Amelia woke up and immediately curled her knees up to her chest. Her head hurt. She cracked her eyelids open. It hurt. It hurt. It hurt. She didn’t want to move. But, she needed to use the toilet. It wasn’t fair. She didn’t want to need to use it.
She opened her eyes a little wider and slowly sat up. She was still all hunched up, with her shoulders nearly touching her ears. Everything looked a little hazy. Something moved in the corner of her vision. Adrenaline made her headache back off a bit, and she turned and opened her eyes and looked.
Her grandpa, who had died last year, was sitting on the end of the bed, like a glowing hazy white shadow. Behind him, similar shadows were walking around her bedroom and down the hallway outside her bedroom door. Out the window, she could see glimpses of other glowy hazy shadows outside.
“Grandpa?” Amelia said.
“Amelia,” he said, as soft as a whisper. His voice sounded like it was coming from far, far away. “Can you see me?”
“Yes,” Amelia said. “Ouch.” Her headache had suddenly come back full force. It was a stabbing pain behind her left eye. Her vision grayed at the edges. She pushed the heels of her hands into her eyes.
“I check on you every morning, but this is the first time you’ve seen me. Are you all right, my Amy-girl?” Grandpa said.
“My head hurts,” Amelia said. And she really did need to use the toilet. “I’ll be right back.”
Amelia stumbled to the bathroom and then to the kitchen. She kept walking through ghostly shapes. Some of them were wearing really old-fashioned clothes. She recognized her Uncle Ed from pictures, and the lady holding a baby and standing next to Mom was probably Grandma.
“My head hurts,” Amelia said. She winced at the sound of her own voice. Too loud.
Mom handed her some medicine and a glass of water. “Here, take these,” she said softly. “And eat a piece of bread. Then you can go back to bed. I’ll call the school.” Amelia took them and mumbled her thanks.
She stumbled back into her bedroom. She tripped over a pile of books and jammed her elbow into the edge of her dresser. The pain in her head receded slightly at the sharp, sudden pain. Amelia rubbed her elbow and looked up.
Grandpa was standing by her bed looking concerned. “Are you all right?” He asked.
“Yes, it’s just my elbow. And my head. If I sleep, most of the headache will go away, and then it will be manageable. She winced again and felt sick to her stomach.
“Then come and lay down,” Grandpa said.
Amelia got into bed. Grandpa brushed a hand over her forehead, but she couldn’t feel it. “I love you, Grandpa,” she murmured.
There was a row of ghosts behind Grandpa. They all looked like they were related to him somehow, and they were smiling down at Amelia. “We are so proud of you and your family, Amelia,” one of them said.
Grandpa nodded. “If I don’t see you again for a long time, remember that I love you and your family, my Amy-girl,” he said.
“All right, Grandpa,” Amelia whispered. Then she rolled over on her side and pulled her pillow over her head. She held it tight to her left temple and left a little space at the bottom so that she could breathe. And then she willed herself to sleep.
When she woke up, her headache was a dull throb. She pushed the pillow off her head and looked around. No glowy white shadows. She shuffled into the living room. Her mom was sitting on the couch reading.
“Amelia, how’s your head?” Mom asked.
“Better. Grandpa says he loves us,” Amelia said.
“That must have been a nice dream,” Mom said. “Let’s go get you a drink of water.” She stuck a scrap of paper in her book and set it aside.
Amelia smiled. “Thanks, Mom.”