Boundaries

Joshua

I frowned, growing impatient. The girl was firing up her laptop, refusing to look at me. Really? She was going back to ignoring me. I walked up to her chair, looking at what she was doing. A quick glance told me it was homework.

“Really? You're ignoring me in favour of homework?” I asked, raising an eyebrow. She blinked, let out a breath and continued glancing at her textbook before writing more. I rolled my eyes and glanced around her room. She'd unpacked more and there was a bookcase of books and DVDs. I flopped onto my back on her bed, sighing loudly. She didn't respond. I turned onto my side, studying her back. She had brown curls that reached half-way down her back. They moved with every jerky movement she made. I narrowed my eyes, trying to figure out how to made her react. I could always unplug the laptop, but I doubt she'd talk to me after, except to shout more. I sighed again, twisting so I was face first. I wondered briefly what her bed actually smelled like. I couldn't smell or taste anything. Sometimes I got an impression, but I knew it was barely a shade of the real thing.

“Have a good day at school?” I asked, trying to be conversational. She didn't reply and I gritted my teeth. Okay, maybe going for a joke to break the tension from yesterday was a bad idea. But really, she'd made it too easy.

“Oh my god, talk to me!” I yelled, pushing myself up onto my elbows. She started a little, but kept her gaze firmly locked on her laptop. I jumped off the bed and stormed out of the room, my movements agitated. Why was she being like this? Was it such a bad request to want company? The door opened behind me and Edie walked out, pulling on a jacket, her keys in one hand.

“You are not going out,” I said. She shot me an annoyed glance and walked past me. I glared after her and the radio downstairs buzzed with static. She froze mid-step at the sound, her face paling. I squeezed my eyes shut and forced myself to calm down. After a few moments it stopped. When I opened my eyes, she was watching me.

“What? Now you notice me?” I asked, huffing. She glanced away, chewing her lower lip. I thought she was going to go downstairs and leave like she'd planned. Instead she turned back round, looking straight at me.

“My name's Edie,” she said. I blinked at her, surprised. “This is the part where you tell me your name,” she laughed. “Unless you want me to call you ghost boy,” she added, a trace of nervous humour touching her voice.

“Joshua,” I replied quietly. It'd been a long time since I'd had to remember my own name. She nodded, smiling softly.

“If I talk to you,” she started, her voice turning serious. “You have to promise you'll leave my family alone. No more silly pranks and breaking stuff,” she insisted.

“Wait, what?” I asked, thrown.

“I mean it,” she pushed. “Otherwise I go back to ignoring you. My life would be a lot easier without a ghost around.” I stared at her, a grimace forming on my face. I didn't want to agree to anything. She was asking me to do nothing for most of the day – though based on the determination in her eyes, she didn't care.

“Fine,” I sighed, shoving my hands into the pockets of my jeans. “I'll be good,” I muttered.

“And no more sneaking up on me,” she added.

“What? But that's fun,” I replied.

“No. It isn't,” she shot back, rolling her eyes. “What are you, eight?” she added to herself.

“I died when I was sixteen, idiot,” I threw back.

“And quit calling me that,” she half-yelled.

“You realise we'll run out of things to talk about at this rate,” I said dryly.

“Agree to it all,” she said, crossing her arms. I opened my mouth to yell a 'hell no', she cut me off. “Or you can go back to sitting in that attic on your own.” I stopped mid-speech, my fists forming at my sides. I ground my teeth together, looking away. I could just keep annoying her, eventually she'd have to acknowledge me. Why should I behave just because she can talk to me? This was my house, she and her parents were the ones invading it.

“All bets are off if someone goes near the attic,” I said. She nodded, like she'd been expecting it.

“I'll make sure no one goes up there,” she promised. She watched me expectantly, waiting for me to agree. I huffed, annoyed that I had to let this girl tell me what to do.

“I won't bother your parents, or sneak up on you, or call you an idiot. Happy?” I asked.

“Very,” she replied, a smile quirking her lips. I was still a little bit too miffed to return it, but I couldn't pretend for a second I wasn't happy as well. Finally, someone to talk to.

The End

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