Gertie and Bridget watch fireworks
“Hey, boy, it’s okay.”
The fireworks continued to thump and fizz in the background and Ziggy the ghost dog continued to whine, hiding under Gertie’s bed.
“We can’t even put a thunder jacket on him,” Bridget said, running her hand through her long hair. “It was never this bad when he was alive.”
“They were never this close when he was alive,” Gertie grumbled. The fireworks were being set off in the field on campus in honor of the Flories Falcons football team, which had made it to the playoffs. Even Gertie could feel the vibration of the fireworks like a bass track cranked to its max volume.
Ziggy shivered, his whole body tense from the stress.
A spectacularly loud firework went off, echoing off the building next door and sounding like it was in the room with them.
Ziggy yelped and ran. Right through the wall and into the hallway.
“Ziggy!” Bridget cried, yanking the door open to follow him.
Gertie ran after her, holding her baseball cap (the only thing that allowed her to see and hear their ghost dog) on her head as it threatened to bounce off.
The dog ran down the stairs, leaving the sisters even more in his dust as they were forced to pause at the doors and run slowly to keep themselves from falling down the steps.
By the time they made it out of the building, Ziggy was nowhere in sight.
“Shit!” Gertie shouted, panting from the run.
Bridget took a deep breath to calm herself, turning to look at the fireworks at her back. They were glorious, even with the trouble they had caused.
“He would’ve gone that way.” Bridget pointed opposite of the fireworks, towards the school gate.
“What are we going to do?” Gertie asked. “Stumble around in the dark until we find him?”
“Yeah,” Bridget said.
Gertie paused, gathering her resolve. “Ok. We’re going to miss curfew.”
“Then we miss curfew.”
The sisters set off, listening for barking.
They turned toward the residential district, figuring that Ziggy would know that area better since that’s where the three of them went on their walks. Stretching apartment buildings became thin three story houses, all crammed together like books on an overstuffed shelf.
Bridget nearly tripped over a cat that was on her left, the side that she was blind on because of her enchanted eye. The feline was hiding under an overturned box, and it hissed and struck out with its claws at Bridget’s ankle.
“Think Ziggy scared her?” Gertie asked. Cats were often able to see the mystical, and ghosts were no exception, especially ghost dogs.
Bridget shrugged. “Let’s hope so.”
They moved farther away from school than they normally did. The houses they walked by became shabbier, with peeling paint and unkept lawns. Fewer cars drove by and the streetlights were frequently burned out.
“Do you feel that?” Bridget asked, a tinge of hope in her voice. A chill had come over her, like ghostly energy was near.
They rounded the corner, and sure enough, a ghost hovered over the lawn of a house in front of them. The bad news was it wasn’t Ziggy.
While Gertie couldn’t see anything but the yard, because her hat was spelled specifically to let her see Ziggy, Bridget’s enchanted eye let her see the mystical better than a cat could. She could see the ghost of a squirrel rolling around in a bed of weeds, seemingly taken with them. Soon, another ghost - this one of a racoon - joined it, collapsing on the ground and inhaling deeply.
“The ghosts love this stuff,” Bridget said, pointing to the plant. “What is it?”
Gertie pulled out her phone, leaning closer to the plant to determine its characteristics.
Suddenly a spotlight flashed on the yard. The ghost animals bolted away as a man came running out of his house, a bat in his hands.
“Leave my house alone, you hooligans!” he shouted, and Gertie and Bridget jumped. “I’m calling the police!”
“We’re not here to mess with your house,” Bridget explained, her heart racing. “Our dog ran away from fireworks at the school and we’re just looking for him.”
The man glared. “You’re telling me you’re not the ones that broke in and ransacked the place?”
“No!” Bridget shook her head emphatically. “No way! We wouldn’t do that! We’ve never been here before!”
“Someone moved things around in your house?” Gertie clarified, her eyes still locked on her phone. “Was anything stolen?”
“No,” the man said. “Thankfully.”
“Could the police find evidence of a break-in? Was the door kicked in? Were there pick scratches on your locks?”
“Have you been experiencing electrical problems?”
The man’s eyes narrowed. “How did you know that?”
“I don’t think anyone broke in,” Gertie said, finally looking up. She pointed to the weed. “That’s a plant commonly known as ghostclover. It attracts ghosts, like flies to honey. You get someone to remove it for you, the ghosts will leave you alone.”
The man gaped at her, and then at the plant.
Gertie shrugged. “You don’t have to believe me. But…” Gertie hesitated, trying to decide if the man would be open to her request. “Would you mind if I took some of it with me? It’d probably make my potions teacher happy and get me some extra credit.”
The man waved his hand dismissively. “Take whatever you want. I’m going back to bed.”
Gertie kneeled by the weed and looked up at Bridget. “Please tell me you’ve got some sort of container in your bag?”
Bridget started rummaging through the messenger bag that she almost always had with her. “Are you really giving it to Mr. Jerson?” she asked, holding out a plastic zip-top bag.
Gertie took the bag and used it to pick what looked like a flower off the weed. The silver petals were actually seeds with casings like little wings to give it the ability to drift on the wind.
“No, but it sounded more legitimate than ‘I want to experiment with it’.” Gertie zipped up the top of the bag and stuffed it with the flower and seeds in her pocket. “Can I have another bag?” she asked Bridget, who obliged. Gertie used the new bag to grab a handful of the weeds - leaves, vines, and a few flowers.
“This should help us get Ziggy to come back with us,” she said.
Bridget sighed. “Not if we don’t know where he is. Let’s face it, he’d never come this far.”
Gertie frowned. “Where would he even run to? Where is he most comfortable?”
Bridget bit her bottom lip. When Ziggy didn’t want to just sleep in one of their rooms, he would follow them to classes and through the city. If he was scared, like he was now, he’d want somewhere quiet and covered, that he knew and felt safe in.
“I know where he is!” the sisters exclaimed at the same time.
“Hey boy, I brought you something,” Gertie said, holding the ghostclover out. From under the statue of a scientist on a bench in the middle of Spacer Park, they could hear a sniffing noise. Ziggy’s nose appeared, and then the rest of him, as he rubbed his head against the weed.
He loved this statue. When the girls came to watch street performers, he’d spend all his time hanging in the shade underneath the bronze bench.
“Ziggy!” Bridget reached down to pet him. Her hand phased into his fur instead of brushing through it, but his eyes closed in joy the same way they had when he had been alive.
Are the fireworks over? Gertie texted their friend Vivien.
Just had the grand finale. You might even make it back by curfew if you hurry.
“Let’s go home,” Gertie said.
Ziggy yipped in agreement.
“Ok, let’s try this out.” Gertie held up the thunder jacket she’d enchanted using the ghostclover she had been growing in a terracotta pot on her windowsill. She wrapped it around Ziggy, buckling it under his belly. It stayed in place instead of falling through his ghostly body, and his front legs shifted to fit in the armholes.
Ziggy ran around in a circle, and the jacket stayed with him.
“Yes!” Gertie spun around in her computer chair in triumph.
“Nice work,” Bridget said from Gertie’s bed.
Ziggy ran up to her, showing off his new jacket and barking excitedly.
“I can make him toys now!” Gertie said excitedly, her mind whirring over the possibilities. “And gloves to really pet him with! And a leash! We could actually walk him, and play fetch, and-!”
There was a boom and blue and green lights flashed through the window. The Falcons had managed to get to the finals.
Ziggy whimpered and headed to the door. But instead of flying through it, his jacket, corporeal as it was, held him back. His legs scurried, trying to run, but he was stuck in place, looking headless to the girls.
“It’s okay, Ziggy.” Bridget stood and picked him up by the jacket to carry him back to the bed. “We’ve got you.”