If you loved Casper the friendly ghost as a kid like I did, this morbidly sweet tale by Marilia Bonelli will be sure to make you smile. Read on and please leave a comment...
It was the night before Christmas, and everywhere the twinkling lights were lit, the mistletoe hung and the trees decorated… Well, almost everywhere…
“I found the ornaments!” Tati shrieked, running down the stairs.
“You’re gonna fall and break your neck!” Lori shouted.
Tati laughed and Lori rolled her eyes. It didn’t really matter if Tati fell, and her neck couldn’t be broken even if she did. You see, Tati has been dead for over a decade. Yes, that means she’s a ghost. And so is Lori, but she’s only been dead for two years.
Tati handed her the box of ornaments and tried to clear away the cobwebs. “Where do I put them?”
“How long have they been up there? Since you died?”
Gabriel, the cat, tried to shrug as much as a cat could. He gave the box of ornaments a disinterested glance.
“We put the Christmas tree in the other living room last year, didn’t we?” Gabi, the oldest ghost, asked. Gabi was oldest both in years since death and in years of actual living.
“Living room…” Tati laughed. “Living, hehe.”
Lori rolled her eyes. Then she realized what room they were talking about and took a step back. “Are you sure it’s okay to go in there? You know they used to say that room was haunted.”
Gabi gave her a look. “I know. I was the one doing the haunting.”
Gabi almost couldn’t get the door open, but finally it gave in with a loud creak. Lori and Tati followed her with hesitant steps and came to a stop just inside the room.
Something moved in the corner and Lori shrieked, trying to hide behind Tati - which was quite impossible, because Tati, when living, had been no more than 5 years old and not even 4 feet tall.
A black thing crept out of the crevice beside the fireplace and two little eyes came to life. They widened at the sound of Lori’s shriek.
“What? What’s happening?” The bat, Mortimer, cried. He looked around, terrified.
Gabi shook her head and started taking out the ornaments and hanging them on the tree – or what once had been a tree.
“Why do we have a dead tree in the living room?” Lori asked.
Gabi looked at the dried dead thing and shrugged. She could pretend the cobwebs were tinsel garlands. “It’s left over from last year, remember? It’s not like my semi-corporeal self can go get a real one and our friend with the lack of opposable thumbs refused to drag one in by his teeth.”
“I'll not be reduced to dragging bushes along the snow...” Gabriel called from the doorway.
“And yet you drag dead mice around everywhere.”
“Yeah, but they taste better than the trees.”
Gabi finished hanging all the glass balls in place. “Was there more?”
“There’s another box.” Tati said. “But I couldn’t reach it.”
She led Gabi and Lori to the attic, and they found a box that had tinsel garlands. But when they got back to the tree, the glass balls were on the floor.
Lori let out a shriek. “I told you it was haunted!”
Mortimer, the bat, was startled awake again. “What? What happened?”
“Did you see what happened to the ornaments?” Gabi asked while Tati started putting them back up.
The bat shook his head.
“Have you seen any ghosts in here, Mortimer?”
Mortimer gave her a puzzled look. “You?”
Gabi turned to the cat. He was usually more observant, if less responsive.
“Have you seen any ghosts around here, Gabriel, besides me?”
With a bored expression, Gabriel pointed at Lori.
"Any strange ghosts?"
Gabriel blinked once, very slowly, and kept pointing at Lori.
She glared at him and he gave her his best version of a kitty smile. “I thought it was a trick question.”
“Done!” Tati announced.
“Let’s get the angel to put on top.” Gabi said.
Tati started laughing. “That’s not an angel, silly. It’s a skeleton from Gabriel’s last dinner.”
Gabi sighed. This improvised Christmas tree really was starting to look like something of a frankentree. “Let’s see if we can’t find the real thing, then. I’m sure we had one last year.”
“Didn’t we just cover up one of the mice with cobwebs and give him little pretend wings?”
Tati nodded. “And we told him to stay still otherwise Gabriel would eat him. But then Gabriel fell asleep and he snuck off. He didn’t even wait for Santa.”
Gabi rolled her eyes. “For the last time, there’s no Santa Claus.”
They were halfway up the stairs to the attic when they heard a noise and rushed back. There was no one nor anything there. The little blue ball was still rolling across the floor by itself, dragging along a few strands of cobweb. Gabi was about to question the bat and the cat again, both already fast asleep, but then she saw the cobwebs hanging from Gabriel’s whiskers. Gabriel was, after all, the fastest sleeper in the land. All was explained.
“It’s just Gabriel.” She whispered to the others.
“Are you sure? He’s asleep.”
Gabi’s answer was cut short by a sudden noise outside. Tati, standing on her toes, covered Lori’s mouth before she could shriek.
“Stay here, I’ll go look.” Gabi said.
Lori hugged Tati to her and shut her eyes. The noise seemed to be moving around them, then in the walls. Then something huge and red landed in the fireplace in a cloud of dust and soot and Tati shrieked.
“The ghost!” She screamed, dragging Lori with her. They stepped on Gabriel’s tail as they went and the cat took off, finally startling Mortimer awake.
The white-bearded old man brushed the dust and soot from his clothes and managed to stand up.
“Ho Ho Ho.” The stranger announced to a now empty room. “Merry...” He paused, looking over to the dead tree covered in cobwebs, the skeleton in the corner and the bat hanging from the ceiling... "Halloween?"
Bio: Marília was born in Ithaca-NY, and after learning the word "bus", relocated back to the northeast of Brazil with her parents, where she's lived ever since. She still considers herself as living in Natal (give or take 254km to the south) with her parents and her cats. Everyone, except her parents, disagrees.
She started writing when she was sixteen, in notebooks and pretty much any writable surface, and hasn't stopped since. Grace, her first published work, was finished in 2012. Whenever life doesn't get in the way, she's trying to finish the other stories she's dreamed up over the years.
Web Page: http://setterwind.com