TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
That night, Ghost was rummaging around in his old backpack.
"Hey, Steve, have you seen my Jesus rock?"
Steve gave him a look, and shook his head.
"It's always in here, and now I can't find it."
"Maybe if you'd clean that thing out sometimes, you'd find what you wanted," Steve suggested. "Let me see it."
Ghost handed it over, with a pouty look. "Hey!" he shouted, when Steve dumped the whole thing out on the floor. "What'cha doin' that for?"
"Look at this shit, Ghost! You're mostly carrying around trash."
He began picking up different things that had scattered on the floor. There were crushed leaves and rose petals, dried up markers, Ghost's notebooks, a crumpled dollar bill, slips of paper with notes written on them, an old dirty t-shirt, a couple of feathers...
"What the hell is this?" Steve asked, holding it up by two fingers. "Ewww!"
"It used to be a peanut butter sandwich," said Ghost, grinning.
Steve looked at it again. It was wrapped in plastic, smushed flat, and dried out. Steve threw it at Ghost, who dodged it.
"It's a wonder you don't have bugs crawling around in here," Steve said.
He continued to pick through the stuff. "Here's your stupid rock. Keep it where you can find it. I don't want to do this again someday," Steve cautioned.
He saw a small, folded up envelope among the papers. It had Ghost's name on the front, and it was still sealed. It wasn't his handwriting, or Ghost's.
"What's this? Don't look like you ever opened it." Steve handed the envelope to Ghost. Ghost looked puzzled.
"Well, are you gonna open it, or just stick it on your forehead and mind read it?" Steve asked.
Ghost didn't want to do either one. Already, he could feel there was something strange about it. So, he just stared at it, trying to get some impression from the handwriting first. Steve rolled his eyes, as he went to the kitchen for a beer.
"It'd be easier to just open it, Dude. That's all I'm saying."
So, Ghost did open it. He gasped, and began sobbing, "Oh, my God, oh my God!"
Inside, were two black and white photographs, and a short note. One photo was of his grandmother, taken many years ago. Sitting beside her was the woman who'd taken care of him up in the mountains. He remembered her saying they'd been best friends.
His grandmother was holding a pale-haired baby, only a few months old. He knew this baby must be himself. The other photo was of a fair-haired girl, a teenager. This must be his mother.
Steve came running back into the living room to see what was upsetting Ghost. "What is it? What's going on?" he asked.
Ghost was shaking, and still crying. He held out the photos to Steve. Kneeling down, Steve put his arm around Ghost's shoulders. He recognized the mountain woman, and Ghost's grandmother, but the others...wow, he thought.
"Is this you, Ghost, and...is this your mother?" he asked.
Ghost nodded, "I...I think it must be. I never seen a picture of her before, and Grandmother never, ever talked about her. It's like I never had a mother, but here she is."
A thousand thoughts were going through both their heads...too much to take in. What happened to Ghost's mother? Why didn't his grandmother ever talk about her, her own daughter? How did the note get into the backpack.
Steve then noticed the note, lying on the floor."What's that note say, anyway?"
Ghost had been so shocked by the pictures, he'd forgotten about the note. He picked it up and read: Ghost, this is a picture of your grandmother and me, and you and your mother. Before Deliverance died, I talked to her once on the phone. She said to give this to you someday. I guess that is now.
She also told me to tell you, after she was gone, something that she'd never told another soul before. She kept a secret journal, and it would explain everything. The journal is hidden in your house, there in Missing Mile. It would not be easy to find, but she wanted you to find it.
So, Ghost, I wish you well. I'm glad I could meet you again, and help you on your journey. It was signed by the woman on the mountain.
Ghost and Steve looked at each other with wide eyes. "I'm supposed to find a hidden journal somewhere?" Ghost asked in bewilderment.
"I guess so. Do you have any idea where to start looking?"
"No, and I'm not sure I even want to find it. Maybe I don't want to have things explained. If she couldn't tell me before, why do I need to know stuff now?" asked Ghost.
"Because she wanted you to, that's why." Steve said. He was afraid Ghost would refuse to look, and it would bug him to not know where it was and what it said.
"You were a cute baby," Steve said. "Your Grandmother never had any other pictures?"
Ghost shook his head, "I never saw any."
"Well, what are you waiting for, you have to start looking for that journal."
Steve got up and turned in a circle, eyeing the living room, trying to scope out what might be a good hiding place.
"Steve, wait a minute. We can't go tearing the place apart. I need to think about it first."
"What's to think about? Just start looking!"
"But, why wouldn't she have said something before? Why didn't I just know about it?" asked Ghost.
"Who knows," said Steve "Maybe she did some kind of hocus-pocus, and put a block on it...or a firewall to keep you out, until the time was right. Where would you hide something around here?"
Ghost shrugged, "I don't know, I've lived here forever, and know every inch of this house. She said it'd be hard to find. Maybe it's buried in a safe under the house...or maybe it's right in front of us, disguised so we don't see it right off?"
They continued to scan the room. "It has to be here, Ghost. There's no attic, and no basement. Do you know of any secret doors, or cubby holes, or loose boards...or maybe it's in the back room, with her potions and stuff. That room is spooky, anyway," Steve said.
"I don't know of any of that what you said, Steve, but I just had an idea. You see that wall of books over there? Nobody ever looks at them. They've always been there. Maybe it's disguised as a book? Maybe one of those fake books, with the insides cut out?" He went over to the book wall.
They were mostly old books about herbs, wild flowers and weeds, medicines, and anatomy. A few were modern fiction, some classics, and biography. They were all dusty and worn looking.
"I don't know, there might be a spider in there. What if one jumps out at me? There are so many of them. It'll take too long to go looking at them all," Ghost whined.
"So, you got anything better to do?" Steve asked.
"Well, no," Ghost answered.
They started in, Ghost taking one shelf, Steve another. They weren't having any luck; just stirring up dust, by the time midnight came. They agreed to do more searching the next day.
Next installment coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing