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Authors: Mute80

Tags: #romance, #thriller, #suspense, #history, #paranormal, #young adult, #teen, #ghost, #series, #modern

Shadow of a Life (4 page)

BOOK: Shadow of a Life
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I cried out and half jumped, half
rolled across the ground turning my head in every direction trying
desperately to see where Sophia had gone. A ghostly cry of pain and
misery erupted from the branches above me. It encircled the entire
grove of trees, echoing in all directions. As quickly as the cry
had begun, it ended, followed by the soft laugh I recognized as
Sophia’s. I looked up to see her perched on the edge of a tree
branch twenty feet off the ground, swinging her legs just as she’d
been doing while sitting on the counter the day I saw her in the
girls’ restroom at school.


How did you do that?” I
yelled up at her.


Do I really need to say it
again?” she yelled back.

I sat in stunned silence as she let go
of the branch and floated down to where I was sprawled across the
muddy ground.

Is this really happening to
me?
I didn’t know if I believed in ghosts
or not. It was something I’d never given much thought to. My
friends and I would tell ghost stories to scare each other—okay, it
was usually Camille we were trying to scare—at slumber parties back
in junior high, but it had never occurred to me that I might
actually
meet
one.


So if I can see and feel
you, can everyone else? Or is that just a privilege for me since
I’m supposedly your . . . your . . . ”


Soul saver.”


Right, your soul saver.”
I
really
hoped I
hadn’t made a giant fool of myself in front of everyone back at the
restaurant. The last thing I needed was for people to think that I
talked to myself.


Don’t worry. Everyone sees
me as you do. Well, except other ghosts, that is.”


Other ghosts can’t see
you?”


Oh, they can definitely see
me, and I can see them, but I see them as if they are surrounded by
an aura. A ghost can’t hide their true identity from other
ghosts.”


I thought ghosts are
supposed to be invisible and hide in attics rattling chains and
moaning?”


We can do that, but most of
us choose not to. We’re left on the earth when we die because we
have unfinished business. We refer to the process of finishing our
business as extrication. When we finish up whatever we need to, we
move on. Just don’t ask me where we go next, because I have failed
to ever get that far. Some ghosts remain on the earth for a very
short time while others are here for hundreds of years. Have you
ever heard of little kids insisting that their dead grandma came to
say good-bye when they were sleeping?”


Umm . . . yeah. I’ve heard
stories like that.”


Sometimes the key to a
ghost’s extrication is something as simple as saying goodbye to
someone and then they move on.”


So how long after you die
do you become a ghost? Is it immediate?” I asked, my curiosity
overcoming the remnants of fear.


Becoming a ghost is an
instantaneous occurrence, but it takes a person a while to figure
out what happened to them. I couldn’t always be seen or heard by
people, either. You have to train yourself to be able to take on
the human form. For a lot of us, we can’t train ourselves to be
physically touched until after everyone who knew us on earth has
moved beyond this life, too. Some ghosts can’t even figure out how
to make themselves be seen in
any
form for decades.”


This is so overwhelming. I
feel like my head is on overload right now.” I paused before
asking, “People say that ghosts can’t actually hurt a human. Can
you hurt me?”

Sophia smiled and then reached over
and pinched my arm. It hurt.


Oww,” I hissed.


Yes. I can hurt
you.”

I reached over and pinched her arm.
She just stared at me.


So you can hurt me, but I
can’t hurt you?”


Yeah, that pretty much sums
it up.”

When she saw my worried look
she continued, “Don’t worry. I have no reason to harm you.
Most
ghosts are good
people who just didn’t have enough time on earth to finish up what
they needed to. Evil people are usually sent straight to wherever
it is they go. It’s rare that they remain on earth after they pass
on. The evil ones who do remain are usually attracted to evil
people who are still living, so you shouldn’t ever have anything to
worry about.” She patted my shoulder in an attempt to reassure me.
I tensed again.


I can’t even begin to
describe how I’m feeling right now.” I sighed. “If I’m your soul
saver, what do I have to do?”


I’m not sure. A soul saver
helps a ghost to figure out and finalize everything for their
extrication. Not every ghost has a soul saver and not every soul
saver even knows that they are one. Sometimes they help a ghost
without even knowing they did anything. A person is usually dead
for a really long time before they find someone that can help them.
More often than not, a soul saver is related to the deceased
person, although I don’t think that’s the case in our situation. I
really feel like you’re supposed to help me, Jamie.”

I stood up. “Fine. I’ll make you a
deal. My head is seriously swimming right now and I want nothing
more than to go home and take a nap. I’m still not convinced that I
won’t wake up tomorrow and realize that you and everything you’ve
told me weren’t anything but a crazy dream. If I wake up and you
still exist, I’ll try to help you.”


I knew you would.” Sophia
jumped up and threw her arms around me. I tensed and pulled
away.


So . . . do you have any
guesses as to what your unfinished business might be?” I
asked.“Have you ever heard of the ghost ship known as the
Mary Celeste
? It was
found floating in the Atlantic Ocean a hundred and forty years ago
without any of its crew or passengers.”


Of course I’ve heard of it.
That’s one of the greatest mysteries in all of American history.
The
Mary Celeste’s
captain lived here in Marion. I’m pretty sure we’ve studied
about it in school every year since Kindergarten. Legend says that
everyone on board disappeared including Captain Briggs and his wife
and daughter . . .” My words trailed off as realization struck. My
heart pounded again and my throat was suddenly so dry I could
barely swallow.

Sophia started to nod her head before
the words were even out of my mouth.


You’re Sophia Briggs.
You’re the daughter of Captain Benjamin Briggs. You were on board
the
Mary Celeste
.”

CHAPTER 4

I
dreamed all night. Only they weren’t happy dreams with fluffy
bunnies and hot fudge sundaes. At first the dreams were normal, but
then people would mysteriously vanish into thin air or turn into
creatures I’d never seen before. Other times I dreamed of ships
being tossed around on towering waves while the passengers on deck
screamed and prayed, pleading for their lives. I’d left Sophia’s
side in shock the day before. I’m not sure if I even said goodbye
to her. I hoped to wake up laughing about the bizarre ghost
incident and find that it was just something my imagination had
concocted, but everything still felt incredibly real.

I sat up and rubbed my bleary eyes
while I yawned. Reluctantly, I swung my legs over the side of my
bed and slid my feet into fuzzy slippers. Grabbing my bathrobe off
its hook on my door, I trudged across the hall to the bathroom
where I splashed cold water on my face.

I entered the kitchen to find Dad
studying his newspaper again. It was kind of our morning ritual.
Dad was so proper that even at home he rarely wore anything but a
suit and he always sat perfectly erect in his chair. I, on the
other hand, plopped down on a chair at the table and pulled my
knees up into my chest, wrapping my arms around my legs. My
posture—or lack thereof—was a constant worry of his.

Dad looked up from his paper with
concern. “Are you feeling okay? You don’t look so good this
morning.”


Thanks, Dad. I love you,
too,” I said sarcastically. “I’m fine. I didn’t sleep very well. I
kept having weird dreams.”


I thought I heard you cry
out a couple of times, but when I peeked into your room you were
sound asleep.”


Sorry. I didn’t mean to
keep you up.”


Don’t worry about it,
honey. I feel bad that I’ve been so busy lately. Try to get some
more sleep while I’m gone today. I should be able to make it home
by early evening and maybe we can go to dinner
together.”


I’d like that.” I gave him
the best smile I could get out at that time of the morning. It
wasn’t big.

He left for work and I shuffled back
upstairs to get dressed. My eyes were so bloodshot that I figured
it hopeless to even attempt makeup. Instead, I grabbed the book I’d
started reading the day before, pulled the down comforter off my
bed, and trudged downstairs to the living room where I promptly
curled up on the couch.

Much of my time not in
school or doing homework is spent just like that—huddled under a
warm blanket with a book. Apparently seeing me like that annoys my
dad because he constantly tells me I need to get up and move around
more. These comments are usually accompanied by a lecture on how
getting my blood circulating would warm me up and blah, blah, blah
. . .
Does he expect me to run laps around
the house or something?

I must have dozed off at some point
because I awoke to someone shaking my shoulder. I opened my eyes to
find a smiling Sophia peering back at me. I jumped. And then I
screamed.


How did you get in here?” I
yelled. The words were out of my mouth before I realized how dumb
they sounded.


Sorry. I didn’t mean to
scare you. I thought I was done having to pretend I was normal
around you. Next time I’ll knock on the door. I
promise.”

I sat up, but kept the comforter
wrapped around me. “I guess yesterday wasn’t all a bad dream,
huh?”


Nope.”


Fine.” I sighed
reluctantly. “Where do we start? What ‘unfinished business’ do I
need to help you with?”


I have no idea. That’s why
I need
you
,
remember? I’ve spent years trying to answer that
question.”


It’s got to have something
to do with the boat you were on when you died, doesn’t
it?”


I didn’t die on the
Mary Celeste
. I was two
when I sailed with my parents for Italy all those years ago, but I
died when I was eighteen. Didn’t I mention that
already?”


I don’t understand. The way
I always heard the story was that something happened on the ship so
everyone piled into a lifeboat, but you were all washed away in a
storm. The
Mary Celeste
was found abandoned by another boat days later and
hauled to someplace in Europe without any of the original crew on
board.”


Remember how I said that
behind every myth or legend there’s some truth?” Sophia
asked.


I guess so.”


Well, that’s the case in my
situation. When someone becomes a ghost they can distinctly picture
every memory of their entire life, even the moments when they were
just babies. No two-year-old is going to remember anything for very
long in real life, so it wasn’t until after I’d died that I knew
who I was and that there was a mystery surrounding my
life.”


Maybe you should just tell
me the story from the beginning. I’ll try not to
interrupt.”

Sophia sat on the couch next to me and
pulled some of my blanket over to her. Her face took on a somber
look as she spoke.


My dad was a seaman all his
life. It was something that was in his blood. When he was in his
mid-twenties he married my mother, Sarah Cobb. They were
cousins.”


Ewww,” I grimaced,
forgetting my promise not to interrupt.


Don’t worry; it was
completely normal back then. Anyway, my mother’s father—my
grandfather—was a preacher, so my parents were religious. They were
good people, Jamie.”

I nodded.


I have an older brother.
His name was Arthur, and he was born here in Marion a few years
before me. I graced the world with my presence on October 31, 1870.
Arthur adored me. He was always willing to entertain me when Mother
needed a break. My only memories of him are truly happy
ones.”


Why didn’t Arthur go with
your family on the
Mary
Celeste
?”


Because Mother insisted he
stay home so that he wouldn’t miss school.” Sophia’s countenance
suddenly brightened. “Speaking of my mother, she was absolutely
enchanting. I wish you could have met her, Jamie. I wish
I
could have spent more
time with her for that matter. She had such a sweet personality
that everyone who met her loved her instantly. She loved music.
Father said she could sing like a bird.” Sophia laughed.

BOOK: Shadow of a Life
10.91Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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