When you see ghosts, you get used to surprises. They can just Show Up anytime. They can look like normal people, or people from a long time ago. They can be old or young. They can be animals or bugs. There’s probably a million million million million ghosts. The world is pretty crowded with ghosts. That’s why Granpy says there can’t be any ghosts. He says it’s Physically Impossible because of Conservation Of Energy. Then he used a lot more big words that I don’t remember. But the point is, I’m so used to them appearing All Of A Sudden that I don’t really get surprised anymore.
But the thing about tyrannosaurs is that they are big. Very, very, very big. So big that I only saw a great big foot with claws on it, and then another one, and the rest of it was above the ceiling. Which meant that the dinosaur’s head was in my bedroom up above us. Also, I had never seen a dinosaur ghost before. So this time, I was surprised.
I was so surprised that I made a noise. I don’t know what to call the noise I made. It wasn’t a scream, and it wasn’t loud. It was the same sound I make if I think a spider is going to touch me. It’s only made out of letters like A and U and I and O, but I can make it even if my mouth is closed, and the sound goes through my nose instead of my mouth. That was the noise that I made.
Granpy heard me make that sound and he Came Running from the kitchen and asked me if I was okay. He walked right through the dinosaur’s foot, which had not moved At All. The dinosaur was just standing there. It was not going away. It was standing in front of the TV and I couldn’t see what was on the screen. I hadn’t been looking at the screen anyway, but now I realized I wanted to see. Maybe something good was on. I did not want to look at a dinosaur’s foot.
I was staring at the tyrannosaur’s leg and Granpy waved his hand in front of my face and said, “Princess, you look spooked,” and he asked if there was something scary on TV, because he didn’t know there was a tyrannosaur in the way. I told him I didn’t know what was on TV because I couldn’t see it, and then I realized that Granpy looked very worried. He came and sat next to me and he asked me if maybe I bumped my head when I fell down, and I said No, and he said Are you sure?, and I said I think so, and he said maybe I should lie down and have a rest. He said I should go upstairs to my room and he would bring me my hot chocolate, but there was No Way I was going up to my room with a tyrannosaur head in it. So I said No, Granpy, it’s okay, my head is fine. And he said If You Say So, Princess, and went back to finish my hot chocolate, but his Line was back again and he didn’t have a happy face.
It wasn’t the first time the ghosts got me in trouble. It happened at school All The Time. Sometimes the teacher would ask me if I knew the answer to the problem on the board, and I would look and there would be a ghost standing there so I couldn’t see. And the teacher would say, Well? which means I am taking too much time to answer, and I always had to say, I can’t see it. And the teacher would ask why, and only once I told them the truth, and that’s how I learned that you should never tell a teacher that you can see a ghost. So then I started to answer I don’t know, even though I probably did know, only I couldn’t see. And when the ghost finally moved I could see that it was something really easy, and the teacher said I was Not Paying Attention, and the other kids laughed and started to call me stupid again.
Once they made me go to a special eye doctor to check if I could see. Of course I could see fine, and all the tests said I had Perfect Vision, so the teachers decided I was Just Acting Out For Attention again. They said the same thing when there was a ghost sitting in my chair and I didn’t want to sit in it, or if there was a ghost in the doorway and I couldn’t get through. I know I can walk through them, but I don’t like to do it. It feels like it’s not very nice to walk through somebody just because they are a ghost.
But you shouldn’t think that I don’t have any friends. I have a friend at school. His name is Jose. He is in a different class than me, and two years older than me, but we have lunch at the same time, and that’s why we’re friends. I always sit by myself and eat my lunch in the corner of the lunch room, where it’s quiet, or at least not as loud as everywhere else, and one day he came and sat down on the other side of the table and said Hi, my name is Jose. I took another bite of my sandwich and then he said What’s your name? and I told him.
Then he started talking some more. He told me that he was new in our school because his family had just moved, and he didn’t know anyone, so he didn’t have any friends, and he saw that I was sitting all by myself and he thought that maybe I didn’t have any friends either, so maybe we should be friends. Then he stopped talking and took a bite of his sandwich, which was peanut butter. I could see it leaking out of the sides, and a blob of peanut butter was squeezing out the back when he bit the sandwich, and it was going to fall, but he didn’t see it. I was watching it, but I didn’t say anything, because Granmy taught me when I was really little that people don’t like it when you interrupt them, and I wasn’t sure if he was finished talking or not. I kept watching it, and the peanut butter fell down onto the table, but he still didn’t see it.
After Jose swallowed his bite of sandwich, he said, “What’s wrong? Don’t you speak English?”
And the second question was an easy one, so I said Yes. I didn’t answer the first question because I didn’t know what he was talking about. Then he asked me How Come I wasn’t talking, and I said I’m talking right now, then he said You’re weird, which is something a lot of people say about me, but that was okay, because at least he didn’t say I was stupid or Just looking for attention.
He kept looking at me but he wasn’t talking any more. His eyebrows were up and he wasn’t eating, and I decided he was waiting for something, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Then I remembered that he asked why I wasn’t talking, and I thought maybe he wanted me to talk, but I didn’t know what I should say. The Good News is that I was lucky, because he finally asked me a question. He asked me why I was eating all by myself.
That wasn’t a hard question, but it had a long answer. So I tried to talk fast, because there were only 12 minutes left for lunch, and I had a lot to say.
I told him that I sat by myself because no one wanted to sit with me, because they thought I was stupid, even though I wasn’t stupid. They only thought that because they didn’t know about ghosts. And then I realized that maybe I shouldn’t tell Jose about the ghosts, but he didn’t laugh or say I was crazy or Just looking for attention or Acting Out or anything like that, he just kept listening, so I just kept talking. I told him about Mrs. Kinney in the library and the Indian man at the zoo and Granmy and the little boy and the mice that Simon liked to chase (and then I had to explain who Simon was) and the people who stood in front of the board in class so I couldn’t see the answers and all the dogs at the park and the old people on the bus and all the other ghosts, who they were and what they looked like and what they did and what all the other kids and teachers said when I talked about them and everything the specialist said and how Granpy said I just had an Overactive Imagination. And then lunch was over and the teachers said we had to go to class, and I didn’t even get to finish half of my sandwich.
Jose got to finish his sandwich, and also his banana and his chocolate milk, because he was eating while I was talking. When I finally stopped and tried to eat two more bites of my sandwich Real Quick, he stood up and crumpled up his lunch bag and said, “Yup, you’re pretty weird.” Then he said, “I don’t think you’re stupid, though. And you’re the only one who was nice to me today.” And then he crumpled up his bag some more and looked down at the table, while I was taking one more bite of my sandwich, and he said, “Want to eat together tomorrow?” And that’s how I made my first friend at school.
We had lunch together every day, and we talked about the ghosts. Mostly I talked, but Jose said he Didn’t Mind listening because it was always interesting. He said that he didn’t know if there were really ghosts, but he didn’t know that there weren’t, either, so he didn’t have any reason to call me crazy. It made me happy when he said that.
Sometimes Jose said there were some Problems with my stories. Like one day I was telling him about Mrs. Kinney and how she was always moving the books around the library and wouldn’t let me teach her about the Library of Congress Classification system, and he interrupted me, even though it was rude, and he said That’s impossible, which was something Granpy liked to say, too. He said it was impossible that Mrs. Kinney could move all the books around, because if she could, then someone would see the floating books. And I said that normally the kids don’t even go into the library, so no one would notice. But he said no, it was impossible, because if ghosts could walk through things, then that meant they couldn’t touch things, so she couldn’t pick up the books and move them around. He said he was One Hundred Percent Sure about this, because he was starting to learn physics and he was learning about Conservation Of Energy, which made me laugh because that’s just what Granpy was always talking about. I told him he should meet Granpy and they could both talk about why ghosts are impossible, and he said okay. Then he said there was another problem, that if ghosts can go through walls, how come they can still touch the floor, and chairs, and things like that? How could they touch some things but not other things? And I said I Don’t Know, maybe they can touch things when they want to, and he shook his head and said Nope. Impossible. Then he said that maybe I really was crazy, and I was seeing things that weren’t really there, and maybe it was really me who was moving the books around in the library, only I didn’t remember it afterward. And I started to get angry, but then I saw that his mouth and his eyes both looked happy and he wasn’t trying to hurt my feelings. Then he said, How About I come to your house for dinner tonight, and I called Granpy and asked him, and he said it was okay.