THE GHOST CHILD
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THE little girl sat on the garden swing, her head bent, her hair falling loosely over her face. She sat waiting as little unholy creatures danced and played around her. They sang songs and chanted her name, but she was unmoved for soon they’ll be gone as night retreated. In the day as they slept she would leave the throne they had designed for her – their princess, a throne she hated for it held her captive to live in their world.

The sun’s ray filtering through the overgrown trees and thick, wild shrubs touched the child sitting alone in a place that seemed to have been abandoned, a long time ago. The little girl raised her head and as the sunshine brought colour to her pale cheeks and warmth to her cold skin, she opened her eyes and smiled. She was dressed for church in a pink frilly dress, stockings, shoes and her little pink bag. She slid off the swing and walking to the foot of the stairs she called,
“Mom, dad, I’m ready.”

No one answered, no one had been answering for a long time.
“Where are you?” she asked quietly, “Why have you left me here all alone?”
She couldn’t cry for she had no more tears, just sadness on her pretty little face. Such a long time since that cold, dark night when the light from her eyes faded and her cheeks became pale.
“Where are you mom?” she whispered. “Please come for me.”

Art piece by Ashley M Witter

She passed through the rusted, wrought iron gate and waited for the neighbours, walking with them to church but no one knew she was there. No one could see the little girl who had died twelve years ago from a mysterious illness none of the doctors could have diagnosed.
People had spoken about strange voices and presences in the dead of the night but Madeline’s family, unbelievers of the supernatural had dismissed those tales. As her heartbeats became less and she became paler, she had whispered incoherently about the strange little creatures with piercing eyes, dancing and laughing around her. The family had sat at her bedside in the hospital, praying until the last moment but could not save her. Broken by grief at the loss of their little girl, they had drifted away one by one. A house that was once filled with love, light, warmth and comfort was now empty, dark and cold. Things, not human continued to live there, holding captive, the little girl’s soul so she could not ascend to heaven.
If only her family had belief if only her grandfather had not adopted those beings to prosper and become wealthy from their evil magic. He had passed away, taking with him his secret, not knowing that it was something that had to be passed on to the young generation. The family unaware of the ungodly entities the grandfather had dealings with eventually paid a heavy price for their ignorance and reluctance to believe.

The little girl, the darling of the family was the price.
She played alone in the house with her Barbie dolls, no one to invite to her tea parties and fashion shows and in the afternoons she stood on the street corner, the ghost child, watching everyone pass by, hoping someone could see her, so her family could know she was still there.
No one did and at dusk, every day, she would return to the house for they were always waiting.
Close to December, on a tepid afternoon, standing at the street’s corner, she heard a voice behind her call her name in a surprised tone,
“Madeline.”

Madeline spun around and stared unbelievingly at the beautiful woman standing there with dark brown hair.
“Did she just call my name?” she wondered.
Madeline glanced back to see if there was someone else there, the woman was talking to but no one else was there, no one else was at the street corner.
“Madeline.” She called her name again, “How is it you’re still here?”
“You can see me?”
“Yes, I can.”
“How can no one else see me, all this time and a stranger can? Are you a ghost too? Did the evil creatures get you?”
“I’m not a stranger, I’m your friend, Anjalie.”
Madeline looked at her closer, “You can’t be, Anjalie is little like me.”
“Yes, but you died Madeline. I did not. That’s why I’m grown up.”
Woman and girl stared at each other for a long moment, agony in Anjanie’s heart and opening her palm, she showed Madeline, a white turtle dove.
“You gave me this for Christmas.”
Madeline gasped.
“Anjanie…oh it’s really you, my best friend! Where did you go? I missed you.”
“I’m so sorry Madeline, I couldn’t bear it that you died and was gone, and I cried until I fell ill.”
Anjanie had fallen sick since the tragedy because of her deep grief and her family afraid she may meet the same faith as Madeline had sent her overseas.
Now she was back for the first time.
She had visited her friend’s grave, still grieved at her untimely death and coming to her old home, she was stunned when she saw her ghostly form at the street corner.
“How come you’re not afraid to talk to me?”
“I don’t know, maybe it’s because I missed you so much and I’m so happy to see you.”
No one else was at the street corner for those few moments to witness the strange reunion of two best friends – both in their own worlds.
They talked for a long while more as Madeline related her story to Anjanie.
“I’ve been waiting so long. Can you find my family and tell them?”
“Sure I will.” Anjanie promised her.
The creatures were very angry, they knew and that night they vented their anger by screams, horrible screams that sent shivers down the spines of those who heard. Madeline could not leave anymore, not even in the day for not even a ray of sunlight shone through the trees anymore. People converged in front of the house, talking in low whispers, they had known all along that evil lived in that manor, secluded now by thick, non-flowering trees. Anjanie found her friend’s family and two days later they showed up, visibly disturbed at the story of evil in their home that was spreading like wildfire and their little girl’s ghost. After twelve long years, now the child was seeing her mother and father who had aged so much, and her sister and brother now adults. But no one could enter, the creatures wouldn’t allow it. It was now their home and the child was repayment for their grandfather’s debts, she now belonged to them.
“Madeline.” Her mother called, “We’re so sorry my baby, so sorry we didn’t believe, we have come now to free you.”
“Thank you, mom” she whispered in her mind, and at her father’s request, she kicked her ball, that hit the gate so they could know that she had heard them.
To exorcise the evil that had been living there so long, was not at all easy but days and nights of prayer sessions by renowned pastors defeated and banished the evil creatures.
Madeline’s soul was now free to ascend to heaven with the angels and sunlight streamed through the trees as she bid her family goodbye. They would not leave again but stay and restore the old house in her memory.

She smiled at her friend, “If you hadn’t returned and could not have seen me, I would still be in those creatures’ captive.”
“It was God’s will, Madeline,” she said, tears in her eyes.
“Thank you so much my friend, goodbye.”
“Goodbye Madeline.”

Madeline took the hands of the angels and looking back one last time at the people she loved so much, she ascended to Heaven.

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