September 2nd 2013
I smile with a determined smirk as I unload my suitcase, looking up at our new house. I shield my eyes from the sun in a philosophical-anime-kid pose. Stretching, I yawn – that was one heck of journey. My shoulder blades click, and I shake my dead legs as Diesel comes to stand next to me.
Diesel is just a nickname (chosen by yours truly), adapted simply because it was cute, and as it suited his twin sister, Petra. It works.
Diesel’s fine brown hair sticks out in multiple directions, and every inch of me wants to ruffle it, but I don’t because he might spew again, like he did in the car. Great idea to stop at KFC, please direct me to the genius who came up with that. Oh yeah, he’s standing next to me.
He laughs, because he knows exactly what I’m thinking. Him and I have always had this weird telepathic bond, and I think Petra’s always envied that. Nine times out of ten, we know what each other’s thinking.
I think my mother and his father were worried we’d hate each other’s guts, what with my mum marrying another man, and Sam (my step-dad) replacing Diesel and Petra’s mother after she passed, but we get on fine. I think Sam’s great, the twins seem pretty fond of my mum (Petra especially), Petra’s pretty cool and I adore Diesel.
Petra’s big blue eyes catch sight of our new home, and a breath leaves her chest. “How did we even afford this?” is all she manages.
“We’re a two-income family now, Petra.” Sam explains, heaving a trunk out of the boot.
“What does that mean?”
“It means there are two people in the family with jobs, so we get paid about twice as much as we would on our own.” he says, placing it next to Diesel. Petra nods absent-mindedly, as if she doesn’t entirely understand, but as if she’s a small step closer to doing so. Little kids of seven have no idea of what’s going on in the world around them, and I have to say I wish I could be that ignorant sometimes. But, I mean, I’m only twelve, so who knows what shocking, horrific facts I have yet to discover?
This new place has not one, not two, but three stories. The garden is immense, and using my physic-step-sister powers, I can tell Diesel’s already dying to run around, build tree-forts, skin his knees…
“You know I never intend to do that last one.” he reminds me, stroking a dark lock behind his ear.
I laugh at how impeccably it works. “That’s actually starting to become a little scary.” my mum frowns.
“No,” I say, “It’s cute.”
“Bagsie padlock biggest bedroom!” Diesel yells while I’m off guard, running up to the back door.
“First come, first serve!” I shout definitively, chasing after him.
“You’re so on!!”
“I call this one.” Petra smiles, jumping on an uncovered bed playfully. Next door, Diesel had already started hanging up posters on the walls.
“You know you need to cover those first, right?” I ask as I lean on the doorframe. Diesel looks at me, then at his wall, then down at the bed he’s kneeling on. He whimpers.
“Hi kids! Have you managed to sort out rooms?” My mother marches onto the cream landing, a book of wallpaper samples in her hand.
Petra runs forward and nods, her waist-length hair, the same shade as Diesel’s, bouncing about her face. “Can you take me shopping again today, Millie?” she asks hopefully. Nobody ever manages to drag me into all that girly stuff, so when my mum met Petra they instantly clicked.
“Maybe not today, but we’ll see for maybe tomorrow or the day after?” Mum laughs. Petra nods enthusiastically, then my mum opens up the wallpaper samples book and they flick through the pages. “This one’s pretty… Diesel could have this one… You and Daddy could have, wait no! I really like this.” she points to a page and I bend down to see. The one she’s chosen is a bluey-purple, with an array of pink butterflies.
“Cute.” I agree. “Could I just paint mine? Electric blue?”
“Sure, Kia. Where’s your room?”
“Next to Diesel’s.”
“You’ve really stuck to calling him that, haven’t you?” Mum laughs.
“Well, when was the last time you actually called him Callum?”
“You make a good point.” she smiles. My mum is so awesome. “We’re ordering pizzas. Do the three of you want to come down?” Diesel shoots out of his room like lightening, and Petra follows fast on his tail, both without a word.
“I think they seem pretty happy with this.” I remark looking down the staircase.
“Yeah. This is going to be great, isn’t it?”
“Totally.” I nod, “When does school start?”
“September the eleventh. Your school’s about a five minute walk from here.” We begin to walk down the staircase, to the second floor. “So, we were thinking we could put a TV in this room, Sam and I will sleep here, we could maybe just keep this one for storage…”
“Sounds good, Mum. So the three of us will be alone on the top floor?”
“Yeah. You’ll have the responsibility of keeping the twins in bed.” We reach the ground floor, and I shrug.
“Nothing I can’t handle.” I say as we walk into the kitchen. The table is massive; there’s five stools dotted around the black marble perimeter, plus a sink at one edge. Petra is sat on her dad’s knee comfortably, looking at a leaflet illustrated with pizzas, and Diesel is leaning forward with his arms resting on the counter but his feet on a stool, and you can’t help but visualise it giving way and his face smashing into the table.
He looks up at me and grins. “Kia! Pizza!” he shouts.
“Great work, that’s what it says.” I say, sounding impressed.
Diesel rolls his eyes and looks back at the leaflet. Petra, too, seems completely engaged in it, and Mum walks over to inspect.
Yeah, this is going to be great.
September 3rd 2013
As my eyelids drift open, I hear a slight ringing in my ears that leaves almost straight away. My shoulders sink gratefully into my pillow, and my limbs feel a sense of inner-warmth under the quilt. Smiling, I let out a sigh at the prospect of the first full day here. “Good morning,” I say, kind of to myself but kind of to this entire time zone in my state of optimism.
I sit up in bed, and flop down again pointlessly, and I almost swear I can hear a “You too.” But I pass it off as nothing, and shut my eyes. “Aren’t you going to get up?”
“Gah!” I cry, because that really wasn’t nothing.
“Whoa, whoa, calm down!” says… something. It’s a female’s voice, sparky and joyous, but too young to be my mother’s and too old to be Petra’s.
“Who’s there?” I manage grimly, pulling my covers up to my chest in anxiety.
It laughs, “My name’s Lucia. You’re Kia, right?”
“How did you get into my room?” I yell.
“I opened the door and walked in?” she splutters with laughter, “Years ago, now…”
“What do you mean… years ago?”
“It was years since I went into this room.”
“And you stayed he- What? I’m lost!” I cried frustratedly.
“Yeah, I stayed here. After I died.”
I gasp, trying not to scream, then breathe in and out deeply as a soft giggle cuts through the air. “Excuse me?” I manage, digging my fingernails into my palms.
“Oh, right. I’m a ghost, by the way.” I yelp. “What? You mean, you’ve never met one before?”
“N-no,” I stutter, “I didn’t think they existed.”
She laughs. “It’s been so long since I had someone to talk to. I was going completely catastrophic on my own. I’m not going to hurt you, Kia. I know you might be a bit creeped out.”
“Just a bit.” I wince sarcastically.
“Oh, good,” she sighs, “I thought for a moment I might have actually scared you, then!” she laughs some more, then quickly shuts up. “Hey, I think your siblings are coming.”
“Kia! Kia, wake up! I’m starving!” I look to the doorway to see a little boy with his hands on his hips sternly and a girl gnawing a strand of her own blonde hair beside him.
“I’m awake, D. Go back to bed.”
“No.” he says firmly, tearing off my bed-covers.
I sit up and moan, knowing there’s no escaping the twins. “Fine.” I moan groggily. “Let’s go.”
A subdued snicker is just about audible, and Petra actually stops in her tracks and looks around, frowning, before shrugging it off and following us.
“We don’t seem to have much food…” I say honestly, peering at the contents of the refrigerator: a carton of way-past-its-best milk, a couple of apples and a packet of ready salted crisps.
Diesel lets out a whine as Petra stares into my soul sadly, with her gorgeous blue eyes. I sigh exasperatedly, “Look, if we’re quick, we could find the nearest grocery shop, get food, then run back before our parents wake up.”
The twins have their matching rejoicing glow on now, and I instruct them to run upstairs to change out of their nightwear. “Ghost?” I whisper when I’m in my bedroom, not really expecting a response.
I jump at the unexpected noise, “Lucia.” I nod, “Is there any chance you could… leave?” I casually unpack a pair of light blue jeans and grey T-shirt from one of the many cardboard boxes dotted around my room.
Lucia bursts out laughing, “Don’t you think I would’ve done ages ago?”
“Um… look, is there anything I need to do? Like, avenge your death so that you can finally rest in peace, or something?” I ask, not really considering what that might entail.
“What? I don’t want to rest in peace!” she chuckles, “Not now that you’re here, anyway.”
(September 3rd Pt 2)
As we speed-walk up the grey lane, I can’t stop thinking about Lucia. I think Diesel notices something’s up, because he stops to look at me with a curious, worried gaze.
“I’m fine.” I say quickly, and keep walking, even though I know he’s not convinced.
Petra hasn’t said anything for the entire walk up here. She looks slightly shifty and overwhelmed – probably just the result of being in a whole new environment.
“You okay?” I ask her anyway. She nods, grinning.
“Just fine.” she mumbles, though so quietly I can barely hear her voice.
Diesel has run ahead by now, and suddenly he stops in his tracks, so I presume he’s found something of interest.
“Yes?” I ask expectantly.
“Pastry shop,” he says, reading. “Looks totally epic.”
As we come up behind him, I pick up a strong scent of butter and dough.
“Yeah, maybe not.”
Petra looks aghast, but Diesel knows I’m joking and keeps walking, laughing.
“What? So we’re not going?” Petra frowns, her voice sounding a bit off.
“She’s just kidding, Petra.” Diesel giggles. “Like she always does?”
“Oh, yeah…” Petra sighs, and then looks up at the Sun in awe, just like she’s been doing this whole journey, like she hasn’t seen it in years…
Then suddenly I recognise the voice, and it definitely isn’t Petra’s. “Lucia?” I cry.
“What?” Diesel murmurs.
‘Petra’ laughs, shaking her head. “Sorry…” she begins.
“Dude!” I say, as she skips around, taking in the fresh air and outside freely.
“I’m really sorry Kia…” she says, but she looks anything but sorry.
“What?” Diesel says again, but it’s like it’s in the background.
“Dude! You possessed my step-sister! Not cool!”
“Sorry, sorry, sorry.”
“Get out of her body! Seriously!”
“I will the second we get back, okay? Sorry.”
“Yo- did you not consider-”
“Sorry, sorry, sor-“
“WOULD SOMEBODY PLEASE GIVE ME A HEADS UP AS TO WHAT IS GOING ON?” Diesel finally explodes, then begins panting from rage.
There is a long silence as Lucia and I try to place together a valid explanation. Sadly, my psychic bond with him isn’t strong enough to help him determine so accurately that the ghost that’s been haunting my bedroom for years has possessed his sister.
“I’ll tell you when we get home, D.”
Luckily, we get back before our parents are downstairs, so that’s one problem of our hands. “Hide the food if they come down, ‘kay?”
“’Kay.” Diesel and Lucia say together.
“And you, get out of Petra!”
“Petra?” Lucia echoes, “What is it with you guys and fossil fuels?” But the last part of her sentence surrounds us more.
“Thank you.” I say, and then look down at Petra, who’s probably not too sure of what’s happened. “Take a seat, both of you. Let me- US just explain all this. Lucia?”
There’s no answer.
“Oh, come on! You disappear now, when you can clearly provide some well-needed assistance?” I yell as quietly as possible at the ceiling.
“Um…” Petra manages.
I exhale, “You wait here – I’ll go and find her.” I take off upstairs.
“Yeah, I have no idea.” I hear Diesel say to his sister.