Authors: Audrey Claire
Tags: #Mystery: Paranormal - North Carolina
|Audrey Claire - Libby Grace 01 - How to be a Ghost|
|Libby Grace |
|Tags:||Mystery: Paranormal - North Carolina|
Mystery: Paranormal - North Carolinattt
How to Be A Ghost
(A Libby Grace Mystery – Book 1)
How to Be A Ghost
Copyright © April 2014, Audrey Claire
Formatting by Bob Houston eBook Formatting
No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, distributed, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, without express written permission from the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes.
This book is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, or any events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story line are created from the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously.
To my sons, you can do anything you set your mind to. You have everything you need to succeed, and I believe in you. Thanks so much for your encouragement and belief in me.
I stood in my son’s room at the foot of his bed having no recollection of how I got there. Jake lay in the center of his little race car bed, chest rising and falling at a steady pace, little mouth open just a bit, and an arm slung to the side and hanging over the edge. My normal routine when he slept was to come in to check on him, to tuck that errant arm beneath the covers, and to brush the hair from his forehead for a kiss before tiptoeing back out.
A rush of love swelled in my chest for this kid that I had produced—okay, that Mason, my ex-husband, and I produced. Jake, my seven-year-old with his inquisitive mind, was the pride of my life, and every day I was more thankful to have him. He kept me on my toes with his many questions and his logic that could boggle my thirty-year-old mind. In many ways, Jake was like Mason, but without the critical, condescending disposition, and I would do all in my power to be sure Jake never turned out like his dad.
I crept closer to the bed, trying my best to make as little noise as possible. If I woke him, Jake might not want me to kiss him. He would in no uncertain terms tell me that kissing was reserved for one time and one time only—just before we left together to take him to school. Getting older meant he hated being babied and why he nagged me to buy him a regular bed. According to him, he had outgrown a bed with a theme. I reminded Jake as an elementary school teacher, I knew plenty of kids who loved their themed beds clear up to fourth grade. Jake, staring at me doubtfully, had quipped
. Unfortunately, my budget did not allow for a new bed at the moment, so I had convinced him to give me until autumn. Jake had accepted the deal.
Staring down at my little boy, I froze when he shifted in his sleep, drawing in a deep breath. His long chestnut lashes began to flutter, and he raised a fist to scrub at his eye. “Mom?”
Darn, not fast enough. Thinking of an excuse as to why I was in his room and then chiding myself for thinking I needed an excuse as the adult in this situation, I lost my train of thought at his next words.
“Mom, why are you see-through?”
Of all the questions Jake could have asked me that was the last I expected. See-through? I glanced down at myself and discovered my son was right. My body was fully visible but transparent. Through my foot, encased in a mud brown Martini Sport sandal, shoes I wore for comfort at school while I stood on my feet all day, I could see Jake’s colorful carpet with a map of the United States on it. My best friend Monica liked to remind me regularly of how I would never attract a man if I kept up with the mousy attire. I had so far stubbornly refused to heed her advice. Dating meant spending money on clothing and shoes I didn’t have the budget for, especially with Mason’s child support checks coming whenever he remembered to post them. The man had apparently never heard of automatic bill payment from his checking account—or didn’t want to hear of it.
I raised my hands palms up and found that they too were transparent. My legs, torso, and I assumed, even my head. Fear closed my throat and tightened my gut, or it would have had I been solid. A dream! That must be what this was. I looked away from myself because it began to freak me out and assured Jake in an unsteady tone, “You’re dreaming, honey. Go back to sleep.”
“If I’m dreaming, why do I have to go back to sleep?” he reasoned.
How, I ask you, do I combat the logic of this child? “Um…”
I thought fast, thinking I could remain in my right mind during old age with Jake keeping my brain stimulated.
“You’re dreaming that I’m telling you to go back to sleep.”
Jake blinked at me. I knew he wasn’t convinced, and I prepared for more questions. Then he gave a huge yawn, not covering his mouth as usual, and settled beneath his covers. His big, blue eyes grew unfocused, and the lids drooped. I wrung my spectral hands and held my breath.
“Okay,” he muttered with is eyes closed. “I’ll ask you about it when I wake up.”
After he grew still, I blew out the breath I had been holding and turned to leave the room. I got to the door and reached for it only to have my hand pass through the knob. I tried several more times, using both hands, swiping over and over. Nothing. I forced a small chuckle as if the situation were a joke. I was dreaming after all. Boy, would I be relieved when I woke up, and Jake might even enjoy hearing the details. Yet, even as I comforted myself with these thoughts, I sensed they were untrue. I was not dreaming.
I chuckled again, shaking my head and feeling the wooden smile on my lips. “Surely, I’m not…” I licked my lips. “I’m not…”
Panic rose in my chest, once again squeezing off my voice. I spent several moments rationalizing and reviewing scenarios of what type of situation could arise where I, a plain Jane kindergarten teacher from Summit’s Edge, North Carolina, could be dead but stick around as a ghost. Desperate at this point to prove to myself my line of thinking had to be wrong, I lunged at the door. Rather than grasping the doorknob, I plummeted straight through the wooden panels and landed face down on the forest green carpet runner in the hallway. I pushed up to my hands and knees and paused to listen. The old rancher creaked around me. The hall where I crouched loomed in darkness. Somewhere nearby water plopped in a consistent rhythm. A dull light illuminated the hall from the far end, and I judged it as coming from the kitchen.
I stood slowly, breathing deep and trying to gather my wits about me. Nothing would be helped if I panicked. I still wasn’t convinced this nightmare wasn’t just that, but I needed to confirm it. In the area near the front door, I had hung a mirror, a faux antique gold one I had found on Amazon. The mirror allowed me to do a last minute hair check because my wavy dark coffee locks liked to misbehave on a daily basis. Even when I managed to wrestle them into hanging in a semblance of order, well, the result did not qualify me for the cover of a fashion magazine. No, my one glimmer of vanity came in the fact that I worked darn hard to keep my figure trim. Then again, you could call it an obsession, one I could use therapy to balance. I hadn’t spent ten years married to Mason Thomas and hearing him belittle my small breasts and too wide hips for nothing. One minute I was getting too fat, the next too skinny. Always, my B cup breasts were less than satisfactory. In the end, Jake was the one that motivated me to get away from Mason’s poison, because it would kill me to have Jake grow up to be just like his dad, an emotional and verbal abuser.
I started down the hall, taking my time because I didn’t want to face the truth. I would have pinched myself, but what does that prove? Surely, a person can dream of pinching themselves and even feel pain in a dream. I was sure I had done so many times.
Too soon I drew up to the mirror and stood just to the right side of it. The front door of my house lay before me, the hall behind, and to the left another short passage into the kitchen, dining room, and living room. Jake’s bedroom and the bathroom lay on the right side of the hall and mine on the left with a spare I used as a catchall next to that. Catchall being storage for whatever I had no place for in the rest of the house, and since I had no garage, it worked nicely.
I knew I delayed the inevitable, but I couldn’t make myself step before the mirror. What would I do if I was dead? What would happen to Jake? Would he have to live with his dad? Of course he would. We had no other family, unless you counted Mason’s parents, but they were getting up in age and couldn’t handle a seven-year-old. Then again, at least they still lived in Summit’s Edge, unlike Mason who had moved to Raleigh a couple years ago when he was offered a higher paying position in the healthcare industry. I wanted Jake to stay in Summit’s Edge as long as possible. This town was still mostly untouched by big business and crime. Everyone knew everyone else, and as far as I was concerned, it was the best town to live in and raise a family in the entire United States.
“Okay, Libby, stop playing around. Just do it,” I said to myself, but my voice came out tinny in my ears, and I had the crazy thought that it was how a ghost would sound. This was a testament to my dissolving sanity since I had spoken fine to my son a few moments ago.
At last, I stepped forward and pivoted with mechanical precision to face the mirror. The full brunt of reality smacked me between the eyes. Rather, it would have hit me had I not been barely there. My pale features were visible, a faint pink flush to my cheeks and rosy, if a bit thin, lips, wide, evenly-spaced hazel eyes. However, I had an excellent view of the landscape I had purchased last spring at a yard sale straight through my head. Yes, I was a ghost all right, and my feverish mind so helpfully brought up an image of Jake being led away tearfully with his dad to his new home in a city apartment with Mason working all the time and a neglectful babysitter to look after him. Panic turned to a full on breakdown.
I raised fists to my temples, squeezed my eyes shut, and opened my mouth. No sound emitted in the way that I had spoken before. I crouched down on the floor and rocked back and forth. On and on like my heart broke and there was no hope left in the world, I blubbered. I don’t know how long it went on. In fact, my heart ached so much, I think I could have cried for the rest of eternity, but then an incessant knocking broke me out of my misery, and I calmed a little.
Sniffing, I turned my head toward the door as if I could see through it, but of course I couldn’t. Not having my cell phone on me, I had no idea of the time, but I didn’t need a clock to know the hour was late. Summit’s Edge residents rolled up the sidewalks pretty early around here, unless it was summer and the town was overrun with tourists. In that instance, the nightspots were all that remained open. No one should be at my house.
For a moment, I thought it was Mason come to collect Jake, but how would he know or arrive so soon? Had my death been reported already? I considered all the possibilities and came to the conclusion I wasn’t opening that door for anything.
“Liberty,” someone called, and I froze. The voice sounded familiar, but who would call me by my full name like that? Most of the townspeople knew my mother had saddled me with a name I hated which was Liberty Grace, but almost from the beginning, I had insisted everyone call me Libby, and the nickname stuck. When the deep voice called out again, I placed it, my surly, antisocial next-door neighbor Ian McClain. Ian might be a handsome man, complete with jet-black hair, startling celadon eyes, a strong, clean-shaven jaw, and a body that could make a grown woman plead, but he remained unapproachable. I know because I had seen the women of the town try all kinds of tactics to snare his attention.
They had shown up on his doorstep with pies and cakes, even excuses of balls lost in his backyard. Of course, the women never got to share these treats and stories with Ian himself. The offers were shouted through his front door because Ian, the rude man that he was, never bothered to answer the knocks or the stabbing of his doorbell. Now, here he stood at my front door, and I was considering ignoring his presence.