Photography by Kevinbism
The next day Ray made an emergency appointment to take Liv in to see a new therapist. Dr. Cummings was a tall thin black woman that had long curly black hair. She smiled at Liv and didn’t say too much at first. Liv sat in the cold leather chair across from her.
“Olivia is that what you want me to call you or would you prefer Liv?”
“Liv is fine. Everyone calls me that.”
Liv noticed she had a British accent which puzzled her, so she asked her about it.
“Well I was born in North Carolina, but when I was about three my parents divorced, and I went to live in London with my mother. After I finished school there I went to college in North Carolina and well I have been back in this country since. I moved to Ohio because this is where my husband was born and raised. Have you always lived in Ohio?”
“Unfortunately.” Said Liv looking at her hands and picking at her cuticles nervously.
“Would you like to talk about why you are here? If you would like we don’t have to talk about anything.”
“It’s okay. I’m here because my dad and my aunt think I’m going crazy. I was found in the bathroom last night cutting myself, but I didn’t remember doing it.”
Dr. Cummings was writing down some things and Liv noticed, and it made her more nervous. Liv continued rambling on hoping if she got everything out at this first meeting she could move on and wouldn’t have to come back like the last family therapist her father had taken Mia and herself to after her mom passed away. He was always encouraging group family activities and writing letters to each other about emotions and feelings. He loved telling them to write in a journal. Liv was okay with keeping a journal, but he had suggested writing down dreams and trying to write every day. Liv was hoping Dr. Cummings would be different.
Instead she just listened to Liv ramble on about ghosts in her house and how everyone thought she was crazy in her family. Dr. Cummings didn’t blink an eye. “What do these ghosts look like to you? Can you describe what you see?”
Liv didn’t hold back. “Well one is my teddy bear he likes to move around at night when I try to sleep. The other is a shadow with mean eyes. And once there was a lady with a bashed in skull trying to talk to me.”
“How does it make you feel when they appear?”
“Scared for my life like this can’t be happening.” Liv grew uncomfortable in her chair and began to get twitchy.
“Does anyone else in your house experience anything when these things are happening to you?”
“No, they say I’m making it up. Like I said they think I’m losing my marbles. That is pretty much it. That in a nutshell is why I’m here.”
“Well, for what it is worth I do not think you are losing your marbles. I had an uncle who lived alone in an old house he swore up and down he had a ghost of a young maid that would put his wallet up at night. He said it would be in a different place every morning. Sometimes even his suit was hanging up instead of where he had laid it out for the next day.”
“So, you believe me, but my dad and sister don’t.”
“Well, let’s just say I can relate a lot to how you are feeling. I am not here to tell you I believe in your ghosts or not because I believe you are seeing something. What do your friends say about it can you talk to them when you need a friend to talk to?”
“Yeah, but I think sometimes they think I’m making it up to get attention because my mom died.”
“Do they treat you differently?”
“So, you can talk to them about the “ghosts?””
“I guess I don’t like to. We usually talk about boys, ore make-up or music.”
“Well I think that perhaps you could start a new hobby maybe in the meantime it will help you stop thinking about the ghosts so much.”
Liv knew that Dr. Cummings was humoring her, but at least she was careful about it and not condescending like the last doctor was. She seemed to care enough to listen and not judge. Liv didn’t mind Dr. Cummings.
The time she had spent with Dr. Cummings went by fast and soon her father was there to pick her up. Liv didn’t want to leave, and she realized she liked talking to someone about the stuff going on in her life. Liv had an enormous feeling of guilt where her father was concerned. She hated worrying him and she hated him looking at her now with the look of concern. Ray smiled and winked at Liv when Dr. Cummings asked if she could speak to Ray alone. Liv knew she had to give her dad a report of how she did during the session.
“Liv if you could just wait here it will not take more than a few minutes.”
Ray went in after Dr. Cummings and sat in a wooden chair facing Dr. Cummings desk. She sat there just looking at him at first and then she finally laughed. “Your daughter is quite the character, Mr. McDonald.”
“Yeah I live with her.” He chuckled. “Can you tell me how she is really?”
“She is telling me the same things she has been trying to tell you. She believes she is seeing ghosts and that she doesn’t recall what happened. I suggested she talk to you and she says she has, but you don’t believe her. Are you aware that maybe she needs someone to listen to her? It doesn’t have to be you believing everything just hearing what she has to say or showing you care.”
Ray was feeling mildly defensive but sat still and quiet. “I am a very busy man, I don’t have a lot of time for fantastic stories and acting out, which is what I believe has been going on. I’m just trying to find a way to get her to move past her mom’s death and be okay! I know it may sound like I don’t give a shit, but I do. I just want-”
“You want her to be normal.”
“Well yeah, as normal as she can be for a teenage girl. I worry about her. I worry about them both and sometimes it is too much.”
“Mr. McDonald, you have nothing to worry about, and lots of girls her age goes through periods of acting out to get attention. It is just a phase here why don’t we schedule her next appointment.” Said Dr. Cummings pulling out her cheaters and putting them on her face as she stared at her lap top.
“Sometimes I think it’s me. I mean look at me.”
“Am I supposed to be diagnosing you or your daughter?” she looked up smiling.
“I overhear her friends sometimes talking about me. I mean I don’t give a shit what they think of me. I’m used to people staring at me for missing a leg that doesn’t bother me, but sometimes it bothers me for her. What happened to her mother and I was tragic and sudden, and I want to make sure she isn’t being affected in the way that it makes other people treat her differently. I worry her friends may be treating her differently.”
“Do you worry she might get bullied?” asked Dr. Cummings with a concerned look.
“I guess I do. Her friends are the spoiled sort. I worry they may put their ideas onto Liv, not that she would tell anyone.”
“Well for now let’s just try and see how the new therapy works and go from there.” She said opening her laptop and typing in a new date and printing out the appointment information for Ray.
“I appreciate all your help. Thank you.”
Ray walked out and motioned to Liv it was time to drive home. They were quiet with neither of them wanting to speak, and the lack of conversation became too much for Ray, so he turned on the radio. The song that came on was “House of the Rising Sun” so he turned it way up. He smirked when he looked over at Liv who was looking at her dad rolling her eyes.
“Oh my God, dad! You listen to the lamest music.” she sighed trying to ignore her father as she stared out the window.
“Lame? You don’t know what good music is.” He laughed this time speeding down the highway headed toward home.
Liv could hold her laughter in no longer and began to enjoy seeing her dad look so happy as it had been such a long time since she had seen him appear so unconcerned about the world around him. It was like old times before the passing of her mom and before her sister grew up too cool to hang out with her.
The music and the laughter broke the silence that just moments before was deafening. Ray pulled in the driveway to see Mia with her friends.
“Hey ladies, want to order a pizza on me?”
“Nah we are going to the mall.” Said Mia.
“Oh, want to take your sister?”
Mia rolled her eyes looking at Liv. “Seriously dad? Can’t I just have one non-dramatic evening without little miss poltergeist?”
“It’s okay, dad lets order the pizza, it will be more for us.” She said sticking her tongue out at Mia.
Mia laughed at her and turned to walk down the driveway to get into her friend Chelsea’s car. Chelsea was a tall heavy-set girl with glasses. They were giggling and talking and soon were far out into the street on their way to the mall.
Liv didn’t care Mia wanted to be alone with her friends. She was just happy staying home today watching the television with her dad. For the first time in a long time she felt fortunate to be back.
Ray ordered the pizza and they sat down to watch a funny movie that they both had seen before some guy was going to college at 60. It was funny and silly had some outrageous moments about frat parties. Ray ate his pepperoni pizza and was glad that today had went better than he had expected it to go. The air in the house was less tense for the first time in a long while. He was tired, and it was getting late and after a while he noticed Liv falling asleep, so he sent her to bed and waited up for Mia. He texted her twice, but no answer and when she finally came home it was well after 1 am.
Ray was mad but when he saw his daughter come through the door drunk and her make up smeared across her face his anger quickly turned to worry.
“What the hell is going on?”
“Not tonight dad. Not tonight!”
“Listen here, I have your sister upstairs cutting herself and now you coming home at any frigging’ hour you feel like and I’m supposed to chill out and be cool? Well it’s not cool, Mia! You’re grounded.”
“Fine dad ground me. I don’t care.”
Mia went up to bed and Ray yelled up at her “And expect to be up at the crack of dawn for your chores hangover or not!”
House of Shame
The dawn of a new day came upon the McDonald farm faster than any of them wished. The sun crowned over the fields behind the old white barn and the blue sky peeked out just under the streaks of red, orange and purple. Geese flew over the area headed toward the pond that was next-door to the Ramsey farm. In the distance, you could hear the cars on the highway leading toward the city for church, work and in some cases school.
The rooster clock Ray had next to his bed, in place of the real thing, went off suddenly. He clutched his St. Jude necklace from the nightstand and placed it around his neck saying a silent prayer to himself as he got out of his bed. He grabbed his two crutches and went to the bathroom. He leaned over the sink brushing his teeth and starting the shower. As he stood there in front of his bathroom mirror he saw something move in the corner of his eye. Thinking he was just in need of coffee Ray just turned his attention to the shower as he turned to open the door that is when he saw her. Ray fell back and tripped over his crutch that was leaning against his sink. Ray fell to the ground and laying on the floor he looked up and saw figure 6 feet away from him. Ray stopped breathing and was in panic mode and couldn’t move frozen with fear. The apparition stared at him her face white and blue. Her head was gashed in and the strange ghostly woman wore a white and pink nightgown. She had no expression on her face just staring at him with black eyes. Ray was thinking he was going crazy. As soon as he saw her she was gone that fast. The creature disappeared fading in front of his eyes. Ray got up bouncing on his one leg almost forgetting his crutches and hopped out of the master bathroom barely made it past the master bed and into the hall toward the rooms of his children banging on their bedroom doors.
“Mia get up get up! Liv GET UP!”
The girls opened their bedroom doors seeing their father act like a maniac. Ray was in a panic rushing them downstairs to the front porch. He was having trouble breathing and he had no idea what that thing was, but he wanted to be nowhere near it or his family. It was a long time before any of them spoke. Finally, Ray spoke “Girls I think we can go have breakfast now.” Ray was shaking as he said it. He looked at Liv he believed her now. He stared at his daughter as she looked up at him scared and worried for him.
“You saw it didn’t you?” she said to him looking up at his dark eyes.
Ray said nothing to her as he looked at her worried expression. He led his children to the kitchen before deciding that they all should go to the local Bob Evans. He pretended everything was fine but the moment etched into his mind’s eye forever. What was it? Who was it? He didn’t feel the need to mention it to his girls. Part of him didn’t want to make Liv upset he knew she wasn’t stupid. He changed the subject when she asked again at breakfast what the deal was.
The waitress was friendly but not interested in being there. She came to take their order after making them wait for 15 minutes. She was annoyed she had even to be there. Ray managed a smile and ordered the Farmhouse Breakfast from the menu and then looked annoyingly at his girls. Mia ordered pancakes and sausage and Liv ordered the same. The waitress poured Ray a cup of coffee and then left again. They remained in silence till Mia finally spoke up.
“So, dad thanks for breakfast but why were you acting like a spaz?”
“I just wanted to get here before the morning rush is all.” He said adding more sugar then he should and took a sip of his coffee.
Liv felt the urge to pee since she hadn’t gotten the chance before Ray rushed them out of the house. “Dad I will be back I need to use the restroom.”
Ray nodded to her. “Hurry back.”
Liv rushed to the bathroom and after she did her business she stood at the sink washing her hands in a rush. Being late was the worst and she knew her dad would not order his food till she was back seated in the booth.
A stout woman came in just then and had a bunch of bags with her like one purse one she carried papers and books inside, and she looked over at Liv and smiled. “Hi there. Oh, I made a mess of things on my shirt I see.” She said dropping some papers from her bag that had fallen open. She smiled up at Liv and then took out a necklace from inside her shirt and adjusted it. Liv was fixing her ponytail not paying attention to the strange woman. The woman looked at her suddenly with a solemn expression. “You live in a haunted house. Things are about to change, some good some not so good. Bless you.” She said looking very sad and walked out of the bathroom.
Liv just stood there pale and shock. She wanted to ask this woman how she knew and then she saw it. There was a card on the floor had the woman’s name and a P.O. Box on it. “PSYCHIC ELLIE PEERCE AT YOUR MAGICAL SERVICE.” Liv just stared at the card and then bewildered put it in her pocket. She wanted so badly to see the woman. She ran out of the restroom to see if she could find Ellie, but she was nowhere to around. She ran outside and again she was not there. There was a phone number on the card. Liv picked up her cell phone and dialed the number. She had no idea why she did it. The phone number on the card did not work. It was out of service. How odd she thought. Liv decided to get back to the table thinking perhaps the lady wasn’t the ELLIE PEERCE on the card after all. Her food was on the table when she got back. Ray looked at her annoyed.
“What took you so long?”
“We thought you fell in.” laughed Mia.
“No! I was trying to fix my ponytail.” Liv didn’t even want to tell her dad about the weird encounter. She thought about telling Mia, but she figured Mia would laugh at her.
They sat eating in silence Liv was anxious to leave and go home. She wanted to see her friends or something. She needed to get out away from her sister and dad.
A few hours Liv sat on her front porch waiting for Becky to come over. Nina was on vacation, so it was just Becky and Liv. Becky had just got back from Naples Florida, so she wanted to show Liv her pictures. There were a bunch of funny ones on her laptop and as they flipped through them Liv laughed at some of the funny ones. There were some of Becky and her brother feeding seagulls. There was a funny photo of her dad and mom with ice cream on their noses laughing.
“These are funny. I wish we could go on a vacation this summer. We haven’t been out of stupid Ohio in years.”
“Maybe next summer you can tag along with us. We’d have so much fun Liv. So, did I tell you about the older boy I met last week in Florida?”
“No.” said Liv grinning ear to ear.
“Well he is 16 and he drives. My parents would kill me for giving him my phone number, but he doesn’t need to know I’m only 13 he thinks I’m 15. I lied because he has his convertible. It is like so cool.”
“Did you get a picture of him?”
“No but he’s got an online website for bikes. I guess he helps his dad repair them or something. He has an email with the company name.” She fumbled through the website on her laptop till there was a tiny photo of two guys holding tires. It was them, but you couldn’t see his face very well. Liv just smiled at Becky. It was typical of her to make a bigger deal out of it than it needed to be. After their visit Becky rode her bike home with her laptop dangling from her shoulder in its carry case.
Liv stayed on the porch hoping no one would find her for a while. She sat out there till it was dark and just stared up at the stars in the sky. The fourth of July was around the corner. It wouldn’t be long before the summer would be over.
Mia came out onto the porch and sat next to Liv and didn’t say anything. She was just sitting there for a while on the porch swing across from Liv who was seated on a small wicker sofa.
“It’s cooler out here than inside. Dad fell asleep on the couch. We were watching Forest Gump and it just got over. Why are you still out here?” asked Mia for once caring about someone other than herself.
“I’m just bored, Becky left and now I’m just watching stars. Do you think we will ever travel to other planets?” Liv asked
“Probably. In Physics class Mr. Helton says that there are as many planets that support life as there are grains of sand. He read it in some magazine pretty sure it didn’t come from our books.”
“Mia do you think I’m crazy?”
“Sometimes, but aren’t we all?”
Liv looked at Mia and noticed a bruise on her left arm. “What happened to you?”
“Billy grabbed me, so I punched him. Don’t tell dad.”
“He was drunk. He thinks I don’t know. He broke up with me for this other girl. Then after summer is half over he feels terrible and wants me back because Chelsea told his friends thatt Henry and I were talking. He came to the mall last night and picked a fight. I yelled at him in the middle of the parking lot and he grabbed me fucking hard, so I punched him. No dude touches me like that. NO ONE! And if I ever hear of someone touching you like that best be sure they are dead!”
Liv just looked at her older sister in awe. She had no clue that boys could be such assholes. Her dad was like the toughest guy and got on her nerves, but she couldn’t imagine him acting like that. It was hard to believe any guys she knew behaving like Billy.
“So, it is safe to say you and Billy are broken up?”
“Well duh!” Mia said rolling her eyes as though Liv didn’t get it. She never did when it came to boy stuff.
They sat up for the rest of the night talking about nothing and watching the sky till the sky began to show a sliver of sun. Delirium took over and they laughed and giggled till the morning light came up. They were both very silly and finally they went to bed. Sisters forever in their bond in the life they lived in their farmhouse in Ohio. So much similar and yet so different but together they were one in those few moments few and far between. Sisters that bonded forever stuck together even in their secrets. They both finally went to bed and for the next few weeks living in the McDonald house was uneventful.