To my readers, please feel free to leave feedback for me so that I know that you liked my stories, what you would like to see, and perhaps maybe suggest one. Please also vote on how you liked it, every vote does count. If you'd like to read it over and over again, favorite it and come back to enjoy it like an old friend. I look forward to hearing from you...K'Anne
The first time Stacey saw her it was out of the corner of her eye. It was one of those moments when you see something but aren't sure. Your hair maybe falls forward and moves into your line of sight but when you really look there is nothing to see.
The second time she saw her it was a little more defined, the moment wasn't a second as before but she could have counted a full five seconds before she disappeared.
Stacey didn't think she was going crazy, she knew she already was, deep down. Actually, all her life she had been able to sense people. Whether they were there or not wasn't the point. Stacey knew. It was her sixth sense. Other people might joke about it, call themselves crazy but Stacey knew. She had been visited many times as she grew up. The fears of a monster under a child's bed was nothing in comparison to the fears of someone visiting you who wasn't alive, who didn't have flesh and blood. As she grew up and realized the enormity of her 'gift' she began to study on the subject to understand it better and to perhaps lesson her fear. She realized then that there were a lot of crazies in this world and many of them spouted things they had no business sharing. Many of them had no real clue about the hereafter or about visits from beyond. The enormity of what she experienced from time to time sank in during her late teens. When everyone else was worrying about boys and schools and a million other little things of teenaged angst, Stacey was dealing with the fact that she was some sort of conduit to supernatural beings.
It didn't happen all the time but often enough that she accepted the inevitable and didn't start in surprise to find someone in her home or even out on the street who wasn't really there. She usually looked at them curiously and wondered why they appeared to her and her alone. Sometimes she realized that with a start of surprise they too were amazed that she could see them. There was nothing remarkable about Stacey that this gift should be given to her. She was 5'4" tall with braces on her teeth and freckles on her nose and a pair of glasses that she was constantly pushing back up on her nose. She was short and dumpy and unremarkable in the fullest sense of the word.
Her teenage years were as miserable as anyone else's. She would never be chosen for the cheerleading squad, even if she had wanted it. She wasn't popular, she wasn't pretty, and she went through high school with fairly average grades hoping to be unnoticed by all. She had very few friends and none of them knew of her 'gift.' She knew better than to share that bit of information with anyone, they would have locked her up in a heartbeat. Besides the usual teenage angst, she saw things that weren't there, who could possibly understand her?
The summer before her senior year of high school though something amazing happened. One of the apparitions spoke to her. She realized she had been hearing them for a long time but not listening. There is a big difference between hearing and listening and a lot of people don't realize that, whether they are alive or dead. Stacey learned it that summer. It was when she met HER. The first time as a glance, the second for a full five seconds as though she were testing Stacey to see if she were worthy enough to see her, to hear her. The apparition came as an attractive blonde haired woman when she was finally able to actually see her, all of her. Stacey sensed right away that this time was different, that this one meant business. Strangely she wasn't afraid. The woman was dressed in modern almost futuristic clothes with black leather pants on her slender waist and a blue satiny looking blouse that crossed over her breasts and tucked in the pants beautifully and she looked at Stacey as though waiting, waiting for something...
Since Stacey was alone this particular time she smiled and said "hello" out of politeness.
The strange woman smiled in response. Stacey stared. The woman had understood her and responded! Her other appearances by apparitions had never responded and instead usually disappeared shortly after appearing. It was how Stacey had learned to be unafraid, they never stayed long.
"You understood me?" Stacey asked and then was surprised when the woman nodded. Holy cow! she thought as she stood there and wondered what to ask next. Then of course she thought of the many times she had wanted to ask her ghostly visitors the one question they never could she said "is there something I can do for you?"
The woman smiled her beautiful smile again and nodded.
Stacey looked at her or rather through her as she floated there. She had always thought it silly that ghosts on tv were depicted as though they would bob there in thin air. Her ghosts had never done that and this one certainly didn't. She kind of shimmered but she was standing there just as anyone else would. She looked to be about 5'7", her hair was a deep chestnut brown and strangely Stacey could see the highlights in it as it hung almost to the woman's waist. She had long elegant fingers, was thin, and had one of the most arresting faces that Stacey had seen in a long time. She started realizing the woman had been standing there waiting as Stacey examined her. "what can I do for you?" she asked not expecting a verbal response, her apparitions never spoke.
"Actually I am here to help you" the woman spoke in a melodic voice that Stacey immediately found soothing.
Her heart though was beating uncontrollably. "Your here to help ME?" she asked incredulously.
"Stacey!" her mother beat on her door "who are you talking to in there?"
The woman disappeared in an instant and Stacey blinked a moment before answering her door.
"No one Mom, why?"
Her mother opened the door suddenly and looked at her suspiciously and even peered over her shoulder to see if she were hiding someone in her room. "I thought I heard voices" she said confused.
Stacey shrugged and out waited her mom knowing she would give up soon and she did as she walked away shaking her head at hearing 'things.' Stacey smiled as she closed and locked her door hoping to see the woman again.
It was a week of boring summer vacation before she saw the lovely woman again. She was dressed the same and this time Stacey noticed she was wearing anklet boots in a really cool style. Stacey wished she could pull off that look but with her dumpy little body there was no possible way.
"Hello" she said to Stacey first this time.
"Hi" Stacey breathed actually pleased to see one of her ghostly encounters for a change. She didn't know why but she was intrigued by this one.
The woman smiled and it made her face even more beautiful if that were possible. Her long hair, her matching plucked eyebrows, her short forehead and her amazing eyes seemed clearer this time to Stacey.
"You said last time that you were here to help me?" Stacey asked. It had bothered her all week and she had to know.
The woman nodded. "I was sent in answer to a request you made" she responded in her amazing voice.
"A request?" Stacey asked confused. She didn't remember making a request.
The woman nodded again and said as she pointed at the mirror over Stacey's dresser, "you asked to be prettier and to meet someone someday" she mentioned.
Stacey felt the shock. She had said it one day as she looked in alarm at her braces, her freckles, her acne, and her dull brown hair as well as her dumpy figure. She had said it when she was alone and down in the dumps after an awful day at school. She certainly didn't expect a response.
"I know it's hard to understand but I am here to help you achieve what you wanted" the woman told her.
Stacey looked at her incredulously and asked "do you wave your magic wand or what?"
The woman laughed a genuine laugh at Stacey's question. Its melodic tones did something to Stacey's insides. "No, it's not like that but I am here to offer help and advice. You can take my suggestions or not as you wish."
Stacey looked at her as she considered what they were talking about. She glanced at her reflection in the mirror and it was then that she realized there was no reflection of her visitor in the mirror. It was drilled home at that moment that her visitor wasn't really there. She knew it wasn't in her mind, she could actually see her, and she could almost touch her. "What do you suggest?" Stacey asked then realizing it couldn't hurt to follow the woman's advice.
The woman smiled as she realized Stacey had accepted her help without a fight, without argument. "When do you get your braces off?" she asked.
"In two weeks my two years of servitude to them will be over" Stacey said in resignation.
"That will change a lot of your appearance that you so detest" the woman said astutely. "There are other things we can do if you are willing." She waited for Stacey's response.
That night at dinner Stacey only ate salad. Her mother fretted over this almost immediately. They were a meat and potatoes household and she thought perhaps Stacey was coming down with something. Tempted as Stacey was to fill her plate with the normal beef, potatoes, and other butter filled vegetables she remembered her new friend's advice and stayed on the salad. She had two helpings to be sure and the lettuce, tomatoes, and carrots didn't seem to fill her full but she followed it with large glasses of water and this filled in the empty feeling in her stomach.
After dinner she took the dog for a long walk around the blocks she had grown up with as a kid. She knew exactly when the woman appeared as her dog stopped dead and refused to walk another step. She looked up with a smile at her friend and turned so that the dog didn't have to go anywhere near the apparition that had scared him. As it was he looked over his shoulder fearfully the entire walk home. Stacey had to assume that her new found friend followed them the whole way.
Stacey asked and was allowed to make an eye appointment. When she told the optometrist that she wanted contacts or laser surgery he fitted her for the contacts. She was pleased when they arrived two weeks later and she could try them out. She was amazed at the difference with her glasses gone and her braces off how much her face changed in appearance.
Stacey started going to the local pool but she chose a time she knew none of the local kids would be going. As a result she met a lot of senior citizens and despite the age disparity she actually enjoyed talking to them. She did laps every day and as summer progressed was able to do more and more as her stamina increased. Her diet of fruits, vegetables, and salads kept her on the straight and narrow despite her mother's worry that she wasn't getting enough to eat. Her nightly walks got longer and longer.
Her nightly talks with her new friend too were longer and longer and more involved. Stacey could ask her anything and learned a lot about the 'hereafter' or so she thought she did. She realized though that the woman wasn't really telling her any secrets, nothing she hadn't learned herself from her careful research over the years. She could share with the woman though as she never could before with anyone else. The woman practically knew everything about Stacey already but still they found things to talk about.
Within a month Stacey had taken to wearing a belt, her jeans no longer could be held up without one. Within the second month she no longer had to keep her shirts untucked to hide her weight, she could tuck them into her belted jeans. Her mother fretted that she was starving herself thin but she pointed out that it was her healthy routine that was the cause and not a lack of food. She still ate a lot but it was of vegetables, fruit, and salad with plenty of water during the day.
As the summer came to a close Stacey was instructed by her friend on makeup, personal hygiene, and clothes. Her normal clothes no longer fit without massive alterations. Her mother this year let her take her allowance for school clothes and shop alone. She felt she was old enough and responsible enough to do it all herself, after all she was going to be a senior in high school this year. On the advice of her ghostly friend she also got her hair styled, and with the streaks from the pool in it, it looked incredibly professional and good on Stacey. With a makeover and new clothes Stacey didn't recognize the fat little girl who had previously inhabited her bedroom as she gazed in her mirror. The diet, the exercise, and the friendship had helped mold a chubby little girl into an attractive young woman. With the braces gone her teeth were perfectly straight. With her glasses gone she was no longer pushing them up her long nose which looked amazingly pretty with its dusting of freckles which she could hide if she so chose with the makeup she had learned to apply. Her eyes now looked fantastic with the eyeliner, the shadow, and the mascara expertly applied. Her eyebrows no longer looked caveman and bushy and were impeccably plucked and sculpted. A new thinner Stacey appeared in the mirror before her. She felt confident and proud. She sensed she wasn't the only one pleased with what she had accomplished as she looked over her shoulder at the now familiar woman.
"Are you pleased with what you have accomplished?" she asked in her beautiful voice.
Stacey nodded as she turned to look at her friend "you know, all this summer we have talked and shared but I still don't know your name."
The woman smiled in response and nodded "it was not for me to volunteer, I could not tell you until you asked."
"You couldn't?" she asked confused.
"No, it is one of those weird little rules I told you about" she smiled in remembrance of one of their many conversations.
Stacey waited and then asked again "well, what is it?"
"It's Renata" she laughed her tinkling laugh and it made Stacey smile in response. They had talked all summer and she just finally had asked for her strange friend's name. It was kind of funny. The name 'Renata' though fit her perfectly. She looked like a 'Renata' whatever that was but to Stacey it suited her.
Stacey's first day back to school after the long summer break was nerve racking. She hadn't seen Renata in a few days but she knows she is there whether she 'sees' her or not. She had already helped Stacey choose what to wear for her first day back. For once in her life she is going to wear a short dress and heels to school. Her backpack contains all her school supplies and a little packet containing blush, shadow, liner, and lipstick, the essentials just in case she needs to refresh her look at some point during the day.
"You look very nice" her mother compliments her when she saw her at breakfast. She actually is very proud of what Stacey has done this summer to transform herself. She had been worried as any mom worries about her teenage daughter but Stacey was healthy and she seemed happy.
As Stacey made her way to the bus stop she saw many of the neighborhood kids waiting already. No one had really noticed her this summer and since she didn't 'hang out' with anyone really it had been easy to be ignored all summer long. That wasn't the case now as she walked to the stop, several people were standing there shocked with their mouths open in surprise.
"Stacey?" a pretty girl approached her in surprise.
"Hi Maddy" Stacey responded with a smile which showed off her now brace free perfect smile.
"What did you do to yourself?" she asked trying to mask her surprise and failing.
Stacey shrugged "I got rid of my braces and glasses" she made little of the transformation but inside she was thanking Renata for all the inspiration and advice. She knew the pretty girl in the mirror was her now and everyone couldn't help but see.
As she got on the bus a silence came over it as those she had known, some since kindergarten took in her transformation.
"Hey yo, Stacey" Ellie called making room for her on her seat.
"Hi Ellie" she smiled as she sat down carefully so her short skirt didn't ride up. "How was California?"
"Beautiful but apparently I missed something this summer?"
Stacey laughed but didn't reveal her secrets, she was going to enjoy every bit of this.
Time and time again all day long people were stunned stupid at her new look. A few teachers even were surprised, some she had all four years of high school didn't recognize her right away when they called her name for attendance and looked for her in the crowd. It was a totally wonderful day for the teen and Stacey hugged the feeling to herself.
It was weeks later that Renata appeared so Stacey could tell her everything. Renata's smile over Stacey's enjoyment of her first few weeks of school was a sight to see. A few weeks later though it presented a problem that Stacey had never had before, guys were asking her out for the homecoming dance. She had never in her four years of high school even gone to a dance. Renata showed her how to dance not only a waltz and other older dances but new ones to current music. Watching her see through friend dance to hip hop music was a sight to see and Stacey collapsed in laughter time and again. It wasn't that Renata wasn't good, she was, but seeing through the ghostly apparition was funny.
Allan Cummings took her to her first dance. It was pleasant and he made sure he gave her a wrist corsage but for Stacey it was all about seeing everyone dressed up in their finery. She didn't especially care for Allan and she knew he expected a kiss at the end of the night which she obliged him with but there was no spark, no electricity with him. After the dance he asked her out a few times and she went for forms sake but again, she felt nothing when he kissed her and pawed her teenage body that was turning curvaceous.
"Damn Renata, is this all there is?" she asked in disgust. She had gone out with a couple of other guys at this point and Christmas vacation was looming. None of them did anything for her and she could tell that she kissed better than most of them at this point. Apparently some things came naturally to some people.
"Someone will come along who sparks that interest, I promise you, you just need to be patient" she said with her soothing voice a hint of a smile on her lovely face as she discussed things with her friend.
"Yeah but when?" Stacey said exasperated, she wasn't thrilled with them pawing her and a lot of the time swapping spit with them was gross.
"All in time, all in time" she smiled and asked "you didn't really think you'd meet the man of your dreams in high school did you?"
Stacey looked up and through her friend and sighed "no, I guess not."
"Then relax and have fun, high school is a testing ground for this sort of thing. Don't do anything you wouldn't want to do and enjoy what pleasures you get" she advised.
Stacey had to admit Renata was right. In fact when she thought about it, she was always right. That was okay, she hadn't steered Stacey wrong even once since she had met her and since Renata came into her world she had stopped seeing so many other ghostly images which suited her fine.
Stacey did have a lot of fun her senior year. She made a lot of friends but no one she knew that would be lasting. If they hadn't seen her in years past she knew they were only seeing her now because of her looks. She didn't want superficial friends like that and was pleasant to everyone. She got invited to a lot of things she wouldn't have before because of her looks and while she went to a lot of parties and other social niceties she took it all with a grain of salt.