Nine-year-old Joey poked his head into his parent’s room. “Mom? Dad? Can I sleep with you tonight?”
“Sure, honey,” his mom mumbled.
Joey crawled between his mom and dad and buried himself under the covers. The ghosts were bothering him again. He couldn’t wait to move into a new house. He desperately hoped there wouldn’t be ghosts there too.
He peeked from underneath the covers. The ghosts were gone now. They never bothered him when he was with his parents. Still, he trembled.
His dad wrapped his arms around him. “It will be better tomorrow, I promise.”
The next day was a long and busy day as Joey, his two sisters, and his parents moved across town. It was the first time Joey smiled in over a year; since he first saw the ghosts.
Nervously, Joey said good night to his parents as they left his room. After an hour of quietness he started to relax. He closed his eyes and was almost asleep when he heard his name.
“Joey? Are you asleep?”
He opened his eyes and saw a ghost hovering above his bed. The ghost laughed.
“Mom! Dad!” Joey screamed at the top of his lungs.
His dad, mom, and two older sisters came rushing into his room.
His mom sat on his bed and hugged him tightly as he cried.
“Did you see another ghost?” his dad asked.
Joey nodded his head.
“Is he still here?”
Joey shook his head. The ghost had disappeared before his family arrived.
“I think he’s making it up,” Sarah, his oldest sister, said. “I don’t believe in ghosts.”
“I don’t believe in ghosts either,” Seven-year-old Mariah parroted.
“Stop it this instant!” his dad ordered.
“It’s just not fair,” Sarah complained. “We had to move because of him and he still thinks he’s seeing ghosts. No one else has ever seen them.”
His dad pointed toward the door. “Go to your rooms, both of you.”
Just as he had almost every night the last year, Joey slept between his parents.
He had been asleep less than an hour when he heard the voice again. “Joey! Wake up!” Fear swarmed over Joey and he struggled for breath. Floating above the bed was the same ghost that had haunted him in his room.
“Why are you here?” Joey demanded.
“This is my house,” the ghost explained. “I’ve been here a long time.”
His mom rolled over and groggily asked, “What Joey?”
Joey remained focused on the ghost. “I mean, the ghosts at my other house never bothered me when I slept with my parents.”
“They sound like a boring bunch to me,” the ghost said.
His mom sat up in a panic. “Joey, who are you talking to?”
Joey’s dad jumped out of bed. The ghost didn’t leave.
“I’m talking to the ghost.”
His parents looked around, perplexed. His dad spoke slowly, “Where is the ghost now?”
Joey pointed, fear rising in his voice. “You, you can’t see him?”
His dad anxiously walked around the room as if the ghost might appear from a different angle. He said in exasperation, “I don’t see anything.”
The ghost laughed again.
“Can you hear him?” Joey choked on his words, then shouted. “He’s laughing. Can you hear him!?”
“No, honey, we don’t hear anything.” His mom held him tight.
“How come I can see you but no one else can?”
“They can’t see me because they don’t believe in ghosts.”
“I’ll get my parents to move somewhere else.” He looked at his dad. “We can move again, right? Somewhere without ghosts?”
“Of course we will,” his dad assured him.
The ghost snickered. “It doesn’t matter where you live, ghosts are everywhere. We can only be seen by those who believe in ghosts. There’s only one way to get rid of us — stop believing.”
- This story is one of five in my most recent book, Satisfyingly STrange Short Stories, Volume 2. It can be purchased at Amazon for $0.99.