Finnley’s mom was working late that night, and Finnley took Rory up to his room, setting the tan and white rabbit on his bed. He didn’t really think it was fair that this much crazy stuff could be going on in his town and he still had to do calculus homework. He would much rather be doing work for his poetry class, but he knew he had to get this done at some point. If his grades dropped, his mom would definitely decide it was better for them to move again. Despite everything crazy, Finnley didn’t want that.
Finnley had just finished his calculus problems and was moving onto biology when his phone rang. No number popped up on the screen, but he took the call anyway. “Hello?”
“Hey, it’s Monica,” the voice replied.
“Monica!” Finnley said, astonished. He sat up straight. “I didn’t know you had a phone. Can ghosts call people?”
“Sort of. Look, I’m not really calling you. Does it sound like my voice is coming from the phone?” she asked.
“No,” Finnley replied, because the voice that had seemed to come from the phone before was now coming from right next to him. He slowly turned his head and saw Monica sitting on his bed, wearing stylish overalls and a headband, petting his rabbit. He forced himself to hold in a scream while he tried to calm down. Monica saw him and laughed. “Could’ve given me a warning,” Finnley huffed in a disgruntled sort of way.
“That wouldn’t be any fun though!”
“Hm,” was all he replied, because he didn’t think she had come here for fun. Still, she seemed determined to act casual for as long as possible.
“You’ve got a very nice room,” she added, and Finnley followed her eyes, observing his own room for the first time in what seemed like ages. He had painted it navy blue, and it was a dark, soothing color. He had a tack board set up, and various snippets of poetry and ideas were pinned to it. To tell the truth, it was looking a little empty. He had a desk, a closet, all normal things for a room. His gaze were on the photos resting on his nightstand, and he noticed Monica staring at them too — staring at the picture of Allie. “You look so much like her,” she whispered. Before Finnley could warn her off the subject, she held up a hand. "Look. I just came here to tell you those things I was supposed to tell you. It's why I came back, you know? It's why I'm a... a ghost, and it's why I'm here with you now."
"No!" Finnley said, though it came out more like a yelp. He noticed he was standing and sat back down abruptly. "No," he repeated, more calmly this time, "we can't do this tonight. I mean, I just found out you're a ghost and I'm not sure if I'm ready to hear what you have to say." Finnley was, in fact, more than ready to hear whatever it was she had to tell him. But his mind was replaying Monica's parting exchange with Mr. Vaughn — her promise that she would leave when she'd told him. That way of saying "leave", it had some sort of permanence that Finnley wasn't ready for. They'd only just begun to get to know each other.
Monica agreed, and she looked almost relieved. Had she been thinking about the same things as Finnley? But he didn't ask that. Instead, he shrugged. "So what now? Are you going to leave? Where do you even go at night?"
"Spirit world," Monica replied nonchalantly, like talking to a ghost about the spirit world was something that happened every day. As if. "It's essentially just like the energy of this world, like a ghost world or mirror world or something. I've got to go back every once in a while to get energy, like recharging a battery. I just sleep somewhere. It's cozy."
Finnley was sure his eyes would pop out and forced himself to close them. Monica giggled, and when he looked around again, she was nowhere to be seen. Rory was staring up at the empty spot on the bed where she'd been as if he missed her. "Hey, you're supposed to be my buddy!" Finnley grumbled, but he was smiling.
"I'm playing hide and seek!" Monica called from another room. "Come and get me!"
Finnley laughed and ran down the hallway, his feet making light slapping noises on the cool wooden floor. As he was peering into a closet, Monica appeared right behind him. Finnley screamed, and it was high pitched enough that he was embarrassed. Monica doubled over with laughter, though she seemed a bit blurred.
Finnley blinked hard. "Monica..."
Monica glanced self consciously at her hand and winced. "Oops. It's been a really long day, in and out a lot, you know? I've got to go now."
"Will you be at school tomorrow?" Finnley asked hopefully.
"I..." Monica glanced from side to side. "I don't know. Time in the spirit world doesn't work like it does here. I shouldn't lose more than a week, but I can never tell. Finnley, we'll talk more-"
Then she was gone. Reluctantly, Finnley padded back to his room and stretched out on his bed. Maybe a whole week- a week in which he'd have to make up his mind about being Mr. Vaughn's apprentice and convince his mother to agree to it. A week in which Mia was still not in her house, with her mother still in the hospital and her uncle still trying to fit in. A week where any sort of thing could go wrong.
Finnley went over to his inspiration board and tacked up a fresh sheet of white paper. His fingers landed on a sharpie, and he scribbled, "Ghosts — past and present — sister". Finnley looked again to the smiling photo of Allie. Monica hadn't said she looked like Finnley — she'd said that he looked like her. A chill ran down his spine and he added to his notes, "Mysteries within mysteries."