Little Red Gem
anger in order to save my
half-sister. I felt an odd sensation when they barreled into me,
almost as if I’d been electrified instead of pummeled.
    Audrey scowled. “You
always have to be the star, don’t you?”
    Shivers ran all over me
and I stared dumbfounded as the bullies kept on walking. “The star?
Audrey, those two would have made minced meat out of
you.”
    “ They would have walked
right through me, just like they walked through you. Don’t you get
it? They walked through you.” Audrey’s voice croaked and her hands swiped
at the tears in her eyes. “We cried so hard when you died. Everyone
in town cried so hard.”
    “ That’s not funny,
Audrey,” I snarled. I’d never experienced this type of cruelty
before. Hurtful didn’t begin to describe how she was making me
feel.
    “ Please, Ruby. You’ve
gotta believe me. You’re wandering around in the afterlife with no
idea you’re dead. You need to move on. There are demons and
poltergeists in the otherworld.”
    She’d gone beyond too far,
and I could now see the wisdom behind steering clear of Audrey and
her mom for all these years.
    My lips pulled back into a
snarl. “Get out of my way or I’m screaming for the cops. You and
your mom, you both need to be locked up.”
    “ Go on, scream. It won’t
work.”
    This nasty streak of my
half-sister was something I would never have expected. I turned my
back on her, and I had to quickly step aside for a customer to come
out. I waited for the familiar scent of coffee beans to hit me.
Instead, I copped a whiff of the pungent perfume given off by
decayed flowers. The water in the vase on the counter needs
changing, I told myself, except the water and orange lilies looked
fresh and a customer even had her head stuck inside the open
blooms. She beamed a huge smile when she pulled her head
out.
    The front door had closed
while I’d stood transfixed by the customer soaking up the flower’s
perfume. When I reached for the door, my hand tingled. The
sensation increased the nearer my hand got to the door, and the
more I pushed the more intense the pain became.
    I wrenched my hand back.
“Ouch.”
    “ You have to be invited
inside,” Audrey explained.
    The burning, tingling
sensation subsided but I blew cool breath onto my fingers out of
habit. “Isn’t that a vampire myth?”
    “ It’s the same rule for
ghosts. My mom says ghosts can’t touch objects, and passing through
walls is possible only if they’re invited in. She also says she
talks to spirits, like every couple of days. She says they’re
pulled to the scene of their death, something to do with a magnetic
force playing havoc with the real world if the ghosts drift too far
out of their dead zone. Apparently that’s the reason why ghosts
haunt houses and not cemeteries. People end up in cemeteries but
they don’t die there, you know.”
    I pressed my hand up to
the glass. The burning buzz attacked me instantly, tripling in
intensity this time. “Is there a fire inside? Is this why you’ve
come to stop me?”
    “ No fire.”
    “ So why can’t I open the
door?”
    She looked up toward the
sky. “I don’t get paid to be a spirit guide.” Her eyes drilled into
mine. “Listen carefully. The spirits clever enough to move objects,
open doors, rattle chains, pass through walls, all that stuff.
Well, they’re not the kind of spirits you wanna meet. Mom says by
the time they’ve learned to connect to the real world it’s too
late. Something about them staying on the other realm for so long
makes them turn nasty.”
    “ You’ve been on the other realm for too long.”
    She wasn’t deterred by my
insult in the slightest. She even grinned. She’d often blasted me
with that stupid grin whenever she’d wanted me to play with her. I
realized that this could take all day unless I cooperated. “You’re
talking about poltergeists.”
    She clapped her hands
together like she was five. “Correct. Poltergeists. Malevolent
spirits. Demons.

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