Kaven popped his neck and stretched his arms through his flannel overshirt. “Been awhile since we’ve been oppressed by ghosts.”
Jael nodded her head gently. “Yeah, huh? Specifically it all stopped when our baby girl was born.”
Kaven nodded and moved to wash his breakfast dishes: a plate where his toast had been and bowl where his oatmeal was. Well except he did not wash one dish: his coffee mug. He was so going to pour himself another cup. I should see if Jael wants another cup, too. He walked to the den to the coffee table and grabbed up her mug that sat there empty.
“Hey! I was gonna get seconds…” Jael said practically salivating over the idea of more coffee.
She chased her mug that was being taken to the kitchen. But Kaven was already filling it with another cup of coffee from the already brewed pot. He smiled warmly as he handed the warmed by coffee mug to her, “You’re on your own for crème.”
Announcing her arrival into the kitchen with loud, stomping footsteps, Ciara Jaheel asked, “May I try a cup of coffee?”
“Of course, baby doll, want some whole milk in it?” her mother responded handing her the mug Kaven had just refilled. Jael then went to get another mug for herself.
Ciara Jaheel took the mug and sniffed the liquid before taking a sip of the warm, black liquid. It was nice. Jael smiled at her then went to the fridge to get some whole milk to use in lieu of crème. She poured a dollop in her own cup that she then topped with coffee from the waiting coffee pot. She moved to get a tablespoon of sugar, too. Ciara Jaheel, of course, watched her mom do all this. Noticing that her daughter was staring, Jael smiled and asked, “Wanna try mine?”
Nodding Ciara placed her mug on the counter than took the mug from Jael with both her hands and took a sip. Wow, that is SO much better than the plain coffee which was already good! “Um, how do I make mine like yours?”
Kaven watched his wife and daughter’s display with an affixed grin then intervened before Ciara Jaheel could miss out on another taste-test. “Here, Ciara Jaheel, try mine…”
Placing her mug on the counter top again she took her dad’s mug and sipped his coffee that used actual crème instead of milk. Hmmn this is tasty and…thick.
“Wow, It is, um, thicker.” Ciara Jaheel commented. “Except, Dad? Can you just call me just Ciara or just Jaheel?”
Jael’s shoulders straightened and she asked her daughter, “Which do you prefer?”
Ciara Jaheel’s eyebrows furrowed when she looked at her mom to answer. “Uh, um, well eh…”
She liked all three versions of the coffee except the sugary versions were better. The one her dad gave her was heavier, though, which she guessed would make her fuller if she did not eat, not that she had ever missed a meal. But, she often noticed her parents skip breakfast. She never once saw them skip coffee, though. That is why she figured coffee must be something real special. Ciara-Jaheel truly did not know which coffee she preferred: black, with whole milk and sugar, or with crème and sugar. She picked up her mug and practically chugged it enjoying the tasty black fluid. Then she went to the coffee pot and poured more in. Kaven followed to wash her breakfast plates that she had placed in the nearby sink. Jael looked at him, shaking her head. He furrowed his brows and lifted his chin as if to ask, “what?”
Jael said, “We made an addict out of our daughter. She was too engrossed with choosing her favorite version of the coffee to answer which name she preferred: Ciara or Jaheel.”
Kaven chuckled at that and reasoned, “Well she’s a child of two coffee addicts: it was bound to happen.”
Ciara Jaheel finished her second mug of coffee, and satisfied took her mug to the sink. Her dad smiled at her, and then he looked down at her bare feet. She rushed to put on a pair of flip-flops, grabbed her backpack, and buckled herself in the car for her mom to drive her to school. Once Jael buckled up, too, she smiled and asked her daughter, “Which of your two first names would you rather we use?”
A sudden and huge smile on her face, Ciara-Jaheel spoke answered, “Oh, thank you! I’ve really wanted to narrow that down. I mean like, no offence, it’s just…”
With love and kindness Jael reminded Ciara-Jaheel of her earlier request to her father Kaven that only one of her dual first names be used. “You just thought he was asking which type of coffee you preferred instead of which name—which is understandable as you had three coffees to choose from!”
Ciara-Jaheel giggled along with her mom about the whole name and coffee preference distraction. Then, as she could see her school coming up in the distance, she cleared her throat. “People always ask how to say my name and ask why it is so long.”
Nodding, Jael asked, “So do you want to pick one, and teach people how to pronounce just that one?”
Mimicking her mom’s nodding, Ciara-Jaheel said, “Well that would be good. I just don’t really know which I’d prefer. That’s kinda why I wanted Dad to choose.”
Jael wanted to ask why Kaven got to choose, but she knew young girls prefer their dads to their moms just automatically. “I’ll ask your dad to think it over and let you know which name he would prefer later today.”
Delighted Ciara-Jaheel got out of the vehicle and pulled her backpack on to begin her walk to the school’s enterance, waving good bye to her mom as she did. Classes went well, until she got to her science class.
Science class had a creepy ghost there that was clearly trying to scare the students. Ciara-Jaheel was not scared, nor was she entertained. She could see the creepy young, pale boy turning the Bunsen burners on or open and close the closet door. Of course the class was drawn out in time as the instructor Mr. Jackson kept panicking about the little fires that kept lighting up. The chemistry teacher would kind of jump and warn the students, “Careful that Bunsen burner lit up. Make sure your clothes and hair are tucked away—you don’t want anything to get in the flame!”
Of course just then the closet door would slam shut. Then slowly reopen with no one but Ciara Jaheel able to see the ghost that was doing it. To everyone else the happenstance of lit Bunsen burners and the closet door was just happening. Nevertheless, the syllabus and first lesson was delivered. Ciara Jaheel was bothered by having to take notes to learn the material and be the only one who could see the pale boy that was starting the fires and opening and closing the closet. One of these days, she was going to tell Pale Boy off. Except, Mr. Jackson dismissed class, then told Ciara Jaheel to stay after class for a bit to talk to him.
“Ciara Jaheel, may I ask what it was you were glaring at all through class?” Mr. Jackson queried.
She smiled. “Oh, I am sorry, sir. The Bunsen burners lighting aflame and the slamming door threw me off. Does this happen allot?”
“No, never before. Today it has. Allot. But you saw that obviously…” The thing was, Mr. Jackson had noticed that Ciara Jaheel had been looking in the direction off each burner before it came on and that she had looked toward the closet before the door was opened or slammed shut. He leaned forward toward Ciara Jaheel and asked, “May I call you Ciara?”
Looking down at her nails, she responded, “Sure, it IS part of my name.”
“Can you tell me, Ciara, how it was you knew which Bunsen burner was going to light up or how you knew when that closet door would be opened or closed?”
Ciara Jaheel got out of her chair and then tucked it back into the desk. She did not respond to Mr. Jackson’s incredibly on-target questions. She hadn’t realized the teacher had watched her that closely in the midst of the classroom havoc. He was a nice looking young man and she liked that he chose one of her names over the other. But she did not know how to answer him. Ciara Jaheel realized she needed to have a talk with her parents.
“May I go home now? I am sure my mom or dad is waiting in their car for me.”
Mr. Jackson nodded and extended his open hand toward the door. “Good bye, Ciara.”
A few of the students mostly other girls, were waiting for her outside the classroom door. They were giggling, “How did you get to have a private meeting with hotty teacher?”
One boy that was amidst the giggly girls, rolled his eyes. He moved closer to Ciara Jaheel and said, “Hey my name is Kevin. You okay? Being called to hang back to talk to teacher is weird. You want me to walk you out? ”
Ciara Jaheel thought this Kevin guy was kind of cute, so with a smile she nodded. The girls giggled again as Kevin took her chemistry book and walked by Ciara Jaheel’s side down the hallway. They talked about how they had almost every class together this semester. When they got to the glass door entrance, she saw how her mom was getting out of her car and moving to unlock the backdoor. She gestured to the car and looked at Kevin, “That’s my mom.”
“Okay, have a great, you know after school…” He felt goofy because he didn’t know what to say. Kevin was pretty happy she had let him walk with her from class as he had decided he liked her. He handed her the textbook before she exited the main door.
Jael had waved at the school’s entrance door, because she noticed Ciara Jaheel looking out the school entrance’s glass doors. Ciara Jaheel dutifully walked up to the car’s side passenger door to open it and place her backpack in before getting in to buckle up. Jael closed the car door while saying after her daughter buckled, “Hi, baby.”
Jael walked around to the driver’s seat door and got in. As she turned the key in the ignition, she asked, “So who was the young man that was standing by you?”
Ciara Jaheel rolled her eyes. “Mom, that was Kevin, okay? But I need to…is Dad home, too?”
“Okay no more Kevin talk. For now,” smiling, Jael glanced at Ciara Jaheel through the rearview mirror.
Ciara Jaheel was filled with her own thoughts of the Pale Boy, though. Her mom caught onto the feeling that her daughter did not want to be bothered, so the two of them drove home in silence. They both cautiously got out of the car once Jael had pulled into the garage. Ciara Jaheel went indoors first. She was unscrewing the top of a water bottle while standing next to Kaven when Jael came inside to the sound of the garage door closing.
Kaven embraced Jael in greeting. The two ladies’ silence had him concerned, so when they pulled apart from their embrace, he gave Jael an inquisitive look. She smiled and shrugged.
In the meantime, Ciara Jaheel sat in the den waiting for her parents to join her. She decided to also tell her parents that she was choosing Ciara as the part of her first name she wanted to use. She didn’t want to admit to herself, but it was because of Mr. Jackson. She smiled at the thought of the handsome teacher asking if he could call her Ciara, when both her parents entered. She straightened her shoulders once they both took a seat.
Kaven opened the conversation, “Ciara Jaheel, your mom told me you wanted to speak to both of us about something that happened today. Feel free...”
“Ciara. Call me Ciara.” Ciara Jaheel surprised herself by bringing that up first.
Her dad look disappointed. He asked, “Really? I was hoping you would choose Jaheel.”
Jael, on the other hand, pitched in, “Oh, yay! I was hoping you would choose Ciara.”
Ciara began the real purpose of the family meeting. “Do you believe in ghosts?”
Jael leaned into Kaven, burying her head in his shoulder. Kaven cleared his throat then asked, “Ciara Ja—I mean, Ciara, why do you ask?”
Ciara mimicked her father’s throat clearing before saying, “I saw one today in science class.”
Jael responded, “Is it the first ghost you’ve seen?”
Kaven looked at her a bit surprised. But, Jael maintained her eye contact with Ciara who answered, “I knew you knew!”
Jael responded, “Well, honey, you get this kind of a quiet when we pass by some of the older buildings. I wondered if you were seeing…paranormal stuff.”
“Paranormal,” Kaven repeated slightly amused with the choice of that word.
Jael and he had discussions in private about the possibility that Ciara had experienced what they had before she was born: ghosts. It had occurred to Jael and she shared with Kaven that maybe she had experienced ghosts because Ciara Jaheel was in her belly. Maybe it was their daughter that had the magnetic appeal to ghosts and not Jael after all. She made a determination to call Jerry Sterling whom she had met in Lubbock before Ciara was born. He had been intent on becoming a ghost hunter. She figured he would have some insight on the possibility of Ciara Jaheel as the true ghost magnet.
Ciara Jaheel shared with her parents about the Pale Boy in her chemistry class. Her mother seemed especially interested. Jael wondered if the ghost were of local origin recalling the travelling ghosts of her own experience.
Ciara’s dad seemed irked. Ciara Jaheel walked over to where Kaven was and sat down by him. “Are you upset, Daddy?”
He did not respond to her question. He just extended his arm over the area where she sat. He reached into his flannel over shirt’s front pocket and pulled out the Snicker’s bar he had in there. He handed the candy bar to his daughter. Ciara took the candy bar, unwrapped it and watched as small bites were taken out of it by children only she could see.
“It is okay but let the little one have a bite, too” Ciara admonished the children who were greedily taking bites.
Jael gasped when she saw the tiny bite being taken out of the Snicker’s candy after her daughter spoke. Ciara looked up expecting her mother to understand that these were the children who had lost their lives in the water in Smyrna, GA eating her candy and said to her mom, “Just Waterheads.”
Nodding, Jael got up and left the room to go throw water on her face in the nearest restroom. What are waterheads she wondered as the water cooled her burning face. Am I allowed to not know? Baby girl thought I knew…WHY?! How could I know…
Meanwhile Kaven was making a mental note to never ever give his daughter a Snicker’s bar again. I think it’ll be awhile before I eat another candy bar of any kind. But, Snuggling up to him, was a shaky Ciara. He put both his arms around her to comfort her until the shaking ceased. He offered, “I can always get you another candy bar, Ciara…”
His daughter chuckled. “Actually, I never liked Snickers bars, Dad. It is so busy with nuts, chocolate, caramel…”
He laughed. That was indeed true: it was busy or at least cluttered for a candy.
Jael returned to the room then. She looked scared. Kaven usually had his arms and chest ready for his wife when she felt any overwhelming emotion, but he could not offer that to her now with their prodigy already in his arms. He just gave her a sympathetic look. Jael appreciated it; she also appreciated that he held their precious daughter. She was going to ask him why he figured ghosts from Georgia were plaguing them. The phone rang. Ciara jumped up to get it, “Grandpa?! Hi!”
It was Jael’s dad Carlos calling to see how his grandbaby’s first day of school went. Ciara Jaheel was excited to tell him that she had decided to drop the Jaheel from her first name so now her name was identical to her grandma’s first name. Soon Jael was talking to her dad who shared with her that he and her mom were travelling through the various States again. Placing the call on speaker, Jael asked, “So which state are you in now?”
“Georgia,” Came his quick reply. Kaven and Jael looked at each other knowingly, and in unison they said, “OH!”
Jael took the phone off speaker mode and into another room to ask him privately what a waterhead was. She shared with Kaven later how “waterheads” were what children who had drowned in a creek in Smyrna, Georgia were called. Kaven looked deeply into her eyes and said, “If ghost children are eating our daughter’s chocolate bar, I don’t think we are free of the demons that pretend to be people who once lived.”
“Then, isn’t everyone in the same boat?” Jael said in a monotone voice. She refused to cry which was difficult. Adults being mocked by demons after they die was easier to deal with…but children? Should she have rebuked the children eating little Ciara’s chocolate bar?
As though he read her mind, Kaven said in hushed tones, “Demons of any size are still evil. Case in point: thievery of candy from a child.”
“It was your candy bar to start with…where was your rebuke, oh, Holy man?” Jael retorted.
“Where, as in which state, if I may ask, are your parents travelling to next?” Kaven asked wanting to be able to expect where the ghosts will be from in case they would have to deal with different ghost accents.
He got the next destination but, of course, could not pronounce the ghost word he was given associated with the place. He tried, “Go-ol in South Carolina?”
Jael smiled as the word Gullah was tough for her, too, when her father told her that was their next travel destination and about the myth of the gullah. She went to get an atlas so they could find it on the map, at least. As soon as they found South Carolina, they realized how ridiculous this was. There was not going to be a key for which ghosts are associated with the entire state! Jael looked at Kaven and asked,
“I’m hungry. Are you peckish?”
Kaven nodded and went to find their daughter to ask where she might want to grab a bite. He had to remind himself with each step to his daughter not to call her Jaheel. I wonder why she dropped that part of her name. It was so beautiful.
The thing was, Jaheel Ciara had kept her full two-part first name for so long because she loved her paternal grandmother named Ciara, and her parents told her how her mom was almost named Jaheel. She was told of her maternal grandfather’s cruelty, too; how he did not want a child unless it was a boy. Little Jaheel Ciara had decided not to learn anything about India for that reason. The very idea of dowry disgusted her. She flashed back to when she learned of dowry.
“Huh? What is dow-ee?” Jaheel Ciara asked, wide eyed. It was explained to her how that was money given to a family to accept a daughter into their family through marriage. Though it was a reality of near all cultures, Jael, naturally focused on the culture that affected her most.
Those cultural facts made Jaheel Ciara want to vomit. She repeated so her parents would realize what they had told her, “They pay people to take their daughters away from them?”
It was terrifying for a girl to hear that daughters are unwanted because they are girls. She was horrified that her parents may not truly love and want her. That is what it had to mean, right? They can’t help that they are girls. God decides that. She wondered, why does God hate girls?
Soon she got her answer that never stops repeating itself throughout every day and everywhere: a woman is the weaker sex and she has to pay for it by serving men as the more deserving master. Her parents were Christian, so Ciara Jaheel got the Holy Bible’s book of Genesis account of the first man Adam and woman Eve. Adam and Eve were placed in a beautiful, plentiful garden and they could eat the fruit of any tree therein except one: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That’s when it all went wrong.
A walking, talking snake told Eve to try the fruit of the forbidden tree. It told her that it would make her more like God. More like God. Yes, Eve had Adam, but her true love was the same as every human: God.
Eve, of course wanted to be like her greatest love, so she plucked the fruit, and, yes, took a bite. It took a possessed, walking talking snake for Eve to fall; thus defining the “weaker” sex. So, what did it take to get the STRONGER sex to fall? Oh, yeah, a naked lady holding out the forbidden fruit to Adam, and asking, “Want a bite?”
So Adam was the start of the stronger sex philosophy. That really got to Jaheel Ciara as it seemed to her Adam was much weaker. So to her, the weaker vs. stronger sex assumption was nothing more than a myth. Ciara Jaheel was not sure if her dad ever noticed, but anytime she got a chance over a meal (even those she didn’t want to share), she would ask her dad, “hey, want a bite?”
Kaven of course noticed her daughter offering a portion of her food to him, but did not realize the underlying impetus of her offer. He just thought Ciara Jaheel was the caring, sweet girl she was being raised to be.
Jael, noticed a bit, though as she was never given the same offer of a bite from her daughter. So of course Jael had noticed. The meaning of their daughter’s offer to share her meal with Kaven, though, Jael thought was evidence of a daughter’s preference for a father and nothing more. It hardly occurred to her that, in any way, it may be mocking.
This night, Kaven had asked Ciara Jaheel where she would want to get food as he and her mama were not in the mood to cook. She chose a nearby restaurant that had all gone to recently. Ciara, graciously sat down in the chair Kaven had moved away from the table for her, before he moved on to hold a seat for Jael. Kaven then sat across from Jael and next to Ciara Jaheel. Ciara Jaheel ordered a quesadilla. Jael smiled and asked Kaven to pray over their meal before they all dug in.
“Our heavenly father, we come before you to thank you for this food, and we ask you to both bless it for our sustenance and protect us from any harm that could come from it like choking. It is in the name of your son Jesus that we pray this, and,” Kaven opened his eyes and looked around before concluding, “Amen.”
Smiling, Jael took a sip of her raspberry iced tea and watched Ciara Jaheel separate a portion of her cheese, veggie, and chicken filled tortilla and spear it with her fork. Once the portion was secure on her fork, she turned to Kaven and offered, “Daddy, want a bite?”
As always, and to Ciara’s delight, Kaven refused the offered bite. She always figured, if it were her dad in Biblical Adam’s place, he would have refused the bite of the forbidden fruit, too. The family enjoyed their meal and got to-go boxes to finish what was left later.
Jael put their to-go boxes in the fridge later that evening before they read a chapter of Bible, prayed, and parted to go to bed. Peaceful slumber occurred for a few hours.
Close to midnight, Ciara Jaheel sat straight up. She moved off her bed and ran barefoot to her parent’s bedroom. Yep there it was: a little child-size monster sitting on her dad’s chest and sucking in the air that was moving from the nose and mouth region of his face.
Ciara Jaheel screamed, “BOOHAG, get off of my daddy right now!!”
Her shout awoke Jael who turned and looked at her slumbering husband by her side. Kaven’s eyes were open, red, and moist. She noticed Ciara Jaheel standing in front of their bed with an angry look on her face. Jael shook Kaven and said, “Honey, wake up, Ciara Jah—Ciara is in our room screaming.”
Ciara Jaheel moved onto the bed right next to her dad and glared at the air above his chest. Jael asked her, “Ciara, baby, what are you staring at?”
“The Boohag drinking dad’s air,” she said matter of factly.
Now, Jael moved from her laying position to sit up straight and initiate a prayerful order, “I command any evil force in this room to depart in the name of Jesus!”
The Boohag got off of Kaven at the mention of Jesus, and only Ciara Jaheel got to see the impish thing leave. Kaven sat up, released a large breath, then breathed in just as deeply. He took three more deep breaths, and only then noticed that his daughter was in the bed next to him looking victorious.
He coughed and decided to direct his question to her, “Ciara? Why am I so out of breath and more tired than I was before I got in bed?”
“Oh, a boohag was sucking your air out of you. But I caught it before it used you to do weird stuff, and mommy prayed it away. It got scared when mommy said Jesus,” Ciara Jaheel’s answer in her girlish voice was a comfort to Kaven who was deep down at the point of panic.
“Wow, okay, uh, what is a boohag?” Kaven said trying not to act frightened for the sake of being a confident father around his child.
Jael intervened. “We should all get some rest,” She looked at Ciara Jaheel before continuing, “for work and school tomorrow.”
She moved to escort Ciara Jaheel back to bed, tuck her in, and kiss her good night. Ciara told her mom that the ghost was a particular ghost characteristic of South Carolina. Jael devotedly repeated details that seemed important to Ciara, and listened alertly.
“How do you even know where South Carolina is, babe? We’ve never been.” Jael commented.
“I don’t know where it is. I just know where the ghosts come from because they, well, you know…”
“Ciara Jaheel, I do NOT know.”
“They say where they are from…don’t you hear them?” Ciara Jaheel believed her mother could hear and see the creatures she did especially since her parents had told her of the ghost situations that occurred while she was still in her mom’s belly.
Jael was shaken not just because her daughter could hear the demons faking like ghosts but also the distance between here and where the ghost typically ‘haunts.’ She flashed back to the travelling ghosts from when she was still pregnant that had appeared in a city in Texas far from the other Texas city that ghost was typically said to haunt. A man named Jerry that wanted to be a ghost hunter that had befriended her was even shocked at that. Jerry called them “travelling ghosts.” It was Jael’s turn to be shocked. She resolved to call Jerry and tell him about this. Ghosts travel across states now? I know, I know they are really demons pretending to be ghosts but don’t demons have limits?!
Almost mirroring her internal feelings was Kaven’s physical state when she got back to their bedroom. He was in quite a loop: breathing SO much and SO deep. Jael was a little concerned he might hyperventilate. He was relieved when Jael returned, though he greeted her with breathing that went from deep to panicky short, quick ones and stuttered out, “Wh-what is a boohag?”
“I have no idea, but apparently it wanted to possess you. I think it would have been disappointed as I do not believe Jesus would scoot over for a demon to be inside you.” Jael said with such finality that it reassured Kaven. Nevertheless, Jael resolved to call Jerry Sterling the wannabe ghost hunter of their not so distant past.
Kaven was also motivated to pray and check in with God. He didn’t like to admit it, but he had fallen into the collective pattern of many a contemporary Christian. The all too common behavior of not continuously praying or reading Bible just attending a cursory Sunday morning service one hour a week was an easy habit to fall into. Common or easy notwithstanding, he was ashamed of himself. Mentally he prayed: God, thank you so much for Jael. She has come so far from atheist to a strong, practsing believer. Not to mention a great wife and mother. I am so sorry to if I have ignored you too much lately. Let’s you and I have a prayer date later today. Kaven yawned, stretched, and settled back into bed to get some sleep before his alarm clock sounded.
Meanwhile little Ciara Jaheel was cozying up in her twin size bed. As she laid there hugging her teddy bear, she reflected on how nice it was to have a Mom who understood what it was like to see ghosts. She felt safe knowing her mom could take control of a ghost situation so quick, too.
She looked at the teddy bear’s puffy, plastic black eyes. She remembered when one of her play dates said the eyes of dolls were scary. Ciara Jaheel wished something so fake could be all that scared her, too. Except she enjoyed dolls and teddy bears, and she did not want to see scary stuff around those nice toys. She gave a tiny kiss to her teddy bear before her breathing became even and her eyes fluttered closed.
Jael was making French toast and bacon for breakfast and Kaven was pouring glasses of whole milk and orange juice for each of them. She had dipped each piece of white bread in the egg that had been whisked with milk, sugar, nutmeg, and grated cinnamon. Jael then added the bread to the hot pan that had butter melting on it. She waited a minute in a half, placed a bit of butter on the side facing up, and then flipped it so that both sides were toasted.
Ciara entered wearing blue jeans and a tucked in t-shirt. Kaven began the drill awaiting a nod to each question:
“Brush your teeth remembering to get your tongue and inside of each cheek? Okay. Wash your face? Good. Brush the knots out of your hair? Wearing fresh, clean clothes? Fine, fine, are you hungry?”
Ciara Jaheel giggled and took a seat. Her mom came and placed a slice of French toast on her plate with a couple of pieces of bacon that she had made before making the French toast. Kaven filled his plate and sat next to her. Jael placed the cooking dishes in the dishwasher before filling her own plate. She was about to take a bite when Kaven began a prayer over the food. Jael smiled and completed, “Amen.”
“I’m surprised you didn’t make a pot of coffee.” Kaven playfully chastised, thinking it would make his meal perfect.
“It’s still percolating but almost done.” Jael said equally disappointed she had not timed it to be ready by the time she was done with the toast. Kaven downed his milk, took a sip of the orange juice, and then popped up like bread in a toaster to get mugs for coffee.
They were all enjoying the nice breeze blowing in from the open windows as they ate. When it was just about time to get their shoes on and grab their car keys, Jael remembered, “Oh, the windows! We have to close those before we go.”
“No, you don’t. Aunt Crecy will close them.” Ciara Jaheel smiled at the air above her and by the window closest to them that was closing nice and tight and being locked before the next window was also closed.
Jael took her daughter’s hand to walk her to the car when she asked her baby, “Aunt who now?”
“Crecy. Aunt Crecy is like everybody’s aunt always taking care of things like closing windows or wiping up small spills. She’s from Tennessee wherever that is.” Ciara struggled with the pronunciation of the state stumbling over the long word saying it as two separate words “tennis” “see”.
Aunt Crecy loaded the breakfast dishes in the dishwasher before Kaven could. All they saw were the plates, forks, and cups seemingly float through the air and get placed in the dishwasher. Ciara Jaheel, of course saw her in full form carrying the dishes.
They got in their cars, Ciara riding with Kaven but Jael buckling her up. After closing her car door Jael looked earnestly at Kaven, “Should we have prayed this helpful ghost away?”
Kaven shrugged. He truly did not know. If all ghosts are demons, then, yeah, we probably should have prayed her out of our living space. But, this Aunt Crecy sure saved them time today such that they all got to work and school on time.
Over her lunch time, Jael called Pastor Jake of the church they attended. She briefed him on the waterheads of Georgia, boohag of South Carolina, and Tennessee’s Aunt Crecy. Jael also called Jerry Sterling, the aspiring ghost hunter whom she assumed was an actual one now. Jerry was excited and scheduled a trip to visit immediately.
Pastor Jake leaned back in his chair as he listened to Jael. When she finished, Jake outright laughed but not mirthfully. He glanced at his watch then decided to fast until the same time the next day. He placed the lunch he had just picked up in the fridge for the next day. Darn I was really craving that sandwich. God, every time I hunger or approach a meal time during this fast, I will pray for Jael’s family. Let’s start now. I praise your glorious being and I know you want what is best for your people. Help these congregates through this whole ghost mess. In the name of your son and my savior, Jesus, Amen.
Jerry was scheduled to Sunday. On that Sunday, Pastor Jake awaited a part in the crowd, so that he could casually speak to Jael. He hugged her and as he did occasionally with all his church members but this time whispered in her ear as he hugged: “Ghosts gone?”
She shook her head, laughed, and spoke through her smile as she had taught herself to do as a child so she could talk in school. Jael told him that she and Kaven were under the belief that their daughter was the true ghost magnet. Pastor Jake took a step back, then 2 steps forward to ask with concern, “Is she scared?”
Jael turned to her daughter and motioned her forward. Ciara Jaheel was imitating her mom’s motion to come to someone else that was not visible to anyone else. Pastor asked Ciara Jaheel if he could take a picture with her as he wanted pictures with all children for an album the church was working on. He handed his digital pocket camera to Jael, and Jael handed the camera to Kaven so that his taller height may allow him to get a better shot. Kaven took the picture of Pastor Jake with one arm encircling Ciara Jaheel. He was smiling after he got the two to say cheese then took the photo. Kaven glanced at the picture just taken on the screen and nearly dropped the camera.
Pastor Jake went to Kaven with concern having noticed all the color had drained from his face. “Kaven, what is wrong?”
Still holding the camera, Kaven fanned the Pastor away. Pastor Jake shook his head, “Nah, man, it’s my camera, give it here.”
Moving toward Jael instead Kaven accessed the last photo and handed the camera to Jael to see. It was a picture of Pastor Jake, Ciara Jaheel, and an almost translucent young girl standing by Ciara wearing an old fashioned school uniform dress. Jael looked at it, shook her head and addressed Pastor Jake, “You might not want this back. I am so sorry.”
“Ah-hem, I it is my camera. Whatever it is, I can handle it.” He took his camera and glanced at the picture. “Oh.”
He walked up to Ciara Jaheel. She anticipated he’d want an explanation, so offered what she knew: “Her name is Martha. She was always fascinated by cameras and tends to sneak into other people’s photos so she can have her picture taken. She died of some disease years ago in Fort, Mountain, Georgia.”
Pastor Jake listened to her, but had to join the music worship team then preach his sermon. So, with no time to mince words said, “Maybe tell this ‘Martha’ to not hang around the church, okay?”
Ciara Jaheel nodded and slunk back to her seat, feeling as though she had gotten in trouble, but she waved goodbye to the Martha ghost running past her toward the exit that as a ghost she didn’t really need to use. Jael sat next to Ciara Jaheel putting an arm around her. Kaven came and sat on the other side of his daughter. Kaven was a bit upset that Pastor Jake had reacted the way he did to Ciara. Jael wondered if the Pastor were okay as that sort of response to something so serious and spiritual in nature did not seem like him.
Actually, Pastor Jake did feel bad about how dismissive he had been to Ciara Jaheel. She was just a child. She was the daughter of a couple he had gotten quite close to since before the birth of their daughter Ciara Jaheel. He had, however, recently felt doubt about whether dealing with ghosts had compromised his standing as a man of God. Jake went back and forth about whether he should get involved in matters that concerned matters like ghosts. He was unsure if it was broadening the scope of his reach to those in need of God’s aid or if ghosts were making his career as a pastor a joke.
Pastor went to biannual meetings with other people of God: missionaries, pastors, choir leaders, and the like. One person had heard of Pastor Jake’s involvement with people concerned about ghosts, and mockingly commented to the whole group, “I am sure Pastor Jake can tell us about our authority over Casper the not-so-friendly ghost.”
Pastor Jake remembered how they all laughed in derision at him. As he preached he saw Ciara Jaheel in the audience and abruptly quoted a verse that was not part of his sermon, “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with a shout of joy. Psalm 8:21.” He then stepped off the stage and walked right in front of Ciara Jaheel and her parents. “I am so sorry, I dismissed this,” he pulled his camera back out of his pocket and scrolled to the ghostly image. Then his voice got louder as he led the congregation in a closing prayer. As the congregation grabbed their things and hugged in farewell, he spoke to Ciara Jaheel again, “I will come by your house later if your parents will allow, so we can discuss this.”
Jael sighed in relief that the Pastor Jake she was accustomed to had not really changed. Kaven touched Ciara’s arm, so she would look at him and he could check to see if she still looked as upset as she had been, before he nodded along with the idea of the Pastor’s proposed visit. Ciara Jaheel was staring at the pink ball gown of the smiling young lady in front of her to really be concerned with Pastor Jake and her parent’s interaction. The lady in Pink followed them as they left to board their car to go home. The Lady in Pink sat atop their suburban the whole ride back to the house.
Jael took steaks out of the refrigerator to marinate in a large bowl with red wine vinaigrette. She then rinsed some green beans. Kaven took over from there. He added mashed potatoes to the menu. Standing atop the center counter was the Lady in Pink. Ciara addressed her, “Why do you do that stuff?”
“What stuff?” She answered as she smoothed the pink dress with her hand.
“That stuff.” Ciara Jaheel impatiently pointed to where the pink gowned girl stood.
“Come on up, honey! It is super fun. I love getting on high places and looking down…this must be what it’s like to be a giant!” The girl in the pink gown called out while twirling.
“I’m not getting up there. I could fall.” Ciara Jaheel said shaking her head.
The Lady in Pink got stiff when Ciara Jaheel sad “fall.” She carefully got down from the counter at that. “Falling isn’t so bad. It’s just when the fall stops that is bad.” Her voice got quiet then.
Ciara Jaheel felt bad for her. She walked up and started admiring and touching the pink gown. She asked the Lady in Pink, “Pretty girl, where you from?
“North Carolina at the Omni Park Inn.” She answered, twirling her hair as she had never heard herself called “pretty” before. Then the Lady in Pink lifted the skirt of her gown away from her shoes and ran toward where the stairs were. In her wake, Ciara Jaheel was repeating, “North Carolina.”
“What about North Carolina?” Kaven asked his daughter to whom he had been explaining his method of cooking the steaks to as he thought she was asking him why he did ‘that stuff.’
Ciara Jaheel smiled. “I like mashed potatoes, thank you for making some.”
Jael entered the conversation then, “Baby, why did you say North Carolina when daddy was explaining the use of a meat thermometer?”
Since it was her mom whom Ciara Jaheel believed could see the ghosts and not her dad, she answered thinking Jael would explain later to her dad, “Oh it’s where the Lady in Pink is from. She’s on the stairs now probably looking down. She likes the way things look from higher up.”
Jael went toward the stairs and assuming the ghost was on the second floor commented loudly, “Not so high, huh? Only two floors in this house.”
Having followed her mother, Ciara Jaheel declared, “I knew you still saw the ghosts, Mama!”
The Lady in Pink had already jumped, though, and was on the floor by Jael’s feet. Ciara Jaheel stepped aside for Aunt Crecy who offered her hand so the Lady in Pink could arise. The Lady in Pink took Aunt Crecy’s hand and touched Ciara Jaheel’s shoulder as she arose. Jael had just then reached over to place the palm of her right hand atop her daughter’s noggin. Just as Jael touched her child’s head the Lady in Pink took Aunt Crecy’s hand, so Jael could see both ghosts now: Aunt Crecy and the Lady.
“WOW!” Jael declared at the sight of the young, pink clad girl arising and fluffing out her pink gown as she did. She also was fascinated by the sight of Aunt Crecy.
Speaking of Aunty Crecy, Kaven was surprised when she wasn’t there to hold the spatula he needed to put aside as he squeezed more marinade on the steaks. He had to lay it on the counter, instead. He decided to talk to the ghost, “Aunt Crecy? Had I not thanked you for each thing you’ve helped me with…is that why you didn’t take the spatula and hold it there for me?”
Jael had entered the kitchen as Kaven addressed Aunt Crecy, and verbally reacted, “Hmmn.”
Kaven turned and smiled at Jael who had a confusing expression on her face. So he checked, “Upset?”
“No, Aunt Crecy is the nice ghost. She just helped the Lady in Pink stand back up from her fall from the second floor.”
“Oh….okay. Lady in…” Kaven had rolled his shoulders back to stand up straight. Jael’s cell phone rang. It was Jerry. She asked him to stop by later that evening thinking they’d all have eaten and gotten Ciara worn down for bed.
“Pink. She’s not too much older than our daughter, and she is dolled up in a pink party gown,” Jael said with a fascinated tone.
Kaven redirected Jael to something she’d said. “Okay, and this pink-dress-girl fell from the second floor?” Kaven stopped himself before he asked if she was okay reminding himself: She is dead.
“Yeah, I’m thinking we need to seriously get this pink clad lady out of our home. I saw her, by the way and I saw Aunt Crecy.” Jael did not think it was safe to have a ghost that their daughter could see setting such unsafe examples.
Kaven was a bit surprised that Jael said she saw those two ghosts as she had told him she no longer saw ghosts after Ciara Jaheel was born. He wanted to know how it happened that his wife saw what their daughter only seemed to see. But, when Jael had Ciara in her belly, she saw and spoke to ghosts that I could only see if, well, I touched the ghost or Jael while she talked to one, and then I could see them, too. Maybe something like that happened? Yeah, it’s got to be!
Almost as though beckoned, the doorbell rang—Pastor Jake had arrived and so had Jerry Sterling. Thank fully dinner was ready, so Kaven went to get the door. Jael stayed back to fill gasses with Ice tea. Pastor shook Kaven’s hand, patted Ciara Jaheel on the head, and kissed Jael on the cheek when she came out of the kitchen toward him. Jerry smiled at each of them and only went up to Jael to speak privately about what was happening. He informed them that he had eaten already and not to mind him while he left the dining room while the rest of them ate. The rest of them gathered in the dining room and Pastor Jake prayed over the meal they were about to partake of.
Kaven announced the steak choices pointing to the platter of meat as he did, “I made rib eye steaks: one rare for me, two medium for Pastor and Jael, and one well done and cut up for Ciara Jaheel.”
Ciara Jaheel protested, “Daddy! You now I want to go by Ciara only.”
Pastor answered delighting Little Ciara Jaheel, “Really? No more Jaheel? I’ll have to get used to that.”
Ciara felt important in front of the Pastor now, which helped because she still felt bad he got onto her about the Martha ghost. She pitched in, “We don’t just have green beans. We have mashed potatoes, too!”
Pastor Jake smiled at her commenting how he loved potatoes of all kinds. Jael served the steaks and Kaven placed the tea before each of them. They took their first few bites. The Pastor asked Jael if she had spoken to Mari lately as she was Jael’s best friend and used to attend the church regularly before she married and moved. After they exhausted chatting and eating, and Jerry rejoined them Pastor Jake summarized the regions where the ghosts came from. He said, “So Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee?”
Kaven responded by asking his daughter, “Ciara, where is Aunt Crecy from?”
Ciara Jaheel looked up. “Aunt Crecy is from Tennis see. And if you want her, just tell Mom to sit down and don’t try to put the dishes away.”
Her mom looked at Kaven who shrugged then nodded. Jerry was on the edge of his metaphorical seat watching all this from his corner of the room. Jael apologetically looked at Pastor Jake and put his empty plate back down in front of him, then retook her seat. Ciara looked up past the Pastor’s shoulder at Aunt Crecy who picked up that same used plate in front of him. Of course, all Pastor Jake saw was his plate lift up, and then watched as Jael’s plate, too was lifted and stacked atop his. He got more and more stunned as all the dishes on the table raised, stacked, and floated off to the kitchen. The display was a thrill for Jerry who watched it all like he was an audience member at a play.
“That was like a scene in a movie, it did not seem like it could have happened even though I watched it happen! Hello, who are you?” Pastor was then introduced to Jerry who had brought out his EMF sensor which was beeping like crazy.
Pastor’s shock was disappointing to Ciara Jaheel. She thought men of God were never surprised. Ciara sought her mother for eye contact to be comforted. Jael met her gaze, but was privately in emotional disarray over the floating dishes, too.
Pastor Jake proposed they move to another room and pray. The floating dishes revved him up to rebuke any evil harassing this family. They gathered in the den, read some Biblical scripture, and as they all held hands Pastor Jake prayed, “Father God, we come before you to ask that you intervene on the ability of demons impersonating deceased human beings to enter this blessed Christian home. I rebuke the demon pretending to be Martha of Georgia, the demon pretending to be the young Lady in pink, the demons imitating all the poor children who drowned in the NickaJack Creek of Georgia, the Gullah demon of South Carolina, and the demon imitating Aunt Crecy. In the name of Jesus, I command the blood of the Holy Lamb replace the presence of these demons in this home, AMEN.”
Ciara Jaheel, Jael, Jerry, and Kaven got to see each of the ghosts appear and disappear as Pastor mentioned each of them and saw and heard Aunt Crecy appear next to the pastor at the end of the prayer when she was mentioned saying, “Amen.”
Everyone involved in the prayer to God, got to see each ghost appear and disappear at their mention, then saw and heard Aunt Crecy.
Pastor Jake was momentarily speechless at a ghost trying to be part of a prayer. He shook his head, held both crossed arms in his hands, and then said “Get thee behind me, Satan!”
Aunt Crecy got a hurt look that turned into an angry face. She tried to move closer to the pastor, who held one hand palm out toward Aunt Crecy such that she, too, disappeared.
“Whoa, wow, and oh my God!” Jerry declared.
“I pray your God is Jehova and that you did not take his name in vain.” Jerry said facetiously since God is not God’s name.