She doesn’t know what today is, I thought as I forced open my bedroom door. I slung my pack down and slowly went over to the bulletin board. There were numerous items on it: medals, certificates, memoirs... But the most important thing lay in an plain envelope pinned to the board behind a batch of academic ribbons. I unpinned it and took it down, pulling from within it a faded newspaper article, then sat on my bed and scanned it.
There were two pictures on the page. The first was of a blonde, teenage boy. The second, a wrecked car. I began to read. Teen Killed in Drunk Driving Accident, stated the title. I read on. April 5, 2010 - Glen Haskings (pictured), age 17, was killed in a drunk driving accident yesterday. The driver is being put on trial on- I stopped reading, burying my face in my pillow. Why do I always do this to myself? I thought miserably. He died without me knowing how I felt. He never knew I loved him. He never knew-
I sat up on my bed, straining my ears. After a few minutes of silence, I decided that I was imagining things and lay back down.
There was no mistaking it. I jumped up and ran towards the window, where the sounds were coming from. There was someone in the lawn, but I couldn’t make out the face. I quickly walked down the stairs, my mind going in overdrive. The person was taller than the girls at my school. So it was a boy? My heart pounded. No, I scolded myself. This is a day for mourning. I slowly opened the door, ready to send the stranger away. The front yard was empty. I walked down the driveway towards the oak tree that stood close to the road. “Hello?” I called timidly.
“Hey,” replied a light-haired boy leaning against the tree. He turned his face to me, and I gasped. “Lily, it’s been a while.”
I nearly had a heart attack. “Glen?” I stammered.
“Not who you expected to see, eh?” he said with a small smile, smoothing his hair just as he had always done.
I stepped back. “Glen,” I repeated.
“I knew this would happen,” he said thoughtfully. “I could leave if you don’t want me here.”
“No, it’s not that!” I yelled. “It’s just that-”
“Okay, I’ll go then,” said Glen, walking across the street.
“No, wait!” I yelled, running after him.
“Watch yourself, Lily,” he whispered. “Stay out of the street if you don’t want to get hit. Dying is unpleasant.”
“This can’t be happening,” I murmured, turning from him and walked quickly towards my house.
“Please come back,” pleaded Glen. “I can explain everything, I promise.” He grabbed onto my hand with a grip like ice. Gathering my courage, I turned back to face him. He smiled with relief. “Everything, I can explain it,” he repeated. “I’m a ghost. At least, I think I am. I’m usually not solid, but I can be if I concentrate hard. Like when I threw those pebbles at your window.”
“This is insane,” I whispered. “Unreal... I’m hallucinating...” I wrenched my hand out of his and ran back to my front porch.
“Wait!” he yelled after me. “I need your help!”
I didn’t stop running until I reached my bedroom. I brushed the newspaper clipping onto the floor and curled into the corner of my bed. My heart was pounding. What’s going on? I asked myself. I don’t understand! I stayed there, unmoving, a headache developing behind my eyes. No doubt from all of the confusion that I was dealing with. Finally, I slowly walked towards the window and peered out. The front yard was empty.
I reached for the phone and dialed Mika’s cell phone number. It rang, then went to the answering machine. I hung up, not knowing what I would say anyway. Curling up with a blanket, suddenly feeling drowsy, I fell asleep.
My dream was a replay of the events that so confused me. I was walking into my front yard, nearing the oak tree yet again. There, Glen was standing with a smile. “Finally,” he sighed as he approached me.
“Hello, Glen,” I smiled warmly.
“That’s certainly not how you greeted me earlier,” he replied, bemused.
My heart sank like a stone. “Earlier?” I repeated.
“Listen, I need your help,” he said, launching into a hurried speech.
“With what?” I asked uneasily, uncomprehending.
“Just meet me in the backyard. I’ll explain,” Glen promised once more.
I awoke with a start, shaking off the lingering drowsiness and looking at the clock. The dream had taken only a few minutes. The backyard? I thought. Making up my mind, I slowly stepped down the stairs towards the back door of the house.
The back yard was silent. I strode over to a bench and sat down. “I’m here,” I mumbled into the air.
“Good,” said a voice in my ear. I jumped, and spun to face Glen. “Sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“It’s fine,” I said shakily. So it hadn’t all bee a dream. “It’s all hard to believe,” I muttered.
“I know, if I were alive then I wouldn’t believe it either,” he admitted. “Lately, nothing much has surprised me.”
“You said you needed my help,” I cut in, going straight to the point.
“Right,” Glen said almost nervously. “I know this is going to sound really selfish, but...” he trailed off. “Let me start off by saying this. There’s something that I need to do in the living world.”
“So,” I started, uncomprehending, “can’t you achieve whatever you need to do as a ghost?”
“That’s the problem... I can’t.” He took a breath. “I need your help to bring me back. And I have an idea that may work.” He sat beside me on the bench. He looked exactly as he had before he died. “Will you help me?”
I sat back on the bench, not knowing what to say. Glen waited patiently for me to pull myself together. Drawing a shaky breath, I spoke. “What do I need to do?”
Relief showed on his face, but only for a moment before being replaced by a determined look. “Do you know Martyn Barrelis?” he asked.
I recalled the dark-haired boy from school who sat at the back table at lunch, his nose buried in a complicated theoretical novel. “I know of him,” I said. “But I’ve never actually spoken with him.”
“Okay,” he said. “I have information about an interesting recent invention of his. I need you to ask him about it.”