Read part 1 by following this link. Or enjoy as a stand alone piece.
The first time I saw Aimee was on the day we finished school to start GCSE study leave. It was late and I was drinking coffee to try and keep myself awake so that I could study for my history exam. It was only one week away, but I couldn’t face the thought of going back up to my room. Instead I looked around for something, anything to keep me downstairs. That’s when I saw the file that my dad had brought home. It had ‘Missing Person’s File’ written across the front.
I couldn’t resist looking inside and as I flicked through I tried to guess why each person might have left their homes and families. Then I stopped when I came across Aimee, a curly blond haired, blue eyed, high school sweetheart. In the photo she was smiling like she didn’t have a care in the world. I looked at the notes. They said that she was five foot six and sixteen years old and her Birthday was the 26th October, the same as mine. She was five years older than me, so I didn’t recognise her; I would have still been at junior school when she disappeared.
Then there were the details of her disappearance. There didn’t seem to be anything untoward about Aimee’s life. She was from a stable family home and was doing well in school, but about a month before she disappeared her behaviour had changed. According to the notes, she had split up with her boyfriend and had become depressed. The police found empty vodka bottles hidden in her room.
Aimee had a horse, which she stabled at a private residence at the end of her road. The statement from her mum said that the only thing Aimee didn’t give up on was her horse. The stables were her sanctuary, where she always went whenever she had an argument with her parents or fell out with her boyfriend, etc. She went every morning to muck out the stables before she went to school. On the day she disappeared, she went off to tend to her horse as usual. Nobody saw her leave because she always went really early. But she never made it to school that day. When her parents came home in the evening, they found her things gone and a note saying that she couldn’t stay any longer. There had been no word or sighting of her since.
I was so absorbed in the file that I didn’t notice the change in the atmosphere. A strange sensation came over me as I looked at the photo and my eyes locked with Aimee’s. I couldn’t move but I felt as though I was falling and for a moment must have blacked out. When I recovered from the dizziness and refocused, I looked up to see that someone was standing right in front of me. It was her.
Except that she wasn’t the happy, smiling Aimee from the photo. Her eyes were darker and full of sadness and pain. As she reached out towards me my heart raced as I realised that she was trying to connect with me. I thought I must be hallucinating, but then it struck me. Aimee was not a runaway, she was dead. And a ghost. And standing right in front of me.
I knew that this would happen one day, but I hadn’t prepared myself for it at all. In fact, I had been in complete denial about this for a long time. Being different is not something I ever aspired to. But at that moment, as I sat facing Aimee, frozen to my chair, the reality that a dead person was trying to connect with me really kicked in. It literally felt like a punch in the stomach. I panicked, jumping up from my chair and backed against the wall. It took several deep breaths before I could look directly at Aimee again.
When I looked at her, really looked, I was shocked. Her hair was all messy and knotted and there was a big bruise on her forehead. I noticed, too, that there were red marks on her face. This time she was crying. I didn’t know what to do. But she looked scared and vulnerable and it made my own fear disappear. I found myself tentatively stepping forward and reaching my hands out towards hers. I couldn’t physically touch her, but the gesture seemed enough, as she visibly seemed to relax a little and even attempted a smile. I breathed out in relief.
‘W-where are you Aimee?’ was all I could manage to say. Aimee said nothing; she just stood still, the same scared expression fixed to her face. ‘Can you speak to me?’ She shook her head, looking even more pained and my heart lurched. But before I had time to react she looked directly at me. Our eyes locked again and I was powerless; falling down and down, deep into the blackness until I reached a light at the other side.
Suddenly I was connected to Aimee in a way that I had never experienced before. I became a part of her, could feel her emotions, her pain. I could see into her mind; a thousand images flashing before me, like a photo gallery of memories. I tried to commit as many of them to my own memory as possible, but they were coming at me too fast. And the weight of Aimee’s fear and pain was bearing down on me, making it almost impossible.
Just as I started to get into a rhythm of memorising what I was seeing, everything stopped and I slumped to the floor. I felt as though all the energy and life blood had been zapped out of my body and it took me a moment to recover and steady my breathing. I looked up at Aimee’s face. Her eyes were wide with fright. She shook her head and she was crying. And then she was gone.