‘I’m sorry,’ says Dad feeling completely weak beside the force of this young stranger, ‘I thought…’

‘I’m not talking to you,’ says the girl placing the palms of her hands over her eyes. Her fingers are decorated with gold rings that bear different religious symbols. There’s a crucifix, a pentacle, an Om symbol, and a Star of David. She drops her hands from her face and screams to the sky, ‘Go away!’

Dad is startled by the sound but doesn’t move. He’s drawn to the mysterious character beside him and wants to know more. With a bit of hesitation he extends his hand and says, ‘I’m Eliot.’

The girl looks at his hand and back at my father’s eyes. His eyes are dark blue and kind. He’s one of those people that you know would never harm a fly. She accepts his soft hand and says, ‘I’m Stella.’

***

By the time Dad comes back inside we’re nearly packed up. The only people left in the building are me, Uncle Randy, and Ted. Ted has already started antagonizing me about what happened.

‘That girl talked to your Mom even when she’s dead! Dude what is up with that? Do you think she’s haunting you? Do you think she’s here right now? Dude it’s so freaky.’ He’s wrapping some lighting chords up using his elbow and thumb as a spool. If he doesn’t stop talking about it already I’m thinking about wrapping the chord around his neck, and I swear I’m not even a violent person. For some reason I never realized how much his comments bother me until tonight.

Now that all the people are gone Uncle Randy doesn’t have to keep pretending like everything’s cool. As soon as he sees Dad he targets his emotional breakdown straight at him.

‘Where the hell did you go? You left me up there to fry! Those people wanted blood once that stupid girl stirred them up! Where do you know her from?’

‘I’ve never met her before,’ says Dad in a surprisingly calm voice. He bends down and begins packing up the projector.

‘Well she obviously knows you! Or she knows someone that knows you, otherwise she wouldn’t have known any of that about Lydia. I mean, what kind of a sick freak gets information about a family member that’s passed away and comes to a public forum to bring it up, y’know? What kind of a freak does that?’

‘One of those Gothic freaks,’ chimes in Ted excited to stir his Dad up even further. ‘There’s a group of girls at my school that are Devil worshippers. They paint their fingernails black and some of them even wear black lipstick. She looks like those freaks, she probably knows them.’