The two boys crouched behind overgrown shrubs.
“This is stupid,” Turner whispered to his best friend. “I can’t feel my legs anymore.”
“If it’s so stupid, why are you here?” Seth kept his gaze on the old house.
Turner didn’t say anything. Instead, he shifted his weight to his other knee and stifled a groan when an ankle popped. He thought about why he was there. Mostly, he wanted to keep Seth from trumpeting down the school hallways that he was chicken. “Maybe we should head back home. It’s getting late.” He glanced up at the moon, wishing the sun hadn’t surrendered to the shadows.
Seth snorted. “You’re still afraid of the dark!”
“Just like camp last year when you couldn’t sleep without a nightlight.”
“Shut up. I was twelve.”
“If it’s not the dark, then you must be afraid of ghosts, or vampires. Or whatever it is.”
Turner hesitated. “That stuff’s not for real.” He didn’t know if he believed in the existence of spirits or vampires, but he didn’t really want to find out. “How do you know the house is abandoned?”
“Duh. Have you ever seen anyone around?”
“Well, no, but that doesn’t mean anything.”
“Hey, is the video going?”
Turner glanced at his phone. “Yeah, but I don’t see why.”
Seth rolled his eyes. “I’m telling you, something funny is going on.” He pointed to the railing, a patchwork of peeling sea foam colored paint and rust. “She glides down the hill toward the lake almost every night.”
“That doesn’t make sense.” Turner scrunched up his face in confusion.
“Supernatural phenomena rarely make sense.”
Turner burst into laughter. “You’re a doof!”
“Shhhh!” Seth frowned. “You’ll scare her away.”
“I think she’d scare us more than–” Turner stopped talking when he felt something grip his shoulder. He turned to Seth and saw the same wide-eyed look he imagined he wore.
Seth screamed and scrambled to his feet. He bounded down the grassy hill toward the lake.
Turner swallowed hard. His mind wanted to follow his friend, but his stiff legs refused to comply.
“What are you doing here?”
He glanced over his shoulder to glimpse the owner of the melodious voice that wasn’t scary at all. He squinted, but couldn’t make out her face through the shadows. She had something covering her head, too.
“Well, aren’t you going to run?”
“Do you want me to?”
She stepped into the open where the moonlight revealed she wore a dark-colored hooded cloak. She shrugged. “No matter what I want, they always run.”
“What’s your name?” He stretched out his leg so maybe the tingling would stop.
“How long have you lived here?”
“My whole life. Well, for as long as I can remember.”
“I’ve never seen you around.”
“I can only come out at night,” she said, lowering herself to the ground beside him.
“No way! Seth couldn’t have been right. You’re a vampire?”
She laughed. “You’re silly! Vampires are imaginary.” Her smile faded. “What’s your name?”
“Oh, uh, Turner.”
“Do you want to know a secret, Turner?”
“No. Uh, not really.” He cringed. He didn’t mean to sound so rude. “I mean, I’m not good at keepin’ secrets.”
“You’ll keep this secret.” She leaned over and kissed his cheek. “I’m fifteen and I’ve never kissed a boy until now.”
“Oh.” He pulled away, although it wasn’t entirely unpleasant. He couldn’t wait to tell Seth. “So how come you’re stuck inside all day?”
She dropped her hood and lifted her white-blonde locks from her neckline. “Even a few minutes in the sun and I burn. My Gramma says she’s scared I’ll get cancer.” She tilted her chin down. “I think she doesn’t like the curious stares. I heard her say that Albinism is a curse and death surely follows.”
Turner shifted, uncomfortable in the silence. “I’m sorry,” he finally uttered, unsure of what else to say. “What about your mom?”
“Does your mom think it’s a curse?”
Myra twisted blades of tall grass around her index finger. “I don’t know. She left me with Gramma when I was a week old. She stayed longer than Daddy, though.”
The screen door creaked open. Turner heard Myra’s name carried on the breeze, but he couldn’t see anything beyond the glowing porch lights, which created a halo around a blurred figure.
“I have to go, Turner.”
Turner stood up and attempted to brush the mud from the seat of his pants. “Will I see you again?”
She averted her gaze. “I don’t know.”
He watched as she climbed the steps to the house, her left hand trailing the weather-beaten hand rail. He expected her to turn and look back at him but she didn’t. Near the top, it looked like she just faded away. Impossible. Turner blinked several times, certain the porch light must’ve blinded him.
He turned to leave and remembered the phone in his hand. The video had stopped recording but he hoped it captured enough. He sat on a rock by the lake and pushed “play.” The battery flashed low but after a moment, the video played.
Turner giggled when Seth squealed. He listened for Myra’s voice, but heard only his. The camera turned when he’d shifted after the kiss. Nothing but trees!
“Man, where have you been? I thought you were right behind me.”
Startled by Seth’s voice, he shoved the phone in his pocket. “Let’s go.”
“So what happened?”
Turner shrugged. “Nothing.” That was kind of the truth… nothing happened that he could prove. He remembered her words: You’ll keep this secret. She knew.
“Wanna come back tomorrow?”
Seth punched him in the shoulder. “You chicken?”
Turner shoved his hands in his pockets. “Nah. But I got video of you squealing like a Girl Scout that says you are.”
Okay, I planned to go unprompted again this week, but then I ran across a post by JF offering up a photo and a challenge to write of the occupants of a seemingly vacant house. The photo, posted before the story, is credited back to his site.
My inspiration for this story: the obvious inspiration is the photo. The first thought that came to mind was to write of an elderly person who had died and the family planned to sell the house. That seemed too obvious, so I tossed that idea out right away. My older son loves ghost stories, so I decided it would be fun to write an ambiguous ghost story (was she a ghost, or were the oddities a product of an overactive imagination?) I don’t write kid-type stories very often, so I do hope this is mildly entertaining. Thanks for reading 🙂