Copyright © 2012 Shona Husk
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
“What do you want?” Eloise said with more bravery than she felt as she fingered the salt, ready to throw it at him if he tried something. “Why are you here?” Was he haunting her?
He seemed to swallow before speaking. Did ghosts swallow? Or was it a reflex left over from living?
“I don’t know.” This time he wasn’t flickering. He seemed more solid.
She glanced at the carpet; he wasn’t dripping ghostly blood either. But she didn’t know if that was a good thing or not. “Why did you come back?”
“I used to live here, a bit more than ten years ago. This was my room.”
“Oh.” She looked at him again, a frown forming. He seemed familiar, like she should know him.
“You’ve seen me before.”
Eloise blinked and glanced away. Was he reading her mind? She swung her legs around so she sat on the edge of her bed, well aware she was in her comfy PJs and her hair probably looked awful. He is a ghost. Like it matters.
He was also a guy. A dead guy. There was always something wrong with the cute ones. And he was cute. Blond hair sweeping over his eyebrow, blue eyes that might have looked girly except the way they were placed in very masculine face.
“Last night, you came and stood in my room. Right there. You were dripping blood.” She pointed to where he was standing like he didn’t know what to do with himself. That niggling knowledge that she knew him didn’t fade. If she knew him, surely she’d remember, as he didn’t have the kind of face a girl forgot.
The ghost looked at the carpet. Of course there was no blood to find—she’d looked last night while trying to convince herself it was a bad dream brought on by too much coffee and too much study. Then he looked at his arm hanging awkwardly at his side. His leather jacket didn’t hide the unnatural twist.
“You’re not bleeding now…” Because he was dead. She put down the salt. He seemed too lost to be a threat. What was the right thing to say to a new ghost? “I’m sorry you’re dead.” That sounded pretty lame.
He raised one eyebrow. “I don’t think I’m dead.”
“Um, you’re a ghost in my house.” And if he wasn’t dead and a ghost, she was hallucinating which was worse, way worse.
“I can feel my father holding my hand. I can feel pain…not sharp, but…” He shrugged with his good shoulder. “Like an echo of pain. It still hurts, only I can’t control it or do anything about it.”
“Well if you’re not dead, shouldn’t you be in your body?” Eloise frowned. “Or are you astral projecting or something?”
“I can’t get back to my body.”
She pressed her lips together and nodded. He looked grim as well. Not being able to get back to his body, if he was alive, was bad. “You’ve tried.”
The ghost nodded. “I got a headache like the hangover from hell. I seem to be stuck between here and the accident.”
“The one last night?” Had she guessed right?
“You know what happened?”
“I heard the sirens. I saw you here. You looked—” she wanted to say scared but changed her mind, “—bad.” And he was hanging on her every word. “Then you vanished. You don’t remember.”
“Some of it,” he said like it really concerned him.
It would concern her too if she were missing memories and wandering around without a body. Maybe she could help him and then he’d be fine. She didn’t want him to die if he still had a chance to recover.
Eloise grabbed the TV remote of her bedside table. “Have a seat; let’s see if it made the news. Maybe it will help.” She glanced at him and he smiled. The tight kind people gave when they were embarrassed to be needing help but were unable to refuse.
He tried to pull out the chair at her desk and failed. His hand passed through it. She watched him try again, fascinated. He couldn’t manipulate objects.
“I’ll stand.” He looked more confused than intrigued.
She got up and pulled it out for him, half expecting him to slide right through it and land on his ass. He didn’t. Cool…and a little weird. What else could he do?
“Thank you.” This time the smile seemed a little more genuine.
Eloise couldn’t help the curving of her own lips. “You can walk through doors.” Because that was the only way he could’ve gotten into the house. “You can go upstairs and sit on a chair, but you can’t pull it out.”
He frowned as if he hadn’t considered that before.
“Well I’m not falling through the floor, so maybe I can walk and sit on stuff but not move it.”
“Which is why you can’t open doors… Can you fall through the floor if you want?” She glanced at him, her curiosity getting the better of her. She’d never seen a ghost, or spirit, or whatever he was, before. And now she was having a conversation with one as if it was nothing odd.
“I don’t know.” He thought a moment and dropped through the chair and disappeared.
“Hey, come back!” She turned a full circle. She hadn’t really expected him to try. Maybe he was unsure what he could do too. If he only became separated from his body last night, this was rather new to him, and probably quite frightening. She didn’t know if she’d be quite as calm.
“I’m here,” he said as he walked back through the half-open door. “I won’t be doing that again. The landing is rather jarring.” He sat on the chair ready to watch the news.
Eloise sat on her bed and tapped the remote on her leg as another thought came to her. “Maybe you’re not meant to know what happened and that’s why you can’t get back to your body.”
“What do you mean?” He leaned back in the chair and studied her.
“Like when people see their injuries and they go into shock. Maybe your body is keeping you safe by not letting you see.” As she said it she realized she sounded really dumb. But then it was six a.m. and she was chatting to a ghost, so maybe he’d let it pass.
“I hadn’t thought of that.” He frowned and looked at the floor. “I’m sure I’ve been in surgery already. I can’t be too badly injured if I’m still alive.” But he didn’t sound overly convinced. He paused as if weighing his next words carefully. “I’d like to know what’s going on.”
Eloise bit her lip. She didn’t want him to die after learning what happened—was that even possible? She didn’t know. She didn’t know anything about him, but she wanted the chance to learn more. “Are you sure?”
“I’ve been to the accident scene. I’m stuck between here and there. Plus I need to know if Ruby is okay.”
Eloise stiffened. Ruby. Of course. Guys like him always had a girlfriend. Maybe learning the truth would zap his butt out of her room and he could be Ruby’s problem. The sharp edge of jealousy scraped over her skin. It wasn’t that she hadn’t had boyfriends, it was just that he was the kind of guy girls always looked at even though they knew they had no chance. And she was always one of those girls. Too smart, not quite cool. College had changed that—a little.
She’d find what he wanted and get rid of him.