Chapter 3 Willa
Jackie really wants to hear about my day, so I spend my first thirty minutes of freedom filling her in by way of pen and a college-ruled notebook. After escaping her enthusiasm, I make my way upstairs and plop on my bed. I stare at the ceiling as I recall my notes to Jackie. I left out the bit about my ghost research and meeting our snooty neighbor.
I saw him again on my bus ride back home. Tate acted all tired, leaning against his shiny black SUV, gripping a fancy bottle of water in his hand. Only an idiot pays five bucks for water. I hate companies like that—ones that want to buy the farms from honest, hard-working people just so they can tap into their natural spring.
Tate’s poor sister looked sad herself. Why can’t he make an effort? Only the rich get everything and still can’t summon up the decency to appreciate. Just as I’m building a decent heat from my anger, a wave of hope wafts over me, through me. Huh? And then I the feeling of eyes watching me. Stupid house.
I stand up and make my way downstairs and out of the house. At the front walk, I turn back. The grandmotherly, old house doesn’t look very hauntable. Just old-fashioned…and big. Big picture windows, topped with beveled glass designs, almost completely cover the whole front of the house. On the top story, the two windows on each side are angled with the house. One of those windows is mine. It has a white eyelet curtain….it’s moving. Get out of my room!
I jerk my gaze down and see Jackie and Chad through the parting of a different set of curtains. They’re still perched on bar stools downstairs in what used to be called the parlor (Chad calls it his bar now). They grin down at the notebook I scribbled my notes about school on earlier. Chad spots me and stands. I point to the beach and he nods. They’re cool. A little goofy but cool.
Once at the beach, I tiptoe in between the sea oats. We aren’t supposed to disturb the dunes because sea oats are the only things keeping the beaches from eroding when storms roll in. But I like the oats for company and it isn’t as if I’m going to dance among them. I know how to keep a plant alive. I sit down and stare out at the clear blue water; foam forms at the tops of waves. The crash of each wave sends calmer water to the shore along with a jumble of shells. As the sea claims its water once again, other shells roll in for the ride back out. The ocean is almost gaudy in its beauty. It seems to mock my poor little creek back home.
A gust of wind lifts my hair off of my damp neck, and I close my eyes to the offending ocean. With the sea oats waving to the left and right of me I tilt my head back and let the breeze ripple across my face. The oats sing with pleasure. With a bit of imagination their whistle sounds like notes from a violin. I sway as a sweet love song tickles my ears. I’m lost, riding a rainbow of perfectly tuned violins until I feel eyes on me. Are you freaking kidding me? Ghosts on a beach—just my freaking luck.
In a huff, I get to my feet and stomp off. There’s no use looking around; I know what I’ll see: nothing. What is wrong with this place? I can’t even be alone when I’m alone!
Back at home, I run upstairs and head straight for my curtains. One yank and they’re down and there are a lot of them; the window is almost floor to ceiling. Now try to move when no one is there.
I drop the curtains to the floor and lie on top of them. Now, how are you going to move if I’m lying on you? I am insane. I am going freaking insane. The grandfather clock from downstairs clicks in my ears and seems to get louder by the second. Tick, tock. Tick, tock. It soon becomes a chant. Insane, my fault. Accident, my fault. My Daddy is sick, my fault. I close my eyes against the accusations, and it’s not long before sleep relieves me of my freak out…temporarily.
“Daddy, the creek is kinda high at the bend.” I point to our usual crossing point. “Where do we cross?”
“I told you we should’ve waited for the level go down.” He looks at me and winks. “Eh, the fish will still bite though. Let’s go right here…” he mumbles something about his weight as he balances on a big oak log.
I eye our make-shift bridge then hear the distinct sound of cracking wood. “Daddy!”