He left me in the closet with a pen and piece of paper. It was an exercise, he said. It was a way that she might choose to come through for me. All I had to do was close the door and be silent. It was dark and I could not see the pen nor the paper, and this was how Jake wanted it. I was to place the pen against the paper and wait for her to write for me.
“How long does this take, Jake.”
“Be quiet, Natie. I don’t know but I’m sure it’s not going to work if you are talking.”
I waited. I tried not to will my hand to move or not to move and it was weird. It was no different than the Quiji board, no different than holding that little plastic thing together with everyone else’s shaking fingers. In the closet, all I could do was listen to my breath and forget that my fingers even existed.
“Jake, I don’t like this.”
Jake ignored me. He refused to carry on a conversation during the serious exercise, well, he thought it was serious. I was growing weary of all the tricks and exercises and I wanted something real. I wanted to get out of the dark closet and sit in the living room. I just wanted to use the recorder or take pictures. This phantom writing stuff was crap.
He opened the door. It was obvious that he was peeved at me from the look on his face. His dark hair was disheveled and his forehead was creased. Jake reached in and took the piece of paper from my hands. He froze.
“Did you do this? Did you write this?”
Jake held the paper in front of me as I climbed from the closet. There was a word scribbled at the top of the page. I looked at him and then back to the page.
“I didn’t write anything, Jake.”
Jake pushed the paper into my face.
“What’s this then?”
At the top of the page was the name ‘Franklin’.
“Whose Franklin, Natie?”
“I…I don’t know, Jake. I didn’t write that.”
Jake’s eyes grew wide and he smiled. “Natie, do you know what this means? If you didn’t write this, then someone else did and you were in that closet alone…but you weren’t really alone. Do you see?”
I realized that I was never alone in that closet and so I jumped away from the closet door immediately. I looked back inside only seeing my clothes and shoes. There was nothing or no one else.
“Jake, I was alone.”
“No Natie, you were in there with a ghost, babe. It was her! I just don’t understand who Franklin is. She never talked about anyone named Franklin.”
“How do you know it was her, Jake?”
Jake was silent. We both walked back into the living room and sat down. He picked up his phone, which was set on the Halloween ghost meter app.
The ghost meter spoke Jake’s name and immediately got his attention. Jake stared at the screen watching the radar needle spin around and around. He looked at me and smiled.
“How’d you like that, Natie. It said my name.”
The ghost detector spoke again. “Franklin”. And again, “secret”.
Jake put his phone on the couch and turned to me. His eyes traveled from my eyes to my hands. He noticed how I wrung my hands and scratched at my jeans because I did. He looked back into my face and silently wondered who Franklin was, silent until he asked me again. And he should ask me because I do know a Franklin, a few of them actually. What he wanted to know was why did my aunt want to talk about a guy named Franklin. I don’t even know if this was her or not. It could be a demon, they say that demons masquerade as loved ones to draw us into their trickery. This could be a demon, yes, a demon. But I did know a Franklin and he was going to ask me, I just know it and ….