“We should do, like a sÈance.”
It sounded like a good idea in the crowded, well lit, lunchroom.
At midnight that night in the middle of a graveyard… Less so.
We were looking for Janet’s tombstone by torchlight, as the sun had long since left us.
Eventually we found it, and we sat down beside it. Katie was lighting candles.
“Have you done this before?” I asked.
“What else do you think girls do in sixth grade sleepovers?” She responded.
Emily rolled her eyes.
“I don’t know, like, talk about boys or something?” I said.
“Boys are about as interesting as talking to the dead, so we divided our time pretty evenly.” Katie said, smiling. “Well, okay, Boys, Cosmo, and talking to the dead,”
“I don’t even want to know anymore.” I said.
I shivered slightly, but not because of the temperature. I looked at the tombstone. The faded engraving read ‘Taken too soon.’ And a date ‘1830 to 1842.’
“Ok guys.” Katie said in a businesslike tone. “We all have to join hands.”
“So how does this work?” I asked.
“Just, be quiet and be receptive for any messages the spirit world might try and send across.” Katie said. I was about to make a sarcastic comment but she started “Janet. Are you there Janet.”
There was a pause. I stifled a giggle as I pictured her coming out from behind a tree saying “Oh why are you waking me up? You better have a damn good reason!”
“Janet.” Katie continued, unaware of my very un-sÈance like thoughts. “Are you there?”
Predictably, there was a pause. I could tell that Emily was nervous but I was mostly just bored.”
Katie whispered. “We’re ready for you. Janet, send us a sign if you can here us.” She spoke louder. “Send us a sign!”
I will never claim to understand what happened next, the newspaper report said it was a phenomenon known as ball lightning; other people thought it was a UFO. I am personally of the opinion that what we saw was the ghost of Janet.
We saw this bright light; it seemed to emanate from the tombstone. It was as if the tombstone had suddenly become the brightest light I had ever seen. It was brighter than the sun, and it hurt to look directly at it. We broke hands almost immediately and I looked at Katie, heart pounding in my ears, as if to say “does this usually happen?”
Her look of sheer terror told me what I needed to know.
Emily recovered first. I will never know why we didn’t just run. “Hello?” She said. “My name is Emily, what’s your name.” There was no response. “We won’t hurt you. I promise.”
She stepped forward, her hand outstretched.
“What are you doing?!” I yelled. “Don’t touch it!”
“I don’t think she wants to hurt us.” Emily said, in an awed whisper. “Don’t you feel it?”
I never got the chance to ask her what she was talking about because ‘Janet’ exploded. We were thrown back. I hit my head and I saw the light shrivel into nothing. I blinked several times; the bright light was burned onto my retina.
“Emily? Katie?” I yelled. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” I heard Katie croak. “I’m okay.”
I stood up. “Emily?!” I shouted. I flashed my torch around. A thousand things flitted through my head, the craziest of which was that the bright light had taken her up to heaven.
After a frantic search, Katie found her; she was out cold, bleeding from her head. Unlike camp, this time we could just call 911. An ambulance arrived and we drove to the hospital. It turned out she just had a bump on the head, or at least, that’s what the doctor said. They needed to do an X ray.
Eventually we were allowed to go in.
“She is a little bit out of it, but that’s normal.”
“Emily!” Katie said, rushing in and hugging her.
Emily didn’t hug her back. She seemed distant, as if her normal, dynamic self had died and been buried in the graveyard. She simply lay there, staring into the distance. Katie wiped away a tear.
“Are you okay?” I said, from the corner of the room.
Emily didn’t respond, or at least not in words. She shook her head slightly, if anyone else noticed, or if they had if they would have recognised it for what it was; a conscious gesture.