The Question That Shall Not Be Asked, Part 2

Well, two blog posts in one week. Isn’t that one of the signs of the Apocalypse? Anyway…

Earlier this week, I posted about the differences between my religious beliefs and the experiences I’ve had with the paranormal, and the tensions that arise because of those differences. I also hinted that some of the experiences Kyrie Carter has in my paranormal mystery series are inspired by my own experiences.

Well, my muse took off running with that blog post, and I wrote a scene in which Kyr and her love interest Spook Steele are having a bit of a get-to-know-you chat. The conversation starts out light-hearted and not very deep–what is your family like, what do you do for a living, what kinds of things did you like as a child, etc. But then Spook asks Kyr a seemingly-innocent question that she isn’t quite prepared for. I’d like to share that scene with you, my readers, just to see what you think. I haven’t decided where this scene will land yet, and obviously the conversation isn’t finished, but it will give you an idea of what Kyr is struggling with in her quest to figure out her life.

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For the next hour, we talked. Spook told me more about his sister Katie and about his parents, and I told him about my brothers and their families. He talked about working with his father as a landscaper, and I told him about my adventures in the children’s library. We shared memories about our childhoods, our school days, and our wildest dreams. As we played twenty questions and got to know each other, I gradually relaxed again and just enjoyed getting to know the man I had fallen so unexpectedly for.

During a lull in the conversation, I slipped my arms around his waist and laid my head on his shoulder. He began lazily stroking my hair as though he were petting a cat. I sighed contentedly and allowed myself to melt into him, feeling a peacefulness I hadn’t felt in a long time.

After a long silence, Spook asked, “Mind if I ask you a question?”

I giggled drowsily. “Isn’t that what we’ve been doing?”

He laughed too. “I guess it is, now, isn’t it?” After another pause, he asked, “What got you interested in paranormal investigation? Was it Project Boo-Seekers, or that scary old woman you saw in your bedroom?” Although he attempted to sound light-hearted, I could tell it was a serious question.

My sleepiness vanished immediately; I hadn’t expected that question, and I wasn’t prepared to answer it. “I could ask you the same question.” My voice trembled, contradicting the flippant tone I’d attempted.

Spook’s hawkish eyes fixed on me, and I knew he sensed my hesitation in answering. “You could, but I asked you first, Kyr m’dear.” He took my hand and stroked it with his thumb as he always seemed to do when we had serious conversations.

My eyes drifted down to our joined hands, down to the sneakers lying in front of the couch, up to the corner of the ceiling where I’d missed a cobweb, looking everywhere but into his eyes. I had never told anyone, not even JoEllyn or Aunt Julia, what it was that had pushed my fascination with ghosts over the edge into the desire to study them, to investigate hauntings. True, it had partly been that first experience, as well as all the other experiences I’d had. And Project Boo-Seekers had opened my eyes to the possibility. But none of those reasons was the ultimate catalyst. Spook’s thumb became more insistent against my hand, and I knew he was waiting for an answer. “No, it wasn’t either of those things…exactly,” I hedged.

“Well, then what was it?” All the teasing was gone from his voice, and I knew I had his complete attention.

I met his eyes and swallowed hard before responding with a question of my own. “Can someone who didn’t believe in ghosts become a ghost himself when he dies?”

His thumb ceased its movements, and his eyes widened as the question settled over him. “That’s not a rhetorical question, is it?” he asked softly.

Unexpected tears came to my eyes as I shook my head. “Well, can they?” I couldn’t keep the desperation out of my voice.

Spook let his head fall against the back of the couch, and he withdrew his hand from mine to stroke his beard in agitation. “Kyr, I…really don’t know.” His concerned eyes met mine once more. “Why do you ask?”

I leaned forward to rest my elbows on my knees, half wishing I hadn’t posed the question that I was now reluctant to answer. Still, if anyone would understand, I knew he would. “Not long after Daddy died, I started noticing…things…happening around my place. Nothing scary, just…footsteps outside my bedroom late at night, feeling as though someone were looking over my shoulder, that kind of thing.” I glanced over at the framed picture of my parents sitting on top of the coffee table. My voice shook as I continued. “What made me start thinking it was Daddy was that I began to catch whiffs of his aftershave. On the one hand, I wanted to believe he was checking on me, letting me know he was okay, but on the other hand, it didn’t make sense, you know?”

“Because your dad didn’t believe in ghosts.”

I nodded. “He believed that when you die, you go one of two places. He always told me there’s no in-between, and there’s no coming back to earth. Ever.” My insides knotted up and began trembling, and soon that trembling worked its way to the rest of my body. I clasped my hands together to stop it. “Could it have been my dad? Even if he didn’t believe in ghosts, could he have come back as one?”

Part of me wished I hadn’t asked the question, recalling other times in my life when I’d asked such things. I’d been called on the carpet more than once, first by the youth pastor at my home church, and then by Daddy when he heard I’d been asking about the paranormal—the occult, as they called it—and had found verses in the Bible that supported my beliefs. Now, as then, I silently cursed my curiosity, wishing I could just accept what I was told and move on. But I couldn’t.

Do you have any unanswerable questions? Leave a comment if you’d like to share.

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