THE GHOST OF GREEN ACRES – PART NINE

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My mouth agape I just stared at Sophie, wide eyed and trembling. She explained her vision to complete perfection it sent chills down my spine. I tried to regain my composure and as I was about to speak, a familiar face approached, belonging to none other than Claudia.
“You girls are taking forever, come on!” Her tone was jovial until she saw the look of horror on my face. “What is it?” Her eyes burned into mine as she pursed her lips before looking to Sophie then back to me again.
I promised Sophie I wouldn’t say anything more and I would keep that promise. I regained my composure. “I just realised I forgot to complete some work in the library today which is due tomorrow.” I grabbed a teaspoon from the cutlery tray, quickly adding in sugar to each mug whilst Sophie grabbed the kettle and poured in the water after. Neither of us made eye contact with Claudia.
“Josy, remember what I said in the library. If you need to borrow my books to help with your work, you can come up to my room later and I’ll help.” She offered again, forcing a smile upon her face.
“Um, thanks Claudia, but I’m quite tired so I’ll get an early night and wake up early in the morning.” I glanced briefly at Sophie and heard a small sigh of relief leave her mouth. “Can you grab the milk please, Soph.” I asked, desperate to avoid any more questions from Claudia who was clearly digging for information.
Sophie grabbed the milk carton and poured a little into each mug.
“Would you mind taking these please?” I handed two mugs to Claudia who took them reluctantly, not wanting to leave myself and Sophie alone for a moment longer. The three of us walked back to the chairs where Emily, Olivia and Rebecca were nattering away with the television on in the background.
My mind was reeling after Sophie’s reveal. I desperately wanted to speak to her alone again and talk to her about what she had seen. Her words just kept replaying in my mind over and over.
“I was out in the corridor at night, I needed to use the bathroom and something caught my eye. As I looked, there was a young girl holding a creepy looking doll, I thought perhaps it was just another student heading to the bathroom too, but when I looked closer I didn’t recognise her and I felt really uneasy. She… I mean she seemed so real, but it became so so cold, I could see my own breath in the air.”
I remembered back to my own experience as I stared out the window at a young girl holding a doll and my confusion over whether this girl was a student or a ghost. Even though I closed my eyes briefly, there was no way she could have ran away fast enough. Or the previous night when she appeared in my bedroom behind Emily as she looked out the window towards me. This same girl that Sophie described with such clarity was a ghost and there was no doubting it.
Her words were almost enough to send me running back to my bedroom to hide under my covers if I hadn’t seen the same girl myself, but it was her next words that caught me off guard and were completely unexpected.
“She wasn’t alone, I realised. Someone came from behind her, only…” She stammered.
“Only what?” My ears were peeled as my heart hammered against my chest, eyes focused on Sophie’s.
“It was a boy. A young boy about the same height as her. As he walked over, he grabbed her hand and they both looked at me, smiling.”
I was speechless. A boy. But this was a girls boarding school, why would there be a boy ghost, let alone a boy in the first place?
“I closed my eyes briefly.” Sophie continued. “Only for a couple of a seconds and when I opened them they were gone. It just didn’t make sense, they just vanished without a sound or anything.” Sophie’s hands were beginning to shake, clearly traumatised by the experience and I could understand why.
I thought seeing the girl with the doll was scary enough, but to see her with a boy. It was at that moment, as I looked toward Sophie I realised that even more secrets were piling up high, secrets I just had to find out and perhaps she, not Claudia, could be the one to help.

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The Ghost of Green Acres – Part Eight

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As the last lesson of P.E arrived, we headed to the sports building to change into our swimming costumes. Though I wasn’t a huge fan of sports, I loved to swim and found it to have a therapeutic affect, calming my nerves after todays events. There were twenty of us in total and the pool had five lanes, meaning we were separated into four groups of five, swimming for a total of thirty minutes per group practising the front stroke, back stroke and butterfly stroke. Claudia was in the first group whilst I was in the second group with Emily. Once our group had finished, we were to get dressed and head to the library for a supervised study session with Miss Benton, the librarian, Mr Ford and Mrs Jupiter, where we would stay until all our private study was completed. If we finished our study before 5.30pm, we were allowed to read leisurely but were to remain in the library until the end.
The cafeteria opened for dinner at 6pm promptly. Whilst some students remained in the library reading, which was encouraged, others would take advantage of the current sunny weather and sit on the field. I finished all my study at 4:55pm. Emily was still working away and I thought this an apt opportunity to get a bit of space to gather my thoughts in private.
As I browsed through the fiction section trying to choose a book to read, it occurred to me that there might be copies of year books from previous years, thinking perhaps it would aide in my search to find out who the mystery girl with the doll was. With the school running for more than fifty years, however, it would take me an awfully long time to work my way through each and every student from every year. So that was out of the question, at least until I could find out more information.
I wondered whether there was a book about the history of the school, documenting pivotal moments that may be able to shed some light. If I’m seeing the ghost of a girl then it would have meant she had died here somehow, the thought making me shudder, but then surely that would be public knowledge and I’d heard nothing on the matter either before or after my arrival at the school. Saying that, I’d not even heard of Mrs Jeffrey until Emily mentioned her to me. Either way it was worth a try. I headed to one of the computers to access the school’s internal library catalogue, searching: “The History of Green Acres”.
Seventy five books came up. It was evident that the majority were the year books but as I scrolled down I noticed three particular book titles that stuck out. They were entitled: “A History of Green Acres”, “Green Acres Boarding School: A History” and “Green Acres and the legacy of Mrs Jeffrey”.
The first book, I assumed, documented the history of the little town of Green Acres, while the second and third could prove potentially useful in my research. I noted down their locations and headed into the stacks. As I searched the shelves, however, I came up empty handed. I was about to head over to Miss Benton to ask her, but a voice came from behind making me jump through my skin. “What are you looking for?” As I turned, Claudia was stood behind me, arms folded and leaning against one of the stacks.
“I was just looking for something to read.”
“In the historical section?”
I didn’t know whether to admit to her what books I was looking for or whether to lie but she unintentionally saved me from the dilemma.
“Emily told me about the girl you saw last night, the same one you mentioned to me before. What were you thinking mentioning it to her? I told you she was a skeptic.” The last of her words barely audible as she uncrossed her arms and leaned in to whisper them in my ear. “They don’t understand, not like we do.”
“Do you believe me?” I blurted out without thinking.
“I told you, Mrs Jeffrey is the only ghost here.”
“But what if she isn’t? What if there are others?”
Claudia looked at me, her eyebrows furrowing, as if unsure what to make of what I had seen in the night.
“Okay.” I began. “What about what happened in the classroom this morning, you were there, you felt it. I know you did.”
“Yes, I did, and so did a few others, but we don’t all go shouting it through the rooftops for all to hear. The ones who do, clearly haven’t seen a ghost before.” She let out a small laugh and rolled her eyes. Her words rang a solid truth. Ghosts really were scary and whilst I may have initially been excited on my first day, the more I witnessed in my few days here, the more afraid I became. “Why did you snap at Sophie at lunch?” I asked in an inquisitive whisper.
“For the same reason I’m telling you now. We shouldn’t be talking about ghosts in front of skeptics.”
“Have you ever spoken to her before about it?” I dared to ask.
“No.” Claudia’s response was blunt as she turned to look through the shelf she stood next to, running her fingers along the books. “What were you looking for?” Claudia asked, changing the subject as she eyed me suspiciously.
“I was just browsing, passing the time until dinner.”
“You don’t just browse the historical section. What were you looking for, honestly?”
I bit my tongue. Her tone told me she knew exactly the book I was looking for, no doubt she followed me here after seeing me look on the computer previously. “I was just curious about the history of this school, being new here. Learning more about Mrs Jeffrey and what happened to her.” I admitted honestly.
“I know the books you’re looking for, then, and I have them.” She crossed her arms again, showing a slight smugness and superiority over that fact. “I’ll let you see them, if you like.” A small wry smile spread across her face. There was clearly some catch here.
“When were you planning to return them?” I asked.
Her smile faded and her arms fell to her side. “If you want to take a look through them, come to my room tonight after we’ve left the common room.” She left abruptly without answering my question, clearly annoyed by it in the first place. She obviously didn’t want me to look at them without her present. I wondered how long she’d had the books out for, whether she’d kept renewing them every week so that others couldn’t look through them, or took them out when she realised I’d become inquisitive about the whole thing. Claudia, it seemed, wanted control over how much I found out and I didn’t like being controlled.
I stormed over to the front desk where Miss Benton stood scanning some books whilst Mr Ford and Mrs Jupiter continued to supervise the remaining few students finishing up the last of their private study.
“How can I help?” Miss Benton was a short lady, with cropped black hair, brown eyes and was very young looking. Her smile was warm and welcoming.
“I’m looking for a couple of books.” I showed her the sheet of paper with the names and locations written down. “But I can’t see them on the shelf. Do you know when they will be available to borrow, please, Miss Benton?”
“Ah, yes, the history of Green Acres, very informative. One moment, I’ll check on the system when they are due back.” She looked toward the computer screen and started tapping away furiously at the keyboard.
“They are due back in on Thursday, would you like me to reserve them for you?” She asked, another wide smile spreading across her face.
“Yes, please.”
“Can I take your I.D card, please?”
I opened my bag, pulling out my purse and taking out the card and handing it over.
“Josy Appleton. You are the new student! Ah I am delighted to see you are taking an interest in the history of this school! Hang on a second.” She turned back to the screen, her eyebrows furrowing. “I see you are in Mrs Cronenboom’s form class. Claudia Wilkins currently has the two books out, I am sure she wouldn’t mind letting you peruse them!” Her voice said, enthusiastically.
The whole point in me asking her for the books in the first place was because I didn’t want to look at them with Claudia. “Thanks, Miss Benton, can I put them on hold anyway, please?”
“Yes of course.” She began tapping away again at the keyboard before swiping my I.D card through the card reader and handing it back to me. “They will be available to pick up on Thursday at 5pm.” She smiled again before continuing to scan away at the pile of books on the desk.
Thursday was only two days away and I hoped the time would pass. I debated whether to take Claudia up on her offer anyway but I was reluctant.
The bell rang. I put my bag over my shoulder and went to find Emily who was sitting at a one of the tables in the middle of the library reading.
“There you are! I wondered where you had wandered off to. Come on.” She closed the book, put it in her bag and stood up from her seat. “Let’s go get some dinner!”
All the remaining students from our class began to file out of the library, chattering and giggling amongst one another after the prolonged silence. We headed back to the cafeteria where Claudia, Olivia, Rebecca and Sophie were already seated at our usual table.
Today’s dinner choices included chicken thighs coated in garlic puree served with rice and roasted vegetables, seafood paella or a chicken breast burger served with mayo, lettuce and tomato in a seeded bun. I went for the paella and Emily the burger.
We sat down with the others, eating our food with small talk in-between mouthfuls.
“I’m so tired, swimming really takes it out of me.” Emily admitted.
Olivia, Rebecca and Sophie were in Mrs Wood’s form class so they took P.E on a different day to Emily, Claudia and I.
“Swimming’s my favourite! Better than maths, anyway.” Rebecca rolled her eyes as she cut vigorously at her chicken thighs.
I wondered whether they had heard about what happened in our form room today, whether any of the students mentioned anything to anyone else, but they hadn’t said anything. I looked over at Sophie who was busy eating her burger and rarely lifting her eyes from the plate. I reminded myself to approach her in the common room tonight, when Claudia was out of earshot.

*****

There was one common room per floor of the dormitory building. We were all on the same floor, me with Emily, Rebecca with Sophie, Olivia with another girl who she didn’t get on with and Claudia had a room to herself. Before I started she shared the room with Emily, but Emily moved into the empty bedroom to share with me and show me the ropes in my first two weeks. Claudia didn’t seem particularly bothered about being on her own but from what I gather there is to be a new student starting soon who will share with her. We were meant to start at the same time but something happened and her start date got pushed back.
We changed into our pyjamas before heading to the common room at 7pm which was customary; no one wanted to stay in their uniform for longer than necessary and we didn’t see the point in changing into day clothes for two hours only to change into our pyjamas when we got back to our bedrooms.
I offered to make the tea again. “Sophie, do you want to give me a hand?” She obeyed obediently. As I looked over at Claudia her eyes were almost popping out of her face, clearly unimpressed with me, but Sophie was out of her seat faster than Claudia was able to interject.
We headed over to the worktop where the kettle was, filling it up and setting it to boil. I looked over at Claudia who was busy chatting to the others but giving the occasional glance in my direction. I turned back to Sophie, whom I finally had the opportunity to speak to alone.
Sophie was short with long flowing brown curls much like my own and slightly chubby but had a very pretty face. “We haven’t really had much of an opportunity to chat since I started.” I began, grabbing the mugs out of the cupboard.
Her eyes were glued on the kettle and she smiled. “I know.”
“Can I ask you something, privately?”
“Sure.” She peeled her eyes away from the kettle and looked up at me worryingly.
“What you said at lunch time, about feeling a presence at night time. Did you mean it?” I gave her as much of a reassuring look as possible. “I won’t say anything to the others, I promise.”
She was hesitant to respond, looking over at the other girls and then back to the kettle before meeting my eyes again. “You promise not to say anything?”
“Yes, I promise.” My eyes fixed on Sophie’s whilst offering an encouraging smile.
Sophie sighed. “Every night when I’m in bed, I can sense something in the room with me. It makes me feel uncomfortable like something is holding me down in my bed forcing me to go to sleep. I never see anything, I just feel it. I know it’s Mrs Jeffrey but it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with.” Her lips twisted to one side and she looked towards the kettle, willing it to boil. I could tell there was something else, something that she wasn’t sure whether to reveal.
“Have you ever seen a ghost before?” I asked, desperate to find out more.
She was silent for a while, taking another glance over at the girls before turning back to speak again, but as she did, her next words caused my eyes to bulge and my mouth to open and fall to the floor.

The Ghost of Green Acres – Part Seven

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The day progressed at a slow pace, lessons merging into one another and my mind not 100% focused. Emily was back to her usual cheery self, apparently forgiving me for last night now that I’d admitted to it all being one huge dream, however I’d yet to speak to Claudia who clearly knew that what I saw was real, but didn’t want to reveal whatever secrets she was hiding from me. It still, however, begged the question as to why she showed me the attic in the first place, another piece to the mystery puzzle. I would have to speak to her alone, if she let me.
As Emily and I headed toward the edge of the field, the sun was shining its bright rays of light, the wind blowing the leaves of the trees to the sound of harmonic birds and the grass, soft to the touch, swayed gently in unison. Claudia, Rebecca, Olivia and Sophie were sat on a tartan patterned rug, laughing to one another as they nibbled away at their sandwiches. As we approached the laughter ceased and was replaced with a deafly silence.
“Hi Emily, Josy.” Olivia chirped brightly. “Come sit!”
Emily and I placed ourselves on the edge of the rug, legs crossed and pulled open our sandwich containers.
“Emily told us you had a nightmare last night about a ghost, Josy, is everything okay, are you missing home?” Olivia asked in a concerned tone whilst the others listened intently, with the exception of Claudia who glared over at me with an expression telling me to be careful with what I revealed.
“It was just a bad dream, there was no ghost, and yes I guess I’m missing home.” My annoyance at the question was no doubt written all over my face and in the tone of my voice as I glanced toward Emily. Her eyes were fixated on Olivia with an obvious frustration that told me she had promised not to mention anything. As Emily’s eyes caught mine, she smiled embarrassingly and took a bite out of her sandwich.
“We all felt that way when we first came here, Josy, don’t worry. This school is spooky and you’ve already heard about Mrs Jeffrey. None of us have seen her, of course, but when others claim to have, it can certainly play tricks on your mind. In all honesty we think she was a rumour made up by some of the other girls to make things a bit more interesting here.” Olivia’s words struck a chord with me, as if the thought that none of it were real had undermined what I had been experiencing since my arrival and I didn’t like it.
“Maybe ghosts do exist.” I said matter of factly, looking straight at her. I could feel Claudia’s eyes burning into my face, willing me to not talk about such things in front of skeptics. “Though you’re probably right, I doubt Mrs Jeffrey is real, or any ghosts here for that matter.” I looked down at the sandwich in my hand, feeling annoyed that I had succumbed to Claudia’s unspoken pressure to keep this a secret.
“I think she’s real.” Sophie whispered in a barely audible tone as we all looked at her, surprised. Sophie, I had gathered, was the shy girl of the group. Always listening and laughing along but rarely contributing to discussions, unless she had something she felt was of huge importance to say. So for her to admit that Mrs Jeffrey’s ghost was real was quite a big deal.
“What makes you say that?” Claudia asked.
“Sometimes when I’m in my room at night, I feel a presence in there with me.”
“The only person in the room with you is Rebecca snoring away!” Claudia lashed whilst Emily and Olivia laughed.
“I don’t snore! Do I, Soph?” Sophie looked down at her lap and a small shy smile spread across her face, not wanting to admit that Claudia’s words rung an amusing truth.
“Come on Soph, you don’t honestly believe ghosts exist, do you?” Claudia sat up straight, her tone of voice making everyone feel uneasy.
The more Claudia spoke, the more frustrated I got and the less I understood her motives. She was quite willing to believe that I had experienced the ghostly presences in the school, albeit wanting to keep it secret, but doubted Sophie the moment she mentioned it. What kind of game was she playing at?
“I find it strange that you’re only bringing this up now. You’re lying.”
“Don’t be so rude, Claudia! What if she isn’t lying?” Rebecca said, coming to Sophie’s defence. “When did this start, Soph?”
“A few weeks back. The room keeps going cold at night.” She looked over at Claudia. “But maybe I’m just imagining things.” Sophie said as she twisted her hands in her lap. “Never mind, forget I said anything.”
No one really knew how to respond, myself included. A part of me wanted to speak up and admit to the group I had felt an unusual presence, plus seen a girl holding a doll, but then I looked over at Claudia and I quickly changed my mind. She was really making me feel uncomfortable and I felt sorry for Sophie who was retreating back into her little shell of quietness.
The bell rang and we all headed back to our afternoon lessons. My desire to speak to Claudia had diminished significantly, despite the fact that I needed her to get back into the attic. I found myself very much wanting to talk to Sophie and find out more about what she had experienced as something told me she was holding a lot back from that discussion and I could understand why. The admittance of seeing a ghost was a huge thing, even with so many people coming forward in the media. Mrs Cronenboom had made it very clear that Emily was to remain by my side, so it would be difficult to catch Sophie on her own, but I would find a way, perhaps in the common room tonight.

The Ghost of Green Acres – Part Six

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I surfaced at 8:00am the next morning, my alarm apparently forgetting to chime at its usual time of 7:30am. Emily was nowhere to be seen in our room, which was rather odd when we would head down to the cafeteria together at this time in the morning. Could she have left for breakfast without me?
I quickly showered, threw on my uniform and a pair of black shoes, combing through my unruly hair and tying it in a neat pony tail. The time was now 8:30am and assembly started off our day at 9:00am promptly, which didn’t leave me much time for breakfast.
I left the bedroom, locking it behind me before strolling down the main staircase to the cafeteria. As I entered, my eyes scanned the room looking for Emily, expecting her to be with Claudia and the other girls, but none of them were there. In fact, only about a third of the cafeteria was full. Perhaps they finished breakfast and headed off to the main hall already.
I grabbed a tray and filled it with some toast and a bowl of cereal, found an empty table and sat down to eat it quickly. The girls on the surrounding tables were chattering amongst themselves in an inaudible tone. I gazed down into my cereal, contemplative, my mind replaying the events from last night, inducing worry that perhaps my night time outburst had frightened Emily and that’s why she headed off without me. I felt silly, wishing I hadn’t woken her. Claudia warned me that they wouldn’t understand the ghostly world. They were skeptics, after all.
“You best finish up, girl, assembly starts in ten minutes.” A voice broke my moment of rumination, causing me to look up and find the face of one of the cafeteria ladies. Her badge read ‘Mrs Stonely’. It occurred to me, as my eyes scanned the cafeteria, that I was now the only one in here. “Thanks Mrs Stonely. I’m finished.” Grabbing my tray, I placed it on the discard rack and quickly headed toward the main hall for assembly. The corridor leading towards it was eerily quiet except for the sound of my feet on the wooden floor, my block heeled shoes clunking on every step taken.
“You are late, Miss Appleton.” A deep stern voice belonging to Mr Ford, rang outside the doors of the hall as I approached. He must have been waiting for me. “Why are you late?”
I hesitated to respond, worried I would be in trouble if I told the truth about sleeping in.
“Why are you not with Emily Harris? She should be accompanying you around the school in your first two weeks here.” The same question was fumbling around my own mind, but truth be told, I didn’t know why she abandoned me this morning.
“Take a seat with the rest of your form class, Josephine, and do not talk to anyone, I will not have you distracting any of the students with your tardiness.” Mr Ford opened the door and signalled for me to head in. I walked in to the sound of the usual classical music playing over the speakers, heading promptly toward my form tutor Mrs Cronenboom, who looked at me with concern, signalling for me to pass by and be seated in the empty chair between her and Emily who was staring straight down at her feet refusing to acknowledge my arrival. Her face was solemn and I wondered whether Mrs Cronenboom had spoken to her about leaving me behind this morning.
The music stopped playing, and Mrs Manden, the headmistress, stepped up to the platform to begin assembly.
“Good morning, everyone.” Mrs Manden said brightly.
My mind was distracted. I desperately wanted to talk to Emily and apologise for waking her last night, no doubt that was the reason why she left me alone this morning. Emily, who was kind to everybody, most likely wanted to avoid the confrontation.
“…remembering to think of your fellow students in need…”
I wondered whether she had mentioned what had happened to the others, especially Claudia.
“…look towards your peers today and help someone who you can see is…”
I would have to speak to her as soon as I can about this. She’d have to believe me, surely. Why would I make something like this up.
“…to support one another…”
If I could only persuade her to take me back to the attic so that I can have another look around, perhaps something -” Then it dawned on me. That night in the attic, that feeling which crept over me as I stared toward the wall nearest the pile of picture frames. There was something there, something which was biding for my attention and as I drew near it, Claudia told me it was time to leave because of Mrs Jeffrey. The moment in the common room I mentioned the girl with the doll, she denied her existence and walked off before I could respond. She definitely knows something and is clearly keeping quiet about it. I need to get back in the attic and she has the key. I would have to be careful how I would approach her, hoping Emily hasn’t mentioned anything to her about last night. If she had, then there was a chance she may never take me back up there.
“…why honesty is so important…”
What did she know that I didn’t. Why would she take me up to the attic in the first place if she was worried that I’d find out about the girl with the doll? Something didn’t add up. She showed me the attic for a reason, but why if she wasn’t going to listen to me when I mentioned about the girl?
Without even thinking, my eyes were drawn down our row of chairs and they met with Claudia’s. She was staring straight at me, her eyes refusing to budge, wearing an expression that clearly showed she knew about last night and she wasn’t happy about it.

*****

We filed out of the hall in silence, the same classical music playing before it slowly faded away as we continued down the wooden floored corridor to our form rooms. We entered the classroom taking our usual seats.
“Josephine and Emily, may I have a word with you two outside, please?” Mrs Cronenboom asked, her eyes making it clear it was an order and not a request, whilst the rest of the class started muttering amongst themselves. “Quiet!” Her voice reverberated around, silencing everyone instantly.
“Now, Josephine, I have already spoken to Emily, however her scarce explanation filled with silence, shoe staring and ‘I don’t know’s’, means I am still quite unclear as to the reasoning behind your tardiness at assembly today, and rather concerned. Have you two had a falling out?” I looked over at Emily, her eyes finally meeting mine with a pleading expression. She clearly didn’t want me to drop her in it. If I told Mrs Cronenboom she left me asleep, she’d likely get detention. I couldn’t let that happen.
“No, Mrs Cronenboom. It’s my fault, I realised I had forgotten my pencil case and I had to go back to the bedroom to grab it. Emily did offer to come back with me, but I told her not to worry.” That was the best I could conjure up on the spot.
She looked at me disbelievingly, then at Emily, and sighed. “Emily, it is your responsibility to ensure Josephine is accompanied at all times during school hours so she is not late, absent or unprepared for either assembly or class. Do not let this happen again.” Less than satisfied with my brief and pitiful explanation, she ushered us back in the class, whilst hushed whispers were replaced with a deafening silence, eyes gazing upon the both of us as we reclaimed our seats.
“Emily, are you okay?” I whispered as she took out a pen and scribbled today’s date down into her work book. Her eyes lifted from the desk to stare ahead to Mrs Cronenboom. “I’m sorry I woke you last night.” I continued. “You’re right, it was just a really bad dream and I panicked.”
“I’m sorry I left you this morning, Josy.” Emily finally said with a tone of regret in her voice, choosing not to elaborate on her reasoning. I was about to ask when the room turned unnaturally cold, instantly sending alarm bells ringing in my ears. As I scanned the classroom, some of the girls began to rub their arms for warmth, whilst one or two began to whisper to each other as if in secret knowledge as to what was happening. I met eyes with Claudia’s, an expression of understanding spreading across her face, then she turned away, remembering her frustration toward me. A ghost was here in the room, there was no question about it. The coldness spread like wild fire, bouncing off the walls, landing with force on each student as they recoiled in its frosty lathering. My eyes darted around the room in a desperate bid to locate the source of eeriness, whether it be the elusive Mrs Jeffrey or the girl with the creepy looking doll, only to find nothing but coldness emanated around us.
I looked at Emily, her own eyes staring down something at the front right corner of the classroom, held in a trance like state until the cloud of coldness dissipated, relieving her from its grasp as she then settled back down to her work as if nothing had happened. The rest of the room quietened and Mrs Cronenboom continued the lesson in abnormal silence, refusing to acknowledge the previous ghostly presence.
I would be sure to add this experience to my diary later tonight, another piece to the mystery puzzle of the schools supernatural lore. I may not be the only student who was able to sense them, but something told me they were trying to communicate with me, the girl specifically and I was now committed to find out who she was and why she was here.

The Ghost of Green Acres – Part Five

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She was looking down at me, her eyes piercing through the lit up bedroom straight into my own down below. Three windows up and six windows across from the left of the building. That was mine and Emily’s bedroom, and that was Emily staring straight out of it. I thought about waving to her, and just as I was about to, I froze in terror. A figure appeared right behind her, a small girl, holding a familiar looking doll.
My mouth agape and eyes bulging out, I desperately wanted to head back inside to the both of them, but instead I found my feet cemented to the field as if the girl had ordered the grass beneath me to emit a sticky glue, causing it to dry to the soles of my slippers. It kept a tight hold of me, as if preventing me from running inside to mine and Emily’s room or finding out more of the schools mysteries.
After a few minutes, she closed the blinds and I was left standing in the dark empty field, staring up at the now darkened out window in shock. There was no sign of life around me. My surroundings emanating a loud eerie silence. The trees from the woods were still from fear rather than from the lack of wind, holding in their breath as if they’d just witnessed something truly terrifying and didn’t want to draw attention to themselves.
I looked down at my feet, urging them to lift from the grass. Slowly the glue gave way and as soon as I was free from its grip I ran to the same door I came through, shutting it quickly behind me and leaning against it and gasping for breath whilst fighting back tears.
As my heart rate slowed to an acceptable rhythm and I regained some element of composure, I climbed the stairs in the dark as fast as my feet would carry me, not daring to look behind me in case something grabbed me, pulling me back down the stairs to smother me into its embrace of horror and dark despair.
When I made it through the door leading to the dormitory corridor, I headed straight for mine and Emily’s room, careful to open it without drawing attention from the surrounding rooms.
When I walked in I found Emily tucked up peacefully in bed as if I hadn’t just seen her and the girl glaring at me from our bedroom window as I stood helpless and motionless down below just moments ago.
I switched on the light before storming over to her, shaking her awake vigorously. “Emily! Emily!” I was almost shouting and would have if it wasn’t for the fellow students sleeping mere metres away in the neighbouring rooms.
“Emily!” I continued, until she eventually stirred awake, looking at me, expressionless like the previous night. “Wake up Emily!” I continued, until she eventually blinked and yawned, showing signs of life after all. “What’s wrong Josy, I’m trying to sleep.” She slurred in a muffled voice full of interrupted sleep.
“I saw you! Staring at me through the window! The girl with the doll behind you” I exclaimed, expecting her to know who I was talking about.
“What? What are you on about, Josy?” Emily asked, as she slowly lifted the cover off of her and swung her feet over the edge of the bed, landing them gently on the soft, blue rug laid neatly across our bedroom floor.
“Just now, I was out on the field and you were looking down at me from the window and she was standing behind you, before you turned away and closed the curtains! How can you not remember, you were both just there!”
Emily looked silently into my eyes, clearly contemplating whether I had lost my mind. “You’ve just had a bad dream, get back into bed, it’ll be okay.” She eventually said as she stood up, grabbing my hand and pulling me towards my own bed like a protective mother would after their child climbed into their bed after having a horrible nightmare.
“It happened, Emily, I wasn’t dreaming.” I said feeling exhausted, but giving in and pulling off my soiled slippers, before climbing back under my own duvet, as she then headed to turn off the light and climb back into her own bed. “Night, Josy, we’ll talk in the morning,” and just like that she drifted straight back off to a peaceful sleep as if I hadn’t just shaken her awake in the middle of the night.
I looked at my clock and the time read 12:14am. Had I really been outside for over an hour? I sat up, turning on my light and grabbing my diary to once again document what had happened tonight, re-reading and absorbing each and every word.
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I put my diary away, switched off the light and turned over. I lay awake on my right side, my back against the wall so that I could see my surroundings, urging sleep to grab me in to its clutches but it refused. My mind had been doing somersaults since I arrived here a mere three days ago, images of the girl and the doll churning away. I was missing home a great deal and just wanted to go back and be with my parents. They sent me to this boarding school with the impression that it would help ground me and protect me from the supernatural aura phenomena that had materialised in the media. Little did they know they would be sending me straight into its strong binding grip. So far, all I had learnt was that ghosts really did exist and I was now one of the few with the aura that allowed me to see and sense them.
I almost felt like ringing my parents and begging them to take me back to a life where I remained ignorant to the supernatural world, a world my parents refused to embrace since many members of the general public admitted to having this aura, but like Claudia, I truly believed now and had to accept that it was becoming a part of who I am.
As I stared toward Emily across the room, it was clear that the supernatural world affected her in ways she wasn’t aware of and I would do what was necessary to find out how and why. I would find out on my own who this girl was and what her significance was. I wouldn’t let myself be controlled by this anymore.

The Ghost of Green Acres – Part Four

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The day went by in a blur. I found it tremendously difficult to concentrate in classes, my mind reeling over what had happened last night. Though Claudia and I didn’t get an opportunity to discuss what happened until the evening, my mood no doubt sent a trigger warning to her that something was up.
“What happened? You’ve been really quiet all day long.” We were in the common room, Emily, Rebecca, Olivia and Sophie sitting on the sofas by the television laughing and joking whilst Claudia and I made the tea.
“Something happened last night. I saw her, the girl from the attic, outside on the field. I could see her from my bedroom window holding the doll.”
“What girl?” Claudia asked, as she poured the water into the school green coloured mugs.
“The girl who was locked in the attic. The one who owned that doll.” I furrowed my eyebrows in confusion, surely she knew who I meant.
Claudia was silent for some time before she spoke again, stirring in the milk. “There was no girl locked in the attic, Josy.”
“What do you mean? You showed me the attic and I found that doll and book, they had to belong to someone.”
“You’re making assumptions. I never mentioned a girl being locked in the attic when I took you up there.”
I could feel myself getting frustrated. I had hoped telling Claudia would reveal some other truth I’d yet to discover, but it had just caused further confusion.
Claudia was silent again, as if choosing her words very carefully before speaking. “Yes, they belonged to a child, but the girl wasn’t locked in the attic, nor does she roam the school as a ghost. Mrs Jeffrey is the only ghost at this school.”
I didn’t know how to respond. I hadn’t dreamt what happened last night, it was so real I could still feel the chill down my spine at the thought of seeing her. She was real, alright, or as real as a ghost could be. “How can you be sure there are no other ghosts? Maybe you’ve just not seen them. I’ve not even seen Mrs Jeffrey, but I did see this girl. I want to see the attic again.” I said defiantly.
Claudia sighed in exasperation, clearly disbelieving my encounter. “I’m not taking you up there tonight, Josy,” and just like that, she picked up three mugs and headed over to the sofa to sit with the other girls. That was the end of that conversation.

***

As we headed back to our bedrooms I had a sneaky suspicion Claudia wasn’t telling me the whole truth and it bothered me. I’d already made a decision that if she wouldn’t take me to the attic, then I’d take matters in to my own hands. Getting in there without a key wouldn’t be easy, but I was willing to try. I waited until Emily was sound asleep in bed, before sneaking out into the corridor with my slippers on, tiptoeing to the bottom of the attic stairwell as quietly as possible. Just as I was about to ascend, a thought came over me. I’d seen the girl in the field, but not in the attic.
I looked at my watch, the time was 11.05pm. I’d have roughly forty minutes until the ghost of Mrs Jeffrey did her usual rounds but it was also after 3am when I’d seen the girl last night. As much as I wanted to search the attic and find out more about its mysteries, I really didn’t have a clue how I’d get in without the key, let alone how to pick a lock. I stood there for a good few minutes contemplating whether to go up and try to get in, but something didn’t feel right about it, and I was compelled to follow my instincts.
I turned around, heading down the full length of the corridor back past mine and Emily’s bedroom towards the rear stairwell. I opened the door slowly, stepping through and shutting it behind me without a sound. The stairwell was cold and dark but for the small ray of moonlight shining through the tiny window. I didn’t dare turn on the light. I descended the stairs as quickly and silently as my feet would allow, before I finally made it to the exit. I unlocked it from the inside and walked out. It seemed larger now that I was down here, but as I scanned the field from left to right, my eyes finally landed on the spot where I originally saw the girl. I walked around the side of the building and then upwards toward the far right corner of the field. Upon reaching it I noticed there was a gap at the bottom, just big enough for a small child to squeeze through with little difficulty. I debated whether to try and crawl through it myself, but instead opting to climb over the fence instead.
As I was about to climb, that same instinct which drove me out into the field sent alarm bells through me. I wasn’t alone. I slowly turned around, half expecting to see either the girl ghost or a teacher right behind me. I was running through excuses in my mind in preparation, but as I turned no one was there. I walked forward, giving myself a better view of my surroundings. From what I could see I was all alone, though I was unable to shake off the feeling that someone was there watching my every move, and it was then that my eyes darted toward the dormitory building.
From one of the bedroom windows, someone was looking down at me. I walked forward, straight through the middle of the field before coming to a halt. The situation felt very reminiscent to the previous night, only this time the role was reversed; I was out on the field and the girl up in the window, but as I looked closer, I could see she was not the same girl as from last night. This girl staring down at me, with dark hair tied into a pony tail, was none other than my roommate, Emily.

The Ghost of Green Acres – Part Three

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The time was 3.07am. I closed my eyes again in an attempt to drift back off to sleep but it was no use, the room had turned too warm. I pulled back the duvet and climbed out of bed, heading towards the window to jar it wide open. I leaned out of it, gazing into the large field which our bedroom window overlooked. At the far end you could see the fence which separated the school field from the surrounding woods. I gazed out, thinking back to the attic, wondering if Claudia had shown the abandoned room to anyone else and how she had even gained access to the key without getting caught by the headmistress or teachers.
I began to take slow deep breaths of the fresh air into my lungs before slowly exhaling. I closed my eyes and repeated this a couple more times before opening them again. As I did, something in the field caught my eye. At the far right by the edge of the fence, I could see a small silhouette of a person. I froze, who on earth could be out there at this time of the night? I couldn’t tear my eyes away, or bury a suspicion that whoever it was, was staring directly at me as my head hung out the window. I continued to stare, frozen in my spot when they started walking towards the school dormitory building. As it neared, the silhouette came into focus and I could see the figure of a girl with shoulder length curly hair wearing a nightie with bare feet. She stopped. I could see her eyes staring up at me, but my eyes were drawn to her arms which clutched something close to her chest and my heart started to race. It was a doll, similar in size as the one in the attic. As I teared my eyes away from the doll and looked up at her, I could faintly make out a smile spread across her face; it sent a chill down my spine and I began to feel uneasy. I closed my eyes, counted to three and when I opened them again she was gone. My mind began to race and I felt utterly terrified. Was she a student or the ghost of the girl who had been locked in the attic? It couldn’t have been her, Claudia never mentioned seeing her or any other ghosts, just Mrs Jeffrey and it clearly wasn’t her.
I quickly closed the window and drew the curtains closed as my breathing got heavier. I rushed back to my bed, climbing under the covers, before stretching my hand out and turning on my bedside lamp. I couldn’t bare to be in the dark at the moment after what I just witnessed. I looked over at Emily and she began to stir. I didn’t care if the light woke her up, in fact I wanted her to wake up so I could talk to her.
“Emily”. I whispered, but there was no response. “Emily.” I tried again. Still no response. I gazed up at the ceiling, too scared to go back to sleep. I was just about to grab my diary when I looked over at Emily and she was staring directly at me, not saying a word, causing me to jump out my skin. “Emily, you scared me! I didn’t think you were awake.” Still no response. “Emily?” I slowly got out of bed, walking towards her and her eyes followed me, but she still didn’t speak a word. “Emily!” I almost shouted, and shook her vigorously, but she just stared wide eyed at me before turning over and falling back to sleep. “Emily,” I cried, shaking her again, but she didn’t stir, instead breathing lightly as she usually did. I got back into bed, sniffling, and pulled the cover right over my head. I wasn’t going to turn the light out tonight. I took slow breaths in and out, trying to calm myself down. This was my second night here and already I had felt one ghost and seen another, I was sure of it now. Claudia was right, I had the aura, the ability, as much as I wanted to deny it. I braved myself to grab my diary from out of the covers and began to quickly scribble notes down about the rough timings of my encounters and what had happened.

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I closed the diary and put it back on my bedside table. I’d be sure to continue to document everything paranormal that happened from now on.

I started to feel a bit calmer as my eyes began to drift. I still didn’t dare turn off my lamp, finding its brightness reassuring. I looked over at Emily who was still fast asleep, wondering what on earth had happened to her. My eyes eventually closed willingly into darkness as dreams came to take me away into their clutches for the remainder of the night.

***

My eyes opened, slowly trying to adjust to the brightness filling our small room as the birds chirped their morning tune outside our window.
“Morning!” Beamed Emily, as she walked back into our bedroom after having a shower. “Sleep well?”
“Not really. You?”
“Yes, lovely sleep thanks! Why didn’t you sleep well? When I woke your lamp was on, I turned it off.”
She clearly didn’t remember me waking her up last night. I debated whether to mention to her what I had seen, but I decided against it, remembering what Claudia said about her not understanding. “Oh. I had some weird dreams last night, I woke up to write them in my diary and must have fallen asleep before turning the light out.” I lied. “What’s our first lesson today?” I asked, before she could ask me any further questions.
“We have morning assembly at 9am, followed by English then P.E. You better get ready so we can head down for breakfast.”

I made a mental note not to mention anything at the breakfast table and vowed to speak to Claudia as soon as I could get her alone, perhaps she could shed some light on last night and what I had seen. I could only hope.

The Ghost of Green Acres – Part Two

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At the far end of the attic were two large glass double doors with a triangular shaped window above. The walls, from what I could tell with the little light protruding through the glass, were mouldy green in colour. To the left of the double doors propped up against the wall was an empty wooden desk and a chair was oddly placed on its surface. To the right side of the window, empty picture frames were piled together gathering dust. In the centre of the room lay a dull grey rug, but what I found most disturbing was the bed situated next to it, caving in at the centre as if from too much use, with a worn mattress atop. Scattered around the attic were numerous candle holders covered in wax.

I felt an eerie presence as I stood by the door, when my feet decided to move and explore the depths of the attic room. My foot accidentally kicked an empty food can as I walked forward, startling me. I continued on. At the foot of the bed was a wooden chest. I opened it and inside was a children’s book and a doll wearing a green dress with a bonnet. It was clear someone lived up here once upon a time. This was a boarding school for girls, could a child have been sent to live in the attic? The thought sent shivers down my spine.

“Josy.” A voice said, making me jump out of my skin. For a moment I forgot Claudia was with me.
“This is…” I paused.
“I know.” Claudia whispered into the night. “It is eerie.”
“Why did you bring me up here?” I asked, as I clutched the doll to my chest, not sure whether I wanted to hear the answer.
“This boarding school has many secrets from its past as well as its present.” Claudia was silent, waiting for me to respond, but I couldn’t. “Maybe Mrs Jeffrey could help.”
What did she mean Mrs Jeffrey could help? Is she talking about speaking to ghosts? That can’t be possible, surely. “You want to communicate with her?” I asked, shocked at the prospect. “This is my second night here, I’ve not even seen her, I’m not even sure she exists!”
“She does Josy, I know you believe it!”

We both became silent, words apparently losing all sense in the eeriness of the attic. As I stared into the face of the doll, a whole barrel of thoughts started to tumble through my mind. Why would a girl be sent to the attic? Could it have been as a form of punishment? How long were they up here for? As the thoughts reeled through my mind, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something else was amiss in this attic, as if my eyes hadn’t yet glanced upon something of great importance. Something that was begging to be discovered. I glared around the room, absorbing as much of its atmosphere as I could, breathing in the musky smell as I tried to pinpoint where this odd sensation had stemmed from.
“What is it, Josy?” Claudia asked as she approached me slowly, sensing that I was up to something. I was drawn to the wall nearest the pile of picture frames and as I neared it, Claudia grabbed me by the arm. “We have to go, now!”
“What is it?”
“It’s time to go, she’ll be along soon. We’ll come back tomorrow night.”
I gazed at the wall once more before reluctantly turning away. Whatever mysteries lay behind that wall would have to wait for now.

As we descended the stairs I didn’t know what to make of Claudia’s suggestion at speaking to Mrs Jeffrey. Speaking to a ghost, how preposterous does that sound? We walked down the darkly lit corridor back to our separate rooms, not saying a word to each other to avoid waking the others up. I got back to my bedroom and the time was 11.43pm. Emily was sound asleep, not even aware of my temporary absence as she breathed softly and peacefully. I climbed back into bed and within moments of starting to drift to sleep, I was alerted to a cold and chilling presence once again.

My June ‘To Be Read’ List

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With the start of my MA in Writing for Children course starting in September, I’m setting myself a target to read as many books as I can in preparation. My head has mostly been stuck in a fantasy cloud the past year, I’ve just managed to finish the A Song of Ice and Fire series and I absolutely loved it. I can’t wait for Winds of Winter to be released! The idea now is to broaden my horizons and delve into new territory. The books I’ll read will consist of different genres and a fair amount of young adult. My intention is to read anything from 4-8 books a month, time permitting.

Below you’ll find my June reads along with a very short synopsis.

 

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Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

Library of Souls is the third and final book in the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs, of which the first two books I absolutely loved! Due to other commitments it had taken me a while to get around to reading this, but I actually finished it yesterday (one book down!) and it didn’t disappoint. For those who haven’t heard of the series and without giving too much away, the book series centres around a boy named Jacob Portman who discovers a building on a remote island off the coast of Wales, inhabited by a lady named Miss Peregrine and children with ‘peculiar’ talents. What sets this series apart from others is the use of vintage photographs that help you visualise the story and its characters as it progresses. Check out books one and two below:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Hollow City

 

Outlander

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

I’m behind the game on this one, but a friend of mine who recently read it recommended it to me. I started reading it as soon as I put down Library of Souls and I am already 200 pages into it and can’t wait to carry on. The main character Claire Randall, a former combat nurse from 1945 is transported in time to 1743, where she becomes a Sassenach – an “outlander” amongst lairds and spies. The story is based in Scotland and will interest those into historical fantasy with a time travel element.

 

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I discovered A Court of Thorns and Roses after hearing about its sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury. This book series, I’m told, is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast with mythical faerie lore and romance and I believe is marketed as Young Adult. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this series so I’m looking forward to picking it up.

 

 

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I very rarely read contemporary/romance/chick lit, but I hope to read at least one novel per month, either adult or young adult. The book centralises on Lou Clark who after losing her job at a tea shop, starts caring for Will Traynor, a man who becomes injured after a motorcycle accident. This is definitely not my usual type of ‘go to’ novel, but I’ve heard many good reviews and with the release of the Me Before You film I’m compelled to read the book before watching it.

 

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Sister by Rosamund Lupton

I bought this book a long time ago and it has been sitting on my shelf ever since, unread along with a whole bunch of other unread impulse buys. A friend borrowed this off me last week and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I thought why not read it this month. Sister is a thriller/mystery and follows Beatrice as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister’s disappearance.

 

 

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Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

I’ve heard a lot about this book online and I’ve noticed it appearing in a lot of TBR lists for the month of June. The book is set in two locations: the desert nation of Miraji where mystical beasts still roam and magic is practiced, and Dustwalk, a town where the main character Amani is desperate to escape from.

 

 

 

So that’s my reading list for June. Have you read any of the above? What will you be reading this month?

Caz xxx