As the boys reached a pause in their conversation, Evelyn floated into the center of the room, still smiling as she came to a stop in front of the trio of teenagers. “Um… hey, guys.” She said, with a friendly wave. “I’ve heard a lot about you. I’m Evelyn.”
Lucas’ eyes went wide, but he said nothing. Frantic and uncertain, he glanced sideways at both of his friends.
“Hey, hey, shhhh! Did you guys hear something weird?” Sam asked seriously. “Yo, Luke. Mute the TV, man.”
“I’ll do it.” Noah rolled his eyes, reaching for the remote. The room fell into silence.
“You can hear me?” Evelyn asked excitedly. “Lucas, tell them it’s me!”
Sam’s eyes flicked back and forth over the area where Evelyn was standing. “This is really freaking me out… Please tell me you guys can hear that. It’s like… a whisper or something.”
“Dude, that was the wind.” Noah laughed.
“I’m serious!” Sam insisted.
Evelyn looked toward Lucas, but he completely avoided her gaze. “Come on, aren’t you gonna tell them?”
Noah’s eyes suddenly lit up. “Wait… I think I hear it too…” He turned to face Lucas. “I think it’s that girlfriend of yours…”
“Yes! It’s me! I’m here!” Evelyn waved her arms excitedly. Has he already told them about me? Come on, come on… Just look closer…
“It is her!” Noah continued, leaning closer as though straining to hear. “She’s saying… ‘Oh Lukey, give your imaginary girlfriend a big ol’ kiss’” He puckered his lips toward Lucas, giving him a mocking, flirtatious stare.
Evelyn’s face fell. He thinks it’s all a joke… But not Sam… “Tell them!” She said pleadingly.
Lucas hesitated, just for a moment. He flicked his eyes toward Evelyn and back. “Ha-ha, very funny.” His mouth stretched into a smile. “Don’t tell me you’re still taking all that drunken ranting seriously.” He laughed.
What is he doing?!
“Sorry, dude. That one was below the belt… But I couldn’t resist…” Noah snickered.
“It’s all good.” Lucas assured him. “But damn, I think I want some of whatever Sam’s been smoking…”
Sam took the teasing in stride. “Nah, sorry. I keep all the good stuff for myself.” He smirked, then checked the time. “I should get going. I told my parents I’d be back after dinner.” He laughed. “And hearing voices is probably as good a cue to leave as any…”
“Yeah, I should probably head home too.” Noah agreed. “Stupid curfew…” He added under his breath.
He’s ignoring me…Evelyn could not remember the last time she felt such rage. She glared daggers at Lucas and her entire form began to glow a fiery red.
“Sure, just sit there!” She shouted angrily. “Just ignore your – what was it he called me? – ‘Imaginary’ girlfriend!”
Noah and Sam had risen to their feet to say their goodbyes. Noah still looked quite amused, but Sam kept glancing uncertainly in Evelyn’s general direction with every shout. “You’re sure you guys don’t hear anything?” He muttered.
Lucas looked away uncertainly. “Uh… no. No, I’m pretty sure it’s just you.”
“See ya soon, Luke.” Noah waved happily, and an uncertain Sam soon did the same.
“It was so lovely meeting you!” Evelyn shouted sarcastically from across the room.
Lucas put his face in his hands as his friends left the room. As soon as they were gone, he rose to his feet, crossing quickly to where Evelyn stood.
“What the hell was that?!” He demanded.
“Oh, I’m sorry, are you talking to me?” Evelyn waved sarcastically. “Hello, nice to finally be acknowledged.”
Lucas rolled his eyes. “Oh cut the drama, Ev. What were you thinking, bursting in like that?”
“What was I thinking? What about you? You had a chance to finally tell them about me, and you just sat there! How do you think that made me feel?”
“They couldn’t even see you, Ev!” Lucas cried, exasperated.
“But Sam could hear me.” She countered. “If you’d just tried to explain, maybe then he could have seen me too!”
“And then what? What would that accomplish?”
“Someone would know I exist! I’d actually be able to talk to someone besides you! I love you, but do you know how lonely it gets having just one person I can talk to?”
“Oh, and you think I like it that way? You think it’s just a walk in the park having to keep you a secret from everyone? ‘Cause it sure as hell isn’t!”
“Fine, go find a new girlfriend then, if I’m such a burden!”
All the anger washed away from Lucas’ face in an instant.
“Hey, hey.” He put his arms out toward Evelyn. “Don’t talk like that… Please.”
Evelyn sighed, her own rage quickly receding. “I shouldn’t have said that, I’m sorry…” She felt embarrassed for even thinking it. “I didn’t mean it. And I shouldn’t have just burst in the way I did…”
Lucas sighed. “I understand why you did. But I… I don’t know how they’d react, Ev. I’ve tried to tell them about you before.” He confessed. “And they just don’t get it… I’m sorry I didn’t tell them. I didn’t know what else to do.”
The ghost sighed sadly. “It was stupid of me.”
She thought back to how everyone before Lucas had reacted upon seeing her — running, screaming… What if his friends had reacted the same way? What would that mean for her? Or him? How could I be such an idiot?
“I just wish things could be different.” Evelyn continued, hanging her head. “I wish things were normal.”
“Me too.” Lucas agreed. “And someday, they will be. I promise, okay? Just… not now.”
Evelyn reached forward, pulling Lucas into an embrace. “I’m sorry.”