Chapter 3: I'll Never Go Home

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He jerked back as if I'd slapped him and my chest tightened. I didn't mean to be so harsh, but it was too late. I couldn't take the words back.

It was a horrible way to find out that you're no longer alive.

I felt bad, but instead of saying sorry, I buried my head in my arms again and let the tears fall.

He'd just ruined everything.

Mrs Carpenter's gentle voice cut through the silence. "Maddie dear, what's happened?"

I couldn't answer.

There was a sharp intake of breath, then Mr Newbie's voice. "You can see me? I... I don't understand."

"You must be new, dear," Mrs C said.

"She... told me I'm dead, but you can see me."

"Yes. Spirits can see each other. Normal humans can't see us, but very young children and those with the gift of Sight can."

I kept my head down and spoke quietly. "Gift? It's a curse. It has completely ruined my life."

I felt Mrs C's cool hand on my back. "It is a gift, you mark my words. It may not feel like it now, but you'll see soon enough."

There was more silence as all the arguments against that flashed through my brain. I needed to tell her how wrong she was.

Mr Jones's voice startled me. "Tell us what happened, dear."

Mrs C's hand rubbed small circles on my back, but I didn't answer. "It couldn't have gone well, Fred — she's crying."

"I can see that, woman."

"Tell us what's wrong, Maddie."

I still couldn't talk.

"I'm sorry," Mr Newbie said quietly. "It's my fault. I didn't know."

"What did you do, son?" Mr J asked.

"I was scared because no one could see or hear me, and when I realized that she was the only one who could, I tried everything to get her to acknowledge me. I didn't know what was happening and when she finally did talk to me..."

"The doctor now thinks she's seeing things again," Mrs C finished for him.

I looked up. "I will never get out of here now."

Mr J leaned down toward me. "Don't give up. We'll work something out."

"But they'll never believe anything I tell them now. Janice already said she thought I was just telling them what they wanted to hear, even before I proved to them that she's right and I'm delusional. I'm stuck here. I think I might really go crazy if I have to stay here any longer."

Not because of the people in here — although Nurse Sourpuss Janice was hard to deal with — it was just that I didn't belong and I'd tried so hard for so long to convince them that I was a normal eighteen-year-old and that I didn't have this curse of being able to see every spirit that walked my way. I just wanted my life back.

I stood. I needed some space and I didn't want the new guy to be looking down at me. I walked away from my hiding spot, but he followed me. Of course.

My life had been fine until the accident. Everything was normal. Then after I'd come out of an induced coma, I could see people all over the hospital that no one else could see.

Mr Newbie ran a hand through his hair and I couldn't help thinking he looked like Johnny Depp's doppelgänger. "I want to help you."

I started to tell him to go away and realized that Nurse Holly was out on the back verandah talking to Jim. I walked casually back behind the bushes and the new guy followed close behind.

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