“Encountering a spirit of the dead isn’t always as frightening as you think because sometimes, as you’re hearing them or seeing them, you’re convinced they’re a living person. Probably a family member or friend you’re expecting. So you ask them questions, and sometimes they respond, or you wave and they wave back. It’s when you find out that the person you thought you were communicating with couldn’t possibly be in two places at once that the real terror sets in.”
– Danny Raye
“You can’t jump over yourself, cheater.”
“Nice try, Jordan.”
Brandy moved her friend’s marble back to its original spot.
“I thought you couldn’t jump yourself, but your teammate.”
“You can’t jump either one,” Sal said.
Wahoo was a family game, and I always wondered if Grandma created it. The game board was just a big square hunk of wood with tiny pieces scooped out to carry the marbles, so it wasn’t like you could buy it from a store like Monopoly.
The game is for up to four players. Each person gets a corner of the board and a certain color of marbles to play with. Five marbles for each player. Basically the goal is to take all five marbles around the bubble plus sign shape on the board and to get all their marbles back home. Whoever gets all their marbles back home first wins.
The rules are that you can only bring out one marble from home if you roll a one or a six. After that, whatever you roll moves one marble at a time across the board. If you roll and someone is on the spot you’re supposed to move to, you get to swipe them and send that marble back home to start all over again, which really sucks if you got really far. But no matter what you roll, you can’t skip over your own marble or your teammate’s marble, so if you roll and it’s too many spaces, you just lose your turn. That’s what Brandy’s friend, Jordan, was confused about.
“Okay, okay. Now I got it.”
Sara was in the chair next to me watching the game. It wasn’t for adults only, but it was only up to four players, so Brandy, Jordan, Sal and Jeff were playing. Anna was sitting on Jeff’s lap watching and Ari was on Brandy’s lap helping move the marbles. Me? I was at the end of the table writing my story. My characters were going to save their teammates.
I love Saturday nights like this. I wish Mom didn’t have to work nights on Saturday because then our whole family would be together to play games. But at least we got to stay up late with her last night. That usually never happens because she falls asleep in the middle of the first movie. She’s just tired from working so much for us.
“Can we take a break to smoke?” Anna said.
“Yeah, I gotta pee,” Jeff said.
The kitchen got really loud really fast when everyone got up for this break. I thought since Sal was going upstairs to use the bathroom that now would be a good time to go upstairs and get my second notebook. This one only had one page left and I had just started a new chapter.
I hurried upstairs after him while everyone else went out on the front porch to smoke. All the doors upstairs were closed because knowing they were open just meant that the dead people inside of them were closer to me. There was something safe about having the doors all closed. I know that movies say ghosts can go through stuff, but having the doors closed made me feel like that wasn’t true at all.
But if the ghosts were waiting inside my room, I didn’t want to open the door and see them standing there in the darkness. So I did something I had only started doing since we moved in here. I cracked the door open just enough for my hand to fit in and switch on the light. Then and only then did I feel safe enough to open the door.
I hurried into my room. Sal wouldn’t be in the bathroom very long and I didn’t want to be up here by myself. The notebook was in the top right drawer of my desk. I grabbed it and decided to grab an extra pen just in case mine stopped working. There weren’t any extra ones in my desk so I got the one from my backpack.
Chink, chink. Thunk.
I stopped. Mom had worked all day cutting these rectangular holes in the wall between my room and Sara’s so we could see each other when we were doing homework after school. That way we wouldn’t feel alone. But right now, at nine o’clock at night when Sara’s room was pitch black and I was hearing noises from inside of it, I was definitely sure the windows were a bad idea.
“Sara, is that you?”
“Did you forget something, too?”
I didn’t remember hearing her door open, and she hadn’t turned the light on. But most of the time I was so focused on what I was doing that I barely knew what was going on around me. I was always thinking about my characters. Even when I hurried to get out of my room to get back to my characters after talking to Sara just then, I was thinking so hard about my story that I forgot I left Sara upstairs by herself. I was going to go get her after I dropped my stuff off at the table.
But I didn’t have to because she was already in the KITCHEN!
“Sara, were you just in your room?”
Sara shook her head. “No. I just heated up some pizza. You want some?”
I sank down into my chair at the table and buried my face in my arms and I cried.
“Danny, what’s wrong?” Sara sat down next to me and started rubbing my back. “Did something scare you upstairs?”
I sniffled when I picked my head up. “Sara, I heard things moving in your room, so I thought it was you and I asked, I said, ‘Sara, is that you’ and I thought it was you that answered. Some little girl said ‘yes’.”
Sara’s eyes got real big, which she didn’t know only scared me more. I put my face back in my arms and cried some more because now I was scared when I should have been scared up there talking to something in the dark that wasn’t my sister.
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