"Do you believe in ghosts?"
The question caught the 12 year old Kate completely off guard. Her cousin Jed had always been an odd one and even though they had lived as de facto brother and sister for all these years she was still no closer to knowing the real boy.
"I don't," she replied albeit her voice betrayed her unsettled feelings at being asked such a question.
"I do," said Jed sitting on the chair opposite her bed. A gentle drizzle against the glass of the window was the only sound in the room that seemed to envelope the silences between their words. It was almost 3am but both were wide awake with only the light from her bedside lamp providing any illumination.
"Do you now?" mocked Kate.
"I heard what your father said to you today. About me talking to people who aren't really there."
Kate's cheeks reddened slightly with embarrassment and shame. "He says you're not well. That you need help."
There was another silence between them. The sound of the rain getting heavier against the glass seemed to slither into their eardrums blocking out all other noise until finally Jed spoke again.
"You didn't answer my question."
"What?" asked Kate absent-mindedly.
"I asked you a question," he replied coldly causing the hairs on the back of her neck to rise.
"You mean do I believe in ghosts?" she said quizzically. "I told you I don't."
"I don't believe you," he uttered as he leaned to the side to look over her shoulder at a spot on the wall behind her.
Noticing this, Kate nervously turned her head around to the left to see what he was looking at. It seemed to take a lifetime for her eyes to fall upon the empty space which was the focus of Jed's attention. Her breathing had slowed to such an extent that she almost had to gasp for air again when she saw that there was nothing there.
"Do you see her?" asked Jed.
"See who?" barked Kate as she angrily whipped her head back around to face Jed.
Jed slowly lifted his eyes to face her as he uttered, "The old lady with the rope around her neck?"