Addison Greensmith was never a part of the original agreement I laid out with my aunt on my fifteenth birthday when I found mum's dairies and a whole hidden world that I could see called the Spectrum. It's a world beneath the world that few people can see. It popped up one day after an intense headache, and suddenly I could see ghosts. My aunt found me before Dad distraught and convince I was losing it. We agreed that I wouldn't tell a single person about it if she in turn taught me how to control it. Not a soul could know.
Nobody will believe it anyway, Ruby had said as she drove me to the nearest magical supplies shop some fifty miles north a few months into my training. Her bracelets rattled as we bumped down the country road. They're all such neurotypicals around here.
She hadn't accounted for two things. First, that I have a friend so close to me that they'd immediately know something was up the next day when I walked into biology class with a lightness in my step (it was exciting after all). And, second, that Addison Greensmith (said friend) was a believer.
When we were eleven and the class went to the kind of local observatory Addison was the one to tell me about Roswell, and the wow signal, and how there are aliens who are lizards that rule the world. I think the fact I didn't immediately tell him he was an idiot seemed like encouragement to him. Ever since he's been turning up on my doorstep, or most recently at my window, with a book in hand and a theory to go with it. For him, the existence of the paranormal wasn't exactly a huge leap.
My bedroom is on the ground floor, and because of a recent garage extension (or 'the great planning permission fiasco of 2016' my dad likes to call it) my window is currently forty centimetres away from a brick wall. Dad keeps offering to move me upstairs, to one of the larger guest rooms we never use, but I tell him I can't stand sunlight in the mornings. This is largely a lie.
Vampire. He'll often call me, Ruby rolling her eyes behind his back at the breakfast table. But I'd rather he call me that than know the truth. How do you even begin to tell your dad you see dead people?
Ruby's wards on the property have helped keep them out of the house but that doesn't stop me seeing the spectres whenever I glance out of a window. It doesn't stop them swarming me when I walk to our front gate. Most of them are harmless enough but in the year since I started seeing them I've learnt that even one bad spirit is enough to ruin a day.
Most recently I've been seeing my mum. Her face is similar to Ruby's, just a little wider at bottom and a little softer around the edges. She never acknowledges me. She just stares but I know she sees me just as I see her. I wonder if she even recognises me after so long.
Ruby keeps saying it's impossible but I figure there must be things she doesn't understand about the paranormal too. Nobody knows everything. Most nights I bank on the fact that she can't know everything when Addison taps lightly on my window, his shadow turning the grimy pane a darker shade of brown.
"About time. I'm bloody freezing." Addison's clothes drip, leaving damp patches on the carpet where he stands as I latch the window closed behind him. The drizzle has turned to rain outside, pat pat patting on the slab stones. A rain drop runs down Addison's nose from the brown tail of hair the rain has created in the middle of his forehead. I catch it with my finger before it falls to the ground. Warm skin against cold.
"Sorry," I say. I'm not sure if I'm talking about the wait I forced Addison to endure as I checked and double checked that Ruby and Dad were both intensely occupied (one in a particularly hard crossword and the other in a tarot session) or that weirdly intimate touch just now. Lately a lot of our interactions have been this way. Awkward. Out of step.
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Paranormal Investigation Society: Whispers of The ForestTeen Fiction
Lizzie Caster works after-school for her Aunt's investigation firm. Aunt Ruby says the firm is good for "reading, writing and numeracy!" but little does Lizzie's Dad know it's a lot more besides. Enveloped by a world full of vampires, moody werewolv...