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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.