Someone to Watch Over Me
by Vanessa Barneveld
Thank you so much to Christina Phillips for inviting me onto the Dark Side DownUnder blog! I’m almost embarrassed to confess, right here on Magic Thursday, that I don’t have a magical bone in my body. No psychic ability, no talent for turning Tarot cards, and no way can I talk to ghosts like Keira, the heroine of my debut paranormal YA, This Is Your Afterlife.
But, occasionally, I get a niggling sensation that someone’s watching over me. Someone invisible.
When my sisters and I were under the age of seven, we lived in a rambling old house in Brisbane. As the youngest, I remember its wild garden as being a haven for millions of snakes. My sisters have a different recollection of the place. Like most kids, they loved to jump high on the bed or on living room furniture. But in this house, instead of falling straight down again, my siblings’ little bodies would float like feathers on the wind. When she grew up, my middle sister thought maybe she’d dreamt that “game”. One day, our eldest sister asked her, “Do you remember when we used to float around...?” And she did remember. They compared memories of being carried around by an invisible force in slow motion. Neither felt scared at the time. It was just good fun.
That haunted house I was born in eventually made way for the South-East Freeway. Bulldozed and concreted over. The poor snakes have hopefully slithered on to a new habitat. But I often wonder about that ghost and whether he/she helps drivers safely off the Gaza Road exit ramp.
A few years ago, I travelled to San Francisco not long after my stepmother passed away. She’d lived there when she was young and loved it. One day, I walked for miles up and down those steep roads, stopping only for a clam chowder and a Ghirardelli chocolate or two or three or five. Eventually, I got so tired I hopped on a trolley back to Union Square. Once on board, I realised I didn’t have enough money to feed into the ticket machine. (Because I’d spent it all on chocolate...)
The trolley started rumbling and I couldn’t jump off. A woman behind me called out and said, “I have a dollar for you.” I turned around. My benefactor looked exactly like my stepmother. Right down to her smile, the way she dressed, the greying hair woven into a bun atop her head. I was too stunned to say anything except “thank you.” I walked past her and clung onto a rail, not taking my eyes off her. Occasionally, she’d turn my way and smile. When the trolley neared my stop, I moved up in order to thank her again. Someone pushed in front of me for a second or two. When I reached the woman’s seat, she’d vanished. Vanished, I tell you!
But where could she have gone? I knew she hadn’t disembarked. I’d been watching her the whole time but for two seconds. She’d disappeared in the blink of an eye. After that, I had to chow down on a lot more chocolate and mull over what just happened on that tram. Was she a guardian angel watching over me, handing out pocket money? Was she my stepmother’s ghost? A Doppelganger? Or was she a figment of my writer’s vivid imagination? I guess I’ll never know for sure!
I’d love to know, do you think someone invisible is watching over you? Leave a comment for your chance to win a Kindle edition of THIS IS YOUR AFTERLIFE (Bloomsbury Spark).
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This Is Your Afterlife book trailer from Vanessa Barneveld on Vimeo.