Chapter 20: You Just Watch Yourself

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"What?" What was she talking about?

"Pretending to talk to Kassandra. Trying to hurt me. You really are a bitch, aren't you? How did you find out about her? It doesn't matter." She stepped forward, shaking with rage. "That's such a low blow. I guess you think it's funny to torment me about my dead friend. Well, if that's the way you want to play it, I can make your life here a living hell!"

"I didn't—"

"Don't lie to me! I heard you." She leaned closer. "You just watch yourself."

And with that, she strode into her room and slammed the door.

I continued downstairs and stomped out to the back verandah. I wanted to keep on walking, but it was dark and I imagined stumbling around in the darkness and possibly running into an orb spider's web. I shuddered and plonked my butt down on the top step.

I resisted the urge to scream into the night. This day was just getting better by the minute.

Johnny chose that moment to walk up the steps and my head felt like it would explode.

"Hey," he said. "I saw what happened. Are you okay?"

When I didn't answer, he didn't go away like I'd hoped.

I sighed. "Of course not." I looked up at him. "I can't do this. I can't handle all this crap and prove to them I'm not crazy."

As soon as I said it, I realized I was talking openly to a ghost and anyone could see and hear me.

Damn it.

I closed my eyes and tried to rein it in.

"I'll talk to Kassandra. I'll make her understand that she can't stay in that room and harass you like that."

"I doubt she'll listen," I said quietly.

"Leave it to me."

He walked back inside and I sat stewing until he returned and told me it was all sorted.

"How did you manage that?"

"I kinda hinted that she couldn't cross over if she did bad things to the living."


"Yeah. I can be sneaky when I wanna be." He ran a hand through his hair. "So you should be able to go to bed now."

Well maybe, but what could I do about Justina? How could I convince her that I wasn't trying to hurt her in such a cruel way?

We sat in silence for a while before Johnny changed the subject and we just talked about nothing in particular until I was ready to go inside. It was like a balm to my soul to forget the day's chaos for a little while.

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I tossed and turned all night. I couldn't see a way out of this mess. It was only a matter of time before they saw me talking to myself – if they hadn't already. I had to get away from this place.

After Johnny had cleared my room, I'd used my new phone to work out the best way back home from Waratah Estate, just in case.

It occurred to me early the next morning that Mum had just given me the way to do it. Maybe that was why she'd given me the phone and the money in the first place.

I recounted our conversation, looking for any kind of hint from her. Did she say anything that could have meant that I should use the money to run away from here? Would she be packed and waiting for me?

The thought made my heart race. Were we going to move to escape our problems? That's what we'd always done — maybe this was no exception.

I had to calm my thoughts. I couldn't get my hopes up. I might have been reading too much into her actions. But as the day went on, I was almost convinced that that was her plan. All I had to do was get there and we could leave.

The thought of leaving Alina made my heart ache, but I couldn't stay here.

After lunch, I went for a walk out in the front yard and looked up the bus timetable on my phone again. I could do this.

I looked around. There was no one outside. I casually walked toward the front of the property and out the front gate. I could probably make it to the bus stop before the next bus was due.

I didn't look back. Just kept walking, trying to act like I was supposed to be there. My heart was beating out of my chest, but I kept going.

Each car that passed had me cringing and waiting for someone to call out to me to stop, but they passed without incident. I was getting paranoid. I needed to calm down.

The bus stop came into sight and I wanted to run to it.

After a short wait, the bus pulled into the bus stop and I waited impatiently for the people to get out. I told the driver which street I was headed to and paid for my ticket, my heart in my throat.

I can do this.

I sat in the middle of the bus and took some deep breaths. All I had to do was get home and get myself packed.

I planned to ask Mum to move if she wasn't packed and ready to go. We could do it. She was always packing up our lives and moving us to another town — usually out in the country somewhere. Normally, I would be complaining about moving and starting at a new school, but this time, I wanted to get as far away from here as I could.

It wouldn't solve my ghost problem, but at least I could go somewhere else where they didn't think I was crazy and start my life over.

Mum will help me. I know she will.

I hoped she would.

There would be a lot for her to organise first, but maybe I could hide when someone came to the door, or hide out at Alina's place. I was sure that she'd help me out.

Maybe I should have talked to Alina first. Planned ahead. We could have arranged things and worked out how I could avoid being taken back to Waratah Estate or Mirrabooka.

It was too late for any of that now. I was on a bus heading for Katoomba and I wasn't going to turn back and try again later.

Maybe I was right and Mum was just waiting for me to arrive. I imagined her asking what took me so long.

I tried to relax on the trip and looked out at the scenery, but my stomach was in knots and it felt as if there was a band around my chest, trying to crush me.

I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. I started some relaxation techniques to try to relax different parts of my body.

I can do this.

"What are you doing?"

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Author's Note: Who do you think said that?

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