TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
After picking up their take- out food from the diner, Steve drove down the highway toward the house. Linda was excited to see it...her brother's house. For a few minutes, they were quiet, just listening to songs on the radio. Linda glanced into the back seat, wondering why Ghost had stopped talking.
"Steve, he's gone to sleep, already," she said.
Steve laughed. "Yeah, I figured he would be. He always falls asleep in the car. He's so hyper most of the time, as soon as he gets quiet, you know he's crashed. It only takes him a few minutes to restore the energy...I guess you'd call it that...then, he's going again."
Linda smiled, and shook her head. "How much farther to your house?"
"Not far," Steve said. "It's out in the woods."
After a few more minutes, he turned onto the long dirt road leading to the house, then parked on the gravel drive in front.
"Oh, this is such a cute house, Steve," Linda said.
"Well, yeah...and I like it."
Steve shrugged. "It was Ghost's grandmother's house. She left it to him, and we like it ok. We almost lost it in a hurricane, not long ago. We had help fixing it back up, though. All the people in town helped."
"That sounds so nice, people helping others," Linda said. "You know, I'm seriously considering moving back here...for real."
"Oh, Linda, please do. I'd love it if you did," Steve said.
"Well, let me see the inside," she said, opening the car door to get out.
Steve opened the back door. "Hey, Ghost...we're home. Wake up and help me with this tree."
"We're here already?" Ghost asked, sitting up.
"Yeah, c'mon," Steve said, and began untying the tree from the car's roof. Ghost got out and helped him carry it up on the porch, leaning it against the railing.
"Ok, now...we'll eat, then do the tree," Steve said. "You ready for the grand tour, Linda?"
"Yes, I want to see inside, and see your cat."
Ghost opened the front door, calling out for his cat. Spirit came running out from the bedroom, meowing, and then rubbed against his ankles. Picking him up, Ghost said, "This here is Spirit, Linda."
"Oh, such a cute kitty," Linda said, and scratched the cat behind his ears. Spirit purred.
"He says he likes you, too," Ghost said. "I'm gonna feed him now." He put the cat down, who then led the way into the kitchen.
"Ok, well, this is the living room," Steve said, sweeping his arm around in a grand presentation sort of way. "That's the kitchen, and the bedrooms are down the hall, here."
Linda followed him, peeking into each room, before getting back to the living room.
"You can sleep in my bed, tonight...I'll sleep with Ghost," he said.
"Hey, y'all, it's on the table," Ghost said. He had set the pizza out, and bottles of beer, and his Scuppernong wine, for himself. "I didn't know what you wanted to drink, Linda, but we have milk and coffee, too."
"This beer is fine, Ghost," Linda said. "It'll go good with the pizza."
As they all ate, Steve and Linda began talking about the past, again. Ghost wasn't listening...he was trying to come up with a plan to get Steve away for awhile, the next day. He didn't want Steve to drive up and see his surprise, before he could present it to him. He needed him to come from inside the house, but it was such a puzzle to figure out how.
Then he had a flicker of an idea. "Linda, are you gonna be here all day...I mean after tonight?"
"I'll be here awhile, I think. The bus doesn't leave town until late. Why?" Linda asked.
"I just need to ask you something," Ghost said. "I'll do it later, ok?"
"Ok, sure...whenever you want," Linda said.
Steve narrowed his eyes. "What 'cha got going on, Ghost?"
"Nothing...just something. You'll know when it's time to know," Ghost said. He was glad that Steve couldn't read his mind. He was finished eating, so he said, "I'm getting my decorations for the tree, now." He went off down the hall.
Steve gave Linda a knowing look. "Ya think it has something to do with a secret present, for me?"
Linda laughed. "I don't know until he tells me, Steve, but I wouldn't be surprised."
"Yeah, me either. Well, I better get that tree inside, and set it up," Steve said. He went out to get it. It wasn't a big tree, only about five feet tall, but it did need the tree stand.
"Hey, Ghost...go find the stand for this tree. I think it's in the back room," he yelled out to Ghost.
"The back room?" Linda asked. "You didn't show me a back room."
"Oh, well, it's just for storage," Steve said. "It used to be Miz Deliverances's potion room. She was an herbalist, and there's still a lot of it back there...all dusty, weird shit. It's kinda spooky back there, anyway."
"Weird, spooky...why?" Linda asked.
"Oh, you know..."
"How can I know unless you tell me, Steve?"
Steve laughed. "Well, guess you can't. You see, I told you about Ghost, how he's psychic and sees visions, and all that...well, his grandmother was like that, too."
"She was a..."
Steve shook his head. "No...no...she wasn't a witch. She was a very nice old lady. A bit strange, but she had a way of knowing stuff. So, anyway, that room is spooky...to me. I even saw something back in there once."
"Really? What? You gotta tell me these things, Steve. Am I staying in a haunted house?"
"No...yes...oh, I don't know. Ghost has me believing all kinds of things are possible," Steve said.
Just then, Ghost came in, carrying the stand, and a big box. "Here, Steve, grab this thing before I drop the box," he said. Steve did get the stand, and began arranging the tree into it.
Ghost sat on the floor by the box. "Look at all these cool decorations I got, Linda. I got these ones at the thrift shop," he said, holding up several, one at a time.
"Oh, I like those, Ghost," Linda said.
Ghost held up a few more. "These ones are some I made, myself."
"You made these?" Linda asked, as she looked at Ghost's art work. There were a couple that had his and Steve's faces painted on flat pieces of pine wood. Others had cut out pictures from their road trip, and there were also some folded origami shapes, in different colored papers.
"This other stuff is just some things from my room, like these glow in the dark stars...and some from my grandmother's Christmas trees... and mine from when I was little." He was proud of them all.
"These are all amazing, Ghost," Linda said. "This tree will be very pretty and special."
They all took a few of the ornaments, and began hanging them on the branches. Ghost was humming Christmas songs, then Steve and Linda joined in singing them. When they were done, Ghost got his camera out, and they took turns posing and snapping pictures. Spirit even got to be in some of them.
Linda was thinking this was one of the nicest Christmases she'd ever seen, when she felt a slight tingle. She glanced over at Ghost, who was smiling. "Yes, it is, Linda," he said.
She was surprised, again, that she'd had her thoughts picked up by Ghost. She looked at him and smiled, while thinking of something else, to see if he'd know. She thought..."Do you read people's minds all the time?"
Ghost nodded. "Yeah, I can, but I try to block most of it out."
"That's so cool, Ghost," Linda said. "I think I heard you in my head, last night, too, as you were leaving?"
"Uh-huh, that was me," Ghost said, and laughed.
She shook her head in amazement. "I've never met anyone like you, Ghost...and I'm so glad I'm getting to know you."
"Me, too," Ghost said.
Steve looked around from behind the tree. "What are you two yammering about?"
"Oh, Ghost was reading my mind, and we were talking about it, that's all, Steve," Linda said.
"Yeah, that...it is kinda strange, but I'm pretty used to it by now," Steve said. "Right, Ghost?"
Shaking his head, Ghost said, "No, it freaks you out every time."
Finished decorating, they stood back and admired how it looked. Steve turned out the lights, and the stars glowed a pale green.
"It's beautiful," Linda said. They all agreed.
"Well, since we're done, I'm going out to the graveyard," Ghost said. "Y'all wanna come? It's cold out, so I won't stay long." He went to get his jacket and scarf.
"I'll come," Linda said, and they all went out back, down the path, Steve lighting the way with a flashlight, so Linda could see where to step. It had stopped snowing, so there was only a light dusting of powder on the headstones. Ghost had grabbed a couple of blankets on their way out.
"You're not scared of graveyards, are ya?" Ghost asked Linda.
"Well, maybe a little," she said, "and this one is so close to your house. Do y'all come out here a lot?"
"We come out here almost every day," Steve said. "Ghost talks to the spirits of the dead soldiers out here."
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing