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The Girl at the Top of the Stairs

I never much believed in ghosts. I had been raised by my dear mother and father to be a skeptic. Often, I would write off the strange and paranormal as my imagination or lighting or some such explanation-anything aside from what it truly was, supernatural.

I stepped into my new home, bright eyed and energetic, as many college aged girls who have just took that important step towards independence by moving out of her parents' home are. It smelled of old wood and settled dust, reminiscent to my grandfather's home in Canada that was built long ago in the early 1900s. I didn't quite know how long this house had been here but I had the feeling it was old. The steps creaked noisily as I walked up them, my strong German Shepard following suit. The water in the shower only stayed hot for about ten minutes but that didn't bother me a ton-I had never been one for long, drawn out showers any way. The floor boards creaked often but I didn't mind. Any problem I seemed to find was bearable in my opinion, and definitely beat moving back in with Mom and Dad.

After a long, exhausting day of unpacking, I dressed in a light grey nightgown and rested in the plush, comfy bed in the downstairs bedroom, deciding to finish exploring the house tomorrow. I awoke the next day to the sun shining brightly against my face, a small groan escaping my lips as my eyes reluctantly fluttered open and I sat up with a stretch of my back, arm, and legs. The wood floor was cool to the touch of my pale, bare foot and I made a mental note to either put carpet in the room or buy a pair of slippers. I skipped breakfast-not being all that hungry-and instead brewed some strong coffee and began snooping around. The first place I wanted to explore was the basement so I called over my dog and walked down the whining stairs.

"Come on, Cocoa." I insisted to my chocolate colored dog.

The canine trailed close behind me as I dug through dressers and drawers in every room in the house. I finished with a small room upstairs that appeared to belong to a young child. The bed was small and dressed in lacy pink quilts and pillows. A hand crafted, wooden dollhouse stood in the corner near the window which was still draped in white curtains. A rocking horse stood in the middle of the room and old, worn porcelain dolls and stuffed animals littered the floor. I knew I would probably end up selling some of this stuff-all of which was in decent condition-but for now, I'd leave it be. Cocoa sniffed furiously at every item before lifting his head at me to observe my next move. I decided to walk downstairs and continue with the rest of my day-which mainly involved unpacking, to my dismay.

That night I heard creaking from the stairs. I knew it was most likely the wind or just the settling of the house, but still I drew myself out of bed, touched my feet to the frigid floor, and shuffled over to the noise, Cocoa whining and following me. I stopped dead in my tracks, surprised. At the very top of the stairs was a nearly transparent little girl who could be no more than seven. A fine dress of light yellow with a white ribbon tied around the waist adorned her small frame and her light brown hair was done up in two pigtails tied with lace. She turned and smiled at me, giggling and running into the child's room. I raised an eyebrow and followed curiously,the door groaning as I pushed it open. The kid sat at the edge of the bed, combing through one of the dolls' long black hair with a wooden hairbrush decorated beautifully with soft red roses so real looking, I thought I may be able to stroke the individual petals.

The child looked up and smiled at me before fading away until she was no more and the doll dropped lifelessly to the ground, a crack forming at the forehead due to the impact. I scooped the doll up and placed it on the soft pillows on the bed, before leaving back downstairs and going to sleep once more. In the morning, I wrote it off as a dream.

The next night was similar, but this time I sat at the bottom of the stairs with a mug of black coffee and waited for the apparition to appear again, mainly to prove that it was but a dream conjured up by my subconscious in a state of sleep. That didn't work out well because at around ten o' clock, the girl appeared at the top of the stairs. She turned completely to face me and sat down, staring at me with large, curious golden eyes. Her small mouth was turned up in a smile and she rested her arms on her knees.

"Hello." I attempted to speak to her.

She acknowledged my presence with a nod, her smile widening. I took a step forward, the stair moaning under the pressure.

"Can you talk?" I questioned.

Another nod.

"What's your name?"

"Bella." she said softly, her tone sweet and innocent as a child's should be.

"I'm Angel." I said, taking a few more steps until I was very near her. She made no move to back away, but stood up.

"Want to see my room?" she asked.

I hesitated for a moment, but nodded. Her touch was icy as she grabbed my hand and led me to her room, showing off her dolls and toys with a proud smile on her face. As she disappeared this time however, her skin took on a blueish tint to it, but I payed no mind. At this point, I could not deny the existence of this spirit. I knew for sure that I had not fallen asleep and I preferred to think ghosts were real than the alternative of insanity.

For many nights I spent time with the girl at the top of the stairs-Bella-and little by little she opened up to me. I discovered she enjoyed art, particularly painting, and that her favorite animal was a cat because she used to have a silver kitten named Forest. Her mother died when she was little but her father was adoring and spoiled the girl. She also told me that she was very good at reading and writing and simple arithmetic. The little girl clung to me as if I were her mother and usually rambled on about her achievements, as many children do.

But one night, the little girl didn't appear at the top of the stairs. I was worried for a moment before deciding she must have not wanted to see me. I hoped I hadn't done anything to upset her because I was thoroughly enjoying her company in the large lonely house and looked forward to her visits. I stayed up only a little bit longer to clean up a bit before heading to bed. The soft sound of sobbing drew me out of my slumber that night. I glanced at me digital clock, seeing it was one in the morning, much later than Bella usually came.

Either way, I pushed my feet into the slippers I had acquired over the past few days and walked over to the stairs, but I still didn't see the kid. The sound of crying still filled the air so I walked up to her bedroom and knocked softly on the door. No response. I pushed the door open gently and saw the little girl on her bed wailing. Water leaked out of her mouth in a stream while tears poured over her cheeks. I feared the girl would drown had she not been a ghost. Her wails stifled slightly when she noticed me standing there and she brushed the water from her mouth and the tears from her eyes. I approached her and kneeled down to her level.

"Are you alright, Bella?" I interrogated urgently, suddenly very concerned.

She shook her head 'no'.

"Why not? What's wrong?" I asked gently.

She sniffed loudly and grabbed my hand leading me down the stairs and outside. Nervousness gnawed at my being, for I didn't quite know what she would do. I had grown to trust this being but it was occurring to me now that she may not be as friendly as she originally appeared. That nervousness grew into terror as she dragged me over to a fast moving river. I tried to pull away but her grip was very strong, much stronger than any normal seven year old. It appeared as though she said something, as her lips moved, but all I could hear was the roar from the rushing river in my ears and the fast pounding of my heart. We were at the water's edge when she stopped walking, turning to me, her hand still tightly clutching mine. My heartbeat slowed only slightly at the sorrowful look on her youthful face.

That's when it all hit me. This child was sweet, full of blissful innocence and youthful splendor, but she was still a ghost-a human being that had once died. She was deceased. I finally took in her blue-tinted lips and abnormally pale white skin and it finally occurred to me. This child had died, most likely from drowning in this very river before me. That was why she had been crying, she was lamenting on the traumatizing event of her death. That was why she had taken me here. An explanation of what occurred without having to actually voice it aloud. I glanced at the little girl who had begun crying again and knelt down, brushing tears away from her cold cheeks and smiling.

"It's okay," I whispered. "Nothing will hurt you any more."

Bella nodded and clung to me as I lifted the spirit into my arms despite the shiver running down my spine, and walked back to our house.

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