I was born in New Orleans into a wealthy family who gave me everything I needed. I’m your typical 13 year old. I love to ride my bike with my friends. As long as I can remember I’ve been happy. I remember my first day of kindergarten was terrifying because I didn’t want to leave my momma. I remember meeting all of my friends and all of the people who weren’t my friends. There was this girl named Sara. She has tortured my friends and I everyday from kindergarten to seventh grade. One day my friends and I were riding our bikes down by the bayou even though our mommas always told us not to. Sara and her friends came and told us that this was their bike path, and if they ever caught us there again they’d throw us into the bayou to the gators. I never road my bike so fast away from something before. I’d never been so scared either.
We came to my house, which was in the garden district, and momma asked us where we had been and why we were home so soon. I had to lie and tell momma we were down in the French Quarter tappin’ for money. But we told her that we weren’t very good at it so we didn’t get no money. My friend, Beth, heard her paw callin’ for her so she headed home. Lily Ann decided to head home to her momma too. I told them goodbye. Momma asked me to go pick up some chicken from the market for, Martha, our cook to start makin’ supper. Which meant I had to ride by the bayou which would be my safest bet because it was getting dark and it was Mardi Gras which meant all the crazies were out and about. So I rode my bike fast. I was riding and something hit me hard in the neck. The next thing I knew I was laying on the path. I touched my neck where I had gotten hit and when I looked down blood covered my hands. I looked up to see Sara and her friends coming out of the bushes laughing. The next thing I knew they began to roll me into the bayou. They laughed as they threw my bike into the bayou too.
After they left I gasped, making my way up onto the path, and started to walk back home. My neck had stopped bleeding by the time I had gotten home. I went to my house and no one questioned what had happened to me. Maybe they thought I had handled it by myself. Over the course of the next few days I thought that everyone was ignoring me. Momma was sitting at the table crying something fierce. I had asked her what was wrong, but she didn’t answer me. She got up and walked up to her room she said she needed to “get ready” and that the rest of us should get ready too.
I went upstairs to get dressed and look nice. Maybe we were going to church? I decided to wear my favorite black dress. I walked downstairs and everyone else was also wearing black. We got into the car and no one asked if I put my seatbelt on like they always did. And I was right we were going to church. I’m glad I wore my good church shoes. We walked inside and there were more people than there had been at church in a long time. I looked around as we walked to the front of the church. I saw Sara there. She had her head down. Sara never went to church something was wrong. I looked up to the front of the church. There was a casket. Why was there a casket? Who had died? Why didn’t momma tell me we were going to a funeral? I’d never been to one before.
I’d never seen a dead body before. What was I supposed to expect? We got up to the casket finally and I got the nerve to look into the casket. And the person who laid there was me. My head started to spin. What had happened. I know I made it home from the bayou. I started to think back about it. That wire had hit me in the throat hard. I couldn’t breathe at all. I looked around to see momma. And it all started to make sense. Why no one had heard me over the past few days, and no one had asked me any questions. So that was it. I was dead. But what did this mean. At church we had always been told that when you die and you’re saved you get to go to heaven. But why am I still here? What did I need to do? Once I had seen a movie that this boy couldn’t “pass on” until he righted the wrong.
What did that mean? Did I have to get revenge on the people who had murdered me? Or did I have to give someone a sign to show that this was not an accident. I was in the city of voodoo? So I decided to go to one of the voodoo shops to be heard one last time. I walked the streets mostly through people until I hit something hard that stopped me in my tracks. I looked up it was a boy. Taller than me, but he looked pretty young himself. He said “Are you real?” I looked at him blankly and said “Is anything real in this place?” He smiled sadly. “I guess you’re right. What’s your name?” I looked at him trying to remember but it was getting harder and harder to recall things about the life I left behind. I finally found something that felt familiar. “Elizabeth. Or Liz for short.” I said quietly. “Cool. My name is or was Bryant.” He said with a smile trying to stay positive for me. “Where are you heading?” He asked. I knew he waited to come with me wherever I was going. I could tell that he hadn’t interacted with another person, I guess I mean ghost, in along time.
“I’m headed to Marie Laveau to seek my revenge so I can pass on to the other side.” He looked at me blankly. I stared back at him and coldly said “I was murdered.” He looked at me long, and hard. “Quit looking at me like that. Don’t you remember how you died?” I said. “I” he began “was murdered too.” I looked at him with horror in my eyes and he knew that was I in shock. We kept walking for a few minutes in silence when he finally asked “Did it hurt?” I kept my eyes focused on the ground, but I managed to say “Does a hard wire slicing your throat sound enjoyable?” He stopped walking, but I kept going. He say “No I guess not.” I waited for him to catch up to me and I asked him if he remembered what had happened to him. He looked at me with a cold, sad, and long stare “Paw came home from the Mardi Gras party downtown a little too wasted and he started on my momma. So I did what anyone boy would do. I told him he better not lay another hand on her. And he looked at me and he laughed. The look in his eyes was something that didn’t even look human to me. Like Satan himself had taken over my paw’s body. He hit her one more time, but by then I had jumped on his back. He was stronger than me and threw me off of his back. I fell back and hit my head on the corner of the hutch in the dining room. The medical examiner said that I had broken the fifth vertebrae in my neck.” I looked at him and studied his face for the first time since I’d met him. He looked straight ahead and cracked a smile, he began to say “The M.E. said something funny while he was examining me.” “What was that?” I asked hesitating. “Six and down you stay alive. Five and up you’re going to die. I was one away from living. But that was oh I don’t know. What year was it when you passed?” I sat there and pondered the question. How could I not know? “I don’t remember. Let me think.” I looked down thinking hard. “Oh I remember, 1992.” He looked confused “well then I guess it’s been ten years. I’d be 23 enjoying the party right now.” Bryant looked sad. I could tell.
We kept walking through the lower Garden District when we were almost to Lafayette Square Bryant looked worried. I turned to see his face more closely and asked “What’s wrong?” He looked at a house as we walked passed but he didn’t say a word. Finally he stopped in front of the house. I stopped too. I looked up at the big, white mansion. It was covered in vines like no one had been or out in years. I grabbed his hand while he stood there. The first time I had touched anything since I had died. “Bryant. What is this place?” He started to walk through the gate still holding my hand. “This was my house.” He said sounded choked up. We stood in the yard for many minutes until I said “Well let’s go inside.” I started to pull on him, but his grip was strong and kept us both in place. “I” He started “I don’t know if I can go inside.” I looked up at him and smiled “Well sure you can. I’ll be right beside you the whole time.” He looked down at me and said “Liz. Why did you pick to come this way?” I looked at him puzzled trying to find an answer, but all I could say was “This was the way I used to walk home everyday from school.” He looked ill. Could ghosts get ill? He sat down on the front lawn. I sat too. He pulled in into his lap and hugged me.
“Let’s go in.” I finally said standing up. He looked up at me and shook his head quickly. “No way what if he’s in there?” He asked. “Then we can scare the living crap right out of him.” I said with a smile. He started to stand up “Alright then. We can go through the back door it’s always open.” I shake my head quickly and said “We don’t need to do that. We can walk right through the wall.” “Good point” He replied. I was scared I wanted Bryant to hold my hand. I didn’t want to make the first move again. He was just as scared as I was because he grabbed my hand and held it tight. We walked up the front porch together and walked through the front door. It was beautiful in the house.The hardwood floor was so dark it was almost black. In fact the whole house was covered in only white and black. No color whatsoever. We heard someone in the kitchen. I followed Bryant as he led the way down a long, white hallway.
We walked in and an older woman, with dark hair and spots of gray, stood over the stove with her back towards us. She turned around to grab some salt off of the counter. She had a black eye the size of a softball. I could see the tears in Bryant’s eyes. When the woman was reaching for the salt she had bumped the flour off of the table and onto the floor. Bryant quickly bent down before she started to clean it up. He wrote in the flour “Mom it’s me. You have to leave dad.” His mom looked confused and horrified at the same time. She didn’t believe it. She said “Go away you demon.” Bryant’s mom stopped for a second to think. “Tell me something only Bryant would know.” She finally said. He looked at me and smoothed out the flour. “Dad broke my arm when I was six, I didn’t fall out of a tree.” He kept writing “Molly named after my favorite babysitter.” and finally “You threatened to leave dad. That’s why I’m dead.” His mother fell to the ground in tears. “Bryant, how are you still here? Are you an angel?” He wrote back “No, I couldn’t pass on without righting the wrong. I’m sorry.” She looked frantic.
Soon after that she heard the door open, and then it slammed shut hard. “Oh god he’s here.” Bryant said quietly as if his paw could hear him talking. His momma quickly began to clean up the flour from the floor. She knew she’d be in trouble. Bryant looked like his paw. The dark hair, blue eyes, kinda tall, but I could see that his age and drinking was catching up with him. He stammered into the kitchen. Even me being dead I could smell that he reeked of alcohol. He looked at Bryant’s momma then looked down to see the mess she had made. “What the hell is this mess still doing on my floor?” He finally said. He began towards her, but Bryant tried to step in the way. His paw went right through his ghostly figure. He hit her square in the face right where are black eye already swelled. Soon after he left the house in a whirlwind of his own dust. Bryant’s momma sat on the kitchen floor against the stove for a few minutes. Until she got her purse and her car keys and headed out the door after him. Bryant followed behind her closely. “Bryant, wait” I yelled as I began to run after him. By the time I was out the front door Bryant’s momma was already in her little red car half way down the road with Bryant standing in the lawn alone. “Where do you think she’s going?” I asked when I took my place next to him. “She’s going to kill him.” He replied back with his eyes focused on the road. He took off in a dead sprint, no pun intended. I chased after him yelling “Bryant! Stop. There is nothing you can do to stop her. What she choses to do is what she wants.” He stopped in his tracks. He looked like a wounded deer.
He looked down at me with sadness in his eyes. “Why would she do this?” I stood there thinking for a minute. I had no idea why she would want to spend the rest of her life in a cafe? Then it hit me. Maybe she wasn’t doing it for revenge, what if she was doing it to be set free from her husband’s wrath. “Bryant. I don’t know how to tell you this, but I think she wants to be with you.” Bryant looked confused as if what I just said wasn’t even English to him. “Bryant” I began “I think your mom is going to kill herself to be with you and to get away from your dad.” I could see panic washed over his face. He sat there with his head in his hands. He didn’t know what he could do. I sat down next to him. I put an arm around him trying to comfort him. Soon I noticed him sobbing because he knew that there was nothing for him to do to stop her. “This is all my fault.” He said when he looked up to her with his tear stained face. “Bryant. This isn’t your fault. There is nothing you can do to change someone’s mind after they make that choice.” He laid his head on my shoulder. For the first time in a long time I didn’t feel so alone.
“Should we go find her?” I finally asked. He looked at his shoes without saying anything he shook his head. He stood. When he stood he made me feel like an ant. He grabbed my hand and we started down the sidewalk in the other direction. We walked silently, hand in hand, for quite sometime. We were almost into the French Quarter when he stopped. He pulled me in close for a warm embrace. We hugged for what felt like forever. The type of hug you never want to end. I felt safe. I felt loved.
We kept walking into the heart of the French Quarter and I knew right where we were headed. Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo. We were right in the middle of all the fuss. There were tons of drunk people, little kids tappin’ on the street for money, and those guys who act like statues. All along the gutters of the streets were beads, and beer bottles. I’d never seen so many of either of them. Once momma told me that when Mardi Gras was over they took out the fire hoses to spray all of the yunck into piles to make it easier to clean up. Trust me there were going to need quite a bit of force to clean this mess you. What was that awful smell? Was is vomit? I turned to see a young woman, probably not old enough to drink, but definitely couldn’t handle her alcohol, puking beside a dumpster. There was another woman rubbing her back telling her it was time to go back to the hotel. But she insisted on drinking more. Alcohol poisoning was the only thing I was worried about. We kept walking until we saw it. There it was. The passage to the other side. Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo.
As we walked down the street I saw the shop. The siding was old and wooden. It looked like some sort of mold was growing from the inside out. Hanging from the ceiling above the door was a round sign that read “Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo”. I looked at Bryant as we approached the door. Unsure if I had the courage to enter. What if she wasn’t there? What if we were doomed to roam the earth forever with no closure? Bryant looked at me with hopeful eyes which made me feel safe. We began to walk inside. I didn’t know what to expect. All over the walls hung beads, freaky masks, and many voodoo dolls. There was a young woman working the store that night. I could see the look on her face that she’d rather be out partying for Mardi Gras instead of working. I wonder if she has someone that she needs to support. Or if she has a car payment that needs to be paid as soon as possible. What if her parents kicked her out? Oh well that’s none of my business. I looked around the store before calling out for Marie. I was looking at the voodoo dolls when I found one that looked like Sara. I began to shake. I tried to pick up the doll half way expecting to not be able to pick it up like everything else in this “half way world”. To my surprise I could pick everything up in this shop. Maybe because it was a voodoo store? I had no idea what was going on. We continued to walk around the store exploring things I had never seen before because momma never wanted me to witness these kinds of “devil worship” as she put it. I always thought that it was interesting and I had always wanted to learn more about it.
Soon out of the door with beads hung from it she appeared. I couldn’t tell if she still walked the earth in a human form or not. There she stood and called out “Who are you?” I was shocked I couldn’t move my mouth. Bryant stepped in and said “We’re here to have our wrongs righted.” “I know why you’re here. I’ve been waiting for you.” She replied back. She began to walk towards us and looked down at me “What a shame you were such a pretty young girl.” she cooed. My face burned. I couldn’t do anything but look at the ground. She changed looks between Bryant and I. “What happened to you?” She finally said. I couldn’t tell if she was talking to Bryant or me or both of us. Bryant stepped up and said “We were both murdered.” I shuttered at the sound of that word. She didn’t looked surprised at what had just come out of his mouth. She finally shook her head “Young babies are gettin’ killed everyday out there.” She said as she walked to the door to look out into the street. The Mardi Gras parties were already starting. “Maire what do we need to do to cross over?” She looked up at me with dead eyes. “I can’t help you.” I looked at Bryant confused. “But I do know someone that can help.” I looked at her with big eyes “Where?” She looked down “You need to head south to Mexico. You’ll find what you’re looking for there.”