My best friend is a ghost, but sometimes I forget she's dead.
I discovered Lilah at the end of June when my family moved into this old mansion on the remains of a Georgia cotton plantation. It's not as grand as it sounds. The house is practically falling down around us and the live oaks, lining the drive, drip with grey-green moss. Very creepy.
The owner, Bill Richardson, lives in Oklahoma. He hadn't been able to keep a tenant for more than a month in the ten years he'd owned it. I bet that's because of Lilah.
I keep trying to guess when Lilah lived, but it's hard to tell. She looks like a pretty normal girl, except she's all silvery-white, so I have to guess at colors. Her hair is dark, like frosted coal, and she wears it in two long braids, the kind where each braid starts right at her forehead and ends in a little ribbon bow. She wears loose fitting jeans and a short-sleeve plaid shirt. My jeans aren't baggy and rolled up at the ankles, but I have a shirt that looks just like hers. Her shoes are the biggest clue. I described them to Mom who said they were called saddle shoes, because the darker piece of leather that runs across the middle looks like a saddle. I don't know anyone who wears shoes like that.
She's really a very nice girl, but most folks aren't too keen on chatting with the dead. Me, I'm used to it. Mom says I'm psychic and, since not every twelve-year-old talks to dead people, that I should keep this stuff to myself.
My name is Hannah Barnes and my family's been here in Fraser, Georgia about six weeks. Before that, we lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Dad met Mr. Richardson when he did some repairs on the guy's office. Richardson liked Dad's work and offered him this gig. A free place to live if Dad would make the needed repairs to keep the place standing. He forgot to mention the ghost.
Dad's making good progress restoring the mansion to its former glory while Mom works in town as a legal secretary. She tried helping Dad with the restoration, but the mansion makes her jumpy. She says the only way she can live here is to escape for forty hours each week.
Lilah and I try to help Dad as much as possible, but he gets jittery whenever Lilah hands him a tool. I guess it's 'cause he can't see her. Maybe flying nail guns would freak me, too. Anyway, he asked me to keep her away from his work area, said it wasn't safe for little girls to play with power tools. Right. He never had a problem with me helping him in Tulsa.
So, until school starts, I've got nothing to do but shoot the breeze with Lilah. Killing time with a ghost has its ups and downs. Lilah's shown me all the house's secrets from the priest hole behind the cellar wall to the loose floor board in the attic where an ancestor kept her diary. She's even shown me cool stuff on the grounds, like the secret spot under the roots of the huge, live oak by the river. The only thing she won't do is go beyond the big iron gate that separates the driveway from the road.
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Twelve-year-old Hannah Barnes is just like all the other girls in her small Georgia town, except for one little detail. Hannah’s best friend—make that her only friend—is a ghost. When the annual Sweet Pea Festival arrives, Hannah discovers the secret to freeing Lilah from her earthly bondage. Hannah has a decision to make. Will she help Lilah move on, or will she hold on to her best friend?
Corn Maze by Deb Logan, available from Climbing Rose of The Wild Rose Press.
Excerpt from Corn Maze: