“You all want to hear how it ends?”
Powered by an accumulation of two hours of sleep a night, the young lady was determined to solve this mystery once and for all. Corralling the neighbor’s cousin into her kitchen for tea and cake, she learned that Dad (real name: Moe) was now living in the next town over, and the cousin gladly gave her his work number that she randomly happened to have. Overtired beyond the point of embarrassment, social courtesy, or restraint, the young lady later called Moe’s office and convinced him to meet her in a nearby café on his lunch hour to address an issue about his former home, which was true. He only was slightly startled by her red-rimmed eyes, for they matched his own. He also looked about 20 years older than she was used to seeing him every night, but she thought that would be rude to mention.
“So, Dad,” she started off, tapping her coffee mug incessantly. “I mean, Moe, I need to know, where’d you and your family go?” She barely suppressed an urge to giggle at her rhymes.
“Go? You mean, when we moved out?”
“Well, after the divorce my ex-wife took the kids to the East Coast and I moved to an apartment here by work.”
“Oh? You all broke up?”
“I wouldn’t put it that way; I still see them a lot. So what’s wrong with the house? It was fine when we left and there’ve been other owners since. You can’t get me on mold!”
“Oh, the house is lovely, couldn’t have asked for better. It’s just that you and your family keep me up every night and I need to know WHY. Since, obviously, you all aren’t ghosts.”
“Wait – what?”
She gave a brief rundown of what she’d been seeing. He thought this over for a few moments as she nibbled on a scone.
“Well, I don’t know how you know all this about my family, and you seem almost normal, so I will tell you one thing: when the kids were the ages you described, those were the best years of our lives. We were happy and it seemed like nothing could go wrong. Then the goldfish died and it all went to pot. If you’re actually telling the truth, then I guess you’re really being haunted by life – I suppose it could be worse. I almost wish I could see it, but I don’t think I could step foot in that place again.” He paid for both of them and left her staring into space.
When she went back home, she cleaned up a bit and had dinner before sitting on the couch around midnight, nibbling on the rest of her scone and waiting for the haunting to begin. Mom, Dad, Kevin, Julie, and the goldfish (the only legitimate ghost in the bunch) appeared for their nightly routines of playing games, reading, listening to music, and/or watching the television. The young lady noticed that they did look content with their lives, a nice bubble of almost-perfection making her nostalgic for her own childhood, which had been pretty decent. She went to her bedroom, turned on her newly purchased white-noise machine, and settled into her new bed, accepting her fate of being haunted by life.
As she had been told, it could be worse.
“So, was that scary enough for you?” The little girl raised her hand. “Yes?”
“It started out scary, then just got weird. And sad.” Nods all around, with one voice asking “What’s ‘real estate’?” and hushed.
“Well, that’s life, children,” The Storyteller stood. “You don’t always get what you want. Happy Halloween!”
The crowd slowly filed out to go home and get ready for trick-or-treating. The Storyteller made herself a pot of coffee at a table as one of the parents approached her.
“I have to say, that was the most… unusual ghost story I’ve ever heard.”
“Hmm,” The Storyteller sipped from her mug. “Thank you.”
“I’m curious – where do you get your ideas?”
“Life.” She held out a plate with a slightly shaking hand. “Scone?”