Chapter 17: What's Your Problem?

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I crossed my arms, but I wanted to scream. "I'm Maddie. Who are you?"

She sat up gracefully. "What are you doing in my room?"

Your room? "It's my room now." I sighed heavily. This is all I need right now.

"What? No. I've been here for a year. Just ask Justina." She turned to the open door. "Justina!"

I cringed, then remembered that Justina wouldn't hear her.

She went out into the hallway and called again.

Then I cringed for another reason — did that mean that I'd have to break it to her that she's dead?

I so did not want to do this right now. I just wanted to throw myself onto my bed and close my eyes for a while and shut the world out.

I could hear her voice as she made her way downstairs and decided to just do it anyway. I closed my door and flopped down on top of my covers and sighed. It was such a relief to just lay back and chill for a while.

I knew it wouldn't last. If the redhead didn't come back, it would probably be Johnny or Jemma next.

I tried to relax and breathe deeply. In through the nose. Out through the mouth.



"What are you doing?" My eyes sprang open. She was back already. "That's my bed."

I sat up. "Not anymore. I told you. I live here now."

Her face paled as she turned back to the door. "I..." Her breathing became shallow. "I just... walked through the door, didn't I?"


Her head tilted to one side. "I... I remember now... The spider... I died and Justina and the others were so upset." Her eyebrows drew together over those brown eyes that looked so much like mine. "It didn't take them long to give my bedroom to someone else."

My hands shot up. "Hey, don't blame me. I just got here yesterday. I didn't know anything about this."

I could practically hear the penny drop. "Hey. You can see me."


"And hear me. Why? No one else can. I tried to talk to them for days."

"It's something I can do. I don't know why. It just started happening one day, and now everyone thinks I have a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock."

"Really? That's a bummer."

"That's how I ended up here. They didn't think I was sane enough to go home."

"Yeah. That's kinda how it works. They get you here, then they keep you here."

What was that supposed to mean?

She stared out the glass door and the sunlight made her long hair look like it was on fire. It was almost the same shade of red as mine, but mine was from a bottle.

I wanted to ask what she had been in here for, but you don't go asking people what brand of crazy they are.

I scrambled for something else to say. "I guess they can't really keep you here anymore."

Her eyes snapped to mine. "No, but I don't know what to do. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I don't know where I'm supposed to go. Aren't I supposed to cross over or whatever?"

"Well, I don't really know much about it all, but they always say that you can't cross over if you have any unfinished business."

"I don't know what my unfinished business is, though. I saw my mum and dad and they're really sad, but are doing okay considering... I think." She ran a hand through her hair. "How do you tell by just looking at them? I couldn't exactly ask them, you know?"

"I don't know. It would be hard." I fidgeted with the zipper on my jacket. "What about other people? Family or friends. Do you have any brothers and sisters?"

"Yeah. My twin sister. Piper. My memory is fuzzy. I didn't see her when I went to see Mum and Dad. She still lives with them, so I thought she'd be there. I stayed for a couple of days and she didn't come home."

She started to pace up and down and I wanted to join her.

How could I live here with a ghost in my room? It was bad enough that there were two ghosts here already — besides Johnny, that is — and ghosts in town. How the hell could I prove to everyone that I was sane when half the people here weren't even alive?

This was an impossible situation. I couldn't stay here. I had to get out.

"I gotta go."

"Wait! Where are you going?"

"I just need some air."

I headed for the stairs and didn't stop until I was out by the chook shed. I went around behind it, checked for spiders, then leaned my back against the wall.

I sighed long and deep. I really had no idea how I was going to cope here.

I took some more deep breaths and looked out across the paddocks, hoping to see some roos in the grass.

Johnny stuck his head around the corner of the chook shed. "Hey, you okay?"

I jumped and put a hand on my chest. "No. And you just made me jump out of my skin."

"Sorry. Wanna talk about it?"


"I saw a girl in your room just now. Is that what's upset you?"

I moaned and pinched the bridge of my nose. "They're everywhere! There's no escape. I can't do this. I can't be here. How can I ignore all of you? It was hard enough at Mirrabooka."

"I can help you."

"No, you can't. No one can."

"I've been talking to them for you."

"I know, but more keep popping up out of the woodwork. Why didn't someone tell me my room belonged to a dead girl?"

"I guess they didn't think it was relevant, not knowing you'd be able to see her."

"Yeah, but it doesn't help me now, does it? I can see her and she's a pain in the ass! Says it's her room. Well, it's not her room anymore."

"I'll talk to her. Get her to see reason."

"It still won't help."

I kicked a stone across the yard and it bounced off an old shed made of corrugated iron. The loud noise spooked the chooks and they started cackling louder and louder, which was my cue to leave. The last thing I needed was to be told off for scaring the chickens and affecting their egg-laying. Apparently, if they get a scare, it can stop them from laying an egg that day.

I made it inside without anyone seeing me and headed for the kitchen. Besides the fact that I was avoiding my room, I was hungry.

Of course, I couldn't just grab a snack without drama; Justina was there. I was about to turn around when she got up from the table and left without a word.

I'd had enough of her rudeness. "What's your problem?"

She whirled around. "I don't have a problem."

"You don't even know me and you're so hostile like I've done something to you."

"Get over yourself."

"I don't want to be here. I didn't ask to come here. I just wanna do whatever I need to to make them happy so I can go home. I don't need you in my face making my life crap, so just back off."

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Author's Note: Ever had someone like this in your life?

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