This story is by Christie Lessman and was part of our 2022 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Ghosts can be so rude! Some people might find ghost hunting exciting, but not so much when you come from a family of Mediums. My grandmother was the most prolific psychic of all and was known in town for her talent. Many say I remind them of her.
My life has been an adventure of ghosts, dark shadows, sinister voices, and just plain terrifying things, the “real” stuff of nightmares. At seven, I saw my first ghost. I knew she was a ghost because I could see through her. She was floating behind and mocking a historical re-enactor at the Prairie Village Museum my class was visiting. It was funny, and I got in trouble for laughing.
It would have been mind-warping if I were not so used to it, but the most irritating part is the incessant neediness of the ghosts. My name is Everleigh Asher, and I am haunted by spirits that cling to this world. I am a Medium who does not want to see or hear from the dead.
“I totally understand it is a gift and all, but really?” I looked at my shrink, who was furiously typing on his laptop. Dr. Arnold looked up from his notetaking and said, “Please go on, I find this fascinating.”
Fascinating indeed, I thought. I’m sure I am the subject of his next book. That aside, I felt better talking about my paranormal concerns with someone who was not in the trade. If I revealed my true feelings to my family, they would be shocked and disappointed.
I would not have entertained seeing a shrink if it had not been for something that happened recently. Plus, the school counselor said I needed help over one little crying meltdown in study hall. My problem is I miss my grandmother. My grandfather died when I was a month old, and my grandmother moved in with us. Now she’s dead, and I have not been able to get in touch with her. No one has! She is the only dead person I care to talk to, and she is gone from my life and I miss her; I miss her terribly.
The day my grandmother left me, she gave me a gift. At least, I think it was from her. It is a strange little gift that I am learning to cope with. I would not dare tell the shrink about Phoebe, “my gift,” because he would throw away the key.
You see, Phoebe is a banshee who came visiting the night grandma died. Phoebe, a misfit like me, then decided she did not want to leave. She must have taken a shine to me. She won’t let me out of her sight. Case in point, she is floating over the doctor’s shoulder, watching him type and crinkling her nose at his comments. Well, I figure that is not a good sign for me. She glanced up at me and shook her head in disappointment in reaction to what he was typing.
“How are you sleeping?” Dr. Arnold asked as he stopped typing and looked up at me.
“Better,” I said, and I was not lying. Once Phoebe came into my life, I was no longer bothered by the other spirits at night. Phoebe can be foreboding and fiercely protective. When I first met her, I admit she terrified me with her wrinkled, pale skin and dark, unblinking bloodshot eyes. On our first meeting, she nearly took my breath away when she sauntered into my room, screeching, and plopped down on the bed next to me. Anyway, it took a bit to get Phoebe to stop wailing! When she stopped, she wasn’t so bad.
Phoebe perches on my dresser like a buzzard watching over me while I sleep. I could not tolerate seeing her at the end of my bed, so she had to find another perching place. The dresser worked. I got used to her watching over me, and I started getting a good night’s sleep. Her screaming, wailing, and shrieking are startling, but on the positive side, the ghosts find it off-putting and keep their distance.
Banshees get a bad rap in the spirit world. They are the loudest tattletales on the playground. I feel Phoebe did not have many friends before she met me. Truthfully, this made her a bit awkward. I figured if she was going to hang with me, she needed a makeover. I glammed her up. I had to do it! The floating spectral figure shadowing me like a balloon over my shoulder was highly disturbing. Her unkempt hair floated around her, and those dark bloodshot eyes cried out for a change. Now she walks with me, her hair pulled back into a ponytail, and wearing dark spectral sunglasses when we are out. It makes me feel better, and I think she likes her new look too. We also discussed the issue of her constant wailing each time we were in public. For instance, driving past a graveyard or funeral home sent her into hysterics! It was almost not worth getting my learner’s permit to drive. Almost.
Sure, we have some setbacks. She still follows people in the mall, pointing at them and tearfully shaking her head. It is the same everywhere we go, even at school, although she sobs now instead of screaming.
“Have you thought much about your grandmother lately?” Dr. Arnold raised an eyebrow. “It’s a natural emotion to grieve. Wanting to see your grandmother is your mind’s way of coping with her death. I doubt that you see ‘real spirits.’ They are just manifestations of your mind.”
Okay, I get where this is going.
“I see what you are saying, Dr. Arnold. Maybe my grandmother is at peace.” I replied, staring back at him. “As soon as I accept her death, I can get on with my life. And I “AM” ready to get on with my life. ”
I was upset that my grandmother did not reach out to me after her death, but I figured that maybe she had had enough of the spirit world when she was alive. Now, she wants to be left alone. I think I finally got it.
Dr. Arnold looked intensely at me. “That’s a rational conclusion Everleigh,” he said.
“Yes, I feel I’m making progress every day. I just want to get back to school, back to normal. I just want to be a typical teen,” I said, faking a smile. A two-week leave from school for six sessions with a shrink isn’t my idea of an ideal vacation.
“I think that’s an excellent idea,” he replied. He closed the lid on his laptop and sighed. “I will miss talking with you, but I think it’s best that you get back to a regular routine.”
I could not believe my luck as I rose from my chair.
“Could I ask for one more session?” the doctor inquired.
“I thought the insurance only covered six sessions?” I asked suspiciously.
“It’s not a real session. It’s more of a reality check.” He smirked. “Every year, I take a group to the Old Town Cemetery for my own little”ghost hunt.” He chuckled. “It’s this Saturday.”
I stood shocked at his suggestion. I glanced at Phoebe, who was shaking in anger.
“You will release me from your care before then, right?”
He nodded, “I’ve already written the email and sent it to your School Counselor. How about Saturday?”
“Why do you think it would be good for me?” I could see Phoebe narrowing her eyes as she slid her sunglasses down her nose.
“Well … you’ll have some fun and meet like-minded individuals who want to believe in the paranormal. With Halloween right around the corner, it’s a friendly make-believe adventure.”
“Have you ever seen anything?” I inquired.
“Heavens, no! It is just a good spooky evening for a holiday,” he chuckled. “It’ll be good for you. It’s a way of understanding that death is the finale and that there is no return from it. ”
I was stunned! Wasn’t he listening to anything that I told him in our sessions? I could not believe he would think it would be a fun evening for me to invite the spirits back into my life purposely. I could see Phoebe bristling up, getting ready to screech. I shook my head at her.
“Well, since you put it that way, I’ll tag along.” Phoebe gave me a perplexed look. “I am sure we can have some “fun” during your reality check. Who knows who we will scare up?” Phoebe smiled and winked at me as she pushed her sunglasses up. I know she will have a good time. And me? I will give him a ghost hunt that will haunt him for years. Trust me, ghosts can be so rude!