As I floated through the window, I briefly noticed the scattered jack-o’-lanterns on the porch. With a gossamer sheet draped over me, I felt like a proper ghost for the first time since my death back in the spring. Time hasn’t been the same since I crossed over, but I wasn’t going to let tonight slip by me. It was my first haunt, after all, and I was going to commit every moment of it to memory. With only one night a year to haunt, I knew exactly where I was headed.
She was sitting at her desk, her laptop screen revealing a mostly written essay. The light from the screen painted her face a pale white, highlighting the dark bags under her eyes. Had she lost weight? Her favourite sweater hanging off her shoulders seemed a little looser than I remembered it.
Even though I wanted to spook her, I wanted to make sure she got her homework done first. Peeking through her things while she finished up, I spotted a familiar photo on her side table. It was a framed childhood photo. The two young girls held watermelon rinds in front of their mouths in mock smiles. Bathing suits and dripping hair completed the summer image. Beside the photo sat trophies from soccer tournaments won. There was even a single chess trophy, from a time before being a nerd wasn’t cool. A thin film of dust covered everything except the photo frame.
Next, I rifled through her closet. Last year, I would have been angry to find my old t-shirts hanging up here, but now all I can feel is sadness. As I reached out to touch the well-worn fabric of my old camp tee, I watched my transparent sheet pass through the shirt. There was nothing left for me here.
I floated back out of the closet and settled over the bed. She was still typing away on her laptop, occasionally flipping through a book for quotes. As the hours ticked by, I felt a sense of calm settle over me. Watching her almost felt like being alive again.
I startled as she closed the laptop and stood up. I thought I was the one doing the spooking this year. I watched as she rolled her shoulders and checked her phone before approaching the bed. I shifted over as she pulled back the covers and got in. I watched as she reached out for the photo frame, almost in routine fashion, as if she’d done it a million times. I watched as the tears started to drip down her face.
And then with a gentleness I’d never known when I was alive, I reached out and wiped a tear from her face. It takes a lot out of a ghost to cause something to happen, and it would be years before I’d gathered the energy to do it again, but I had to let her know that I was here.
I had to let my sister know that I hadn’t left her. Not on purpose.