“Allie, do you believe in ghosts?” Ripley walks up behind Alison, eating a jar of peanut butter, and intently staring at the back of her friend’s head. While the curious roommate could see Alison was working on something, she saw her philosophical question on the apparitions as a more pressing matter. Also, part of Ripley just enjoyed annoying her friend.
Alison keeps her eyes on her computer and grunts in annoyance. “It’s Alison, and what do you mean by ghosts?” Ripley narrows her eyes at Alison’s reaction. Despite being friends for several months, Alison tended to take her work seriously and when she was stressed had no room for fun or debate. The need to be called by her full name tended to annoy Ripley as well.
“Like dead people walking the earth.” Ripley moves over to look a the computer. An anatomy diagram and large dense blocks of text appear on the screen. Alison finally slides her chair out to look at her friend.
Alison sighs in annoyance. “Then no. I don’t”, she perches her head on her hand and looks at Ripley, knowing she would probably want to continue the conversation on the subject despite any protests.
Ripley continues eating her food, trying to come up with a response to her friend's deadpan response. “You’re boring, I was wrong to ask a pre-med that question.”
“Listen, Ripley, ghosts exist in a sense, but it is not like a horror movie.” Alison tries to humor her, knowing the spiritual differences between the two, she wanted to avoid rocking the boat to the extent that it became a fight instead of a civil discussion. Prudence was a virtue in friendships and in conversations regarding the whereabouts of the soul.
“Then what do you think it’s like?” Ripley peers at her friend wanting a further explanation of her views on the subject. It was an honest conversation she wanted to have, even if Alison treated the subject like an odd question.
“Uh, well, you ever read Charles Dickins?”
“Like the Christmas ghosts, I guess. I think it’s more complex than you would assume and I don’t think we should really play with it. That crap is way beyond our understanding.” Alison feels at a loss to explain where she stands on this. On one hand, she had a very specific view of the mechanics of the soul, but on the other hand, the subject made her uneasy. Often she would brush off the supernatural in order to calm herself, but she knew there was more to the human being than the body. Still, she found it hard to see a ghost as anything but a possibly demonic and treacherous imprint upon the universe.
“Okay, but I think the flat is haunted,” Ripley said disregarding the explanation. The tone was between scared and excited. Alison looks at her in utter confusion. It was the same feeling as when your younger sibling walked up to you and tell you something preposterous. To Alison, Ripley might as well have been saying ‘I’m a dinosaur’.
“Ripley, the flat is not haunted,” Alison insisted while turning back to her computer. This conversation was going nowhere and she had to study to do.
Ripley turns Alison’s chair back around facing her, the eccentric friend is unwilling to let the subject go until Alison would listen to her. “Okay, okay, but hear me out,” Ripley gets her friend's attention and continues, ” last Sunday I heard this noise in the attic and it sounded like a crying woman.” As Ripley says this, Alison stops what she’s doing. While Ripley could very well be playing a joke, she could also be deadly serious. Alison did not want to believe she was right.
“How late was it?” Alison rubs her eyes sounding agitated. She could only wish she was more lost as to what Ripley was getting at.
Ripley looks up pondering the details of the event, “like..three o’clock in the morning.”
“You were probably sleep-deprived and your mind was playing tricks on you.” Alison turns around and makes another attempt to dismiss what is happening. If it was not a ghost, it was more than likely someone who had been living in their house when neither of them was home. All the true crime podcasts and documentaries come back rushing into her mind. Alison could usually chuck something like this up to Ripley being up too late and not sleeping, reading, or watching something that would scare her. Alison wanted to tell herself that she was right, but something was screaming she was wrong.
“Allie-” Ripley protests.
“Alison.” The grounded girl corrects. Ripley could have just been jumpy and Alison could have just been anxious.
“Whatever, but you think everything is so easy to explain, and it’s not.” Ripley is visibly agitated by her friend's dismissiveness. She liked Alison as a person but between her rigid attitude towards the suggestion of something being in the attic and her miserable attitude during a test week, she was being a prig to everyone. In this state Ripley felt ignored, and that Alison was denying her intuition and experience.
Alison realizes her attitude and feels guilty about the way she treated her friend. The reaction to the nickname was unnecessary and also the snide to something that may have generally scared Ripley. Her conscience presses her to say something and show compassion since Ripley now was probably angered by the response. Humoring her fear may help to calm them both in the long run, and keep the peace amongst the housemates.
Alison gets up out of the chair. “Okay Ripley, let’s go check the attic. If it’s a raccoon or something we should see to make sure we get the apartment taken care of,” as Alison says this Ripley jumps up excitedly grabbing a flashlight and putting shoes on. She had obviously been preparing for this before the conversation but just wanted someone to accompany her in looking at whatever was in the attic.
The two walk down the hallway of the apartment and look up at the small door to enter. Alison picks up a latter and climbs to open the small door, as she does, Ripley turns and the flashlight and the two enter the attic.
“Hey...any crying ladies up here?” Ripley looks around and shines the flashlight into several corners of the room. Dust begins to fly up and the thud of scurrying mice can be heard. Ripley continues to walk around and move clattered boards and boxes out of the way.
“Ripley, shine the light in the corner over here,” Alison says this in a slightly mortified tone, she crosses her arms looking at the darkened corner trying to identify what she thinks she sees. Her smaller friend points the flashlight in the corner.
A bunched-up blanket, used pillow, and an open box of cereal sat in the corner. Alison walks over and moves it slightly with her foot while squatting down and surveying the area. Ripley walks over to the singular small window in the front part of the attic facing the street. She begins to fiddle with it, only to find out that there is no lock.
Ripley opens it to look out and see how close the fire escape is to the window. It occurs to her how easy it would be for someone to get into the window without falling or getting hurt.
“I think we need a new place to live Allie.”
“Yeah, I think you’re right on this.”