I'd never been afraid of ghosts. Actually, it was quite the opposite. I was more comfortable with the dead than with the living. The many ghosts of the tiny mountain town of Tansy had followed me as long as I could remember. Ghosts, unlike people, never bothered me a bit.
It was the living, with their cliques and their judgment, who made my skin crawl. Sixth grade hadn't been easy for me. Not that any year of my education had been pleasant. Let's just say that kids who see the dead weren't exactly considered cool at my school. My outsider status with the living was well-established: I was the strange kid who talked to people who weren't there. But the living citizens of my town were the ones who were missing an entire world. I was the only one who knew Tansy's biggest secret. You're never truly alone in this town. Though few people live here, thousands spent their afterlives here.
I managed to avoid uttering a single word to another living person for the first half of my last day of sixth grade. Slouching in my chair in the back row, I hoped to go unnoticed by the other kids. Less than three hours of school remained before summer freed me from their torment for eight whole weeks. Most of the time, I didn't mind my outsider status. I had friends. They just lacked heartbeats. It was hard to be the weird girl in school, but I always had my cat, Midnight, by my side, rubbing up against my ankles when some bratty kid tormented me.
Midnight was dead. He didn't run in front of a car, die of old age, or get attacked by a coyote in the woods. He had always been dead, at least as long as I'd known him. Midnight was a ghost.