Granpy didn’t ask about the ghosts for a few days, so I started to feel better. I wouldn’t have to lie to him after all. Still, I was feeling sad inside. It was so nice to think that maybe Granpy could see the ghosts, too. I had practice conversations with him in my head where we tried to guess what exactly the ghosts were made out of, and why we could see them but no one else could. And then we sat down together with Granmy just like we used to and had dinner (Granmy just watched because ghosts don’t eat) and then we went out and met lots more new friends together. And I wasn’t afraid to talk to them, because Granpy was with me, and he could see them too, and he didn’t have his Line anymore. But practicing these things was A Waste Of Time because Granpy still didn’t know about ghosts and it was all just another big misunderstanding.
On Sunday I was eating my cereal at the table and he sat down with his cereal and he said, “Princess, you know there’s really no such things as ghosts, right?” And it Broke My Heart, which means it made me feel very sad inside. I looked at Granpy and saw that Granmy was sitting right next to him and she was Rolling Her Eyes and smiling at me. Her smile made me feel better, and it was Contagious, which means it made me smile too. I looked at Granpy then, because he always says he likes it when I smile, and it looked like he felt better, and his Line finally went away. He said, “You know, Princess, you have your grandmother’s smile,” which made me and Granmy both laugh.
Some days are quiet. Some days I don’t see any ghosts at all, except for Granmy, who is always there. Some days there are lots of ghosts, but most of them don’t talk, or they just walk by and don’t even notice me. But some days are busy. That Sunday was a busy day.
After breakfast, I sat down on the couch to read a book, but Simon kept running back and forth and making lots of noise. He was chasing some ghost mice. He would have caught them if he could touch them, but every time he jumped on top of one, it went right through his paws and kept running, so Simon just kept running too. Then Granpy went in his office and made the whole house smell really bad with the Building Blocks Of Life. I guess some of the blocks are gross and stinky. When I used to play with building blocks at school, they were always gross and stinky too, because of all the kids who played with them with dirty hands. I know Granpy always says they’re not the same thing, but they definitely Have A Lot In Common.
I decided to try to ignore the smell, because sometimes that works and you don’t smell it anymore. I thought maybe if I got Lost in my book, that would help me forget about the smell, but when I was just starting to get Lost, a whole big group of Indians ran through the living room yelling and waving around some old-fashioned weapons, then they went straight out through the kitchen and disappeared. Then I remembered the smell again and decided maybe I should go outside.
It was cold outside, but it wasn’t snowing, so if I put on my new blue coat and gloves and my old blue hat and snow pants and big warm boots, I wouldn’t get too cold. I didn’t have to go too far. I could just go to my tree and be away from the bad smell and sit in the quiet for a while. It was always quiet outside in the wintertime, because everyone is staying inside, because people don’t like to be cold. I don’t know why they don’t just put on a jacket and gloves and hat and snow pants and boots to stay warm. But that’s okay, because I like it when it’s quiet.
So I got all my outside clothes on and I went to the back door. And I stood there for a few minutes, and I remembered the first moment I saw the Duchess up on my branch, and All Of A Sudden I thought of a lot of reasons why maybe I shouldn’t go out. It’s not good to be in cold air for too long, because you can get frostbite, and that means your fingers and toes fall off. And I hadn’t finished the chapter I was reading in my book yet, and if I didn’t, I might forget what was happening. And if Granpy made a mistake with his chemistry, something bad could happen, and he might need my help. And if Simon got tired of chasing the ghost mice, he might want someone to sit with, and maybe Granmy wouldn’t want to sit with him, and I didn’t want to leave him all alone.
And just when I was thinking all that, Simon ran over to me and stood next to me at the door and he reached up with his paw and he scratched the door, which is what he does when he wants to go outside. So I guessed that if Simon wanted to go outside, maybe I should go with him to make sure he was safe. Anyway, I was starting to get hot with all my outside clothes on. So finally I opened the door, and Simon went outside and stepped in the snow, and he started jumping around to keep the cold off his feet, and it made me laugh, so I felt a little better and I went out, too.
I started to walk over to my tree. There were no leaves on it because it was winter, but it was partly behind some other trees. The Duchess could be up there, and I might not be able to see her. I knew I had to walk over and check to see if she was there, but I didn’t know what I’d do if she was. I looked over at the tree for a while. Maybe, if she was up there, she would move, and I’d see her before I got too close. I stood there for a long time. Simon was running and jumping around my feet, but I still didn’t look down. I stood there until my feet got cold. I still didn’t see anything, so I decided that I should go a little bit closer. I took a step, and then another step. Not big steps, just small ones. The snow was the heavy wet kind that goes crunch when you step on it, so I moved really slowly so I wouldn’t make too much noise. But I guess Simon was making so much noise that nobody would hear me moving anyway. I took one more step, then stopped again. I was still looking up. Simon bumped into my leg and I looked down for a second, but Out Of The Corner Of My Eye, I thought I saw something move up there.
I looked back up Right Away. I stared right at where my tree was, just a little bit hidden behind some other branches, and I didn’t even blink my eyes. Maybe I only saw a bird. Or maybe it was my Imagination. Just because ghosts are real doesn’t mean I can’t still have an Imagination. I stared until my feet got cold again, and a few times my eyes got too dry and I had to blink, but I didn’t see anything else.
Simon wasn’t running around anymore. I was scared that maybe he had left me all alone, so I looked down. He was there, sitting on a chair that we have in the back yard that didn’t have any snow on it because it was under a big tree branch, and he was licking his fur, which is how cats take a bath. I felt a little bit braver because I knew he was there, so I looked back up at my tree. I still didn’t see anything moving, so I kept walking over to it, but I still kept looking up there, just in case what I saw wasn’t a bird or a Figment of my Imagination and it turned out the Duchess was really there, waiting to scare me or ask for help again, and I didn’t turn my eyes away at all until the whole world moved and I was on the ground.
There was a big heavy flower pot in the snow. In the summer there were tomatoes growing in it, but in the winter, there was nothing there, and I didn’t see it because I was looking up at the tree. Quickly I figured out where I was, and why the whole world was in a different place. Then I realized I was in the snow and it was cold. Then I remembered how it felt when I fell, and I remembered that I hit the ground really hard, and I realized my arm hurt and there was something hard underneath it, and at the same time I realized that Simon wasn’t on the chair anymore, and then I started to cry.
Normally when I cry, I do it very, very quietly. If you cry at school, all the other kids laugh and make fun of you. If you cry with grown-ups around, they all start touching you and putting their faces really close to your face and saying things like “It’ll Be All Right” or “There’s No Need To Cry” or “Dry Your Tears” and they make it much, much worse. I learned when I was really little that it’s best if people don’t see you cry. I think they must all be really afraid of crying, because whenever they see it, they Go Nuts and they’ll do anything to make it stop. Maybe they are Allergic to crying.
So normally if I have to cry, I hide somewhere, or at least I do it quietly and I don’t look at anyone so they don’t see the tears. But this time, I wasn’t quiet. I tried to be quiet at first, but then I saw that Simon wasn’t there, and at the same time I felt the hard thing under my arm and realized my bones might be broken, and at the same time I realized I wasn’t watching the tree and the Duchess might be up there waiting for me or sneaking up behind me, and at the same time I realized the snow got under my jacket and my shirt was cold and wet, and I just Couldn’t Hold It In Anymore. I started to moan, which happens sometimes when it’s All Too Much, and then I realized that someone might hear me and I got embarrassed and scared, but that only made me moan louder, and then I felt the worst I’d ever felt in my whole life, and then I realized I was crying really loudly, and I tried to make it stop but I couldn’t.
But I was Lucky, because Granpy had the windows open to try to get rid of the bad smell, and he heard me, and he ran outside and picked me up and carried me in like a little kid. He didn’t tell me to stop crying or to calm down or to dry my tears. He just helped me take my outside clothes off and rolled up my sleeve and saw that I had a brown and yellow mark on my arm where the rock hit it and he said it was Black And Blue even though it was really brown and yellow, but he helped me move my arm around and he said it was Definitely not broken, and it was Just A Nasty Bump, and it would really be just fine. Then he Gave Me My Space so I could calm down and stop crying, and Simon came and sat with me. Granpy was in the kitchen and he said he’d make us some hot chocolate, and that’s when the tyrannosaurus rex walked in.