This #fridayflash story is inspired by my main character Juliette in Paranormal Junkies, a YA Horror novel I plan to write for NaNoWriMo 2012.
The old farm house loomed over me, and I clutched my Harry Potter book closer to my chest. I didn’t want to live here. This was Steve’s house, not mine. I would’ve rather lived with dad, but his one-bedroom apartment had no room for me. He didn’t have room for me.
I swallowed the lump in my throat. Tears clouded my vision, and I wanted to stomp, throw my book down, give a temper tantrum, but I couldn’t. Mom counted on me being nice. To Steve. I wouldn’t call him step-dad and definitely not dad. So not happening.
Steve poked his head from above a large box. “Want to see your room, Juliette? You can decorate it anyway you like.”
“Maybe later.” I scuffed my sneaker against a clump of dirt.
Mom exited the house to get another box. “Jules, why don’t you go play on the swing? You always wanted a tree swing.”
“Okay, Mom.” I didn’t care for Steve’s tree swing, but I wanted to get away from the house, the boxes, the entire moving in.
A giant oak tree stood at the edge of the backyard and the fields and forest. It looked lonely by itself. I could relate. The Harry Potter book dropped from my hands at the base of the tree’s trunk. How old was this tree? I tilted my head back and still couldn’t see the tip-top leaves. Not even Steve’s arms could encircle the tree’s trunk.
I stepped to the swing and ran my fingers over the rough rope. The swing would hold me, so I sank down upon the wooden board. My feet dangled over the grass. Laughter floated from the house, and I cringed. Why did they have to be so happy? Mom could’ve still loved Dad if she tried. Didn’t she tell me not to quit? Why did she?
“I’ve never seen such a sad girl on a swing before.” The man’s gravelly voice sent chills down my spine. The summer-like air turned cold, as if someone ran a popsicle along my back.
I wiped the tears from my cheeks and glanced around. Then, I saw him beside the tree. He was a darkened shadow, nearly transparent. My fingers tightened around the ropes. “W-who are you?”
“Name’s George. And you are?” His body swung as if a light breeze brushed against him. I could just make out the outline of a rope around his neck.
“Juliette.” I should’ve been more afraid of him, but he looked sad too, like the tree, like me. My feet kicked against the dirt, and the swing pushed me higher. “I’ve never seen a ghost before.”
George smiled. “I guess we’re even then, isn’t that right, Miss Juliette?”
“Yes, sir.” I smiled back.