“Hey. I’m Destiny.”
“Destiny? Cool name. I like it.”
“Thanks. And your's is…?”
“Nice to meet you.”
“So. Um. Do you like it here?”
“It’s…okay. I like the new house. And the high school seems pretty decent. But I––I kind of miss my friends back home.”
“Oh––right. I’m sorry. I can’t imagine what that must be like––to move right in the middle of…what school year are you again?”
“Really? Thank God. At least I'll know a familiar face once school starts.”
“I'm sorry about your friends, though.”
"It's okay. I mean, it's not, but it has to be. You know?”
“Yeah. I get it. Although...”
"Happy to be your friend in the meantime."
“I mean, I do live right next door.”
“True. Deal, then. Friends?”
“Amelia, can you set these plates on the dining table?”
“I heard you chatting with someone outside. Did Katelyn stop by?”
“Oh, no, that wasn’t her; Katelyn’s at her dad’s house. I was talking to the new neighbor.”
“The new neighbor?”
“Yeah––a girl named Destiny.”
“What? What’s wrong?"
“I didn’t think we were getting new neighbors. That house is so old, and that yard––atrocious, really. But I guess they'll sell anything that's still standing. Which is a nice surprise for you, sweetheart; did you like her? Destiny?”
“Yeah. She seems pretty nice. We’re already friends.”
“How do you climb this thing?”
“Put your foot there––that branch near your hip. No, the other one, Des!”
“Jesus. I didn’t think I was old enough to develop hip problems. I can’t reach that high!”
“Yes, you can! Use your arm if you have to.”
“I wish we had rope. Then you could pull me up.”
“C'mon, you’re almost there, Des. Here––”
“Oof. Thanks, Ames.”
“Woah. This is your treehouse? It’s massive!”
“Dad built it for me when I was seven.”
“I wish my dad would build something like this for me. Well, I guess I’m too old for it. Actually, you know what? No. I’m not too old for it. I wish he’d build me a treehouse.”
“Does your house have a tree like this one? Maybe he could––”
“No, not like that. I just mean…I wish he was around more often so that he could build it. He’s always traveling now.”
“Oh. My dad's been gone for a while now, too.”
"Yeah. It's a shitty thing to have in common."
“Yup. Anyways...what’s there to do here?”
“Well, this is it! There are books right there, near the back window, and some games, and some jump ropes in that corner. I guess it’s kind of childish, honestly. Sorry.”
“No way. I could spend all day here.”
“Huh. That sounds good to me.”
“Honey, why don’t you invite Destiny to dinner tomorrow?”
“She can’t, Mom. Her dad doesn’t let her go to other people’s houses past seven.”
“Really? That’s…odd. How old is she again?”
“Seventeen. But I guess…never mind.”
“What? What is it, Amelia?”
“I don’t know if I should say.”
“Well, you can't leave me hanging now. What is it?”
“Um, she said that her dad doesn’t want her coming over here. To our house. After seven.”
“I don’t know. She said it's really not a big deal though, Mom. Don't worry about it."
“But he allows her to go over to other houses? After seven? Just not ours? And she doesn't mind that at all?”
“No, Amelia, that is not okay. I'm going to go over there first thing in the morning––”
“No! Mom, you can’t––”
“––and tell both of them to stick it where the sun don’t shine––”
“Mom, I said no!”
“What…honey, what's going on?”
“I––I just mean that I don't want you to go over there.”
“I know you don't. But she doesn't seem very nice, sweetheart. Your friends should want to visit you, to hang out with you. I think it would be helpful for me to go talk to them.”
“She won’t want to see me anymore, Mom. Not if you start yelling at her and her dad.”
“I’m going to bed.”
“I really think there's something strange going on with that girl––”
“Geez. Your mom really said that?”
“I know, I know. I’m sorry for telling her.”
“No, it’s alright. I get it. I just…”
“She really thinks there's something wrong with me? With me?”
“I think she was just angry at your dad’s rules. I don’t think she means it.”
“I’m not going to listen to her, you know. We’re still friends. Okay?”
“Thanks, Ames. That means a lot to me.”
“Of course. I won't let anybody get between us.”
“And where were you?”
“I was studying with Katelyn. At her house.”
“Please don't lie to me, Amelia.”
“You want me to get it out of the drawer?”
“Fine. I was with Destiny.”
“Honey, what did I tell you?”
“Yes, Mom, I know what you said––”
“And you thought it would be best to ignore me? Something doesn’t sound right about that girl, Amelia. I know you think I'm wrong. But something isn't right. I really, really don't want you speaking to her again. Do you understand?”
“Honey, I’ll pull it out if I have to.”
“Fine. I understand.”
“What’s wrong, Des? Why are you crying?”
“My d-dad said that I can’t hang out with you anymore.”
“W-What? What do you mean? Why would he say that?”
“He says that I need to grow up and be careful.”
“Wow. Your dad’s…an ass. He said that to you?”
“You don’t…you don’t believe him, do you?”
“I…I don’t know, Amelia. He said some…things.”
“Things? Like what? What do you mean?”
“He said that it's not safe anymore.”
“Er...what? What do you mean, 'safe'?”
“You know what I mean, Amelia.”
“I…I really don’t, Des. You're scaring me. I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Des…no, I don’t. What…what are you talking about?”
“Do you… do you really not know?”
“Know about what? Can you just tell me, please?”
“You’re…you’re…well...you’re not alive, Ames.”
“Ames. Ames, please talk to me.”
“I don’t talk to insane people.”
“You know I’m right. I know you know.”
“You know what I do know? That I have no idea what the hell you’re talking about."
“You know you’re dead, Ames. You must know that.”
“Shut up, Des. Why did you even come here? Move here? What do you want?”
“My dad. He’s a writer. He writes ghost and horror stories. That’s why he’s always traveling, so that he can write about whatever haunted place we end up next. And that’s why we’re here––he’s writing another ghost story."
"And what the hell does that have to do with me?"
"Ames, his story...it's you. It's about you. And your––your murder a year ago. You’re––you and your mom––you’re his story. That's why we're here.”
“What? What do you mean? Me and my mom? What does she have to do with this?”
“Ames…she––she was the one who killed you.”
“That isn’t funny, Des.”
“I’m not joking, Ames. I wish I was. But she––she––you really don’t remember?”
“This is a sick joke. I’m going home.”
“Ames! Wait! Don’t you remember?”
“How she killed you? You remember. I know you do. You might not want to. But I can see how scared you are––"
“––it was with the belt strap. She hit you. Over and over again. Until you died.”
“I’m so sorry, Ames. But I want you to be happy. And to be happy, you need to remember.”
"It was...it was right after Dad left."
"Go on. You can do it. I know you can."
"He...he didn't come back. For months. And Mom was getting worse and worse. And angrier and angrier. And one time, when I talked back to her, she grabbed the strap from the drawer...and she kept hitting and hitting and hitting...and didn't stop...and it was so painful, and bloody, and dark...and then I woke up with no bruises or cuts or wounds and no pain at all. And she was making dinner. As if nothing had happened. So, I thought that nothing had happened. I thought it was all a dream, or a nightmare. I...I guess it wasn't."
"No. It wasn't. I'm so, so sorry Ames. I want you to know that."
"I know. Thank you, Des. I'm sorry, about before. About not believing you."
"I can understand why you didn't."
"So, what do I do now?"
"I'm not really sure, to be honest. See a light or anything?"
"I think that's only in the movies, Des."
"Well, I thought I'd take a shot. I mean, as long as you feel at peace with everybody––"
"Wait. I think I know what I have to do."
"Thanks, Des. For everything. You...you really are an amazing friend. My best friend."
"So are you, Ames. See you around?"
"Thank God. It's always twenty degrees colder whenever I'm around you. I'm getting tired of wearing all my sweaters in the summer."
"You're the worst, you know that?"
"Yup. Now get outta here. Go be at peace, or whatever. Okay?"
"I forgive you, Mom."
"For what, honey?"
"For what you did."
"And...what exactly did I do? You'll have to refresh my memory, Amelia."
"I know you know what happened. I know you don't want to remember it. You don't have to. I just want to tell you that I forgive you. For doing it to me. I know you weren't...doing well. So, I forgive you. For everything."
"Honey, can you set these plates on the dining table?”
“It's okay, Mom."
“I heard you chatting with someone outside. Did Katelyn stop by?”
“You're going to be okay, too. I promise. But I have to go now. I know that you'll come with me, too, one day. Maybe when you forgive yourself. But until then...I love you, Mom. I love you."
"Honey? Can you set these plates on the dining table?"