."
"I'm not upset! I'm making up my mind about something." "Okay." "Listen, Steven, do you think this girl would talk to me?" "I don't know why not. She's pretty lonely." "Could you ask her?" "Sure, I'll ask her. I'll let you know what she says tomorrow." "Oh, thank you, Steven!" She ran off before I even had a chance to tell her it was okay. I really don't understand girls sometimes.
I asked Audrey tonight and she smiled at me. "Of course I'll talk to your friend. I'm glad she asked you." "You are? But you said to leave her alone." "That was so she could make up her own mind what to do. I'm glad she's decided to talk to me. Did you tell her I'm a ghost?" "Um, no. I thought it might be better to take her to meet you first, then show her." Audrey looked uncertain, but she didn't argue.
October 19, 1979
I told Linda today that Audrey said she'd talk to her. She chewed her lip, but nodded. "You can't bring her to my house. Where can I meet her?" "Do you know where I live? Can you come over to my house?" She frowned. "The old haunted house?" "Yeah." "I don't know. I couldn't come tomorrow. It would have to be Sunday afternoon." "Okay, that's fine."
When I told Audrey, she said, "I've been thinking of something. Your Mother will think it's strange if you have a girl come up to your room, won't she?" "Um, maybe." "I've been trying something. I can't go out in the sunlight, because it shines right through me, but I could meet her under the trees, where it's darker. I was out there today, making sure I could do it." "Thanks, Audrey. You make a great sister!"
October 21, 1979
Linda rode her bike over here today. She didn't look too happy, but she followed me when I led her out back under the big trees. Audrey was standing in the shadows, waiting for us. "Hi, Audrey, this is Linda. Linda, this is Audrey, the girl I told you about." "Did you really wish you could die?" "Yes, Linda, Steven told you the truth. I did wish I could die. In fact, I wanted it so badly, I made it happen myself."
Linda looked confused. "Made what happen?" Audrey smiled at her, then slowly walked through the tree trunk. "I made myself die." The scary thing is, Linda looked excited. "You did? How?" "That doesn't matter. What you need to know is that it didn't help me. I still have my memories, and I'm even more lonely than I was. Or I was lonely, until I met Steven."
"Steven said..." Audrey waited. "He said... your father..." Linda gulped. "Father was a very twisted, cruel man. He wanted things from me no father has a right to ask his daughter." Linda started crying. "Steven, could we talk alone?" I nodded, and walked off under the trees until I couldn't see or hear them any more. I wished I could spy on them, but I decided that would be mean.
They were there a long time, and I had to keep reminding myself it wouldn't be fair to Audrey or to Linda to listen to things they didn't want me hearing. Finally Linda came looking for me. "I'm sorry, Steven. Audrey said she told you there were things you shouldn't have to know. And I'm too ashamed to tell you, anyway." "Why? Audrey said the same thing. She didn't do anything! Neither did you."
Linda sat and looked at the ground for a few minutes before she said anything. "Steven, you can't understand. There are some things so terrible, even when it isn't your fault, you still feel ashamed." "But that's..." "It's awful. But that's the way it is. And that's why Audrey doesn't want you to know. Because just knowing about it would make you sick inside." "Oh."
"Steven, I've got to ask you something. Do you really want to help me?" "Sure. Why?" "Audrey told me about your story. She said it gave her an idea, how to stop my father from doing all the things her father did to her." "My story?" "The one about the dead people." "Oh, yeah. It did?" "The trouble is, Steven, we need your help." "That's okay."
Linda sighed. "No, it's really not okay. What we need you to do, if something goes wrong, you could get in trouble, or even hurt. I don't really want you to do it, but it's Audrey's idea, and she says it's the only way she can think of to help me." "Well, if Audrey says it's okay, I don't mind." "No, Steven, Audrey didn't say it was okay. She said to ask you if it was okay."
I thought a minute. "Audrey says this is the only thing she can think of." "Yes." "And if we don't do this, you'll keep on wanting to die, the way Audrey did, until maybe you kill yourself, like she did?" Linda looked at the ground. "Probably, yes." "Then I'll do it." She threw her arms around my neck and gave me a kiss before I could stop her. Well, I wouldn't tell anybody this, but it wasn't that terrible.
October 24, 1979
I've been hanging around with Linda a lot at school. The other kids tease us, but I don't care, and I don't think Linda does, either. Sometimes she gets mad at me, but Audrey's been trying to explain a little to me. Not about what's wrong. Just how it can be, when you trust somebody and they hurt you. After that, you don't know who you can trust, and you get mad at everybody. I don't blame Linda.
I've thought a lot about things, and I think maybe I can guess what hurt Audrey and Linda. Not exactly. I don't know all that much about it. But if it's what I think it is, that's sick. So sick, it's got to be crazy. I'm not even going to write it down here. It's just too crazy. I hope it's something else. Audrey tells me Linda's going to need somebody who's really her friend, who really cares about her. I'm glad she's trying to help me understand. I think I'd do something stupid and hurt Linda otherwise.
October 29, 1979
I don't know everything Audrey's got planned. But she and Linda have explained what they want me to do, and gone over it a couple of times. I just wish we could do it tonight. I want it to be over with. It's cool to be friends with a ghost, but this is different. This scares me.
October 31, 1979
I had to argue a lot with Mom before she'd let me go out trick or treating on my own. And she thinks my costume is stupid. It does look lame, but I've got to wear something I can run in, and something nobody can see far away. I'm writing this much before I go. I'll write down the rest of it when I come back.
We did it! I waited for the right time, and I walked up to Linda's door. Her creepy Dad came to the door. She pointed him out to me a couple of days ago, so I knew it was him. "Trick or treat!" When the creep bent over to stick the candy in my bag, I said really soft, "I know what you made Linda do with you." He almost got me. "Why you little...!" "I'm gonna tell everybody! I took pictures through your window!"
I waved a couple of pictures Linda'd stolen from him in the air, then stuffed them in my pants and ran harder. He really came after me then. He didn't even remember to close his door. I could hear Linda's Mom calling him, but he ignored her. Even though Audrey made me go through the woods a couple of times, in the dark it was different, and I tripped. But the creep didn't know the path at all, so it was okay.
Once we were away from his house, he was calling after me. "I'm going to kill you, you little $*!#! Give up now and I'll make it quick!" I laughed so he'd know where I was and ran away again. A couple of times I could hear him run into things, but after what he did to Linda I didn't feel bad for him at all. Whenever he got lost, I made sure he could hear where I was. It worked, too! I led him right to where Audrey told me to.
It was a little clearing near our house. I hid in the shadows and waited. I couldn't see Audrey or Linda. Then the creep ran into the moonlight. I wanted to run, but I wanted to see what Audrey would do. Sunlight might shine right through her, but moonlight only made her look spooky. She walked out in front of him. He pushed right through her, then stopped and turned around.
I'd never seen her like this before. She looked really scary, all cold and beautiful and mad. She reached out, and put her hand into his chest. "Hello, Mr. Virelli. Linda's told me all about you." He opened his mouth, but no sound came out. Then he reached up and put his hand where hers was, on his chest. He grunted, and then he fell over. Linda ran out, but Audrey told her to stay back. She bent over him.
"It's okay. He's dead. Where are the pictures, Steven?" I went to hand the pictures over to her. The ones of men like Linda's dad with girls, some of them even younger than Linda, doing really gross stuff. "I can't, Steven. I'm sorry you had to be a part of this. Can you put them in his pocket?" "I guess so." I was pretty freaked out, touching a dead guy, but I slipped the gross pictures into his pocket.
Linda was crying, but Audrey said she'd be alright. I've never seen Audrey look really happy before. I was a bit scratched up when I got home, and it was late, so Mom was pretty mad. Still, it was worth it. When they find that creep in the woods, they'll see those pictures and know what kind of a creep he was. Then, nobody will want to ask too many questions about what happened to him. Besides, who's gonna believe a ten year old boy helped a ghost kill an adult, even on Halloween?