Posted on: December 3, 2013
Anna stands by the window, resting her head on her forearm propped up against the wall. Searching the backyard, she spots the noose that almost ended her client’s life and the little red stool that kept death at bay. The yellow police tape wrapped around the perimeter of the house quivers as rain begins to fall. Anna closes her eyes as the pattering resonates through the ceiling, recalling the boil of her blood when Lucas appeared by her side, a ghost that had possessed an innocent man and compelled him to attempt murder. Suri, her client, hired Anna to extract Lucas from her life. For fourteen years he has haunted her and taken control of men’s bodies in order to do her harm. While Suri recovers, Anna remains in this abandoned house with nothing more than a name to go by, but in her line of work, a name is all the power she needs.
She sits down on the floor in the center of the room and rubs the cross dangling from a chain around her neck. In the blink of an eye, a ten year old girl sits in front of her wearing an easter dress and a blue bow in her blonde hair. Lydia Marie is the ghost haunting her necklace, and her phantom sidekick. She tilts her head to the left and studies Anna’s face, furrowing her brow.
“What’s wrong, Anna?”
Anna smiles with just the right corner of her lips and shakes her head, “I’m trying to track someone down.”
“Well, you can only see him if he lets you see him.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Lydia Marie wrinkles her nose and offers an impish grin. “But I can see him even if he doesn’t want me to.”
Anna looks up and mirrors the spectre’s expression. “Precisely. Lucas knows the rules; if I say his name, he has to come. You can be my lookout for when he decides to show up.”
“But how are you going to extract him? It doesn’t sound like he’ll be too interested in taking orders,” Lydia Marie says with some concern.
“He’s obviously got some unfinished business and it’s centered around Suri. A game of twenty questions is in order. If he gives me a motive, then I just need to provide him with a suitable substitution.”
“And if he doesn’t?”
Anna doesn’t answer. Instead, she claps her hands and rubs her palms together, fighting the chill down her spine. “You ready?”
Lydia Marie nods, unsure at first, but gaining confidence with the prospect of helping Anna catch the bad guy. Anna imagines her lungs expanding in every direction as she inhales, then whispers.
Lydia Marie hides in the closet, peeking through the shutter-style slats with her hands over her mouth. The hair on the back of Anna’s neck stands on end and her skin prickles with the presence of another otherworldly being. She does not see Lucas pacing in front of her with his hands behind his back, grinning from ear to ear. She waits for Lydia Marie to signal her, but instead the young ghost passes suddenly through the closet doors with horror written in her eyes.
“What are you doing here? Where’s my father?”
Lydia Marie is all but shrieking, her spectral hands balling up into fists and tears welling up in her eyes. Lucas turns toward her, still invisible to Anna who is startled and jumps to her feet. He narrows his eyes as he searches his memory for who she is and recognition passes over his face.
“Ah, Lydia. I left your father long ago…”
Lydia Marie’s entire body trembles, her bottom lip quivering. “It was you! It wasn’t Daddy! It was you!”
Lucas pulls the corners of his mouth up into a smile and shrugs. “If that makes it easier for you to cope, my dear, but I didn’t make him do anything other than what he’d already considered himself.”
Anna, unable to hear Lucas, asks desperately, “Lydia Marie, what’s he saying? Ask him what he wants. Ask him why he’s doing this!”
“You’re a monster! I’m all alone because of you!”
Lucas chuckles, his hiss like poison. “You and your father, ripped apart. All alone. Just like me.”
Before Anna has a chance to confront him, the chill leaves her skin and she knows that Lucas has disappeared. Lydia Marie wraps her arms around herself and looks up at Anna, shaking her head from left to right.
“Before Daddy drowned me, there was always a man at the house. He would sit with my dad while he drank and watch him when he hit me. I never knew who he was. I thought he was Daddy’s friend, but I understand now. It wasn’t Daddy who hurt me. It was Lucas.”
Flesh and spirit, the two stand in silence. A dog barks in the distance as thunder rips through the rain.
“Anna, Lucas said Daddy and me are all alone just like him.”
Kneeling down in front of Lydia Marie, Anna meets her gaze and whispers, “Let’s go find your father.”
The ghost looks down at her feet and asks, “What if he doesn’t want to see me?”
Anna shakes her head and says, “Baby girl, I think he’s been dying to see you since 1962.”
Lydia Marie looks up and says, “I want Daddy to know I forgive him, that I know it’s not his fault.”
Anna realizes that this is the reason why her friend hasn’t been able to crossover. All this time Lydia Marie was wandering between worlds because she believed a lie, that her father never loved her. Reconciliation could be the very thing she needs to move on, a bittersweet notion once Anna considers that she would lose her. But this is why Anna entered this obscure line of work, to secure peace for both the living and the dead.
“Come on. Maybe we can track him down before dinner time.”
Written by: Natasha Akery
Photograph by: Emily Blincoe
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License
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