Disclaimer: Characters and situations are all from my imagination.
Warnings: Sex and love between women.
DOUBLE WARNING: This story involves one character being in an abusive relationship, both physically and mentally abusive. The examples of abuse are brief, but just in case a reader might find it triggering, I wanted to be sure it got warned ahead of time. For the most part it’s a happy, fun romantic scary story, but the villain surprised me with her villainy.
Feedback: Constructive criticism and feedback, both welcomed at geonncannon@gmail.com


The Spirit is Willing
by Geonn Cannon
Copyright © 2014 Geonn Cannon

Of all the deep thoughts we hope go through our heads when we die, the last thought we have on this mortal plane whether it’s wise or heartbreaking or poignant, all we really hope for is that it’s something good. At the very least you hope it isn’t something stupid. The last thing that went through my mind when I died was “Oh, for shit’s sake.” I can’t even cheat and go back to the second-last or the third-to-last thought because those involved why my foot was itchy and if Greta had called with tomorrow’s itinerary. So I was stuck with it, my self-frustration and anger at putting my foot on the exact wrong spot in the tub. I fell, I heard the crack of my head against the tile, and I could feel the “Well, that fucking hurt--” thought forming before there was just darkness.

I don’t know what I expected from what came next. I’ve never been religious, so I wasn’t crossing my fingers for any sort of afterlife. It felt like being drunk and half-asleep while trying to follow the plot of a complex movie. Everything was blurring together with gray-blue smoke at the edges of everything. Nothing seemed to connect. It was night, but then it was morning. My building manager knocked on the bathroom door - “--assistant called to see if everything was oka--” and then paramedics loading me up on a...

Wait, that was me? On the floor? Oh. Right, yeah. Damn. My building manager saw me naked. That’s humiliating. The people from the ambulance covered me up; nice of them. And then there were lights. Not like a tunnel with everyone I’d ever known at the end of it, like there was a wheel outside my window. It was night and then day, and days streamed passed into night like clouds blocking the sun. My sister came by and packed up my things, and I was sorry to see she’d been crying. The building manager escorted people through my apartment. The first few times I thought it was some morbid tour. “This is the bathroom where she was found.” That seemed odd. Why would anyone care about the apartment where a nobody project manager had died?

I realized the truth when one of the tourists came back with a group of men in jumpsuits. They put a new couch under the window, a TV was hung on the wall (what the hell? TVs hanging on walls? I thought only hospitals did that. And when did they get so flat?), and the newcomer moved through the apartment like a museum director trying to find the perfect spot for everything. The new girl was young. Twenty or so, with acres of bouncy black hair and a pert little nose. When the movers left she wandered my place barefoot and in overalls, making minor adjustments before she collapsed onto the couch with a laptop.

What I did wasn’t exactly sleeping. I don’t know what to call it but I just stopped being aware for a while. When I checked back in the new tenant was carrying her laptop around the apartment and aiming the screen out the windows. She was talking to someone I couldn’t see. I couldn’t understand why she was taking the computer everywhere with her until I looked at the screen and saw someone’s face staring out. She was having a live video conversation with someone on a computer that wasn’t plugged into the wall in any way.

How long had it been since I hit my head? Or was I really so out of touch with technology before I died that I didn’t even know this sort of thing was possible? It seriously seemed like something out of Star Trek.

The girl returned to the couch and rested the computer on her lap. I heard the murmur of their voices and, as an experiment, I pushed closer. I have no idea where I was or what the rules were, but I felt like I was hanging inside a bubble with strictly defined edges. I pushed against those edges and the voices got louder and more distinct. I focused and felt everything becoming sharper until I could make out the girl’s voice.

“--good neighborhood. The neighbors are quiet so far. So that’s cool.”

“It looks really great. I’m proud of you, little girl.”

My apartment’s new owner rolled her eyes. “I’m one year younger than you, April.”

“That still makes you the baby. It’s right there in your name, Abby.”

Abby. So the intruder had a name. I moved closed to the couch to see the other girl on the screen. As I did, Abby lifted up and looked toward the front door.

“Something wrong?” her sister asked.

“No. Nothing. Just... nothing.” She slumped back against the arm of the couch. “I thought I heard something.”

April made spooky noises. “That’s what you get for moving into the murder apartment.”

“It’s not a murder apartment. The lady who lived here before me died. She slipped in the bathtub or something.”

My whole life reduced to the dumbass way I died. Wonderful.

The edges of my vision seemed clearer, so I decided to explore my apartment a little. Abby seemed to have settled in quite nicely. The chair next to the window was a nice touch; it would catch the light at sunset so she could read, and the TV was at an angle so it wouldn’t catch a glare. I still didn’t know how or why it was mounted on the wall, but it definitely opened up the space a lot. She had a bookshelf in place of my entertainment system and I looked over the titles. No Fifty Shades of Dan Brown. That was good.


I looked at Abby. Her laptop was shut and she was slowly casting her gaze around the room. Finally she stood up and walked toward the kitchen.

“This is really weird,” she muttered. In full voice, she said, “I don’t mind if you stick around. I used to talk to myself all the time, so the only difference will be now there’s someone listening. Maybe. My name is Abby. The manager said your name was Laura? So, um. Hello. I hope you don’t mind what I’ve done with the place.”

She took out her iPod and found some music to play, plugging it into the charger before she went into the kitchen. At least I knew about the music player. The smells of food started to fill the apartment but I was unaffected by their appeal. I decided to see how far I could explore. My apartment made up one quarter of an old townhome which had been renovated into three apartments. My... I guess Abby’s apartment... was on the top right, directly over the front door. There was a common room at the bottom of the stairs so no one had to cross through someone else’s apartment just to reach the second floor.

I went out to the stairs without moving. It was more like shifting, like a slideshow on a digital camera (god, maybe I am out of touch with technology). One second I was in my apartment and then there was a blur, where I could sort of make out the shape and color of the door and wall, and suddenly I was standing in the corridor. Across the hall I could see my neighbor’s apartment door. The old crochet monstrosity was still hanging around the peephole so at least one thing hadn’t changed. I thought about going downstairs and suddenly I was halfway there. I would have to be careful about that.

Back up to the apartment, into the living room. Abby was eating her dinner at the table, and she had her laptop open to watch a TV show. TV on the wall and another one on her computer? I leaned in to see what she was watching and Abby tensed. I saw the hairs on the back of her neck rising, goosepimples erupting all up and down her arm, and she put down her fork to slowly turn around.

“Is that you?”

Okay. So she could sense me if I got too close. I retreated back into the grayness, which was really more like an overcast fall morning, and I watched the tension fading from her body. I moved my hand, or what I thought of as my hand, through her shoulder and she didn’t even flinch. When she had determined she was still alone she shook her head and turned back to her food. I retreated into the living room. I didn’t need to sit, but I didn’t want to just hover in the corner like a forgotten coat.

This space had once been mine. It didn’t seem fair that it was someone else’s now. I didn’t feel cheated or robbed. Well, I did. I was still young. I had a lot of life ahead of me. I slipped and fell in the bath and suddenly I don’t get to live anymore? That’s like getting kicked out in the first inning due to a technicality. Not just kicked out of the game, but banned from even suiting up and forced out of the profession. It was completely unfair.

It was hard to judge the passage of time, but at least the weird blurring of days had stopped. The night seemed endless, but unless Abby spent the entire night eating one bowl of food, it was less than an hour before she came out of the dining room and padded barefoot into the bedroom. My bedro-- her bedroom door shared a wall with the bathroom door, and a moment later she emerged in her underwear with a bag of toiletries dangling from her right hand.

“Be careful,” I called.

She paused with her hand by the light switch. She looked at the floor, at the repaired tile, and very carefully laid out her towel to catch any spillage. I know her actions were due to common sense and the manager’s warning, but I liked to believe I had a little something to do with it. She undressed and stepped into the shower before I realized I probably shouldn’t be watching. I was a voyeur, a peeper, a pervert, so I slipped back into the living room.

The apartment still felt like mine. Everything was different, but it was like a sheet draped over someone’s face. I could still see the shapes of things. I wandered near where my couch had been and stepped around a coffee table that I guess my sister had sold or given away. I wonder what happened to the picture of Alaska I had hanging over my couch. Pawn shop, probably, or Goodwill. I shouldn’t be annoyed; it’s not like Rebecca knew I would still be able to look at it.

I wondered if I could go outside. Was I actually haunting my apartment, or was I a free spirit? Hah, clever. And no one to enjoy it. Damn. I hugged myself and looked out the window. Maybe if I tried to go outside I would dissipate. It wasn’t like I was doing much with what was left of myself. I put my hand against the glass, although I didn’t really have a hand anymore. I half-expected some frost to appear, some signal that I was actually here in some way. Alas, nothing.

The bathroom door opened and Abby came out. She held a towel against her chest, but I could see the naked curve of her rear end, still wet from the shower. I told myself not to stare. She was much too young (and, yeah, okay, breathing) to pay attention to how perfect her ass was. The hand not holding up the towel was holding a phone against the side of her head, and she spoke as she crossed into her bedroom.

“We’re not having this conversation, Chelsea. It’s too late.” She dropped the towel and I, being a ghost and unable to do anything about it, ignored everything that I spent a few seconds ogling. “I already have a new place. No. Chelsea...” She stopped digging through her suitcase and cocked her hip, forcing me to look at her naked body for a few more seconds. Her fault. Entirely. “We’ve been over this a dozen times already. There’s no new angle. I’m not meeting you at... no! Chelsea... Che--” She sighed and looked toward the heavens.

I looked at her body some more. What? I’m old, I’m not de-- oh. Right. Shut up.

“I got this place as a final nail in the coffin. No simple road back means I won’t just cave in. Clean break.” She managed to slip into a T-shirt that covered her most interesting bits. “We can talk on Saturday if you really want to. No, I’m not going to tell you my new address.” She rolled her eyes. “No. I know you’re not a stalker. I just... neither of us needs the temptation, all right? Just give me some time. Okay. Saturday. Okay, bye.”

She hung up and dropped onto the edge of the bed, one hand against her forehead while she covered her face with the other.

“Don’t you think this is hard on me, too?” she whispered. “Don’t you know how hard it was to walk away from you?” She wiped her eyes with the heel of her hand, sniffled, and stood up to put the phone on her bedside table. She turned off the lights and stretched out on top of the blankets. I sat down on the edge of the bed, or imagined I did, or whatever. I could hear her sniffling and wished there was something I could do to make it easier on her.


I looked at her.

“You still here? Ghost lady?”

How was I supposed to answer that?

“Don’t go, okay?” Her voice was small and meek. “I know you’re just my mind playing tricks on me, but it makes me feel less alone. So if you want to stay, that would be okay with me.”


How could I say no to that?


It took me several days (or a week? Two? It was hard to tell, really, when I was beyond minor quibbles like the passage of time) to understand what Abby did for a living. Every morning she woke up around seven, exercised, showered, and put on kneepads and a helmet before taking her bicycle out. She would return that evening exhausted and grumpy, dropping onto the couch to watch TV or her computer until it was time for dinner and/or bed. She would leave in cycling pants and a tank top, but she had another outfit in the heavy black bag she slung across her chest while riding. One evening she returned in her work clothes with the name tag still attached to the left breast. I moved in close to read “SOUND INVESTMENT BANK - ABIGAIL P.” I remembered a Sound Investment branch near my favorite restaurant, and I wondered if she worked there while I was still alive. Our paths could have crossed a dozen times and we’d never have known. Imagine.

She had a housewarming party a month into her residence. I almost called it colonization, but that sounded too judgmental. The apartment was officially hers and if anyone was squatting it was me. The crowd of people made it incredibly difficult for me to move freely. Eventually I retreated into a corner of the ceiling, hovering in a ball of energy as I observed everything going on around me. Abby came alive with her friends, laughing and joking with them and playing some incomprehensible game on her television while the night got progressively drunker.

About an hour into the evening, a bottle of wine crashed to the floor in the kitchen. Abby assured everyone it was okay. “It’s probably just my ghost.”

“You have a ghost?”

“Oh, yeah! Her name is Laura, and she’s been haunting me ever since I moved in.”

That bitch. How dare she blame me for the mess! I’d been perfectly behaved the whole night!

One of Abby’s friends - probably the real culprit, feeling guilty - helped clean up the mess. I don’t know if I had a time lapse or just stopped paying attention, but soon the party had shrunk to ten people, then eight, then three. Abby and her friend that I think was named Brandy were lying on the couch together, and a third friend named Carrie was stretched out in the armchair with her feet up on the coffee table. Music was still playing, much quieter now of course, and Abby rocked her head from side to side with her eyes closed.

I was briefly worried that they would stay the whole night, but something banged against the wall in the apartment across from us, and everyone jumped. Carrie grinned self-consciously and stretched her arms over her head.

“Looks like your ghost wants us to leave.”

Is this how it was going to be? Was I going to get blamed for everything?

Abby escorted her last remaining guests to the door and gave both of them a long hug. She whispered her gratitude to them and promised she would call them in the morning to arrange some weekend outing. Finally we were alone again, and she spent fifteen minutes half-heartedly cleaning up before she decided to let it wait for another day. She went into the bedroom and I followed her. I’m not sure why I was following her through the apartment... I was like a cat who simply wanted to be in the room where the people were.

She got on the bed and took out her phone, scrolling through pictures until she found one of herself with a smiling blonde girl. Chelsea, I had to assume. They looked happy, but Abby looked miserable reliving the past. I reached out and covered the phone with my hand. Nothing happened. In all the movies, in every supernatural TV show, ghosts could affect electronics. I should at least be capable of making the damn thing shut off. She scrolled to a picture of Chelsea taken in profile, sweaty and awash in sunlight. They were at some kind of race, and Chelsea had three numbers painted on her upper arm in black ink.

I wanted to tell her to just stop looking at it. Delete the picture, forget the bitch exists, and move on. I wanted to tell her about my personal hells. Courtney and Michelle and oh god Linda. The less said about Linda the better. Whatever had prompted their breakup was big enough for Abby to toss everything and start over. Why would she keep painful pictures on her phone? These days it was easier than ever to forget the past. Delete the pics, erase the album, throw the phone out the window. Forever unclean! Start fresh with new technology. They were probably releasing a new one in a few days anyway.

Abby finally shut down the phone and pulled the blankets up over herself. I would have smoothed her hair down if it was possible, but instead I settled for lingering next to the window to watch her sleep. It was strange but, in my new condition, watching her sleep was about as restful as actual sleep had once been for me. When she rose and stretched, I felt refreshed along with her. This night, as I was hovering, she got up to use the bathroom sometime around four-thirty. When she came back, still tying the strings of her pajama pants, she lifted her head and looked directly at me.

“Jesus!” she shouted, jumping back so much that she banged her elbow on the doorframe. I had no idea what to say or do, hadn’t planned to be sighted, but it didn’t matter apparently. She rubbed her injured elbow and looked around the room as if trying to find out where I had hidden myself. She was trembling, the poor thing, and breathing hard as she inched forward again.


Yeah. Hi. Hello. Sorry if I scared you.

She shook herself and rocked her head back and forth before she crawled back into bed. She turned her lamp on to the lowest setting, fluffed up her pillow, and looked around the room one more time before she tried to settle in.

“Goodnight, Laura.”

I would’ve said it back if I could have.


A few nights later I was filling my time when Abby was out of the apartment by... well. Not really doing much. I didn’t wander or explore, I didn’t gaze out the window or watch the clock. I was basically just existing in the empty space without moving or thinking. I guess I was just on hold until Abby came home and gave me something to pay attention to. I noticed when the time of her normal return passed, but I didn’t start worrying until the sun began going down. What if she was in trouble? Would one of her friends realize in time to help? Would the police even care before a certain amount of time had passed? Maybe she had just gone out for drinks or something.

It was full dark when I heard the key scraping the lock, followed by a body thumping against it and an unfamiliar giggle. I was proud of my girl for jumping back on the horse, but my happiness fizzled when the door opened and she pulled Chelsea into our apartment. They kissed as Abby kicked the door shut, moving against the wall briefly before Abby pushed Chelsea toward the bedroom. I could see Abby’s face; the flush of alcohol and the furrowed brow of irritation lurking just below the surface. This wasn’t a good idea, and it wasn’t entirely Abby’s idea.

Oh, Abigail, what are you doing?

“What am I doing?” Abby moaned as Chelsea kissed down her throat.

“Making up for lost time?” Chelsea said. “Who cares? God, I’ve missed you.”

They two-stepped into the bedroom, and Chelsea pushed Abby down onto the mattress. Clothes flew, and Chelsea straddled Abby. Pinned her down, more like it, keeping her from escaping. Abby sat up and Chelsea kissed her, then bras and shirts were dropped. I circled around the bed trying to Swayze something to make this abomination stop. I wanted to shake the walls or knock that TV to the floor, or make every candle light up at once in a great conflagration of...

Abby flipped Chelsea, kissing down her body. Chelsea laughed and ran her fingers through Abby’s thick hair, bracing her heels on the edge of the bed as Abby sank down between her thighs.

Oh, Abby, no!

You can guess what happened next. Fingers and tongues and thrusting. And that damned laugh from Chelsea, like she had won. God, I wanted to smack her. Why couldn’t I be a vengeful spirit, all poltergeist and scary noises? I’d have pinned the bitch to the ceiling with the snap of my fingers. But no, after she came, she pulled Abby back up onto the bed (more dominance, damn her) and fingered her to orgasm. She smothered Abby’s cries with a kiss that, come on, was too forced to be intimate, and then rolled onto the side like she’d just won a wrestling match.

The room was insanely quiet afterward, except for the huffing and puffing of the women on the bed. Chelsea was the first to recover, and she pushed up against the headboard as she looked around.

“So this is your new place, huh?”

“I guess.”

“It’s... nice. Small, though.”

MY APARTMENT IS NOT SMALL. IT IS NEAT AND COZY AND... Abby’s. It’s Abby’s now. I calmed myself, but I watched Chelsea wrap her arms around herself as if startled by a breeze. Sure, now I could affect things.

“Could you leave?”

Good girl, Abby.

“I just got here.” She rubbed Abby’s bare hip. “I was hoping we could make up for lost time.”

“I... I just want you to go, Chelsea.”

Chelsea rolled her eyes and put her feet on the floor. “Fine. I should go pick up some cigarettes anyway. There’s a store down on the corner, right?”

“This is a non-smoking building.”

“Hah. Right. Like you moved into a non-smoking apartment.”

“I quit when I left you.”

Chelsea looked over her shoulder. “Seriously?”

“Cut out all the bad things at once, right?”

Chelsea said, “Ah.” She turned back onto the bed and slid her hand over Abby’s chest. Before I realized what she was doing, she had tightened her grip around Abby’s throat. Abby’s entire body went rigid, and her eyes went wide. I felt like a pinball, bouncing from the ceiling to the floor and off all four walls. Why couldn’t I do something? Why couldn’t I make a difference when I absolutely fucking needed to? I shouted Get your damn hands off of her!, but the air in the room didn’t even shift.

“Say you’re sorry.”

Abby struggled. Her face was red, but she mouthed, “I’m sorry.”

Chelsea released her and bent down to force a kiss on Abby’s slack lips. “That’s my girl.” She sat up and scooted to the edge of the bed. Abby remained where she was as Chelsea dressed, not even watching as she walked out of the bedroom. “I’ll be right back.”

When the bitch was gone, I went to Abby. She’d felt me before, so hopefully now that it actually counted I could be helpful. I put my hand over her throat and concentrated. All the cold snaps, the chilly breezes, I just wanted to be an ice pack right now. She lifted her chin and closed her eyes, still massaging the sensitive skin as I brushed my hand across the place Chelsea had so cruelly gripped. I don’t know if I actually did anything to help, but at least it seemed like I was doing something.


Abby was dressed and in the living room when Chelsea came back. “I would really like you to leave now, Chelsea.”

Chelsea sat down next to her. Too close, I thought, crowding her space. “I know that’s what you think, Abby, but that’s just those friends of yours telling you I’m no good. We’re good together. Five years good. What the hell do they know about us? Telling you how to live your life.” She brushed Abby’s hair away from her cheek and I could see Abby tensing so she wouldn’t cringe away. “They’re the ones who should’ve gotten cut out of your life. We only need us. Yeah.”

Abby nodded.

“Say it.”

“Yeah. You’re right. I shouldn’t have treated you like that.”

I wished I had watched Ghostbusters or The Frighteners or one of those movies. I wanted to tear this bitch’s head off and I was sure one of those movies would have told me how to accomplish it. I watched as she tapped out a cigarette.

“Chelsea, I meant it. You really can’t smoke in here.”

“So I just wasted ten bucks on a pack of cigarettes? I don’t think so.” She took out her lighter. Come on, ghosty, be useful. Make it explode in her damn face. It lit her cigarette. “Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? They kick you out and you come live with me again. That’s the way things should be.” She held out a second cigarette. “Here. You made a bad decision. It’s time to grow up and come home. Okay?”

Abby took the cigarette. “I... guess.”

“There’s my girl.”

I retreated. I couldn’t bear to watch if I couldn’t even help. I hid in the corner, and I listened as they went back into the bedroom. I heard Chelsea demanding that Abby say her name, and Abby’s expectedly weak reply was met with a smack on the bottom. “Come on, don’t be a baby. You said you liked it.”

“I liked it. But you hit too hard.”

“Aww.” She swatted her again and I raged. I needed an Oda Mae Brown, but make this one Michonne from that zombie show. Break down the walls with a couple of samurai swords and lop this blonde bitch’s head clean off her shoulders. Later on, Abby went to sleep without orgasm while Chelsea smoked her third cigarette fully satisfied. Abby was curled up on one quarter of her bed while Chelsea sat up and gazed out the window as she ashed her illicit cigarette on the nightstand without even the benefit of an ashtray.

The next morning, Abby dressed for work as usual. She was then ordered to go change because the bike shorts were “too revealing” and she would be flashing her ass to everyone she rode by. Abby put on her work clothes and walked five blocks to the bus station. Chelsea left not long after her, and the apartment was once again mine alone.

I roamed the rooms as if I was spraying an air freshener trying to get the reek of Chelsea and her cigarettes out of the fabric. I had to do something. I may not be tied to the apartment but I was definitely attached to Abby. Even if I could leave there was no way I would leave her with this insane abuser. I needed a plan. I needed to figure out what to do as soon as possible. But I was useless. My hands just passed through whatever I tried to grab, my voice was silent, I couldn’t throw--

Ah. Wait. Maybe.


Chelsea came home at noon with a shopping bag hanging from her fingers and some kind of frothy pink drink in her other hand. She had a small device clipped to her belt that she examined before taking it off and putting it down next to Abby’s laptop. She had gone jogging and rewarded herself with a shopping spree. How nice for her. But I was ready.


Chelsea jumped and spun around. The TV had already blinked out, but the screen’s glow revealed it had been on. She frowned at it, looked at the remote control, and shrugged. She started to shrug out of her jacket and had her arms bound by the leather when her iPod came to life with a screech of violins and a shouted voice. She ripped the earbuds out and jumped comically to one side, as if a rabid animal had just jumped between her feet. She stared at the device and tossed it onto the couch.

“Is this apartment under power lines or something? Shit...”

Behind her, every cupboard in the kitchen swung open as if pulled by gravity. Then, as one, they banged shut. Chelsea screamed, and oh if there’s a more perfect sound, I don’t know what it is. I did it again just to watch her flinch. I had spent too long thinking of myself as a person. I envisioned hands I didn’t have, lungs that didn’t draw air, but I was so much more than that now. I was a being, I was part of the house, and I could make the house a part of me. I could fill the space, be the air and the walls, and I could do whatever I wanted. I could push the couch away from the wall, which made Chelsea leap back about a foot. Just enough for her feet to get tangled in the carpet that had been bunched up by the skidding furniture.

“What’s going on...”


Bless Abby and her electronics. I didn’t even have to look long before I found the songs I needed.




Chelsea looked at the devices, watching as they seemed to operate themselves.








I had all the volume turned up to full, screeching male and female voices lifting above discordant music. Screeching guitars and pounding pianos that sounded fine on their own songs blended into the shriek of a cornered animal.














Chelsea was trembling, frozen where she stood. Fine. If she wanted me to pull out all the stops, I could do that. I became the air around her head and then snapped myself away. The resulting pop made her feel as though she had gone deaf. In the terrifying silence I focused all my energy on her eyes. I have no idea what she saw, but I pushed every molecule of my energy, every atom that had once made up my entire consciousness, and I sent it through her eye sockets and out the back of her head.

The first thing she heard when her hearing came back was a single word: “LEAVE.”

She started backing toward the door, head swiveling as if she would see her tormentor. “Who are you? Who is doing this to me?”

I was thrilled she had asked me that question. I had something special planned for that. I wrapped myself around her and then - pop - rearranged the light and air in front of her to reflect her own appearance.

“Who is doing this?”

You are, you evil bitch. Now run.

She opened the door and fled, leaving her bags behind. I closed the door behind her with a simple shift in air pressure. I went into the kitchen and put together the last piece of my plan before shrinking myself back down. There might not be any need for me to imagine myself in a human shape, but it was comforting to me. I settled back in the familiar and symmetrical shape and then settled in to wait for Abby to get home. I was utterly exhausted, which was bizarre since I didn’t need to sleep. Maybe a specter only had a certain amount of energy and, once it was used up, they just vanished. If so, I didn’t mind. I felt I had used my afterlife for a good cause.

Abby came home ninety minutes later than usual. She looked beaten down, crushed, dragged-through-mud, whatever you want to call it. She looked like someone in desperate need of a hug she wouldn’t have gotten if I hadn’t intervened. She still wouldn’t get it, I realized, but at least she could relax in a safe place.

“My love?” she called, taking off her shoes by the front door. “Are you home, my love?”

I would have clenched my teeth if I still had them. ‘My love’? What a pretentious fucking...

Abby pushed her hair out of her face and looked in the bedroom. “My love? If you haven’t started cooking dinner, can we just order Chinese? I’m not judging you. I’m just so tired and I’m hungry and I...” She had walked across the living room and now stood in the kitchen entrance. I smiled as she took in the sights; it had taken every little bit of energy I could muster to twist the napkins into flowers, but I’d managed it. Five perfect roses placed in front of the spot where Abby always sat to have her dinner. It was a little trick I’d picked up way back in the day, when I was Abby’s age and wanted to impress girls.

She picked one up and smiled as she brushed her finger over the petal. “Chelsea?”

My mood soured. Don’t give that--

“No. She would never... Laura.” She chuckled and shook her head. “Laura, did you do this?”

Carefully. Carefully... I gathered the air in the room with both arms and swept it past her like a gentle breeze. Her eyelids drifted shut, and a smile slowly crept across her face as she pressed the napkin against her chest.

“Thank you.”

Hey, you did the hard part, kid. I’m just the watchdog.

Abby kept the flower in one hand as she dialed her phone with the other. She smiled at the display I had left for her as she ordered dinner from the Chinese place down the block.

Dinner for one.


Her friends descended on the apartment and formed a barricade around her on the couch, belatedly offering her the protection she had needed earlier. “I’m sorry, you guys. I know how proud of me you were when I finally left her...”

“Hey, none of that,” Carrie said. “You had a relapse. The important thing is you saved yourself before things got out of hands.”

“Yeah. The thing about that is... I don’t think I did. I got home and she was just gone. I think the ghost ran her away.”

Finally some gratitude. You’re welcome, Abby. But her friends exchanged worried glances.

“Honey. About this, uh, ghost.”

“We’ve humored it for a while now, but it’s starting to get a little troubling. I mean, you don’t really believe there’s a ghost here watching over you. Right?”

Abby sniffled. “I don’t know. I guess not.”

A friend I hadn’t met before, Lisa, took her hand. “Maybe it’s just your way of dealing with this new power you have. You know? You lived in a prison all through college, and now you’re finally out. Freedom can be scary and this is how you deal with it.”

Abby nodded slowly. “Yeah. I guess. Listen, thank you guys so much for coming to watch over me. But I think I’m fine now.”

“Sure?” Brandy said. “We can wait here while you call the cops...”

“No. Hey. There’s no reason for cops.”

Carrie sighed. “Honey, she abused you. You were scared enough to hide from her, and now she knows where you live.”

Abby said, “But a restraining order? Doesn’t that seem like a big step?”

Brandy took a deep breath. “Honey, I think if you don’t do it, your ghost might have some company before long. Next time Chelsea might go too far and that’ll be it.”

“Don’t scare her,” Carrie hissed.

“Maybe she needs to be scared.”

Abby said, “Look, I know all you guys are doing is looking out for me. I appreciate it. I really do. But right now I think I want to be alone.” She stood up and her friends stood as well. They had a big group hug and then she escorted them to the door for individual goodbye hugs. She promised them she would be safe and locked the door behind them, pushing her hair out of her face. She paced for a moment, sat down to compose an email (I checked and saw it was to her sister, not to Chelsea) and then went into the kitchen to start cooking dinner.

“I know you’re real.”

I drifted into the kitchen and watched her stir. She seemed to be speaking to the sauce.

“I know what you did for me, and I’m grateful. I don’t care if it makes me insane. Thank you, Laura. Thank you so much.”

You’re welcome.

I hung around while she was eating, then she went into the living room to watch TV on the couch. She finally turned off the lights at nine-thirty, but she stayed on the couch instead of going to bed. I didn’t blame her... that bed was more haunted than anywhere else in the apartment. I dug down deep, still exhausted from everything I’d done to run Chelsea off, and knocked the blanket off the back of the couch so that it was draped over her. She jumped and I wanted to apologize, but she smiled and snuggled into the blanket.

“Thanks, Laura.”

I smiled and retreated. If she needed someone to keep a watchful eye over her while she slept, well... I didn’t plan on going anywhere.


We settled into a pretty good routine after that. Now I had a purpose: keep watch for Chelsea. I didn’t want her sneaking in during the day when Abby was at work. I was working on my ‘ooky-spooky’ as I decided to call it just in case I had to put a fright into her again. I was a little disturbed at how weak I felt after pulling off some of my stunts. What was weak to a ghost? Did I bounce back or just get accustomed to operating at a lower level of efficiency? Would there come a point when I just, poof, stopped existing? Not even existing... just being aware. It didn’t matter. It was for a worthy cause.

On the weekend, she was chatting with her sister April again while I just sort of... I don’t know what I was doing. I was there, I wasn’t doing anything, but it’s not like I was hovering over her shoulder and staring at her. She was in sweatpants and a baggy sweater sitting on the couch explaining about people at work and a phone call she’d received from their parents.

“So I did a little research on my ghost.”

“Oh, really?”

Oh really...?

“Turns out her name was Laura Dexter. She lived here for five years, and she was a project manager at this big design firm. She was apparently a really big deal.”

“Wow. What was she doing living in your shitty apartment?”

Abby said, “Ha ha. It’s a great place.”

You tell her, Abs.

“So she was single, no kids or anything...”

“Where did you find all this stuff?”

“I did a Google.”

“Geez, no wonder you think she’s haunting the place. She’s long gone and you’re a stalker.” April laughed. “I was thinking about coming up around Thanksgiving. Would that be okay?”

Abby tensed. “I don’t know. I’m still sort of settling in. I don’t know if I could deal with having everyone around.”

“Just me and Ted and the kids.”

“Yeah. Four other people.” She grinned. “Maybe Christmas.”

“Okay. Hey, listen, I should go. Take care of yourself, baby girl.”

“You too.”

She disconnected and slumped back on the couch. She looked around the apartment and then said, “You don’t mind, right? I just wanted to know what kind of person you were. Sounds like you were a pretty cool person.” She chuckled. “I saw that charity thing your company did a few years ago. You looked good with pie on your face.”

Oh, geez. Our department was up against all the others in the firm, and I promised if we raised the most funds they could hit me in the face with a pie. I don’t remember allowing pictures, but I also didn’t forbid them. I guess it was my fault. Still, I couldn’t help but feel happy at the memory. For a moment it had taken me back to the time I was alive. Strange. I almost couldn’t remember what it was like to feel, to occupy a body and actually exist.

Abby dozed on the couch for a while, then finally took herself to the bathroom to shower. She came out in a robe. She paused before she went into the bedroom and looked at the ceiling. I positioned myself - my consciousness, whatever - so I felt as if she was actually looking at me.

“I’m sorry you died, Laura.”

Weird. I was starting to be kind of okay with my death. At least, I was finding myself surprisingly accepting of everything that had come afterward.


A week before Halloween, Abby came home practically in tears. She immediately went into the bathroom and hung her head over the sink, running cold water and occasionally splashing handfuls of it across her face. I’ve seen it in hundreds of movies and TV shows, but I didn’t know anyone actually did that. I wondered if it actually did any good. She raked her fingers through her hair and looked at her reflection, wincing away from it almost immediately. “Shit.”

She went into the bedroom and took off her shoes, tossing them at the hamper and dropping heavily onto the edge of the bed. I liked to tell myself the bedroom was off-limits. The woman required some privacy, after all. But today she looked so in need of a friend that I followed her. She wasn’t in tears, wasn’t racked with sobs, but her shoulders were heavy with the weight of the day she’d just had. The collar of her shirt was wet from the sink, and she loosened the top buttons so it wouldn’t touch her skin. I remembered what I had done to fold the napkins. It was a precise act, and there was no reason I couldn’t repeat it. I just had to be very careful not to overdo it. I imagined I had hands and that my strength was the same as when I was alive, and I circled around behind her.

Abby tensed when my hands squeezed her shoulders for the first time, lifting her head with sharp intake of breath.


Squeeze... rubbing with my thumbs... moving a little bit down her back on either side of her spine. I felt the tension ebbing out of her, like her body was an ice cube slowly melting in the sun. After a minute or so I realized I didn’t have to restrict myself to my hands. My massage could spread down her back on either side of her spine, and I also moved up to gently probe her temples. She whimpered softly and swayed, forward and back, then side to side.

“You were so beautiful,” Abby murmured, almost dreamily.

I was proud of the compliment. I had heard it before, but since going incorporeal I hadn’t spent much time worrying about my looks. It was nice to hear someone say I was pretty, even if she’d only seen pictures of me that had been taken before my stupid bath. I was so distracted by the fact she’d called me beautiful that I didn’t realize she was unbuttoning her blouse before she shrugged it off. I lifted away from her with the intention of going back into the living room.

“Don’t go.” Abby stretched out on the bed. Her eyes were closed, and I watched as she brushed her hands over her breasts and down her stomach. Her bra was white with black lace. If it had been ages since I was called beautiful, it had been eons since I’d seen... or touched...


I went back to the bed. You want to call me weak? I am literally spineless, okay? Don’t act surprised that I went back to the bed. I moved above her, looking down as she hooked her thumb in the waistband of her skirt to give her other hand access, pushing inside to rest her fingers against her underwear. She swallowed and I watched the movement of her throat, watched the small flicker of her tongue across her lips, and I pressed down against her.


I tried to think if there were any songs that had the name ‘Abby’ in them, but I came up blank. It wasn’t worth the energy trying to turn on her iPod anyway. If I only had a finite amount of ability I didn’t plan to use it for a parlor trick. I could almost feel her body underneath me. It was like when I became the house in order to force Chelsea out of it. Suddenly I was very aware of her legs, her knees, the way her arm pressed against the side of her breast as she touched herself. I imagined myself as a person and settled between her legs. To my surprise, she lifted her hips as if she had felt my weight and accepted it onto her.

I wrapped myself around her arm and traveled down her fingers, touching her with her own hand. She whimpered eagerly, however, and I actually felt as if I was doing it. Abby’s breathing was rougher now, heavier, and imagined my lips next to her ear.

Abby... abbyabbyabbyabbyabbyabbyabby...

“Oh my god,” she gasped. “Laura?”

I could see her, could see my half-naked ‘roommate’ writhing on the bed with her hand in her skirt, arching her back and rocking her head against the pillow, but I also knew that I was making love to her. She twisted and moved one arm under her back, pulling open her bra and squirming out of it. I skimmed my energy across her breasts and watched as her nipples tightened, becoming hard and tight as she continued thrusting against her... my... our hands. I moved the mouth I had imagined over her lips, and she parted them, her tongue flickering out and whimpering when she didn’t touch anything.

“I can feel you...”

So come for me...

She cried out and bent her knees inward, twisting at the waist and digging her heels into the mattress. “Laura! Oh, fuck, Laura, I’m coming.”

I held onto her as best I could until she rolled onto her side, then I slipped away. She opened her eyes and lifted her head. “Hey. A-are you leaving? I think I could feel you leaving. But I’d like you to stay. Please? Just for a little while?”

I returned to her, and she smiled as she relaxed into a satisfied slumber.


Maybe it wasn’t the perfect relationship. What relationship is, when you get down to the brass tacks? I spent the evenings with Abby, holding her and watching over her while she slept. In the mornings she would talk to me while she got ready for work. She would always smile from the front door and offer a cheery, “Bye, Laura! Have a good day!” before she left. Sometimes she left the stereo playing so I would have something to listen to, but I didn’t know how to tell her that I really didn’t need distractions or entertainment. If she wasn’t there I just sort of existed.

At night when she got home she would cook dinner and we’d watch television together. I didn’t quite understand a lot of her shows, but I enjoyed her enjoyment of them. Then when she was ready for bed, we would go into her bedroom and we’d... well, mostly she...

I understood how odd it looked. I had the benefit of being able to see from the outside while I was involved. One night she was perched on the edge of her bed, toes pointed against the floor, knees apart and legs spread, one arm behind her braced against the mattress as she thrust up against some invisible force. I did everything in my power to make her feel as if there was something with her, but to an outside observer it seemed like the strangest masturbation pose ever conceived. I loved to watch her; the way her fingers stroked her folds, the movement of her breasts and the muscles under her skin, getting close to her face so I could see the way her eyelids fluttered just before she came... I might not have been able to orgasm, but I’d be lying if I said I got nothing from the experience.

Abby seemed happier, too. She was sleeping much better and waking refreshed. She called her sister back and tentatively promised she would consider having Thanksgiving at her new place. “But everyone has to bring something. I’m not cooking for everyone, okay?” She also revealed she was going to have a Halloween party. I saw her designing the flyer for her office.

“Costume Party in a REAL HAUNTED APARTMENT!”

She wrinkled her nose. “I don’t know, Laura. I don’t want it to look like I’m using your tragedy to... to get people to come to my stupid party.”

I brushed against her, moving her hair across her forehead as gently as I could. She smiled and closed her eyes. “Are you sure?”

Another touch on her cheek.

“Okay. As long as you don’t mind.”

That night we took a bath together. Water was much easier to manipulate than air, and I created a small but meaningful whirlpool between her legs. She gripped the edges of the tub, strands of wet hair hanging in her face as I used the bath to pleasure her. Unlike with air currents now I could actually enter her, and the water splashed high enough to drip down the curves of her breasts. Beads of it trembled off her nipples and I blew a cool breeze across them to make the water dance.

“Oh, fuck, Laura...” She sank down until her head was underwater, and I pushed wave after wave over her whole body. She opened her mouth, then surfaced and spit it out, gasping for air as the water sloshed over the edges of the tub around her. She pushed her hair out of her face and blinked as the water droplets caught in her eyes. She held out one hand to caress the spot where she thought my face should be and chuckled quietly.

“I think I’m falling in love with you.”

I wished I could return the sentiment. Instead I retreated and watched as she leaned forward to unplug the drain, then stood up to retrieve her towel. I happened to notice the edge of the tub and the tile floor around it was soaked, and


My shout was enough to rock her on her feet, and she grabbed the towel rack to keep from falling over. The mirror tremored against the wall, and everything on the sink seemed to do a half-second of a jig before settling again. Abby pushed the hair out of her widened eyes and looked around, looking scared for the first time since she realized she lived in a haunted apartment.

“What’s wrong? Laura?”

I could only see the puddles of water all around the tub, could almost literally see her stepping in one and falling back. I could imagine her head cracking against the tile as she fell into the quickly-draining water and stared up with unseeing eyes. I caressed her, my unseen touch moving water droplets around her body in a way that made her shudder. She looked down and seemed to realize why I had reacted the way I did.

“It’s okay, Laura. I’ll be careful.” She crouched and used her towel to wipe away the droplets and puddles before she got out of the tub.

That night as I watched her sleep, moving the breeze so that it moved her hair away from her face, I thought about my reaction. If she had died, would it have been the worst thing in the woooohaaat the hell am I saying? I didn’t want Abby dead. She had just started to live for crying out loud. And if she did die, what promise did I have that she would become a ghost like me? Maybe she would just cease to exist. How could I for even a second have thought about letting her pass like that?

Because I’m selfish. Because when you’re a ghost, ego is the one thing you have left. I wanted her to be mine. Fortunately I was still myself enough that I’d warned her but the next time? Would I move the breeze to extinguish the flame if she fell asleep with a candle lit? If I got lonely enough or if the need to hold her got too strong, would I do the unthinkable? I loved Abby so much and I knew she felt happier when she was with me, but... was she safe? I had shaken the mirror and made the entire apartment thrum without intending to. God, what if something I did caused Abby’s death? I would never forgive myself. And in my current condition “never” was saying quite a lot. I had a forever full of “never.”

In the middle of the night Abby moved her pillow between her legs in the midst of a dream. I watched as she thrust against it and I had another realization: Abby needed to be touched. She needed someone to actually hold her, arms that were more than a breeze and a lover who could actually respond to her. I watched her moving slowly against the pillow and listened to her quiet gasps, and I realized I had done my part. She’d been stuck with someone hard and hurtful so she needed someone soft and incapable of striking her as a rebound. She needed me to remind her how love could be soft.

I brushed my finger down her cheek and she moaned softly. “Laura...”

I’m here, Abby. I’ll be here as long as you need me. I brushed across her lips and she pursed them in a kiss moments before her orgasm. I settled beside her, on top of her, all around her, determined to keep the shadows from infringing on her sweet dreams. She’d had enough nightmares for a lifetime. I was going to do my best to make sure no more could get through.


Halloween night. Abby wore a sleeveless white shirt and tucked her hair under an extremely short black wig. I kept waiting for her to put on pants, but eventually I realized that the short-shorts she’d put on were part of the costume. They were so teeny that the hem of the shirt covered them completely and made her look like she wasn’t wearing any pants at all. I finally realized that she was dressed like Demi Moore from Ghost, and I indicated my approval by swirling quickly around her.

“Just don’t get Whoopi Goldberg to come here and kiss me, okay?”

I made no promises.

Her guests - coworkers and friends, I assumed - began showing up around six. I recognized a few costumes - Anna and Elsa from Frozen, a Star Trek captain (original series), but some were too esoteric for me. A woman who seemed to have huge leaves of lettuce stapled to her dress also had a multi-faceted diamond as a hat. I overheard someone ask what she was supposed to be, and she said, “I’m a diamond in the roughage.” If I’d been alive, I would have groaned. But dead... I thought it was kind of clever. Amusing, at the very least.

I had felt off all afternoon. It was hard to explain exactly what was wrong. I didn’t have a stomach so I wasn’t queasy. I couldn’t be more lightheaded than I already was all the time. Part of me worried that this was just... it. I’d outstayed my welcome and on Halloween I would get moved along to... whatever. Halloween was supposed to be a night when spirits walked, right? When everyone’s mind was just a little more open to the possibility? And when a large group of people were willing to accept the impossible, the impossible had a way of coming about.

“Speaking of scary monsters and super creeps,” Brandy said at one point in the evening, “did you hear about Chelsea?”

I could feel Abby’s tension radiating off of her in waves, but she kept her outward cool. “I haven’t even thought about Chelsea in weeks. I couldn’t care less.”

“Oh, you’ll care about this,” Brandy assured her. She was dressed in a sexy cat suit, her hair done up in two twists atop her head to look like cat ears. “Seems Chelsea had moved on from you. Picked someone up in the bar, took her home, and started trying to pull the same shit she did with you. Have you ever wondered what would happen if you tried to choke an off-duty cop without her permission?”

Abby gasped. “No.”

“Oh, yeah. She didn’t pull any punches. Chelsea ended up with two broken fingers and an assault charge. If you wanted to come forward, I’m just... I’m just saying there would be official people who believe you this time.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. Wow. I can’t believe it.”

“Rejoice, babe,” Carrie said. “You got free of her. I’m so proud of you.”

Her friends gathered around her, hugging her and giving her arm reassuring squeezes. She chuckled and shook her head in disbelief, already looking lighter and happier at the news Chelsea wasn’t lurking in the shadows anymore.

The party continued. Abby danced with a girl dressed as a bumblebee, and she also danced with Queen Elsa. I noticed they were getting particularly cozy, with Abby’s hands resting in the small of the Frozen Queen’s back while Elsa didn’t seem to mind one little bit. They kept it middle-school-dance safe, but I noticed a few of her friends were watching happily as the slow dance ended and Abby reluctantly separated from her icy companion.

The crowd began to slip away by ten o’clock. Queen Elsa passed out on the couch while Abby politely ushered everyone else out. I focused on the interloper. The white-blonde hair was a wig; her eyebrows were darker, but not by much. She was absolutely gorgeous; very delicate features and an arched upper lip that should have made her look haughty but somehow didn’t. I surrounded her the way I did with Abby and, without intent or understanding, I was suddenly opening her eyes from inside and looking out through them. Holy hell, I was possessing someone.

I saw the apartment in a way I hadn’t for ages, disoriented by my switch in perspective. It was like seeing a room on television and instantly being transported there. I pushed myself... Elsa’s... body up a little but her head was still fuzzy and fogged with sleep. Or maybe that was because I was invading her. Whatever the cause, I fell back against the cushion and closed my eyes again. Man. Bodies were heavy and cumbersome. I’d forgotten that.

I heard and felt footsteps coming closer, and then weight on the couch next to me. A warm hand squeezed my bare shoulder and I realized Abby had just touched me for the first time.

“Hey. Hey, Copper.” I knew without knowing how I knew that she meant me. My name was Leah Polis, which became The Police, which was shortened to ‘Copper,’ which was double-perfect because I had auburn hair. Everyone called me Copper, but Abby was the only one I didn’t mind doing it. I opened my eyes and she smiled. “Hey. You ready to go home?”

“Leah is asleep.”

Abby chuckled. “Then why am I talking to her?”

“Leah is asleep... I’m Laura.”

Abby’s smile faltered. “That’s not funny. Don’t tease me about that, okay?”

I sat up as best I could. “Want to go into the bathroom and I can prove it? I can’t make a whirlpool, but...”

Her cheeks reddened. “Laura? How...?”

“Leah is drunk and unconscious, and that opened the door? I dunno. But I’m willing to bet it won’t last long.” I took her hands. Ye gods, just holding her hands. Who knew? I brushed my thumbs over her palms and marveled at how easy it was. It was so easy to just feel her hand in mine. Why hadn’t I taken advantage of it more when I was alive? I breathed deep and smelled Abby’s scent. “Listen. I wanted to tell you... we have to stop what we’re doing.”

“What? Why?”

“It was what you needed for a while, but it’s not anymore. Now you need a real relationship. You need someone who can hold your hand. You need a partner, not just... not just... whatever I am.”

She blinked rapidly and looked at our hands. “I can’t believe I’m talking to you. There’s so much I want to say. I don’t even know where to start.”

I smiled. “I’m the one who hasn’t had a voice. You’ve said it all, believe me. I know how you feel. I feel the same way.”

“I love you,” she said.

“I love you, too.”

“I’m sorry that you died. But I’m so glad that it meant we got to know each other.”

“Me too.”

She leaned in and kissed my lips. It felt amazing. It felt better than amazing, because it was our first kiss and also our last. God, she was a great kisser. Such a wasted opportunity. All the times we could’ve been kissing, all those wasted glances in the break room and the times we could have gone beyond flirting. Now Abby was finally kissing me, yes fuck, even though my brain was foggy from too many drinks, I knew I had to stop her. I put my hands on her shoulders and eased her back.

“Abby. Wait...”

“Why?” She paused and looked at me strangely. “Leah?”

“Yeah. Who... who else would I be?”

“I-I don’t... um... I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have just kissed you like that.”

I shook my head. “No! No, do not... do not apologize for that.” I touched the strap of her tank top and, thinking that might be a bit too forward, moved my hand into her hair. It was just a wig, so I could be forgiven for stroking it. I hoped. “I just... I just have been waiting so long for it, that I want to be sober. I want to be aware. Is that okay?”

“Yeah,” she said softly. “You’ve been waiting for it?”

I nodded. “I’ve had a crush on you for a long time, Abigail. When it happens, I want to be present.”

“Me too.” She smiled and fiddled with my braid. And here I’d been worried coming as a cartoon character would ruin my chances of flirtation. “Uh. Hey. Listen. If you’re too tired or drunk to get home, you can always crash on the couch. We can talk in the morning when we’re both a little more clear-headed. Sound like a plan?”

“Sounds like a great plan. Do you have something I can wear? I don’t really want to deal with the gown...”

“Yeah, I probably have something. Let me go look.” She remained on the couch for a moment, looking around. “Does the apartment feel different than when you got here?”

I looked around as well. “It was pretty crowded when I got here. I guess now it feels... emptier?”

“Emptier,” she said softly. “Yeah. It feels empty.”

I touched her cheek. “You okay?”

She turned her head into my touch. “Not really. But I will be. I’ll go see if I can find you some jammies.”


It felt like eons since I was outside. I finally felt up to taking the risk and left the apartment and found myself wandering down one of the side streets that ran behind my apartment. I don’t know what was next. I didn’t really want to go back to my apartment. I’d done what I could with Abby, and if I stuck around I would just be getting in the way. She deserved her own life without the old tenant hanging around. I would miss her terribly but... well, that’s the lot we dead people are given. We miss things and people miss us. The healthy thing is to let go and move on. The few seconds I spent in Leah’s mind showed me that she was the sort of person who would appreciate a treasure like Abby. I felt comfortable leaving my girl in her hands.

I went down the street to the diner I had once frequented and sat in the booth. I don’t know how much time passed; it was an all-night diner and most of the middle hours blurred together in places like that. Someone slipped into the booth next to me and I ignored her at first. I thought it was just a customer who couldn’t see that the table was already occupied. But when no one came to wait on her, I looked up and found her staring at me.

“Hello,” she said.


She grinned. “Oh, good. I wasn’t sure. You seem more real than most of us.”

“I just spent a few minutes in a living person.”

She chuckled. “Ah, the Halloween gift. Word of warning? Don’t abuse it.”

“Oh, I won’t. There was just something I had to do.” We sat together in silence for a moment before I realized I might have horned in on her territory. “I’m sorry. Is this your haunt?”

“Sort of. I used to own the place back in the nineties. I keep an eye on the place.” She held out her hand. “I’m Sandra.”

“Laura.” I took her hand, thrilling at whatever kind of contact we had just made. “If I’m not welcome, I can move along to somewhere else. I don’t want to intrude.”

“It’s fine. It’s been a long time since I’ve just hung out with anyone.”

“Me too.”

We sat for a long time, talking about who we had been until the sun came up. I was so enraptured with our conversation that I almost didn’t notice when Abby came in with a redhead I almost didn’t recognize as Elsa from the night before. The costume had been replaced with sweatpants and an old T-shirt. She and Abby held hands as they passed our both and took a seat at a far booth. They both looked at a menu, but something made Abby look up. Her eyes met mine and I swear - I swear - we held each other’s gaze for a few seconds.

“What are you looking at?”

“I just thought I saw an old friend. A very dear friend.”

Leah rubbed her hand. “You okay?”

“Yeah. I’m fine. Let’s order... I’m hungry.”

I didn’t know what was going to happen next, with me or with Abby, but I had the feeling we were both ready for whatever was in store.

ckey Minner



“I take it you haven’t done this type of work before? And you’re not from around here… no local references?”

The questions had been asked casually but Morgan Delaney sensed the man asking was judging her responses for more than just a confirmation she was new to town and she lacked essential experience. Smiling tensely, she shook her head. “I know this would be new for me, Mr. Palbin,” she confessed to the burly man seated on the opposite side of a rather large desk crowded into a rather small office, “but I’m a fast learner. You won’t be disappointed.”

“Call me Tony,” he said waving off her wasted attempts to convince him of her worthiness. “I’m sure you have the ability to do the job… most do since there isn’t much to it—just walk around inside and check outside every hour. And keep the local brats, with nothing better to do, from trying to sneak into the theatre. I’m more concerned whether you’ll stick it out for more than a night or two,” he said leaning back and crossing his beefy arms as he studied her for any signs of indecision. “You do understand this is a night position? Ten to six.”

Morgan nodded.

“And you’ll be working alone.”

Another nod.

“So, are you interested?”

“Yes.” Morgan said pushing aside the tiny, but growing, misgivings rambling about her thoughts.

“Any questions?”

“What do I do in case someone does try to get in?”

“Call 911… let the police take care of it. You do have a cell phone?”


“Good. The phone system in this place was installed in the twenties and hasn’t been updated since; half the time the dang thing doesn’t work. If you have any problems, use your cell. And you’ll need a uniform... it helps to let people know you belong.” Tony retrieved a pen from the desk drawer to write an address on a sheet of paper. “Go here,” he said sliding the page across the desk, “and they’ll fix you up.”

Morgan recognized the address as one of better clothing stores in town. “Is it going to be expensive?” she asked uneasily.

“Won’t be cheap… but don’t worry about it. Tell Jed that I said to charge it and I’ll take a bit out of your paycheck until it’s paid off.”

Morgan let out a sigh of relief.

“That means you’ve got to stick around awhile,” Tony said resolutely.

Morgan grinned. “Don’t worry, I will.”

“If it works for you, you can start tonight.”

“That works for me.”

Tony smiled. “Great. That will get me out of bind with my wife. She doesn’t like me being here after dark.”

“Any particular reason?” Morgan asked curiously.

“Old buildings can make a lot of odd noises… especially at night. She gets creeped out by that,” Tony replied standing. “Welcome to the Lizzie May,” he exclaimed happily, extending his hand over the table.

Morgan stood then firmly grasped the offered hand. “Thanks… I really appreciate this.”

“Let me give you the two bit tour.”

“You’ll have plenty of time to look around tonight,” Tony said impatiently when Morgan lagged behind for the umpteenth time.

“Sorry… but this place is amazing. Look at this stuff,” Morgan said admiring the costumes and props neatly arranged in the storage area at the back of the building. “They must have cost a fortune.”

“I’m sure they did… even back in their day, they would have been expensive.”

“Back in their day?”

“Most of these are as old as the building,” Tony explained.

Morgan reached out to touch a fancy party dress. “They look brand new,” she commented, her fingers running lightly across the somewhat dusty but otherwise immaculate fabric. “You’d never guess they were that old. It’s weird that they were left behind.”

“Yeah… but it was a real stroke of luck for me,” Tony said glancing at the racks overflowing with costumes representing many different times periods. “When the original owners left, they boarded the theater up and walked away… leaving everything. The building sat here for decades collecting dust until I had the brilliant idea to start a performance company and bought it,” he said halfheartedly. “Well, think you can handle it?” he asked ushering Morgan toward the stage door.

“Piece of cake,” she answered confidently following Tony outside.

“Alright. Just remember—lock any door you unlock.” Tony held up half a dozen unlabeled keys on a ring. “And don’t lose these… we only have this set and the ones I use.”

“Any way to know which key opens which door,” Morgan asked examining the oversized keys that she guessed also dated back to the theatre’s opening.

“You’ll figure it out,” Tony assured her. “There are only four doors in the building that we lock—this door, the lobby doors, my office, and the storage area. Not much of a reason to lock the rest.” He started back inside. “Good luck. Don’t let this old place get to you,” he cryptically added pushing the door shut behind him.

“Wonder what the heck that meant,” Morgan mused out loud. She thought about following her new boss to ask for an explanation but before her hand reached the knob she heard a click as the door was locked from the inside. She studied the antique keys in her hand. “I suppose it’s not worth the effort to figure out which of you unlocks this door,” she muttered turning away from the stage door. “Probably just meant the old place can be freaky at night,” she told herself walking toward her car. Chuckling uneasily she glanced back over her shoulder at the building. “Like I couldn’t have figured that out myself.”

Morgan peered through her car’s bug splattered windshield at the neglected structure before her. Sort of eerie looking, she thought noticing the deep shadows darkening the edifice in spite of the full moon overhead shining brightly in a cloudless night sky. “I wonder what you must have looked like in your glory days when you were all lit up for a performance,” she murmured. An internet search had yielded few facts about the old building’s history and even less about its original owners.

Built in 1902, the theater had, at one time, commanded the downtown area; the four-story structure towering high above the adjacent shops and offices that surrounded a carefully manicured square. The front had originally been ornately decorated with a façade of skillfully carved sandstone blocks; but the passing years had not been kind and several sections of the fascia were missing. Unlike the street facing wall, the rear and side walls were remarkably indistinct red brick, now dirty and stained. No windows decorated these walls and only a single door was tucked into a rear corner with a cracked and almost unreadable sign hanging over it that disclosed its purpose— STAGE DOOR.

Morgan pushed open her car door and stepped out. After making sure the vehicle was locked she headed across the unpaved parking lot, deftly avoiding the numerous potholes. The front entrance was through a pair of beautifully etched glass doors protected by a delicately arching portico. Above the entry, granite lintels topped two rows of arched windows. The front wall was split by a carved wooden sign hanging down its center— it’s once brightly painted but now faded and discolored lettering read from top to bottom—LIZZIE MAY.

“Odd name for a theatre,” Morgan remarked approaching the polished granite steps that matched the columns supporting the portico. Reaching the landing, she pulled the ring of keys out of her pocket and set to work testing each key to find the one that would unlock the entry. As she bent over her task, she again questioned the wisdom of accepting the night guard position. But after six months of unemployment and with her savings almost depleted, she desperately needed a paycheck. “Okay, maybe I have no clue what I’m doing,” she told herself as she gently pushed another key into the lock. Turning the key, she heard the welcomed click as the mechanism released. “But how hard can it be to walk around an empty building for eight hours?” she speculated pushing the door open.

Entering the lobby, Morgan suddenly felt as if she had stepped a century back in time – which in some way she had. Carefully walking around the red velvet settees and couches arranged in the center of the lobby, she noted once more how the original furniture and fixtures appeared to be in remarkably pristine condition even though they were well over a hundred years old. “You sure were a classy lady in your time,” she murmured reverently then headed up the grand staircase, her footsteps silenced on the thickly carpeted risers.

Reaching the second floor, Morgan diligently made sure the wide landing stretching the width of the building lacked any activity. Then she continued up the middle of three slightly less grand staircases to the third floor where she would gain access to the theatre seating and stage. There was only a small landing on the third floor as each of the smaller staircases led directly to a wide doorway then immediately down another flight of steps. Uncarpeted and much steeper then those leading up from the lobby, the arena steps allowed patrons access to the curving rows of seats looking down on the stage.

Before opening the arena door, Morgan paused on the landing to give her already aching legs a brief rest. “I guess I should be thankful that there isn’t another floor to this place,” she said stretching out the muscles tightening in the back of her thighs. Though from the outside it appeared the building had four floors; in actuality, the space above the stage and seats rose all the way to the ceiling taking up the area that a fourth floor would have utilized.

Morgan halted her stretching when an unexpected sound tickled her ears. Straightening up, she cocked her head trying to focus in on its source. “Sounds like someone talking,” she whispered, nervously inching closer to the door in front of her. She froze. That’s definitely someone talking, she told herself. Cautiously, she gently eased the door open a few inches and the voice became louder. Pulling her cell phone out of her pocket, she slipped through the opening.

What met her eyes was far from what she had expected.

Instead of being dimly lit, the stage was brightly illuminated by several spotlights—their intense streams of focused light exaggerated against the contrast of the theatre seats left completely in darkness. And on the stage, a woman was moving about emoting as if every single one of those seats was occupied.

Morgan considered retreating to the safety of the lobby and calling the police to report an intruder. But after a moment, she put her phone back in her pocket and, instead, started down the steps toward the stage.

The woman suddenly stopped her actions; then, holding a hand over her eyes, peered into the dark arena. “Is someone in the house?” she asked, her voice reverberating around the theatre.

“Security, ma’am,” Morgan called to the woman. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know anyone would be rehearsing tonight,” she explained when she was halfway down the steps.

“Ah, Anthony… he does seem quite forgetful when it comes to me,” the woman said nonchalantly. “I like to rehearse at night,” she continued. “So many fewer distractions,” she added tersely.

“I’m sorry, ma’am,” Morgan said moving as quickly as she dared down the steep steps. Feeling the woman’s eyes following her movements, she reached the orchestra pit then hurried to yet another series of steps at the far side of the stage. She quickly arrived on the stage floor. “I am sorry to interrupt, ma’am, but… um… how did you get in here? All the doors are locked.”

The woman smiled. “Would you like a cup of tea?” she asked crossing the stage to a small table holding a pot and tea service. An empty chair waited beside the table.

“Ah, no thank you,” Morgan responded as she searched her memory. She was sure the table and chair had not been on the stage earlier in the day… or had they? If Tony had placed them there, why hadn’t he told her about this woman? Or had he? No… she was sure he hadn’t. The woman interrupted her conflicting thoughts.

“I find that tea helps to keep my voice strong. That’s so important for a performer… don’t you think?”

“I, uh… I wouldn’t know,” Morgan replied. “Ma’am, if you could tell me how you got in here.”

The woman smiled. “Please, dear… a cup of tea?” she asked again motioning to the table beside her.

Morgan shook her head. “No… really, no thank you. I… uh… I never developed a taste for tea,” she told the woman who seemed to be scrutinizing her as she sipped from a porcelain cup.

“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a female security guard,” the woman said after placing her cup back on the saucer. “Such a thing would have caused quite a scandal back in my day,” she continued off-handedly moving back across the stage.

“Back in your day?” Morgan questioned the odd phasing. “Oh, I get it… you’re talking in character,” she said observing the woman’s costume. “I read somewhere that some actors do that when they play a part. Seems kinda silly to me,” she shrugged, “but to each his own.”

The woman gazed at Morgan scornfully. “If you will allow me… I would very much like to return to my work.”

“Your work? Oh, you mean rehearsing,” Morgan acknowledged. “Sure… but, first,” she said trying to sound as authoritative as possible, “I really do need to know who you are and how you got in here.”

The woman smiled and nodded. “Of course. My name is Elizabeth Ferndale,” she said haughtily. “And I am allowed access to the theatre as I choose.”

Morgan wrote the name on a small pad she took from her breast pocket. “Do you plan to be here very long tonight?”

“My dear, I plan to be here as long as is required. Performing before an audience is not to be taken lightly.”

“I guess it does take time to learn the lines,” Morgan commented tucking her note pad back into its pocket.

Elizabeth tittered. “Oh, my dear, I know my lines. My time now is taken to ensure that every member of the audience will enjoy my performance… to its utmost.”

“Oh,” Morgan muttered nodded her head while not understanding the woman’s meaning. “Okay, I’ll leave you to your rehearsal… just wait until I come back if you decide to leave. I’ll let you out.”

“You expect me to wait until you return?” Elizabeth asked in disbelief.

“It won’t be for long… Tony wants a complete walk through every hour.”

“Tony? Ah, Anthony… such a dear man. But he has no business here,” Elizabeth stated deprecatingly. “He knows so little of the theatre. Do you wish to be on the stage?” she inquired returning to the table and her tea.

Morgan laughed. “Me? Oh, no. I’ve got stage fright just standing up here now.”

Elizabeth sat down. “I have been lucky not to suffer from such,” she said refilling her cup. “Oh, but father… how he suffered. So fearful he was to even leave his dressing room. But once on stage, his anxiety vanished… and what performances he gave. Father was magnificent on stage,” she declared proudly.

“Your father?”

“Edward Ferndale… surely you have seen him perform.”

Morgan shook her head. “Can’t say that I have; but, then, I don’t go to many plays. I’m more into movies.”


“Yeah… you know, up on the screen—“

“Is that what they call them now?” Elizabeth pondered. “I believe Father referred to them as talkies,” she said with a shake of her head. “’Abominations’, he called them. ‘They will never compare to a live performance’, he would say. And he was right,” she stated sweeping her arm in a wide arc toward the darkened seats. “What joy it is to sit high above the stage as you are drawn into the lives unfolding before you. What absolute elation.” She took a moment to sip her tea. “Surely, such cannot be experienced by watching a talkie,” she said dismissively.

Morgan shrugged. “I like them.”

Elizabeth frowned. “Uncivilized… young people of your age know not of the finer things of life.”

“That’s kinda insulting,” Morgan retorted.

“Such improper language… did you not complete your education?”

“Lady,” Morgan growled. “I’ve got a college degree… not that it’s doing me much good.”

“College?” Elizabeth asked, her interest perking up. “You attended the Academy?”

“I don’t know what you mean by the Academy… but I attended the U of M.”

“The U of M?”

“University of Montana.”

“Ah, yes… I believe I heard father talking of it. Did they not instruct you in proper grammar in your etiquette classes?”

“Etiquette classes? Lady, I didn’t take any etiquette classes.”

Elizabeth smiled cynically. “Perhaps you should have.”

Morgan’s mocking retort was forgotten as the sound of heavy banging exploded through the building. “That’s coming from the stage door,” she quickly accessed.

Elizabeth stood. “Ah, my fans… they so love to visit me. Be a dear and let them in.”

Morgan turned back to Elizabeth. “They’ll have to come back another time,” she informed her. “Tony doesn’t want anyone in here at night.”

Elizabeth’s face contorted into a scowl. “Anthony does not dictate when I may be seen,” she snapped.

“He does as long as he’s signing my paycheck,” Morgan said trotting toward the back of the stage then disappearing behind the heavy curtain. She quickly reached the steps at the back wall that went directly into the storage area; the banging growing increasingly louder as she hurried down them.

“Elizabeth,” someone called from outside. “Let us in.”

Reaching the bottom step, Morgan paused and pulled her cell phone out of her pocket. Fumbling fingers finally found the right buttons and she breathed a sigh of relief listening to the ringing in her ear. “Hello,” she said as soon as her call was answered. “Hi, this is Morgan Delaney,” she told the dispatcher. “I’m the security guard at the Lizzie May. Someone is beating on the stage door. Yes, I’ll wait right here. No, I have no intention of opening the door. Thanks… Hurry,” she insisted just before the dispatcher disconnected.

Keeping a firm hold on her phone, Morgan crept closer to the door verifying that the voices, though not as loud as before, were still there. Reaching deep down, she drug up all the courage she possessed. “You outside,” she barked confidently through the wood, “Whoever you are, the police are on their way.”

“You called the cops?” a young female voice responded.


“Elizabeth, we just want to see you.”

“I’m not Elizabeth,” Morgan called back. “I’m the security guard and if you don’t leave now, you’ll be arrested.”

“Damn it,” a male voice hissed. “I thought you said there wasn’t going to be a guard tonight.”

“I didn’t think there was,” the girl answered.

Morgan’s ears picked up the wail of sirens in the distance. “Here come the police,” she warned.

“Let’s go,” the male insisted.

As the voices faded, Morgan pressed her ear to the door. She thought she heard the sound of running footsteps but they were faint and drowned out by the blaring sirens. Flipping the latch on the lock, she hesitantly pulled the door open.

Puzzled by their looks of amusement, Morgan answered the officers’ endless and repetitious questions for almost an hour.

“So you say they wanted to get in to see this Elizabeth?” one officer persisted, his smirking partner standing quietly beside him.

“Yes, that is what I said,” Morgan affirmed again.

“And this Elizabeth is an actress who was rehearsing tonight.”


“By herself?”

Yes,” Morgan emphasized. “Why are you asking me the same questions over and over?” she asked; her annoyance clearly evident in her voice.

“We just want to be sure we have your story straight,” the officer said brushing aside Morgan’s aggravation. “Does this Elizabeth have a last name?” he repeated another question.

“I told you… her name is Elizabeth Ferndale.”

“Elizabeth Ferndale,” the officer echoed as his companion chuckled.

“Yes,” Morgan insisted. “Is there something funny about this? You know, you could just go inside and talk to Elizabeth yourself,” she suggested angrily.

“No, ma’am,” the officer replied trying, but failing, not to grin. “Nothing funny about intruders. And we don’t need to go inside.”

A squad car pulled into the parking lot and, after bouncing through several potholes, braked to a stop beside Morgan and the officers. “No one is around, Sarge.”

“Did you check the alleys, too?”

“Checked everywhere, Sarge. As always, there’s no one around.”

“Well, Ms. Delaney, seems the perpetrators have fled so there isn’t much more we can do tonight.”

“I suppose not,” Morgan agreed hoping the officers would leave and take their endless stream of repetitive and useless questions with them. “Should I call you if they come back?” she asked thinking that, if she did, she would be wasting her time.

“Oh yes, you do that,” the sergeant replied walking to his squad car.

“Yeah, you be sure to let us know if Elizabeth re-appears,” the smirking officer said before bursting into loud laughter.

“Get in the car, you idiot,” the sergeant commanded.

“Hey, what does that mean?” Morgan shouted at the officers. “Re-appears?”

The sergeant started the engine then quickly spun the car about and sped out of the parking lot followed immediately by the second squad car.

“This night just keeps getting better,” Morgan muttered pushing the stage door shut and locking it. “First, I find Elizabeth inside. Then the cops act like I’m a complete nutcase. Great impression to make on my first night,” she grumbled climbing the steps back up to the rear of the stage. “Only thing that will save me from being fired is I have to pay off this dang uniform.” She shoved the stage curtain aside. “Whoa!” she exclaimed. “Wait a damn minute!” The stage, previously lit up as bright as day, was now dark as night except for a dim row of lights at the edge of the wooden platform. And the stage was vacant—no table, no chair, no tea set… no Elizabeth.

Puzzled, Morgan called into the darkness, “Elizabeth.” Hearing no response, she ducked back behind the curtain. “Elizabeth,” she called louder.


“Maybe she’s waiting in the lobby,” she decided knowing the actress could not have departed through the stage door. She made her way up the steep steps, pausing periodically to look down the rows of seats for any sign of the woman. “Elizabeth, are you here?” she asked loudly as she walked down the grand staircase to find the lobby unoccupied.

Reaching the front doors, Morgan verified they were still locked then peered through the etched glass looking for any movement outside. The street was empty. Sighing, she turned away from the cold glass and set off on a methodical search of the building.

An hour later, Morgan stood in the middle of the lobby letting the puzzling night’s events replay in her perplexed mind. “Okay, Elizabeth, you win,” she said out loud. In the stillness of the theater, her voice sounded unusually loud to her ears. “Elizabeth, I’ve looked everywhere,” she continued attempting to sort out her jumbled thoughts. “I know you didn’t leave through the stage door… at least not when I was out there with the cops. And it’s still locked so you couldn’t have left after that. And the front doors were locked. There’s no other way out… you have to be in here somewhere.”

“My dear, you are quite the persistent one.”

Morgan almost jumped out of her skin. “Where are you?” she demanded spinning about expecting to see the woman standing behind her. She found herself alone.

Elizabeth laughed. “By now, all of your predecessors had run into the night… never to return.”

Morgan’s head whipped around, hoping to catch a glimpse of Elizabeth. “What?”

“You’re not afraid of me… interesting.”

“Why should I be?” Morgan asked, her eyes still darting about searching the room’s shadows.

“I believe the better question is why shouldn’t you be?” Elizabeth countered. The actress’ words faded as she spoke until only the faintest sound of laughter could be heard. Then it too evaporated.

Morgan dropped into one of the lobby’s velvet chairs. With unfocused eyes staring out the lobby doors, she tried to force meaning from Elizabeth’s question. “Why would you want me to be afraid of you?” she wondered. Unable to think of a logical reason, she jumped to her feet; grim determination was written across her face as she set off to search the building again. “I’m going to find you, Elizabeth. It’s not like you’re a ghost or something.” The words had barely cleared her lips before she stopped dead in her tracks. “No,” she uttered under her breath, her head vehemently shaking from side-to-side. “Uh, uh… no freakin’ way did I just have a conversation with a ghost. Absolutely, no freakin’ way! ELIZABETH!!”

Gentle laughter floated down from the top of the grand staircase.

Morgan, slouched on a settee, greeted her boss after he unlocked the front doors and entered the lobby. “Morning, Tony.”

“Isn’t your shift over?” Tony asked apprehensively.

“Yeah,” Morgan replied remaining in the relaxed position she had spent the hours since Elizabeth’s last appearance.

“Heard you had a bit of a problem,” Tony stated uncertainly.

“Oh, you did, did you?”

“I told you… local brats.”

“Ah, the kids… they weren’t a problem,” Morgan said uncaringly. “Now, Elizabeth—she’s a different matter. I’m surprised you didn’t mention her yesterday.”

Tony gasped. “Elizabeth… y… you saw her?”

“Saw her… talked to her… heck, she even offered me tea. Interesting woman. Doesn’t think much of you, though.”

“Y… you t… talked to her… about me?”

Morgan shook her head. “No, she talked about you,” she answered pushing up from the settee then quickly closing the distance between the two of them. “Who the hell is Elizabeth?” she asked harshly glaring at the alarmed man.

Tony held his hands up, sweaty palms toward the menacing figure standing mere inches in front of him. “Calm down.”

Morgan glowered at him. “You’re the one shaking in your boots.”

Stumbling back a step, Tony said, “Let’s go into my office.”

“You sure you don’t want to sit down here?” Morgan offered softening her tone. “You look like you’re going to collapse.”

On unsteady legs, Tony headed toward his office. “I just might,” he said moving wobbly across the lobby.

Following Tony, Morgan claimed the same chair she had sat in during her job interview the day before.

Tony stopped at a file cabinet shoved into the corner of his office. Rifling through the top drawer, he finally pulled a file free from the other folders crammed inside. “When I first bought this place,” he started his explanation, his voice quivering, “I’d heard rumors of Elizabeth but figured they were just made up tales that had grown over the years.” He carried the folder around his desk, sat down, and eased the cover open. “Take a look at this playbill.” He carefully slid a folded piece of yellowed paper across his desk.

Morgan unfolded the paper. “The Lizzie May Theatre,” she read out loud, “presents Miss Elizabeth Ferndale in a production of Cloudless Skies.” She bent over to get a better look at the woman pictured on the brittle paper. “That’s her,” she declared then she looked up at her boss for more details.

“Look at the date of the opening night,” Tony instructed.

Morgan squinted at the washed out printing. “October 31, 1926.” Puzzled, she raised her eyes to the man across the desk. “That can’t be… that’s ninety years ago.”

Tony nodded.

Shaking her head, Morgan straightened back up. “No way. The woman I talked to was… maybe thirty… thirty-five.”

“Twenty-nine,” Tony stated.

Her forehead furrowed in confusion, Morgan studied her boss. “What am I missing?”

Tony removed a second item from the folder then placed the newspaper on the desk in front of Morgan.

“Adored actress, and native daughter of our community, Elizabeth Ferndale, was killed last night. Hurrying to the Lizzie May Theater for the evening’s performance, Miss Ferndale stumbled while crossing the square. Unable to see Miss Ferndale in the darkness, a carriage driver failed to rein in his team and, our beloved friend, was trampled by the horses.”

Morgan grimaced. “That must have hurt.”

“Look at the date.”

“November 1, 1926.” Morgan paused. “Damn,” she whispered after several moments. “She was killed on opening night.”

Leaning back in his chair, Tony said nervously, “You don’t seem too surprised to learn that you spent the night with a ghost.”

“I figured that part out waiting for you to show up this morning,” Morgan said leaning back to mimic the man’s crossed arm posture. “And I figured out that since she knew about you, you must have known about her. What I’ve yet to figure out is why you didn’t clue me in about her.”

Tony squirmed under the scrutiny. “If I had, you probably would have laughed in my face or run screaming into the street.”

Morgan nodded, conceding the logic of his statement. “Like the others? Elizabeth was quite proud of that, by the way.”

“I didn’t need to know that,” Tony said apprehensively. “Last night being Halloween… I should have known she’d be here.”

“Oh, I get it,” Morgan exclaimed as the pieces started to fit together. “She died on Halloween… Heck, did they even celebrate Halloween back in the twenties?”

Tony shrugged indifferently. “Doesn’t really matter, does it?”

“I suppose not. So, one night a year… Halloween… she comes back to this theatre where she was supposed to perform but couldn’t because she was trampled by horses and died. I guess that makes sense.”

“Uh… she actually comes back a lot.”

Morgan laughed. “Of course she does. I guess that’s what she meant when she said she was allowed in the theater whenever she wished.”

Tony groaned. “That I really didn’t need to know.”

“I still don’t get it. If Elizabeth was killed coming to this theater, why would she want to come back here. Seems like she’d want to go someplace with happier memories for her.”

Tony shifted uneasily in his chair. “The Lizzie May was named after her. Elizabeth’s father—”

“Edward,” Morgan interjected.

“You know about him?”

Morgan nodded. “Elizabeth mentioned him. She said he acted, too.”

“Edward was a quite distinguished actor in his own right,” Tony informed her. “His career was winding down when he and his wife had Elizabeth. When she started to show some talent of her own, he built the theatre and named it for her—Lizzie May was her nickname. After Elizabeth was killed, Edward never recovered. He boarded up the building and left town. No one ever heard from him, or his wife, again. The sightings started soon after. People passing the theatre at night would claim to see a woman standing in one of the upstairs windows.”

“Considering they were boarded up, that would be hard to do,” Morgan commented.

“Except that when someone checked it out the next day, they would always discover the boards on the particular window had been knocked off—from inside.”


“Yeah. The cops would write it off as kids getting into the building but, funny thing, nothing else was ever disturbed… and the doors were always found locked. Everyone thought Edward had taken the keys with him; it wasn’t until I bought the building that I found them in this desk.”

Morgan blew out a long breath. “So, I spent last night with a woman who died eighty eight years ago.”

Tony nodded.

“Damn, that’s freaky…,” Morgan grinned, “but absolutely amazing when you think about it. Is that why your wife doesn’t want you here at night?”

“Elizabeth appeared to her once. Terrified her so bad, she won’t come near this place after dark.”

“She freaks you out, too,” Morgan stated deviously. “Doesn’t she?”

“You’re the first person I know that hasn’t been freaked out by her,” Tony exclaimed. “Why is that?”

Morgan considered the question. Why wasn’t she? “I like her,” she concluded with a smile.

“You like her?” Tony asked dubiously.

“Yeah… I like her.”

“So you’re not going to quit?”

“Nah. I’ll stick around. Maybe I’ll get another chance to talk with Elizabeth.”

Tony’s eyebrows shot up. “You’d really want to?”

“Why not?” Morgan asked standing up. “Helps pass the time. Speaking of which, I better go get some sleep before tonight’s shift starts. She doesn’t follow people home, does she?”

Tony shook his head. “Not that I’ve ever heard.”

“Good.” Morgan turned and walked out of the office leaving Tony looking bewildered, befuddled, and bemused.