The windows cast puddles of light onto the dark hallway. Ellie skipped from puddle to puddle, imagining herself swimming through a pool of light and warmth. It had a way of chasing away her blues. She skipped down through the darker hallways because it was impossible to be scared when you skipped. The cadence and movement spelled frivolity in her heart that had to be the opposite of fear. She couldn’t tremble while she focused on sweeping her legs on at a time into a cheery rhythm that carried her through the dark drafty back corners of this house she lived in. She rounded again to another sun- patched hallway. She stopped and jumped with both feet into the first patch of sunlight.
“Aren’t you supposed to be doing your times tables or something right now?”
Ellie looked up at the dark smudge in the shadows of the hallway. Isabella’s white face leaned out of the smudge. A shiver ran through Ellie. Why did it have to be Isabella today?
“Mr. Leonard is gone today. He had errands in town.” Ellie shook her head so she could avoid eye contact.
Ellie had dark eyes, which was rare for a ghost. Most had marbled gray eyes. Maybe it was because Isabella didn’t seem to realize she was dead. She was not the only ghost in this old drafty manor, but she seemed to always walk alone, probably just as she had when she was alive. Nothing had changed in death. Ellie could imagine her being a bitter lonely daughter of some Earl or whatever used to live here.
Isabella had the annoying habit of turning up whenever Ellie was almost having fun. There was very little of that to find around this empty house full of hushing adults. Isabella had a way of stopping whatever fun Ellie could make when the adults weren’t around. She took a deep breath jumped to the next puddle.
Isabella watched from her dark corner. She seemed less hostile in her staring somehow. Ellie glanced at her as she jumped into the last puddle of sunlight thrown across the hall floor. Had Isabella slipped into sadness? She didn’t look the same, though Ellie couldn’t quite put her finger on what was different. Perhaps she wasn’t as intense today. Isabella floated up to the edge of the sun patch and slipped a finger in. It disappeared. She slunk back and looked out the window. Maybe Isabella did know she was dead. Could she miss roaming the overgrown gardens? But Ellie had seen ghosts outside as well. Either way, it was strange to see Isabella still here. She usually made a curt comment and bolted by now.
Ellie ground her fists into her hipbones trying to look bold and turned to face Isabella’s shadowed form.
“What is it? You seem off.”
“Off?” The word passed through hallway like a draft as Isabella walked slowly away from Ellie. The ghost flicked her finger through every stream of sunlight, sadly.
“You’re usually angry and hostile. You seem, I don’t know, sad.”
Isabella glanced over her shoulder but kept walking. “Well, I am dead.” She sighed and stopped. “Today is the day I died.”
“It’s your death day?”
“Don’t say it as if you forgot it was my birthday.” She turned and faced the window. “I don’t even remember that day anymore. I think a death day would be a good thing to forget and yet it is the one constant thing in my memory.”
“Oh.” A wave of sadness ran through her. That was sad. “I’m sorry.”
“What for it’s not your fault. Or was it?” Isabella glared at her. A flash of cold prickled her skin. Then Isabella laughed darkly. “Just kidding. I know it wasn’t you.”
“So you know who killed you?” Ellie couldn’t believe she was still talking to this taciturn girl.
“That part is fuzzy.” Isabella turned to the sun pouring from the window and slid her whole hand in. “I mostly remember the feeling of dying. It’s always stronger on the anniversary.”
A door creaked and then slammed at the end of the hall. Ellie jumped and looked behind her. Matilda walked down the hall carrying a tray, her nose red and swollen with a cold. When Ellie turned. Isabella was gone. Matilda nodded curtly and passed through the spot Isabella had stood just moments before.
I used “skip” as my writing prompt today. Pick a word and write. It’s fun. You’ll like it.