by Kayleigh Grian
As she glanced up at her new school, Melissa swallowed the lump in her throat and forced her breakfast to stay down. She was not looking forward to starting her senior year as the new kid, especially in a small town where everyone had known each other their whole lives. This day was going to totally suck, she just knew it. For a split second she even debated on skipping, but she knew in a place like this, it would get back to her mom quickly. Besides, she’d just be putting off the inevitable. Melissa would have to face the scrutiny of her classmates sooner or later, might as well get it over with. She took a deep breath and headed into the building just as the first warning bell rang.
Melissa made it through her first three classes of the day without any major incidents. Of course all the teachers had to embarrass the crap out of her by making her stand up front and introduce herself, but other than that everyone pretty much left her alone. She was surprised no one reached out to her at all, but at least they weren’t teasing and harassing her either. As she headed to the cafeteria for lunch she hoped the rest of the day would go as smoothly as the first half.
There was an empty table on the far side of the lunch room and Melissa hoped it stayed empty until she could get to it. She really didn’t want to have to ask the kids at a table if she could sit with them. She had purposefully brought her own lunch that day so that if need be she could go hide somewhere and eat. Back home she wasn’t really a loner or anything like that, but she was a bit shy outside her small circle of friends. If someone had invited her to sit with them, she’d gladly accept, she just wasn’t comfortable initiating the contact.
As she plopped her brown paper sack on the table, Melissa let out a sigh of relief. The table was hers. After pulling her food out of the bag and unwrapping everything, she opened the book she brought with her in case she ate alone. At least I’ll get some reading in, she thought. She took a bite of her sandwich and halfway through the first paragraph someone sat down across from her.
“Hey! You’re new here right?”
Melissa dog-eared the book and glance up to find a gorgeous blonde sitting in front of her. She looked like one of those cheerleader types, which immediately raised a red flag in her mind. She took a second to glance around to see if anyone was watching the table, just in case there was a prank about to be played on her. When she was satisfied no one was paying them attention, she replied, “Yeah, today is my first day. I’m Melissa.”
“Nice to meet you Melissa. I’m Jenny Lark.” The girl offered her a warm smile that seemed sincere.
“So what brought you over here to my lonely table?”
“I didn’t recognize you, and since I know just about everyone that attends Cedar High, I figured I’d come say hi. Mind if I join you for lunch?”
“Sure. So, are you a senior?” Melissa asked as she took another bite of her sandwich.
“Yep. I should have graduated last year but some things came up and I ended up having to come back this year.”
“Oh, wow, that must suck.” Melissa was curious about what those “things” were but didn’t want to pry. She figured if Jenny wanted her to know, she’d tell her. She’d hate to push away the one who’d showed any interest in her so far.
“It does, most my friends have left for college already so it’s been kinda boring around here. But now that school started back up, hopefully things will pick up. Besides, now I have a new friend!”
The two girls continued to chat while Melissa ate her lunch. Melissa noticed that Jenny didn’t eat anything but chalked it up to the stereotypical teenage girl watching her weight. She was lucky though, she could eat anything and not gain an ounce.
Jenny didn’t seem to have any of the same classes she did so the girls made plans to meet after school and hang out for a while. The bell signalling the end of lunch rang just after they agreed on the town’s park entrance as a meeting spot. Jenny explained to Melissa how to get to her next class and then rushed off to get to her own.
The rest of the day went by the same as the first half for Melissa. No one really spoke to her, other than the teachers. Sure, a few said hi in the hall or offered a smile in passing, but that was about it. She was just grateful she hadn’t run into any trouble.
When the final bell rang she found herself excited to meet up with Jenny again. She hoped that maybe Jenny could introduce her to some other kids and eventually she’d have that small group of friends again like those she missed back home. She grabbed her stuff from her locker and headed to the meeting spot. The park was empty when she got there so she sat on the bench by the entrance and started reading her book.
About a chapter into the book she realized that Jenny still hadn’t shown. She checked her watch and realized over half an hour had passed. She waited another fifteen minutes before giving up, figuring either Jenny had played a cruel joke or something had come up and she couldn’t make it. On her walk home she decided to check Facebook to see if she could friend Jenny. Maybe they could chat and she’d find out what happened.
Melissa tossed her book bag on her bed and turned on her computer. Once it finished loading she did a search for Jenny on Facebook and was glad to see the girl had a page. What she found on the page though, shocked her. There were condolences and prayer messages left by others several months ago. Man, kids can be cruel. Wonder why they all did that to her, acting as though she had died. That’s just mean, Melissa thought. She kept browsing the page but didn’t see any recent activity, it looked as though the page had just been abandoned. Frustrated, she gave up for the evening and worked on her homework instead.
The next morning she was surprised to find Jenny out front waiting for her. “I thought I’d walk to school with you,” the girl offered.
“What happened to you yesterday? I waited for almost an hour.”
“Come with me, there’s something I have to show you. It’s on the way to school, it won’t take but a couple extra minutes,” Jenny pleaded.
Melissa gave in and the two started walking toward the school. Halfway there Jenny told her to follow her through a shortcut so she could show her why she never made it the day before. They walked through the trees on a dirt path that led into the town’s cemetery.
“Why are we going in the cemetery? We shouldn’t be here!” Melissa hissed as she looked around, anxious that Jenny was up to no good.
“Please, just come. You’ll understand soon, we’re almost there.”
Melissa relented and continued to follow Jenny. This better be good, she thought. The path continued to wind through the empty cemetery. She felt goosebumps flash across her skin as a cold breeze blew through the air. Just as she was about to tell Jenny to forget it, the other girl turned off the path down a row of gravestones and stopped in front of one.
Melissa rolled her eyes and walked over to the headstone in front of Jenny. When she read the markings she did a double take. It read:
Feb 15th, 1995 – Oct 31st 2012
Beloved daughter, friend, sister
Taken too soon
When the shock wore off, Melissa looked around, Jenny was nowhere to be found. She sat down in front of the grave and pulled out her phone to Google Jenny’s name. She found an article with Jenny’s picture that said the girl had died in a freak accident on Halloween the year before. Melissa had been talking to a ghost.
Kayleigh Grian is currently a part time student working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Computer Forensics and Security. She also works full time as a police dispatcher.
Kayleigh has always enjoyed writing, especially fiction and poetry. She is working on several projects including her first novel and a collection of short stories. Kayleigh enjoys reading as much as she does writing and will often go through a few books a week when she doesn’t have a ton of homework to do.