Emilia Barton had definitely not gone anywhere. She’d just decided she needed a minute or two to sit down and assimilate what had just happened. She’d been hit by a car, died and for whatever twisted reason, been left behind in the world of the living. Then, she’d been brought here to witness an all too familiar discussion between this woman, Olivia, and her boyfriend, Noah. And finally, Emilia had discovered said woman could hear her and see her.
“But what does it all mean?”
This time there was no answer. The only sound was that of a car driving by and of the hushed conversation from an elderly couple walking down the street with their dog. Maybe she could try looking for Sam. What if he was the one she’d stayed behind for? Emilia knew the answer almost immediately. Sam was not the one in need but this woman who liked to hum before going to bed.
Knocking or ringing the doorbell was out of the question. Still, just going inside uninvited felt like an invasion. What if being what she was now, which she wasn’t quite sure of herself came with certain rules and such? It could be this state she was in was one that required a straight-out issued invitation from the house’s owner, like vampire Bill from True Blood or those hot guys from The Vampire Diaries.
“Okay, let’s see what happens.”
Emilia reached out her hand and saw it disappear through the hard solid white door.
“Cool.” She muttered.
When nothing out of the ordinary happened, well, apart from her hand passing through a solid surface, she closed her eyes and pushed the rest of her body to the other side. Once on other side, Emilia stood still in front of the wooden staircase, waiting. When no strange force threw her back outside, she let out a triumphant sigh and began roaming inside Olivia’s house.
The staircase the brunette had used to go upstairs was right in front of Emilia. To her left side, she could see a living room with a chimney, a wooden chest used as a coffee table, and a portable Bose speaker next to a window set atop an antique looking table. As Emilia moved further inside the room, she noticed the comfortable sofa next to the chimney with a magazine rack at its foot. There was a neatly folded quilt resting on one of the sofa’s arms. An even wider couch completed the rest of the furniture in the room, this one directly in front of the coffee table. Two tall floor lamps guarded each side of the couch.
Glad her footsteps were noiseless, she made her way to the other side of the house, and found the dinning room. It was uncluttered from useless knick-knacks, which fit with the general idea of the house. A comfortable place to live but a practical one, too. The center of the room was occupied by an old-looking white oak dinning table with ten chairs all around. The coloring of the wood was faded, still Emilia could tell its whole purpose was to look used, homey, almost as if a big noisy family gathered around it every night.
The chairs around the table were adorned with cushions covered in blue fabric, while a cobalt blue porcelain centerpiece bowl with a flowery pattern on the outside decorated the middle of the table. There was also a beautiful steel chandelier with a bronze finish and a series of crystal balls hanging from different parts of the chandelier’s spider arms. A couple of framed museum posters that hung around the room’s walls completed the decoration for this room.
For an instant, she longed for the comfort and decor of her own house. Although, now that Emilia thought about it, hers and Olivia’s tastes weren’t so far apart. There was a sense of order without it being too perfect. It was easy to see that the woman who lived here liked her house to have a sense of style and elegance, yet she didn’t have it surrounded by useless decorations.
The kitchen was at the back of the room. From the ample space both the living room and the dining room enjoyed, she’d been expecting the same for the kitchen, but she was shocked to see it was so narrow.
“Man, even Rachael Ray would resort to take out if she had to cook in here, it’s claustrophobic.”
Like any other kitchen, there was a stove and oven to her right, and on either side, there were a series of upper cupboards with light wooden doors and white porcelain handles that covered the walls. The sink was on the other side of the fridge. There was a door on the other side. As she peeked inside it, she found a broom, dustpan, mop, and other cleaning supplies. Finally, her gaze landed on another door to her left, which she assumed led to the house’s basement. Because she had enough of passing through doors for one night. Emilia decided to satisfy her growing curiosity and head directly to the upper floor.
There were three closed doors. One right in front of her and the other two on either side of the staircase. Her ears strained to listen to any noise that might point her directly to Olivia’s room but the only sounds were the creaking sounds of the wooden floors below.
“I really hate this.”
Sighing in defeat, Emilia poked her head through the door to her left. There was a bed, a small drawer right in front and a closet, but the bed was empty. Probably a guest room. Next, she tried the door in front of the stairs and found herself looking into the bathroom. There was a bathtub with a shower head above, a mirrored cabinet above the sink and in between the shower and the sink, a toilet with a fluffy pale pink cover.
“So, Noah has his own place? Interesting. Just like me and Sam.”
She stood outside the last door and took a deep breath. No matter how tidied-up a person’s house was, his or her room really told you what kind of people they really were. Emilia silently prayed Olivia wasn’t one of those S&M addicts with her room proudly displaying all of her paraphernalia. Or maybe an antique doll lover. Those things with the vacant, yet menacing glass eyes always scared the hell out of her.
She counted to three and walked right through. When she emerged on the other side, she couldn’t help but mutter. “Thank God.” Emilia clapped a hand over her mouth when the figure in the bed stirred and let out a muffled sound.
Thankfully, Olivia remained sleeping peacefully cuddled to one side of the bed. The bedside lamp illuminated the room around her giving her a better view. The lack of another room made her realize the bathroom outside was the only one at least in this part of the house.
Not one to bother with tidiness before bed, Olivia had left her clothes piled up on a chair right in front of a vanity mirror. Judging by the disarrayed state of the pillows on the floor, Emilia concluded her accidental host didn’t mind a little bit of chaos. There was a closet door on the other side of where she was currently sleeping like a baby, and a dresser right next to the bedroom’s door.
Emilia also noted there were books lying around the room. A couple were on one of her night tables, other three were scattered on the dresser, and one more lay open on the bed. Most likely she’d fallen asleep while reading.
Emilia’s own bedroom had been arranged similarly. The only difference was the 50” plasma T.V screen she’d bought for her room, in addition to the T.V. in her living room. Sometimes Emilia enjoyed curling up in bed and going through her Tivo’d shows. Or she used to, anyway.
So far, the ghost hadn’t seen a T.V. in this house, which made her more sure this could be as close to hell as she could get.
Emilia felt the tears starting to well up as she stood comparing both bedrooms and remembering her own home. It didn’t help when she accidentally glanced back at the mirror and noticed only the shape of Olivia’s body rising and falling, steadily beneath the covers.
All of a sudden, a wave of tiredness engulfed her, like she’d been walking around aimlessly for more than just a few hours. Not knowing if dead people who really didn’t die could sleep, she decided to go back downstairs and sit on the sofa.
At least she wasn’t going to be a homeless ghost tonight. Like a distant memory, she remembered what it was like to sit down on her own sofa back at her own living room, flipping through the T.V. channels late at night after a gruesome and annoying day at work. Or not watching the T.V at all but liking the background noise as Sam made love to her on the couch while the fire place seemed to soar to life as their caresses increased their pace.
And yet she had walked out on all of it tonight, and now even if she wanted to, there was no getting it back. For a second time, the meaning of her current predicament weighed down on her. This time the torrent of tears spilled out of her eyes as she tried to muffle her cries with her hands covering her face.
Olivia’s alarm clock beeped obnoxiously until her hand slapped the snooze button. Her head was still filled with echo of a woman’s heartbreaking crying and the mild headache caused by drinking more than her usual glass of wine. For a moment, the sadness she’d experienced during the dream felt so real, she felt like crying, too.
Before sleep had finally won over last night, Olivia had tossed and turned around her bed in hopes of finding a reasonable explanation for the out-of-the-ordinary situation she’d experienced. Part of her refused to believe she’d made it all up. There had been a woman standing outside her house and said woman had spoken to her as loud and clear as if she’d been inside the room with her, despite the solid wall and thick glass separating them both.
In the end, her rational side had won the argument and had pegged it all on her careless consumption of alcohol and the unfinished conversation with Noah. However, Olivia shuddered as she recalled how she’d felt when their hands had met on the glass.
Like she was lost.
Olivia lay in bed for another five minutes, staring at the ceiling. The failure of her evening with Noah made her groan loudly. She pushed the covers aside and got out of bed. Basically, she’d accomplished nothing, not even the prospect of a potential date. Nothing.
“You just need to be patient and try again.”
She decided on a brown tweed skirt with a pair of cream colored wool tights, and a blue cashmere sweater. Then she walked over to the small dresser and pulled open her underwear drawer and chose a pink bra and matching color panties. Eyeing the sexy lace bra, she wondered if Noah could
be persuaded to spend tonight at her place.
Thirty minutes later, Olivia was applying hair product to her long and wet wavy chestnut hair and twirling the ends with her fingers to make the waves even more pronounced. It was the only way she had found to control her rebellious hair. It gave her another full hour of sleep instead of having to get up earlier to blow dry her hair.
Thankfully, the dress code at Virginia Falls High wasn’t too last century so the history teacher didn’t have to wear the mandatory tied-up hair in a bun and rimmed glasses.
She carried her brown boots downstairs in her hands and left them next to the coat closet. Cowardly, Olivia gave the dinning room window a quick peek and was grateful the only thing she saw was her neighbor’s house across the street. Maneuvering her body inside the confined space of her kitchen, she grabbed a cup and poured down her daily dosage of fresh made morning coffee.
Her mother had given her this automatic coffee machine two years ago and ever since she’d learned how to program it to start making coffee every morning at six a.m., she had fallen in love with it. Olivia loved the damned thing as much as she did her own mother.
Turning on NPR on the small radio she kept tucked next to the toaster, she heard what was going on in the world today while she poured Rice Krispies into a bowl and took out the milk and orange juice from inside the fridge. Noah was always teasing her that not even her high school students had that cereal for breakfast. It was for kids.
Olivia threw a guilty look over to the unopened box of Special K she had vowed to start having for breakfast so she would join her best friend on her pre-wedding weight loss quest. And to fit into her bridesmaid dress for Tracy’s wedding. So far, the dress fit the same as when she had first tried it on, so basically she’d been lying to her best friend about the Special K.
It was a good thing mother nature had given her an efficient working metabolism, so no matter how much she ate, which she did a lot and constantly, she never gained weight. Every now and then she would go with Tracy to the gym but not if she could help it. A freak of nature was what Tracy called her. Whatever it was, Olivia maintained a slim and toned size six body. She wouldn’t be modeling for the Victoria’s Secret catalogue any time soon, but she wouldn’t be recruited for the Biggest Loser either.
As she crunched on her favorite morning breakfast, Olivia decided last night’s event had just been part of weird paranormal stuff people experience at some point in their lives. For example, Tracy swore to her that when her grandmother passed away, she felt her kissing her goodbye while she slept. The only paranormal experiences Olivia had gone through so far, were the many stories some of her students came up with when forgetting to deliver an assignment. If she could count the times someone’s grandmother had passed away and then come back from the death, she’d have one too many scary stories. It didn’t get more paranormal than that.
Which was why she wasn’t going to obsess over the woman from the window and the woman from her dreams. Not paying attention to the way her hand shook as she remembered all about it, Olivia decided it was perfectly normal to have had a dream about her. The stranger’s face had been stored in her subconscious and Olivia’s mind had created a scene where she’d seen her crying disconsolately on the sofa of her living room.
God, but I felt her pain. Like I did during dinner and when I saw her through the glass.
“You were drunk Olivia, nothing more.” She said to herself.
“Nah, like I said last night, you were perfectly sober.”
If last night’s scream could’ve woken up the dead, Olivia would bet this one had at least woken up her next door neighbors and their entire family back in California.
The voice was the same. As her bulging eyes focused on the kitchen’s entrance, it was like staring at a normal human being who had just happened to walk into her house at six twenty in the freaking morning. Although she doubted anyone in their right mind would go out during this time of year wearing nothing but a black cable knit dress, a pair of black leggings and ballet flats.
I’m probably still dreaming. I’ll just close my eyes and when I open them I’ll be upstairs in my bed.
“You know you could just say it out loud. I can hear your thoughts.” The ghost said, a bit bored.
Yeah right and I’m Harry Potter!
“Unless you can perform some cool magic tricks then I guess you’re just a regular person whose having a very awkward morning chat with a ghost.”
Stupefied, Olivia was unable to utter a single word. Her brain had shut off and all she could think of doing was to start screaming again until this….whatever it was went away. Finally, she whispered in panic. “A ghost?”
“Yep. Although I’d prefer it if you called me by my name, I’m Emilia Barton. Well, was, seeing as I’m dead and all.”
If Olivia thought this couldn’t be happening to her, Emilia wanted to tell her she didn’t want to be here either. All she wanted was to be getting ready to go to work even if that meant a crappy job with stupid Amanda and a mountain of number crunching and reports she had been neglecting for the past few weeks.
“You’re…….dead? But……no! You’re not real. I’m probably experiencing some sort of breakdown, that’s all.”
“Look, I’m not so thrilled about this situation myself. Yesterday I was at the hospital where I died and then something brought me here to this house, to you. And I want to figure out why.”
In her mind, Olivia began humming the same song from last night. Her terror was not of the apparition before her. If only, Emilia looked far from some evil spirit coming here to haunt her. Olivia was worried this was more serious than just the two of them acting out A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
The man from the news on the radio announced the time, half past six!
Shit, I’m late!
“Late? No, no, no. We need to talk now.”
Olivia ignored her and as she was about to crash against her, Emilia stepped to the side to let her pass but followed her to the small foyer at the entrance, where Olivia sat down and began to put on her boots in a hurry.
Olivia glanced at the ghost, winced because she was troubled by her paleness and said. “Emilia, I’m sure you have the wrong address. If you’ve come here to scare someone then I suggest you try number 1607 a couple of blocks down. They’re republicans. I’m sure they could use a scare.”
“Does it look like I’d be able to scare anyone?”
“I don’t know! I just want you to leave me alone.”
This time when Olivia grabbed her bag and her coat, Emilia wasn’t as fast. Instead of being sent flying backward, Olivia felt a skin-clawing cold the minute her warm-blooded body passed through this very confused ghost’s. Olivia felt exactly the same way she imagined she’d feel if one day she decided to lie naked on the snow.
Both women felt a shiver go up and down their bodies, only that Emilia’s had more to do with the memory of what it used to be to feel alive. When the door closed behind her, she just stood there rooted to the floor.
This is so unfair, I don’t deserve this. I mean no one does, but I truly don’t.