By Nicola Rakuljic, Year 9

Are ghosts real? Are there truly souls trapped to this world after they die? Can the people still alive on this earth communicate with these spirits?

Well, no not really. Science proves that ghosts can’t be real. Right? No one can see ghosts, right?

So why can I see the dripping form of the little girl that drowned in the river a few years ago?

She’s sitting there, on the floor by my feet as I eat dinner with my family as if nothing weird is happening to me. She’s right there, dripping all over the carpet, yet the carpet isn’t wet. She right there, yet no one sees her. Just me.

I don’t know what freaks me out more; the prospect of a future where I never tell anyone about the little girl, or the future where everyone knows and judges me. And it saddens me as well, that there was no one else that remembers her, only me, so she has to appear to me and only me. Or maybe other people do remember her, and she has appeared to them, but they just can’t see her. Like my parents, like my friends.

“So, what do you think Kristine?”

I shake myself mentally back to reality, and look embarrassedly over to my father.

“Sorry Dad. I must’ve zoned out.”

“I was saying that we should go on a weekend trip to the coast. Or do you have too much study?”

“Ah… sorry Dad. I have, like, 6 exams next week. You guys can go without me. I promise I won’t do anything.”

My Dad smiles at me, all soft and fondly, breaking my heart that this accepting and compassionate man can never know about the little girl sitting a few centimetres away from him.  This little girl sitting, staring up at him with wide eyes, innocence clear on her features.

Does she even know that she is dead? Does she know she drowned? That she is dripping wet, but not at the same time, and that no one but me can see her? Does she know that people don’t believe in ghosts, in her?

“Sure thing sweetheart. Hope your studying goes well. Make sure to take breaks and don’t overstress yourself.”

“Of course Dad.”

After dinner, up in my room, the little girl sits on my bed, watching me as I skim through the internet for information on her. The newspaper from 3 years ago is open on my screen, the article outlining how a 6-year-old girl called Melanie Hurst drowned in the river at the edge of the woods.

My breath hitches in my throat as I feel a slippery, cold hand curl around my wrist. Out of the corner of my eye I can see that the little girl has moved to my side, and is staring at the computer screen.

My voice shakes as I ask, “Are you Melanie Hurst?”

She looks up to me, her eyes shining with unfallen tears. Her nod is so small I almost miss it, but then she’s silently crying, as if she’s afraid to make a noise or she can’t speak. Oh God, was she mute? Was she drowned in the river on purpose? Because she couldn’t speak?

Something heavy creeps into my chest and tightens around my heart like a dragon around its hoard at the sight of her small frame racked with silent sobs, and the thought of how she went out. How she trusted that person and they just threw that trust away, down the drain, into dirt, trashed it by pushing her small head do-

A cry rips from my lips as I drop out of my chair down to the floor and wrap my arms around Melanie. Senseless blabber falls from my mouth like rapids over a waterfall, and Melanie wraps her arms around me, clutching me like something will drag us apart.

“Kristine? Are you alright?” Dad’s voice floats through the air towards me, but I can’t answer him. Something inside me broke, and there’s no way I can fix it fast enough. It’s like sand falling through my fingers, like glass cutting into healing wounds.

I hear Dad’s footsteps stop outside my room, and I can feel everything waiting with bated breath, the air heavy with something unstoppable and primal. I look up from Melanie and see the tears staining my Dad’s face.

“Dad…” I whisper, and he stumbles forward until he is kneeling next to me. He wraps his arms around Melanie and I, pulling us closer to him.

We stay like that for some time, gaining comfort from each other as we mull over the idea that this innocent little girl, Melanie, was the victim of a horrible crime and she was snuffed out of the world before she could do anything about it.

Maybe ghosts are real, maybe they’re not. But this little girl sure is, right now, held in my arms.

And if knowing that souls are trapped here on Earth makes life just slightly more painful, it also makes you savour every moment. It makes you be grateful for the life you live right now.

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