by N.E. Metis
I wrote this story back in Spring 2021 for Highschool Creative Writing class,
The Mineral Point Ghost
By N. E. Metis
"Oh, come on, Damien. You haven't even tried it yet," said Mrs. Cleaver, holding an open box full of family photos. She wore a bright red smile on her honey toned face. Her long frizzy hair was nearly the exact same shade.
Her son Damien Cleaver sat behind the driver's seat, it was the only place in the car that wasn't taken up by a clutter of sealed boxes. His expression was sullen, but his piercing emerald green eyes contrasted his shaggy dark hair and clothes. "I don't get why we had to move," his chin sunk into the loose collar of his turtleneck sweater.
"Lot's of great things come from moving, Damien. If Daniel LaRusso had never moved out of New Jersey he never would have discovered karate."
"Yeah well in The Goonies they did everything they could to prevent their families from moving."
Mrs. Cleaver walked to the car window. She leaned down to Damien's level and smiled, "Don't try to use my own references against me."
Damien half smiled back, "You're a victim to your own actions. By showing me all those movies you made me love them just as much as you do."
"Look around, Damien, the whole town looks stuck in the past. Stone architecture, cottage-like houses. Plus, it's called Mineral Point. If there were ever a real life kid adventure story it would be here."
Damien sighed. "Fine, I'll give it a chance."
Damien and his mom spent the next few hours unpacking. Their house was just about average for a suburban house. Two bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room, and an upstairs and downstairs bathroom. It was already mostly furnished. The interior was more modern than the exterior, it must have been newly renovated Damien thought. He took the smaller of the two rooms. The walls were painted a dark blue, which he liked. After he finally finished setting up all his stuff he laid down on his bed. He looked around at the posters across the room. They ranged from David Bowie to Ghostbusters. He took out his phone and AirPods and looked for a song. He took a moment to decide between My Chemical Romance's Helena and Fallout Boy's The Phoenix. He didn't really like either that much, but listening to those bands made him feel more emo. But before he even chose he found himself fast asleep.
"Dinner!" Damien was awoken by his mom's call. He rubbed his eyes groggily and stood up. He put his phone away and headed down the stairs.
Phil Cleaver walked everywhere with the burden of stress and depression on his shoulders. Even when he tried his best to hide it, everyone could tell something was bothering him. It had been years since the heavy bags under his eyes settled, since the negative thoughts stopped. Every single day he had to drag himself out of bed and struggle to convince himself to keep going. He was tired of hearing comments like "You tired, Phil?" or "Cheer up, Phil." He was tired of repeating the same day over and over at that damn office. Routine, routine, nothing ever changed. By the end of the day he was too tired to even enjoy time with his family. Overworked, depressed, and anxious, one day Phil Cleaver finally lost it and had a major mental breakdown at work. Instead of empathy, he was fired. That's why he finally decided to make a change and move his family to the much smaller town of Mineral Point, Wisconsin.
Mr. Cleaver walked into his new home with that same burden, just as Damien and Martha were sitting down to eat. His dark brown hair was cut very short and he had a 5 o'clock shadow. "Hey," he tried to sound happy, "sorry I'm late"
"Oh, Phil, you're just in time. Sit" Martha Cleaver set down three plates of meatloaf on the table. She took her seat.
"Hey, dad," Damien knew exactly why his mom made meatloaf. It was his father's favourite meal, the recipe they used was a family tradition. Started by Damien's great grandmother in the 1950s, each family member would learn it when they turned 18.
Mr. Cleaver sat at the table too. "I hope you guys like this place. I hope it's... different. From Madison, that is. I hope it's the same from when I was a boy. It'd be nice." Mr. Cleaver's voice always had a monotone to it, "summers here were the greatest."
"We always want to support you, honey." Mrs. Cleaver smiled
"Yeah. It's a weird change, but I think I can get used to it. I can at least put up with it till college." Damien tried to give a better outlook for his father. He didn't want to make things worse
"You two are great. I want this to be good."
"We all do. You deserve a break. No one should have to go through all that," Mrs. Cleaver said as the family started to eat.
"You know" Mr. Cleaver raised his fork, "I think the only major chain this town has is Dollar General."
"That's how you know it's serious business," Damien joked, "Dollar General always keeps its prestigious reputation. This town is too good for everyone else."
"That must be it."
"How big is the population really?"
"About 2,000, but lots of tourists like to see the historical buildings. So it usually seems like more."
"You know a lot about this town, dear. We should have moved here sooner."
Mr. Cleaver hesitated. He sat in silence and took a bite of his meatloaf. He was about to open his mouth to speak when a crash was heard from upstairs. "What was that!?
"It sounded like it came from my room," Damien stood up.
"It's rude to get up from the table before you finish, Damien." Mrs. Cleaver scolded.
"It'll only take a second. I just gotta make sure it's nothing," Damien ran upstairs.
"Fine," Mrs. Cleaver sighed.
Phil Cleaver was tapping his foot on the ground. It was a nervous tick. His first chance at a happy evening was being ruined. He couldn't ever have anything in life. It felt as though the entire world wanted Phil Cleaver to be unhappy. That's how it had felt for a long time. There was no winning against the world, he always lost. He saw it happening again right in front of his eyes.
Damien ran into his new room. He looked over to a desk he set up in the corner. It had a mess of stuff he hadn't taken the time to organize yet. He looked to the floor to see a lamp knocked to the floor. "Huh," he muttered to himself. But then he looked up. Floating up just over the desk was a girl who looked his age, her skin was pale and her jeans, jean jacket, and hair were all white. Her light blue eyes matched a small gemstone on a necklace laying on top of her black shirt.
"Wh-what?" Damien had to hold back a scream. He didn't want to worry his dad.
The girl looked confused but then happy. "You can see me? I can interact with things? This is amazing!"
"What are you talking about...? How are you floating..? I... I should call the police..."
"Wait no. Hold on, um, let me introduce myself," she suddenly sounded very awkward and nervous "Okay so my name is uh Krista and I'm- a- uh, well I'm a ghost."
"A ghost? Ghosts aren't real... right?"
"No, they are. Because like... I'm here." she waved, "hi!"
"But you can't be a ghost!"
"I am! How else could I be floating? Oh and watch this!" she flew through him.
He stumbled back and covered his mouth to muffle a scream. "You.. are a ghost?"
"Yeah," she slowly nodded.
"Well, I died," she explained.
"Yeah I assumed, but how? When?"
"Bus. 1988. That's not important right now. You can see me! I can interact with things!"
"Woah you're old."
"Sorry, I just, I don't know. Sorry. But is it not normal to be seen?"
Krista shook her head. "Not many people can see ghosts. And I can only interact with stuff that belongs to people who can see me. You're the first person I've ever met who could see me," she frowned, "It's been really lonely."
"Hey, hey don't be sad. Look, I don't think I introduced myself yet. I'm Damien, You're Krista, right?"
"Y-yeah. You look about my age. H-how old are you? I'm 16, well I'm technically 49 but ghosts don't age. So yeah, I'm 16."
"I'm 17. Both technically and uh... non technically? I don't know the word."
"Officially would suffice I think."
The door suddenly swung open. Phil Cleaver stood in the doorway, he looked upset and stressed. He walked into the room and glared at Damien "Who are you talking to? Your dinner's getting cold"
It only took Damien a moment to realize his father couldn't see Krista. He had to lie, "I'm uh talking to myself. I got distracted. It's an emo thing," he smiled and tried to look confident. But internally he knew that was one of the dumbest things he's ever said.
"Emos call themselves Krista..?"
"Yep!" he nodded. "You wouldn't understand."
Mr. Cleaver sighed "Okay. Put the lamp back and get down to finish." He left the room.
After a few seconds he looked at Krista "I'm going to finish dinner. I'll be back."
Damien had finished dinner and had now been talking to Krista for a bit. "So you were really born in 1972?" he asked.
She nodded, "Yeah, April 11th to be exact."
"What were the 80s like? I love 80s movies. I wish I could have experienced them myself."
"They were amazing. Objectively the best decade. I'm glad I was born in the early 80s so I could actually be a teeanger for them. I loved seeing Back to The Future and Labyrinth in theaters. I also-"
She was interrupted by footsteps by the door. Someone walking away from the door. They were made by heavy feet that didn't get picked high off the ground. They also started out slow but picked up the pace.
"Are your parents awake?"
"They shouldn't be... wait. My dad has insomnia. He must not have believed my excuse earlier."
"Gee, I wonder why. It was completely foolproof and flawless."
"I panicked, okay!?"
"Why is he listening in on us? Well on you. He can't hear me. But I mean why is he untrusting? What would you be hiding?"
"He can't help it. He has anxiety, he over-worries about almost everything. I feel bad."
The door swung open again. "Who are you talking about me to!? Who are you hiding and how?" Phil looked worried.
"I... uh..." Damien realized the truth was just as ridiculous as a lie, "I'm talking to a ghost."
"What? That's an even worse excuse than before."
"It's the truth! It really is. She's named Krista and she's from the '80s. She uh... lives here?" he wasn't so sure.
"Technically '70s but yeah."
After a few seconds Mr. Cleaver shook his head. "Either you watch too many movies or you need to start seeing my therapist too. Stop talking to yourself," he left again.
"Sorry..." Krista looked down.
"Hey, hey. It's okay."
"Anyone who sees you talking to me is going to think you're crazy. No one else in this town can see me. It's not fair."
"Krista, it's okay. Really. You're my friend. You need me, you don't want to be alone again. I don't care if people think I'm crazy," he smiled at her.
She slowly smiled back
Phil Cleaver returned to his room. His heart was racing. He stumbled over and grabbed onto the door handle. He kept tap, tap, tapping his foot.
Mrs. Cleaver half opened her eyes, "you okay, honey?"
"No. No. Damien claims he's talking to a ghost! What the hell!?"
"It's okay Phil. Come lay down."
He obliged, but his mind soon started to race with thoughts of distrust and worry. None of them were clear but that didn't matter. New towns? Ghosts? It all sounded ridiculous. Did he mess up moving here? Is his son hiding something? What could he do? Nothing was ever going to be right. Nothing was ever going to get fixed. Then everything went blank. He no longer heard or thought anything. Phil Cleaver's vision faded away as he stumbled back up and unlocked a drawer and reached for the item inside. He knew he needed it now more than ever. It was his only escape.