Darkness fell outside and I materialized in the house. I heard Julia’s footsteps behind me and turned.
“James!” Her smile was wide. “I’ve missed you.”
My heart froze. I’m not surprised she called me James. I’ve been talking about James and myself in the same breath since she was born. But I wasn’t James. The boy in the pictures didn’t feel like me or perhaps it was that I didn’t feel like him? Plus, if that was true that mean I’d been alive once…
“I’m not James,” I said shaking my head. Her smile faded slightly. There had been plenty of times in the darkness that I’d wanted to be James. To have known a different existence outside the darkness. But I knew that was just wishful thinking.
“But, you look like James,” she said tilting her head. “Although more see-through.”
If I could have become any paler, I would have. I looked like James? How could she even know? “Where have you seen James?” I asked.
“On the computer,” she said. “We had to do a report in history and since I live in the ‘haunted house’ I did it on you! Or, um, on James. There’s lots of newspapers online from when he died.”
“Pictures of James?” I knew what James looked like from the images the darkness showed me. Could her James really be the same as my James?
“Sure, wanna see?” I nodded and she led me out of her room and down the hallway to Hank’s office. “Shhhhh,” she whispered tiptoeing. She pointed down the stairs and I could see lights and hear the murmur of voices. Hank and Sofia were still awake.
She pushed the door open and shut it carefully behind her. Then Julia sat down at the computer confidently and started clicking the mouse and typing. I wasn’t sure what she was doing. I’ve never used a computer. So I waited. I wondered why I didn’t feel more excited, or more nervous. Perhaps I just didn’t know how to feel?
“Here,” she pointed at the screen and leaned back. I moved forward. The picture certainly looked like James. Like the boy in the pictures.
“I look like that?” I asked.
She turned and looked closely a me. Studying. I tried not to fidget.
“You do,” she said at last with a nod. “Haven’t you ever seen yourself?”
“No,” I admitted. I’d been too scared.
“Oh, come!” She jumped out of the chair. If she could have grabbed my hand and pulled me she would have dragged me all the way to the bathroom. I followed her helplessly until we both stood in front of the mirror.
“There,” she pronounced. I looked. I did look like James.
“Mom, Dad?” Julia’s voice drifted into the living room as she peaked her head around the corner. She was in her pajamas. But she was supposed to have been in bed an hour ago. She watched James float sadly to the bottom of the stairs. Her parents were sitting on the couch and they looked up as she entered.
“What is it peanut?” Hank asked looking concerned. She rarely bothered them unless it was really important.
“I – ” now she hesitated. The plan had seem clear moments ago. It had certainly sounded a lot less crazy up in her room. “I wanted you to meet James.”
“James?” Sofia frowned. “From school? You can certain invite any of your friends over, but now isn’t really the – ”
“-No,” Julia interrupted. “James,” she pointed at the ghost in the behind her. She urged him to come closer bu he just sort of stood there, looking down at his toes. She frowned and looked back at her parents.
“Honey, I know the kids at school tease you for living here – the haunted house – right? But pretending to see ghosts isn’t going to help.”
“Dad?” Julia looked at her father hopefully. He was still looking where she pointed, but at her words he turned to her and shook his head.
“You’re mother’s right, peanut. Plus, it’s long past time for you to be in bed.” He stood up.
He’d been less enthusiastic about the whole plan from the start. Like he knew it was going to turn out this way.
“Look,” her father said as they walked up the stairs. “It doesn’t hurt to have imaginary friends. I had some too, growing up. But you need to make sure they stay imaginary.” He tucked her back into bed. “Alright, peanut?”
“I can still play with James?” She was pretty sure he wasn’t imaginary, but perhaps…her mom did say she had a great imagination.
“Of course. Just know that no one else can see him.” Julia nodded reluctantly.
Hank kissed his daughter on her forehead and closed the door firmly behind him. At least she wasn’t afraid of the dark. Then since he was upstairs, he checked in on Molly and Lara. They too were still sleeping soundly.
He returned downstairs to his wife.
“Is she okay?” He could tell she wasn’t asking just about tonight’s events but the whole situation. This had been brewing a while. Julia teacher had called just last week about her ‘ghost.’ He’d given her a piece of his mind about how the other kids teased her, but he’d agreed telling stories probably wasn’t the best way to make friends.
“Yes. We had a talk about imaginary friends.”
“That’s what this is, right?” Sofia asked. “Just her imagination? She’s not really being haunted by a ghost.”
“Did you see a ghost?” Hank asked.
“No, no.” She let out a long breath and then smile. “I guess you’re right. Funny. When I first moved in with you I wanted there to be a ghost so badly. Now, I want this ‘James’ to be just her imagination.”
“Here,” Hank said turning his wife and leaning back to reach her shoulders. She leaned against him. “You’ve been carrying too many books at the library, your back is in knots.” He chuckled and continued the massage. “Don’t worry so much.”
* Upstairs Hallway Wall paneling Beach Cirkus by K-Hippie
* Julia’s purple bedspread is by CF – link unknown sorry! I just downloaded a different ModPod Sleeper recolor set that I’ll be using going forward because it has more recolors.
* Sofia’s round glasses are Esmeralda’s Small Round Glasses
* Mirror screenshot made possible only via the Sim Teleportor Mod
* Challenge details: CitizenErased14’s Ambrosia Challenge
Current Score 997 (-3 points for the ghost being in the same room as a non-heir). I found a way to avoid having James in the same room when Julia went to show him off so no points lost there.