My best friend is a ghost.
We met when I moved into her family’s old estate a couple seasons ago. My mother, Pamela Wirth, and her sister, Patricia Aberforth (recently married out of the Wirth family name), are house flippers. They take old estates from families, make them look modern, and then resell them for a fortune. Vivika told me she doesn’t mind. I asked her since I know from some stories that ghosts dislike when people mess with their resting places. It wasn’t until today that I was fully informed that the house is not, in fact, Vivika’s final resting place.
Vivika is my best friend. Vivika Hudnall is her full name. The Hudnalls were your average ancient lordships. Her father was very important to some generals in Austria or such. I don’t really remember which country they served. When I was doing research on Vivika, she wasn’t mentioned a whole lot. She claims it’s because she went away to boarding school. I know she definitely didn’t live past nineteen. She can’t remember how old she was when she died, but the way her spirit looks is frighteningly young. From a family photo I found, she had long dark hair all done up, rosy cheeks, and kind, dark brown eyes. The only difference now is that her hair floats down around her now, and the rest of her living features no longer exist.
My name is Primula Wirth. I’m sixteen, seventeen in July. I have the fiery red hair of the Scots, thanks to the family tradition of being Scottish, lots of freckles from being out in the sun, and the brightest blue eyes you’ve ever seen. I have the weirdest name in my grade, but I’m not bothered by it. My name and Vivika’s is partially why we get on so well.
I should tell you about the Hudnall final resting place. Her entire family is buried in a large mausoleum not too far from the main house. I can ride my bike to it. I’ve never been in it, but Vivika told me that her family is there. Or at least, what bits they could find of them after whichever war they fought in.
What Vivika didn’t tell me is that her remains need to be in the mausoleum. I was surprised to hear they weren’t in there to begin with. It all happened like this:
She had a hard time finding me today. I told her to meet me in the parlor, and I waited for her for a while before I went looking for her. Eventually, I found her in the dining room, examining her old family crest carved into the mantle of a drafty fireplace.
“Viv! I said to meet me in the parlor!” I scolded. Vivika obviously had something on her mind. It was troubling, the feelings her aura was giving me. In addition, her clothes as a ghost looked a little more torn, and her face seemed to go decrepit. She could barely talk, as most of her mouth had started to go missing.
“I - I need to tell you something.” She said, gliding towards me and, as best as ghosts can do, taking my warm hands in her frosty ones.
“I am fading. My centenary of death is approaching. I fear -” Her voice caught. I held my breath, starting to feel some sorrow well up in my chest.
“I fear I may not continue in this realm if I am not returned to my family’s mausoleum.” I gulped.
“Wait, Vivika - you’re not there?” Her head shimmered for a moment, an indication that she had tried to shake it. It’s an answer I often take for no.
“Well then - where are you? And how can you continue to haunt the house if you’re not on the estate?”
“I am on the estate, that much is correct. But I have stayed in the house for so long, I’ve forgotten where my bones lie.” She cried. It was a mixture between the sound of sobbing and a rising of the wind.
“Vivika, tell me what to do! I don’t want you to leave!” I said, getting misty eyed. I couldn’t afford to lose my best friend like this.
“Perhaps,” Vivika said, her sobs quieting and her voice dropping to a whisper, like a breeze whistling through the trees. “Perhaps, if you can find my bones, and bring them to the mausoleum, I may remain, as I am. Your friend and an eternal spirit. Perhaps.”
“Do you have any idea where your bones might be? Any guesses?” I asked. Vivika stared somewhere behind me, lost in thought.
“I remember darkness. And dust. The smell of damp. A thin shawl draped over me as my eyes stopped working. The last thing I remember seeing was the trees above me, and the sound of trickling water farther away.” I gulped at Vivika’s description. I wasn’t prepared to bring it up, but her death sounded less than natural to me. However, I didn’t want to upset her further by trying to bring up memories of her past life. What was important now was to find the bones, or whatever else was left of Vivika, and find a way to get into the mausoleum without my mother knowing.
Shakily, I nodded my head at Vivika.
“I’ll do this for you Viv.” I said gravely. “I’ll do my best.”
“Thank you my friend.” She weeped silently. “A friend like you is worth more than two lifetimes on this earth.”
“Right, well. So it sounds like my search starts in the woods then.” I said, mostly to myself. There was a patch of woodlands on the estate, and where the estate ended was fenced off. It shouldn’t be too difficult then, considering she said her body was still on the estate. I would need a shovel, my large boots, and a bag to carry the bones in if I found them.
I bid a hurried goodbye to Vivika, as she started moaning a song to her bones, trying to call them back to her. I retrieved a large duffel bag from my room, and my boots. I didn’t know how many bones I was trying to find, so I felt a duffel bag was a good choice. Finally, I found an old shovel in our shed, and I started off into the estate woodlands.
It was much darker than I had anticipated in our woodlands. It was cloudy outside, the overcast day lending to my increasingly gloomy mood. I tread carefully, watching my feet in the dim light as I crunched through crisp leaves. I didn’t want to accidentally crush Vivika’s bones if they happened to be closer to the surface. I dug a little bit in a couple of places, but not more than a foot or so. I really had no idea what I was looking for based on Vivika’s description. I just tried my best to imagine myself in her shoes in certain spots, and if it felt right, I dug a little.
I reached the perimeter fence in less than ten minutes. It was just one of those plastic construction fences, kind of tacky and not very sturdy. It really made the estate seem smaller, having it all fenced in like that. I peered over the fence for a minute, just to see what was beyond our estate. All I could see was this steep gully, with a small burbling creek trickling it’s way through the dark black mud. I turned to head back into the woods, when my jacket caught on the fence.
Startled, I tried frantically to remove the fibers of my jacket from the fence. I only seemed to become more entangled, as then my sleeve became caught in the fence. To make matters worse, I noticed the earth beneath my feet becoming loose, crumbling down into the gully below. Frustrated and in a panic, I waved my arms, ripping my coat from the plastic fence…
Only to lose my balance. My frantic motions made me top heavy, and the earth beneath me crumbled in a massive chunk. I ripped through the plastic fence as I fell, taking it with me as I tumbled through clay-like mud and leaves to the bottom of the gully.
Stunned and bruised, I groaned as I slowly got to my feet. Thankfully there weren't any large rocks. As I stood up, I found a cut on my knee from clutching the shovel to myself as I fell. It stung terribly, and I hadn’t thought about packing any first aid. It would have to wait until I got back to the house.
I tore the piece of plastic construction fencing off of me with a vengeance. Then, I took in my surroundings, trying to figure out the best way to get back to the estate. The creek water was cool and soothing as it seeped into my boots, and as I looked down to check that they were still laced, I saw some peculiar looking, white rocks at my feet. I leaned down for a closer look, thinking I’d bring something interesting home for myself. I picked one up, and suddenly, a shock ran through me.
These are Vivika’s bones, I thought to myself, stunned by the gruesomeness of holding another person’s bones. And I’ve landed right on them.
“They must have ended up outside of the estate, due to the gully’s erosion.” I mumbled aloud to myself, examining the bones further before gently placing what I could determine was Vivika’s into my muddy, wet duffel bag. I will admit, I only knew they were Vivika’s bones because I had this sense that something ancient and unsettling had gone wrong. It’s the type of aura Vivika’s ghost exudes constantly, and what repels so many people from acknowledging her presence. I’ve learned to be comfortable with it, however.
I am grateful I never found a skull, or I think I would have lost it. Maybe just backed out then and there. In the end, I had landed on roughly seven to ten larger bones. I stopped searching for Vivika’s other remains when I felt the aura of disturbance lift, and I was once again left lonely in the all too eerie backwoods of the Hudnall estate.
Glad to be done with the bone-finding part of my mission, I now turned to the hopefully more comfortable, bone-returning part. I zipped up my duffel bag, and, with determination, used my shovel to hoist myself up over the side of the drop, and back into the boundaries of the estate. I then hurriedly left the woods, not wanting to linger there any longer. I didn’t want to dwell on Vivika’s death, partially because I was becoming more spooked the more I surmised about Vivika’s past and how she came to haunt me. I hate to admit it, but the entire woods felt foreboding as I carried her bones away from her initial resting place.
I returned the shovel to our shed, found my bike, and rode hurriedly to the mausoleum. While I had been at the house, I peeked into our dining room window to see if Vivika was still there. She was not. Instead, it was my Aunt Patricia, whom I waved at before riding off to the mausoleum. I could only hope that Vivika was visiting some other room, and would be there when I got back.
I dropped my bike as soon as I reached the doors of the Hudnall’s resting place, and frantically tugged at them, hoping for some give. However they were locked, as they always were. I was starting to lose it a little bit, frantically pacing on the steps as I tried to figure out what to do. I just wanted to get rid of these bones and have my best friend back. I was desperate to just sit and have tea with Vivika once again, like we would usually do around this time of afternoon. As I started to feel panicky, I saw, out of the corner of my eyes, a pair of cellar doors leading into the mausoleum.
Hurriedly, I took a deep breath, and heaved on the cellar doors. They opened with a cloud of dirt, causing me to cough and sneeze for a good minute. After the dust cleared, I looked down into steps that led into darkness. Thankfully, I had thought to pack a flashlight, figuring that the mausoleum would be dark inside since it didn’t have windows. I was not, admittedly, thrilled to be treading into the underbelly of the vault.
My dim flashlight was not the most helpful, especially with all the dust I was kicking up. Dust motes floated in my vision as I walked further into the crypt. It was hard to tell where to go, given my limited view. To my left were some barrels, god knows what was rotting in them. To my right was the crypt wall, covered in spiderwebs. I didn’t want to touch anything, and as I trembled, I thought I could hear squeaking.
I scuffed my feet on the floor, trying not to trip on any loose stones. My eyes watered as I tried not to sneeze, but I was also fully fearful that I would find something else stuck down here in the crypt. Perhaps the bones of one of Vivika’s siblings, hiding out down here to escape some horrible fate, only to have wasted away. My imagination ran wild with thoughts like these.
Suddenly, I heard a clattering from my left, as if something had been knocked over. The barrels started to tumble, hitting the wall behind me with loud thumps as they hit the wall and splintered. Amongst the ruckus, I could have sworn I heard footsteps, and the faintest sounds of someone breathing. I shrieked, the noise echoing off the crypt walls and piercing my own ears. I ran for the other end of the room, carefulness be damned, and ended up running into the railing of a dilapidated staircase. Scared out of my wits that something was still coming to get me, I ran up the staircase.
The staircase was so old that as I ran up it pell-mell, with the weight of my living flesh and the added weight of Vivika’s bones, one of the steps splintered apart and shattered beneath me. If I hadn’t had my other foot on the next step and my hand on the rickety railing, I would have surely fallen through and broken something. I cried out in alarm as I fell suddenly, and groaned in pain as my pants tore and my leg became scratched by splinters.
I gulped back my tears of panic, and wiped my hair back from my now sticky, sweaty face. I could feel a cool breeze blowing down from the top of the stairs. I was almost there. I just needed to be careful.
Slowly, I removed the duffel bag from my shoulder and threw it to the top of the steps. It hit the back wall and fell with a loud clatter. I winced.
“Sorry Vivika.” I whispered. Then, I gently pulled my leg from the hole in the stairs, steadying myself between the cold stone wall and the wooden stair railing. It stung more than the cut on my other knee had, and I was suddenly looking forward to taking a hot bath after this entire ordeal was over. Gingerly, I put some weight on the next step, and managed to finally crawl my way up to the top of the stairs.
After taking a moment to recollect myself and catch my breath, I pushed open the hatch above me with a loud hollow bang! I scrambled up into the cold mausoleum air, although it really wasn’t much a change from the damp dusty air below it. Having dropped my flashlight in my panic, I had to fumble about with my hands, tracing out the carved names of the Hundell family until I found Vivika. Being unable to open her tomb, I simply laid out the bones on top of it, hoping that would suffice in the fickle world of the dead.
I left the mausoleum after that, being able to unlock the doors from the inside. After struggling to push the heavy doors closed, I retrieved my bike, and soberly rode back to the main house.
My mother certainly was in a state of shock when she saw me.
“Primula my goodness! What happened to you darling?” I burst into tears as she rushed to my side. I cried because, truthfully, I had been through a lot, but also partially because I couldn’t feel Vivika anywhere. I made up this story about getting tangled in some barbed wire in the woods, and my mother and aunt fixed me up just fine, with a little concerned scolding here and there. They made me promise to never go into the woods again. I told them that wouldn’t be a problem.
After a hot bath and a change of clothes, my aunt gave me some chamomile tea and suggested I wait in the parlor until dinner was ready. I numbly agreed.
As I entered the parlor, I just felt cold and hollow.
“Vivika?” I whispered, but she did not come. Tears threatened to choke me, but I told myself not to cry. Vivika should be coming back, after all. I had returned her bones.
I slumped into a parlor chair and sipped my tea reluctantly. As my shock from my ordeal began to wear off, I turned on the lamp next to me, and called out to the room,
“It’s alright Vivika. I’m here. If I don’t see you, I’ll come back and check before bed.” I grabbed my book, and tried to read, looking up every so often for a sign of my best friend floating across from me, even though I was deeply uncertain that I would ever see her again.
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Hey, Anna here! I really enjoyed this read! It had me skipping lines with anticipation of what would happen with poor Vivika's bones. Honestly, I was waiting for it not to be her bones and be like... some terrible ghost demon things. But that was anticipated, and you honestly surprised me! You're such a creative and descriptive writer and I can't wait to read more of your works! Sincerely, A.
Thank you so much! That means a lot to me. :) I look forward to reading more of your works too!
You're welcome! _A.
I love the vivid descriptions in your writing! It really helped create suspense in the scene and made the story so griping!
Thank you so much!! I'm so glad for the feedback, I really hoped I conveyed the mood in my writing.