A Price to Pay
Sarah, Age 14, Edmonton, AB

It seemed like yesterday that I lived in my three room country house, when I first began to see shadows racing across my living room. Sometimes, if I listened intently, I heard my name being whispered. I could hear the low, raspy voice gliding around the room. It was then that I came to the consensus that I must be going insane since the accident happened. Ghosts never came across to me as being real. I never really believed in them. I always thought they were a myth, made up to scare friends on a camping trip or to strike fear into a younger sibling. But things change when you come face to face with the truth.

It all started when one day I was cleaning my basement and came across an old box that I had never seen before. Curiously I opened it, when I heard something that made me freeze. Coming from beside me was that low raspy voice, like a woman's hoarse whisper, but I couldn’t be sure. The voice wasn’t calling my name but crying out for help. It sounded as if the voice was trembling, gasping for air as though choking. I stood in my basement trying to hear what the voice was communicating. It was as if it was calling to be rescued - a simple yet demanding plea.
Falling into a deep trance-like sleep in my attempt to hear the mysterious voice, when I awoke I was greeted by a shadow in a white nightgown. The women was whiter than anything I’d ever seen in my life, whiter than freshly fallen snow, but I could still see her. Light seemed to go straight through the slight waif like body. I was taken aback by how her face looked. Depressed and teary- eyed, she looked at me as if she expected something, as if she were preparing to say something. The feeling of sadness was coming from her heart as if it were my own. She was looking at me with woeful eyes. I was dumfounded when I heard her voice.

“Do you think you can help me?” the raspy voice asked.

I didn’t know how to respond, even though I knew the answer should be no. I felt compelled to tell the woman that I could help her, but I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. But my voice seemed to fail me at the last moment and let out the rarely heard “Yes” in a tiny whisper.

She looked at me as if I had given her good news.

“My name is J.J.,” the women said.

“Mine’s Ryan,” I told her.

She told me to open the box, so I did. When I opened it, I pulled out what looked like old newspaper articles. When I looked at the woman, tears began to flow down her scratched cheek. I wondered why she was crying at the sight of these photos, cut outs from newspapers. They seemed to be snapshots of a happy family. J.J.’s tears ended when she saw me observing her (as if she had switched to autopilot). The women told me that she was searching for her husband and her two small children and about the tragic accident that took their lives. She told me to look at the newspaper. I told her I saw nothing but words. Shaking her head, she continued to tell me to look with looking eyes but not seeing eyes. Confused by what she meant, I looked at the photograph once again.

“What do you want of me?” I asked.

J.J. looked pleased when she looked at me. She was holding something up as if to answer my question: An old photo lay nestled in her handsI soon realized that the two kids were her children. Confused why J.J. was showing me a photo of her kids, I asked her why she was showing me this. J.J. responded to me as if she had been preparing for this moment for a long time. Suddenly I felt a deep intense pain in my chest. There was something different about this pain; it was as if I had felt it before, as if I had lived through this moment yet I had no memory of where and when.
I had the urge to find out why. It was then that I decided to search J.J.’s kids' names and see what had killed them. I later found out that they had been killed in a car accident by a drunk driver. Feeling the deepest sympathy for the women, since my own twin brother had been killed in a fatal car accident, I felt a sudden connection. One moment you are having a carefree, fun life and the next it all turns to sour tragedy; it is heartless when it strikes.

Together we set off to view old hospital records and soon it was evident that J.J. had been in a coma for the last two years and did not realize that the sudden impact had killed her two kids and her husband instantly on that snowy night. The staff remembered her with great pity as she was not killed instantly. One of the older nurses recalled in gruesome detail how the accident had happened. The other car was driven by a teenager who had consumed too much liquor on the way home from a grad party. Whispers of drug usage were also gossiped about but there had been no proof. Besides, she added, the teen had also lost his life. Sadly, my own brother’s loss came surfacing back; he had also died that same year in a horrific tragic accident that had taken the lives of four people. Helpfully the nurse explained that the family had been buried at the old cemetery on the edge of town. Townsfolk were happy that J.J. had passed on recently without learning of their tragic passing.

When we were in the cemetery, we searched until we found her family plot and next to her grandfather's grave lay her husband and children. A sudden lurch filled my heart with dread as I recognized the link and the names. Oh my gosh, my own brother had been involved in this tragedy. J.J. was Justine James, and the children were Devon and Ben. No wonder I had felt a faint recognition when I saw this woman. My heart grew cold as the air seemed to stifle every breath. How awful! Turning to the woman, I was hoping to express my deepest sympathy and explain to her. Instead, a sudden cold feeling came over me, and I felt ashamed. A push and I was lying face down in a newly dug grave as I lost consciousness.

I lie here paying for the sins of my twin brother. What a price to pay. Now you know the sad truth of how today I myself am a ghost watching my body languishing in that grave. Dead.

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