They both had wet hair, only hers was brushed back into a long ponytail. From behind, I could see that the ponytail was leaking: Thin watershadows formed on her school shirt.
As I watched, he rubbed his hands over his head. He was friendly and rough with his head, as if it were a dog. Now his hair stood up in spikes.
And then something happened.
She reached a hand toward him and he reached his hand toward her, but his eyes found the eyes of strangers in the room. Their hands almost touched but did not.
I saw cobwebs in the slender, empty space between those hands.
That's from Lydia's point of view. She's a bit of a kook, wants to be a writer, and sees beauty everywhere.
And now: Riley's turn.
My first look at her was her name.
It was inky dark blue. On a note they'd left stuck to my backpack.
'KNOCK ON THE SECOND RED DOOR,' said the note. 'ASK FOR AMELIA.'
'Amelia, eh?' said I.
There's a lot you can do with a name like Amelia.
You can play with it, sure, is what you think I'm going to say. Make it cute (Amy) or cuter (Millie), complaining, (Meelie), or French, I guess, like the movie (Amelie).
You can step right into that name, is what I mean, and walk around. Swim with it or spill it on your shirt. Whisper it over like a sad, soft ache, or bark it out aloud like a mad, manic message: camellia, come heee-re, a-million, ah murder you, yea-eah.
You can peel it off your backpack, fold it up safe, walk right past that second red door, or you can not.
This was a few years back. I was 14 then.
I was still looking down at the name on the note while I headed to the second red door and I stopped with a fist in the air.
And there she was.
You think you know what I'm about to say,don't you?
You think I'm going to say: Amelia was just like her name.
No. Amelia was a girl in a cute t-shirt nightie with a retro Ms. Pacman on the front, and the sexiest thigh-high boots I ever saw. If Jesus were a bootmaker. And she looks at me with her eyes open wide and a face that says, oh my god, I'm muckin' around in my sexy Jesus-boots, in my crazy dreamworld, and I've opened the door and let you in on my crazy dreamworld and that's so embarrassing but, actually, who cares? because it's funny.
And then we're both laughing. There's this rope-length of laughter between us.
Funny thing is, even while I'm laughing, and falling in her eyes, a part of me knew she was a ghost.
The first time I saw her I knew that my Amelia was a ghost.