Jilly had been dead for decades. Everyone knew that. Everyone also knew that Karianne was a witch. Those were just the well-known facts of the neighborhood.
Karianne wasn’t even her real name. She had forgotten a long time ago. It wasn’t memory loss, just the fact that no one had ever asked her. Except for one person, Jilly.
They had met when Karianne was going to a museum.
She looked like someone not to cross, with her then-auburn hair pulled into a tight bun, and her crisply pressed dress. Therefore, everyone avoided her gaze, and most certainly never went as far as to speak to her. Karianne hadn’t minded. In fact, she went to every length to look even more formidable.
Jilly, though, was just the opposite. Her brown hair flowed down her back, and she had tried very hard to glam up the uniform she was wearing. She was wearing a sparkly headband, and had let her niece draw rainbows on her name tag. The words ‘MUSEUM STAFF’ were barely legible.
Karianne had entered the museum, seen that Jilly was the only available person at the front desk, and groaned. She despised anything that looked fun. She had slowly made her way to the desk.
“Hello, I’m Jilly, and welcome to the history museum! Entrance is free today, so you can go on ahead.”
Karianne had forced a smile, and walked on, looking at the exhibits with no interest. She had only gone there because her sister was constantly telling her that she had to go somewhere, and, having found out that admission was free, had persuaded her to come.
Karianne had walked through each exhibit, her disapproval growing with each step. When she reached the exit, she was relieved. She had rushed through the door without looking back.
Jilly, at the same time, was finishing her shift. She was an aspiring painter, and was fascinated by Karianne.
“Wait!” Jilly had called, and caught up with her. Karianne had glared, but slowed down. “What’s your name?”
Karianne had been startled. She tried to remember, but she knew it hadn’t been uttered since she was a small child. Therefore, she blurted the first name that came to her.
Jilly had smiled kindly, which further startled Karianne.
“How was the museum?”
“I hated it.”
“Oh. That’s too bad. Hey...um- I’m an artist. Would- would you mind if I painted you?”
“Yes,” Karianne snapped.
Jilly had looked so disappointed that even Karianne felt bad for her. She sighed, and said:
“Fine, but just once. And I better not take too much time!”
“Oh my goodness, thank you! How about tomorrow? At 10:00? Here’s my card. It should tell you everything you need to know.”
Karianne went the next day at 10:00, as promised. They had tea and talked afterward, and Karianne grew to like Jilly, just a little. Against all odds, they became the best of friends, and met every Saturday for tea.
Until one day, Jilly died. No one knew how, because it was never released to the public.
Karianne went into mourning. She quit her job, and never left the house.
Decades later, everyone thought she was crazy. Karianne talked to Jilly like she was still there. Sure, maybe she was speaking to a ghost, but then why was she able to see it? Her neighbors came to the conclusion that she was a witch.
Every Thursday, at 10:00, Karianne would bike to her apartment, her gray hair blowing in the wind, and have tea.
One little girl had looked through her window with binoculars, and had confirmed that it was, indeed, Jilly’s ghost. Still, everyone wondered how Karianne could see her. Or hear her, for that matter, because nobody else could.
Eventually, someone gathered their courage and knocked on her door. It was, in fact, the same little girl that had discovered Jilly’s ghost.
Karianne answered the door.
“Go away,” she snapped. She moved to close the door, but stopped abruptly. “Will you get out of the doorway?”
The girl responded boldly, “I’m not in the doorway, ma’am.”
“Not you, her.” Karianne pointed to the doorway. “Oh, for crying out loud, Jilly, let her see you.”
Amazed, the little girl watched Jilly appear before her eyes. She looked kindly down at her, and signed something with her hands.
“She says hello,” Karianne translated.
“Hi,” answered the girl. “How do you choose to let people see you?”
Jilly signed some more.
“She doesn’t know,” replied Karianne. “She just can.”
“Oh.” The girl said. “Well, I hope you find out, if that’s what, you know, you want.”
“Thank you,” Karianne said.
The girl smiled.
“I have to go.”
Jilly waved, and the girl left. Smiling, Karianne closed the door.
The girl walked home, with the full intention to tell everyone what had happened. When she got home, she opened her mouth to speak, but closed it again. Maybe Jilly should choose to reveal herself, she thought.
Meanwhile, in Karianne’s home, Karianne laughed.
“Jilly, the museum is fine.”
Jilly signed something.
“Yeah, right,” Karianne chuckled.
Jilly looked sad for a second and signed.
“Oh. Wait! I have an idea!”
2 months later, people flooded into a building with a sign labeled; Jilly’s Art Museum: Art by a Ghost!
Karianne greeted people at the front door.
“Hello, welcome! Welcome to the Art Museum!”
Jilly and her interpreter gave tours.
Everywhere, people were beaming and marveling at Jilly’s paintings. People from all around the world traveled there just to see the museum. A loudspeaker blared “The museum is now closed.”
Thousands of people shuffled out reluctantly.
Karianne walked with Jilly to her apartment. Once they went in the door, they prepared tea on autopilot.
“Well,” Karianne sighed. “It’s been 50 years since we first met.”
Jilly signed rapidly.
“Yes. Quite,” Karianne laughed.
Jilly kept signing.
“Is that so? I forgot.”
“Well,” she said. “In that case, let’s go!”
The two friends strolled to a yellow house, and knocked on the door. A young woman, no older than 20 answered.
“My old friends!” She smiled. “I was beginning to think you forgot!”
Jilly signed something.
The girl nodded. “I remember when I was a little girl, spying through a window to see if you really existed.”
Jilly laughed, and the three of them walked together, united despite all obstacles, even death.