“Help me.” Whispered a voice in my ear. I tripped on thin air, getting some weird looks from the people enjoying the farmers market and my best friend, Rosalinda Picone. Rosalinda came from Milan, Italy and had the accent to prove it. She narrowed her golden-brown eyes at me, her red-dyed hair making her look even more intimidating.
“What in the world was that?” She asked, her accent sliding in and out. I tried to avert my green eyes and look somewhere else, but it was impossible when I knew she was glaring at my blonde hair. I finally turned around and answered,
“I swear I heard something.” Rosalina looked at me and tapped her perfectly manicured black nails to her temple.
“Ay Kate. You’re going nuts.” Said Rosalina, dramatically shaking her head, I smacked her arm, almost causing her to topple over due to her thin frame.
“Help me.” The voice was clear and sounded like a young girl, I was more prepared for it this time and sharply turned around, accidentally whipping my hair into Rosalinda’s face. After searching to make sure there was no one following me, I turned back to Rosalinda. Her arms were crossed and she stared at me, her hip jutting out to one side in a sassy position.
“I don’t know what is going on with you, but I know food always makes you feel better so let’s go.” Said Rosalinda rolling her eyes. I smiled sheepishly and followed her to a restaurant nearby. The moment we walked inside I heard the voice again.
“Help me.” The voice sounded louder and more desperate. I could feel the sorrow and helplessness coming from the voice, as if I were whoever was crying out for help. We walked inside and the smell of food hit me instantly. It smelled like bacon, pancakes, and eggs. I smiled and Rosalinda saw it.
“I knew this would make you feel better.” We got a booth by the window and the waitress gave us the menu.
“What are you planning on getting?” Asked Rosalinda. She was looking at the menu and wrinkling her nose. Rosalinda was trying to adapt to bacon, pancakes, and eggs instead of cornetto or fette biscottate.
“Colazione in the U.S. is so fatty and makes me so full.” Complained Rosalinda, I assumed Colazione meant breakfast. But honestly, I had no idea.
“I guess i’ll have the peppermint chocolate pancakes.” I said and Rosalinda scrunched her nose up.
“It’s too early for chocolate peppermint.” She then looked over her menu one more time and finally decided.
“I’ll have some coffee and oatmeal with toast.” The waitress came by after a couple of minutes and took our orders.
“Help me.” I stiffened slightly but stopped myself from looking around.
“Are you seriously okay?” Asked Rosalinda, her face showing concern.
“I’m fine.” I said, trying for a fake smile.
“Don’t lie to me ragazza.” Rosalinda said, shaking her head. I immediately registered the word ragazza as the italian word for girl. Lying to Rosalinda is absolutely impossible, and I figured that one out the hard way.
“I’m just going to the bathroom, maybe splash some water on my face.” I stood up and headed to the bathroom.
“Kate,” Rosalinda called after me and I turned around, “Do you want me to come with you?”
“Don’t worry, thank you though.” She smiled at me and I headed into the bathroom, making sure to lock the door. I splashed water on my face, forgetting that I had put on mascara today in the morning. I cleaned my face and looked up at the mirror. But I wasn’t alone. Behind me stood a girl, she had long hair tied back with a bow, a long dress, and she looked to be around nine. The weirdest thing was that she was completely gray, not an ounce of color in her. I turned around and expected to see her behind me, but there was no one. I looked back into the mirror and all I saw was my reflection.
“Stop freaking yourself out.” I scolded quietly. My mascara was no longer on my face, but my hands. I tried grabbing the bar of soap to wash my hands but it slipped and landed on the floor. I looked under the sink and almost screamed. There was the ghost girl, curled in a ball…crying?
“Are you crying?” I asked, not sure if this was really happening or I was hallucinating. She looked at me and whispered two words,
“Help me.” I took a step back, almost hitting my head on the sink. I took a deep breath to calm myself.
“What do you need help with?” I asked, hoping I wasn’t getting myself into a huge mess. The girl uncurled herself and looked at me.
“Do you know what this was before a restaurant?” She asked me.
“Land? Grass?” I asked and she shook her head.
“It was a big house. My home. My mom and my dad and my 4 siblings lived here with me.” The girl said wistfully, “They all moved on already.” My legs started aching so I sat down on the floor.
“And why haven’t you moved on yet?” I asked her. She smiled, but her eyes didn’t match her mouth.
“I made a promise to my best friend. And I need to keep it. But I need help.” The girl replied sadly.
“What is your name?” I asked.
“Well then, Julia, I will try to help you.” I said, hoping I sounded more confident than I felt.
“You promise?” She asked, as if not trusting that I was really going to help her.
“I promise.” I said, “Now, what do I have to do?” Julia moved and I saw a small door carved into the wall.
“Inside this door is a book. Do not open it. My friend did, and she was not the same. Not until the day she died with me in this house. She made me promise to burn this book. I can’t get to it, my hand goes right through whatever I touch.” Julia said. I opened the door in the wall while she sat next to me. There was a thin black book. It had a cloth latch and writing on the top.
“The Book of Death.” I read and Julia shrunk back.
“What exactly does this book do?” I asked, trying to resist the urge to open it.
“It tells you the day you die and how.” Answered Julia, my urge diminished.
“So if I burn this book. You’re free to join your family?” I asked and Julia nodded.
“What about the fire sprinklers?” I took the lighter out of my bag.
“I’ve been here ever since they opened this restaurant and they never put fire sprinklers in this bathroom.” Answered Julia, grinning with excitement. I turned on the lighter and brought the flame towards the book. I held it for a bit while the fire spread, but I threw it in the sink before it could burn me.
“You have no idea how many people I have tried to convince to help me.” Julia, stared at the fire. Soon the only sign that there had ever been a book, was the ashes. I turned on the faucet and the water washed away the remains of the thing that was anchoring Julia to this world. I turned around, to say something but Julia was gone…I hoped she would be alright. I walked back to my table, feeling much better.
“There you are! Your foods getting cold.” Said Rosalinda. “All better?” She asked.
“All better.” I answered, smiling. After taking a seat, I dug into my pancakes and hoped Rosalinda didn’t ask too many questions.
“At least you’re okay now.” Said Rosalinda, sipping her coffee. But then a voice spoke. Not Julia’s, not any voice I had ever heard before. The voice was not human.
“You haven’t gotten rid of me yet.” But the voice that followed was even worse.
© Budda , Picture from Dreamstime, https://www.dreamstime.com/book-free-stock-images-image-free-5420389