(This is part 3 of a ghost story. Part 1 ran on this blog Friday, Oct. 9 and part 2 on Monday, Oct. 12. Enjoy!)
“It’s J…J…J…N…N…Eeeeee!” Ellie wailed.
“Now, sweetie. That’s not Jenny,” I soothed, stroking her hair.
Something hit the floor. I peered through the dim light at what looked like a shoe.
Again, something hit the floor. The matching shoe.
“Hey, up there. Stop that. Show yourself,” Sheriff Gates yelled.
But in response, a sky-blue t-shirt swirled down and dropped on top of the griddle.
“Show yourself. Else I’m coming up after you,” Gates threatened. He stomped over to the ladder that led up to the hayloft and grabbed the vertical slats of the ladder.
Something else dropped out of the swirling air and fell on top of the griddle. A pair of pink shorts?
“No. No. No. No. NO!” Ellie screamed.
Smoke rose from the griddle. The clothing burst into flames. I rushed to the center of the room, searching for the griddle’s electric cord, reaching for the control knob. There was no cord, there was no ‘on’ light, yet the griddle popped and crackled with heat and the clothes and the triangle made of sticks burned. A minute later, what little was left of the objects was blackened and charred.
From above, long strands of yellow hair floated down.
Ellie covered her face and sobbed.
“What the …” Nixon muttered.
“That’s enough,” Gates exploded. He climbed the ladder and disappeared into the loft above us.
“Ellie, what’s going on?” I squatted next to the girl, my hands on her shoulders, and peered into her face.
“I…I…didn’t… mean…mean…for…her…her…to…to…d…d…DIE!” Ellie shrieked.
“Who? I don’t see anyone dead.”
“I d…d…did it!”
“Ellie, tell me what happened.” Ellie’s wide eyes were glued to my face. She stared, and her eyes lost focus.
“Nothing up here,” Sheriff Gates hollered from the top of the ladder. He climbed down.
“Ellie. Tell me what happened,” I repeated.
The girl stared, unblinking, at nothing. The griddle smoldered.
Jenny Hooper never came home again. She’s part of the history of the Old Simpson barn now. And Ellie–well, her parents took her and moved out of town within the month after it happened.
One day not long after, Margie was cutting my hair down at the Clip ‘N Curl and I overheard Cassie Prather and Ruthann Welk talking.
“Jenny was a bully,” Cassie said. “And I heard Ellie was her favorite target, the skinny tomboy with freckles and few friends.”
“You know Ellie’s great-grandmother on her father’s side lived over at Wilburton, and they drowned her for a witch in the river,” Ruthann said in a stage whisper. “Nobody ever talks about it. Don’t say I told you.”
I closed my eyes and swallowed. I could still see all that blonde hair dropping down from that barn tornado.
You won’t ever catch me at the Old Simpson barn again.
(If you liked this story – and want more, go to my website at http://www.marycoley.com and fill in the contact form. You’ll receive a free story every month, and be entered into the October contest for a free item from Burt’s Bees. Thanks!)