Chapter 8

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"I had another vision."

"No way! You did?" I sat on the edge of the bed, watching him tap away as he spoke. "Of what?"

"It was the view from the front porch of my house. I could see water between the homes across the street from where I stood."

"Wow, Jack... this is huge!"

"It feels like progress. Anyways, about the hospital—you said Zeke lived in the middle of the forest. But I lived in town, so I can't be him. I'm sorry you went all that way for nothing."

"It wasn't for nothing. Like Kayla would say, we had a lead that needed to be followed."

"You know, Mazie, there's no guarantee I'll remember anything more than I do now. Please don't stop trying to figure it out."

"Not a chance." I raised my hand to fist bump him. He did the same, ghostly knuckles sliding into my corporeal ones. "So... school starts the day after the day after tomorrow. Are you excited?"

"God no. I'm terrified. I don't know if you realize this, but I'm kind of an anxiety ridden mess."

"I might have noticed a little bit." He winked at me. "But honestly, you're hyping this up more than you need to. And 'a mess' is not how I'd describe you at all. Far from it."

I swallowed. "Oh yeah? How would you describe me?"

"Smart, sweet, funny, gutsier than she gives herself credit for." He tapped himself in a circle. "And super cute."

I'm pretty sure my cheeks turned cherry red. "You're just saying that because I'm the only girl on the planet who can see you. No offense, but you don't get out much."

"I don't get out at all. But that doesn't matter. Everyone at Dorn High should be honored to know you. Look how fast you made friends with Kayla."

"Kayla isn't the unwashed high school masses though. She's a lot like my friend Chelsea back in Spokane. They both befriended me, and I let them. I didn't have to work that hard. But going up against all of those kids on the first day—that's going to be hard work." I lay back on my bed and stared at the ceiling. "It makes me sick just thinking about it."

"You aren't 'going up against' anyone. If you frame it like that, that's how it will feel. It's not a battle. Even if your worst fears are realized, though, and you trip down Dorn High's non-existent stairs, you still have Kayla, you still have Chelsea and your family, and you still have me."

Jack with his silly crooked grin floated upwards until he was hovering near the ceiling directly above me.

"I don't know what to say, Jack."

"How about 'Jack, you're just about the sweetest, best-looking ghost a girl could ask for!' Or maybe just 'thank you.'"

I smiled. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. I'm going to head up to the attic now. See you later?"

"Good night, Jack."

After he'd left, I wandered downstairs, made myself microwave lasagna, and texted Kayla, letting her know that Jack had had another memory. That memory was our next lead and I intended to chase it down.

The next day, I had Jack tell me every detail he could recall from his vision. Face scrunched up like someone had given him lemonade without enough sugar, he thought through every visual.

The street was a paved two-lane road. From his view, he could see only the two houses directly opposite his own, or what he assumed was his own. The one on the left was the color of salmonberries, an older home with a porch that wrapped around the front and side, like my own porch did. It had lace curtains in the front windows. The house on the right looked much newer, a typical northwest craftsman made to look like an old northwest craftsman. Chimney red siding with white trim, it clashed with its older neighbor and seemed to Jack that they should have coordinated their color scheme. The view of the water between the two homes was partially obscured by a stand of towering fir trees.

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