Cody stopped and stared at the shimmering shadow which stood out against the surrounding darkness. He thought about running back inside or bolting for the tent, but he was fixed to the spot. He tried to tell himself it was nothing, just an animal maybe? Or moonlight on the water?
He looked up and began searching the pitch black sky for the moon and stars. The crying drew his attention back and he felt the urge to go and actually prove that there wasn’t anything there. Once again, picking the shimmering shape out, Cody stepped slowly down the steps and went up to his tent. Stopping again, he tried to utter an hello, but nothing came out of his month.
Swallowing and licking his lips, he tried again. His voice was less then a whisper. He put his hands together, then decided he couldn’t let this go. What would he tell Luke? He disliked his cousin calling him a baby as it was. Slowly, he shuffled off again, feeling the dry loose soil and small patches of grass under his bare feet.
Wishing he had a torch, he made it close to the edge of the lake. There he stood still, listening to the water lapping on the small outline of sand. He couldn’t see the dark shimmer shape now, nor much else. Shrugging, Cody turned and made to leave.
The girl’s crying came loud in his ears, startling him so that he almost tumbled over.
‘Who are you?’ he shouted.
‘Who are you?’ a girl echoed his words.
‘I’m Cody. What do you want?’
‘Abigail,’ came the whispered voice.
‘I have to go,’ Cody gushed and made to leave.
A small, icy cold hand grabbed his.
‘Don’t. I only want someone to play with me. Do you want to play?’
Cody shook his head, ‘no.’
‘Why not?’ the girl’s voice pressed.
‘It’s late….I should be in bed.’
‘But I’m so lonely…Will you be my friend?’
Cody screwed his face up, not sure what to answer the invisible girl. He thought about trying to move his hand, but it was numb all ready and he couldn’t feel his fingers. He wiggled them and tried to remember what his mum had said about telling people nicely about not wanting them to be friends.
‘You don’t want to be? Okay…’ Abigail said sadly and let his hand go.
‘I don’t…’ Cody scrambled for the right words, ‘I’m sorry, it’s just…’
He stopped and waited, but the ghost seemed to have gone. Shivering, he went into the tent and woke Luke up again.
‘What’s it now?’ Luke mumbled.
‘I just saw her and spoke to her. She wanted to be my friend!’ Cody rushed.
‘The drowned girl!’
‘You were dreaming. It’s a story. It’s not real.’ Luke moaned.
‘No!’ Cody snapped and started shaking his cousin.
‘Okay!’ Luke shouted and scrambled out his sleeping bag, ‘Show me. Where is she?’
Cody pointed outside then, headed out again. The tent flaps rustled against him and he heard Luke making the same sounds. Then the torch beam flickered on and lit a line down to the lake shore.
‘Turn it off. She might not like it,’ Cody said.
Luke shot him a look and walked down to the edge of the lake. He shone the small torch about, the light picked up some small rocks and the gentle waves. Nothing shimmered under the beam and they could hear only the lake and an owl hooting somewhere.
‘You lied,’ Luke shouted, ‘there’s nothing here!’
‘She was here. She touched my hand!’ Cody countered back.
He held up his hand and Luke shone the chair on it, but his hand looked normal.
Luke pushed him hard and Cody hit the ground with a thud. He cried out and felt sharp pebbles grating under his palm. He looked up, but Luke was all ready heading back to the tent, the torch beam bobbing before him.
Cody wiped his face, catching the start of tears that had watered his eyes. He got up and decided there was no way he was getting back into the tent again. He stumbled up the porch steps and opened the back door again. Going into the welcoming glow of the lights, made him feel better and he went quietly up the stairs.
At the top, he went into the bathroom and turned the light on. There before the mirror, he saw his red flushed cheeks which looked damp. He held up his hands and saw the imprint of pebbles and flakes of dirt. He washed his hands then went into his bedroom. Putting the light on, he crossed the small floor and got into the far single bed.
He turned on the lamp and turned off the main lights. He got into the bed, feeling safer and warmer. He settled down and tried to tell himself it had all been in his head. Rolling over, he shut his eyes and tried to get back to sleep.
He stirred at the voice and slowly opened his eyes. He wasn’t sure how long it had been or who had spoken.
‘Your friend isn’t very nice, is he?’
‘What? Who’s there?’ Cody uttered.
‘It’s me, Abigail. Remember?’ the girl’s voice whispered.
‘What are you doing in here?’ Cody gasped.
He sat up and clutched the duvet right up to his chin. He peered out trying to see her. Was that a really dark shimmer near the wardrobe? He couldn’t be sure.
‘I came to see you…Is that okay?’
‘I could go and haunt him, if you want? I do a really good moaning sound,’ Abigail spoke.
‘No. It’s okay…What do you want? I don’t think we can be friends…you being a ghost and all…’ Cody trailed off.
‘Maybe, you could set me free though?’
‘How?’ Cody asked.
He released his tight grip on the duvet and let it slide down. He could see her now; an eight year old girl in a torn up dress and long loose hair, though she still seemed to be a black outline. She was at the foot of his bed, looking over the railing at him, though Cody couldn’t see her eyes or any features of her face.
She sighed and seemed to wave her hands around, ‘I don’t know,’ she finally admitted.
Cody lay back down and looked up at the ceiling. He thought deeply, trying to recall what he knew about ghosts.
‘Maybe, you have to do something, like settle something…’ Cody said aloud, ‘or we need someone who can talk to ghosts. I don’t know what to do.’
‘It’s okay…actually, I kind of like it,’ Abigail replied.
‘You like being a ghost?’ Cody asked.
‘It’s not so bad, but it is lonely.’
Cody yawed and rubbed his eyes.
‘I should go…’ Abigail stated.
Cody mumbled a reply and shut his eyes.
The morning felt too normally. Cody woke and for a few minutes whilst he was in the bathroom and dressing, he couldn’t remember anything. Only at breakfast, when asked by his mum why he had come in, did he recall Abigail. Deciding not to tell, he lied about coming in to get some water then going upstairs instead of back outside.
Luke shot him a look, but carried on eating cereal. The girls seemed too sleepy to care or maybe they hadn’t heard. Cody didn’t add any more, but let the sounds of breakfast fill the air again. He looked over at the back door and wondered if he’d see the ghost girl again.