“Girls’ night out!” the text from Jess announced, and Heather replied to both of us, “I’m in – when and where?”
We decided to have drinks and girl time at Heather’s house. I asked them for a ride, since my car was in the shop, so at 8 p.m. we headed over to Heather’s little place.
“Okay, so…” Jess seemed a little nervous as she started her sentence, and I craned around from my post in the passenger’s seat. “Can we play Ouija board tonight?”
I looked over at Heather, who was driving. She shrugged. “Sure. I’ll have to get it out of the attic.”
Sweet drinks flowed freely as the night grew darker. Heather disappeared upstairs and came back down, holding the Ouija board close.
As she set it down on the coffee table, a strange unease flowed over me. “M-maybe we shouldn’t do this,” I said, the words leaving me before I knew what I was saying.
The others frowned at me. “What, you scared?” Jess asked.
I couldn’t dispute her claim, so I shrugged. “Whatever. Let’s play.”
Heather took a deep breath. “Okay. What do we ask it?”
“Didn’t your place used to be an old church? Ask it about angels!” Jess said excitedly.
Heather shrugged and addressed the board. “Is anyone with us?”
The board quietly spun to the number 9.
“…Are there nine ghosts with us?” Heather asked. This time, her voice quavered a little.
The board spelled out “yes.”
We all exchanged a look. “Are you evil?” Heather asked softly. No answer. “Are you good?” Still no answer.
We started as the sound of a small girl crying broke the following silence. There was no sign of anyone in the room with us, but I could feel a chill settling over everything, like an invisible fog. Heather tapped me on the elbow and when I turned, she had her camera in my face.
It was a picture of Jess, looking pale and scared, taken only seconds ago. Surrounding her was a fine white mist.
“Ghost sometimes disguise themselves as children. To make us more likely to talk to them,” Heather said breathlessly. She raised her voice and spoke to the board. “Are you a child?”
The board spelled out, “Yes.”
“Is anyone holding you back?”
The little girl’s cry came, twice more.
“Who?” Heather said.
The board began to spell out a name. We peered closely, and suddenly my heart was in my throat.
She was ahead of me, her eyes wide, her jaw clenched, her lip trembling.
“That’s my husband’s name,” she said.
“We’re done,” Jess said suddenly, starting to close the ceremony. Cracking noises sounded overhead, and I kept one eye on the ceiling as we closed down the game.
When it was done, we sat for a long time in silence, each staring off into nothing. Heather was the first to stir.
“He begged me not to play,” she said. “He said we shouldn’t. I hadn’t even suggested it.”
“I suggested it,” Jess said with a small frown.
I reached for my drink to calm my nerves. My hand closed around empty air, and I whirled around to see the glass sitting motionless on the table behind me.
“There’s something here,” I said.
“Or someone,” Heather said.
A few days passed, and we kept quiet, each brooding over our own thoughts. On the third night after the Ouija board was back in the attic, my phone woke me at 3 a.m. Groggily, I answered it. “H’llo?”
“Oh my God, Wendy. It’s Jess.” She sounded terrified. “I think something’s haunted me.”
“You had a bad dream.” I tried to rub the sleep out of my eyes. “Go back t’sleep.”
“I’m not dreaming!” Her sudden shout jolted me fully awake. “I heard noises. They woke me up – someone was on my porch. But nothing was there. Can you please… Come over, Wendy, please.”
I was still exhausted. “We’ll figure this out tomorrow.”
The next morning, I forgot to go over to Jess’s house, and the incident was forgotten over the next few weeks, which were unusually quiet. I got a call from my old friend Ronald, whom I hadn’t seen in years, and we arranged to hang out.
“I haven’t seen Jess in ages, either,” Ronald said, when we were discussing what to do.
Jess’s reply text said she was next door talking to Heather but to come on in, so I showed Ronald around. As we passed the bathroom, I saw him freeze in my peripheral vision. “What’s up?”
He looked scared. “Where did that little girl go? Did Jess have a kid?”
I frowned. “Hell no. What are you – ”
“There was a girl,” he said, the certainty in his voice leaving me no room to wonder if he was lying. “She was right here.”
“Go get Jess and Heather,” I said, swallowing my rising fear and trying to be brave. “I’ll see if I can find her.”
Ronald nodded and put his hand on my arm. His touch lingered warmly, and I realized as he disappeared around the hallway that it wasn’t that he was warm – it was that the room was cold.
I never saw any of them again.