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Rachael hammered on the door across the hallway, each breath in her lungs more painful than the last. It didn't take half as long as expected before it opened.

"What's wrong?" Amber tried stepping into the hallway. "Did he hurt you? I heard him."

"Let me in." Rachael felt delirious and didn't care. "Please, let me in." The urge to get away from her flat pushed past all inhibitions, and she struggled against Amber to get inside. Reluctantly, Amber let her.

"Shut the door," Rachael gasped. As if that would help.

Amber did, a battle raging on her face to show concern and not offence.

"I'm sorry," Rachael whispered, looking for somewhere to sit. One lamp in the corner dusted the whole room in yellow light, softening the plain white walls scuffed with black shoe marks. Already aware of her rudeness, she perched on the arm of the sofa and dug her fingers into the coarse fabric.

"What happened?" 

Rachael looked up. Despite the room's drabness, decorated only by discarded kids' toys and crumb-sprinkled surfaces, Amber made it warm.

What had happened...? Rachael let out a heavy breath and tried to shake the image from of her mind, words popping out of her mouth but none fitting together — all trying hard to avoid saying: a ghost. Instead, she concluded, "I'm going crazy." Another wave of chills made her whole body shudder, drawing attention to her strappy pyjama shirt and flannel trousers. What a sight she looked; bed-hair a-frizz, braless, scruffy. She felt practically naked. 

"Why were you playing the cello like that?" Amber folded her arms, perhaps starting to feel the chill, too.

Rachael met her gaze without blinking. "It wasn't me."

"Who was it then?" 

Rambling about ghosts was exactly how you lost sympathisers, not made them. Rachael sucked her lips in, biting down to keep the answer locked away. Amber placed a hand on her shoulder and bent closer, her general warmth turning steely in a way unique to motherhood. A reassurance that she was strong enough for both of them. 

"Is it a man?" she asked.

Oh, hell, Rachael cringed at the thought. "No."

"Are they still there?"

Rachael took a deep breath. "I don't know."

"Do you want me to call the police?"

"No! No, don't do that."

Amber nodded like these answers gave her the groundwork with which to solve a crime. "Alright. Can you at least tell me who's playing your cello? I've heard it a few times now, and you keep saying it's not you, but it's definitely coming from your flat."

"Can I stay here tonight?" The words leapt out her.

Amber's steely persona wavered, her gaze darting around the drab room. She let go of Rachael's shoulder and crossed her arms. "Well...I, why don't... Why don't we call the police if you're this upset you can't re-enter your own home?"

"No." Rachael reached out, not sure what she expected, but something in her eased when Amber instinctively took her outstretched hands. Rachael squeezed. "Please. I...I saw a ghost." 

Amber stiffened, her eyebrows furrowed. Rachael bent her head and stared at her knees, afraid to see the disappointment and scepticism on the woman's face, but she already heard it in the lengthy silence. She'd heard it in the weary sighs of school councillors who said her "grief was so extreme, her coping mechanism was verging on delusional." But items were cursed. And no one would ever believe her.

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