The Matchmaker Medium


Laurel King

Chapter One

The first time I talked to a ghost, I was five.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t realize she was a ghost. I thought she was just another girl in the bathroom, washing her hands. She looked normal to me, in her little jean shorts and pink t-shirt with a big flower on the front. Her pigtails were braided and really long, hanging down her back, the way I wished my hair would. My stupid hair was all poufy and curly, never laid down flat or looked right. I hated my hair.

I saw her when I opened the stall door to walk out into the main bathroom, as she leaned over the open hand-washing thing that always had water coming out of it. I loved that washing fountain thing.

“Hey,” I said, doing my best to be polite but not too weird. It was only my second week in school, so I was still pretty shy and didn’t know what to say or do most of the time.

She didn’t answer, just kept washing her hands, like she didn’t even hear me.


“I said, hey,” I insisted, “you’re supposed to answer back.” Then I touched her on the arm.

She squiggled a little. Not like a squirmy kid that won’t hold still. More like a show on the TV when there’s a storm outside and it’s about to cut off. Like she was the TV show.

I froze. Even at the age of five, I knew something wasn’t right.

She stopped with the hand washing, settled back on her heels, her soapy-wet hands dangling at her sides, dripping all over the floor and her shoes. I mean, I saw the drops of water falling, and the floor was wet.

Her mouth opened a little, like she was about to talk—then she squiggled again, and closed it. She slowly lowered her head, looking real sad, her lip all pouty like someone told her she couldn’t have any of the yummy ice cream in her bowl.

That’s when I looked closer at her face, making my eyes a little squinty because I forgot my glasses again. I hated my stupid, gross glasses.

Wait a second, I thought, is that her?

“Isabella?” I said, my voice echoing.

She jerked her head up, fast, like I poked her with a sharp stick. Her eyes got really wide, and her shoulders rose as she took a really big breath to…

Her scream didn’t make any sounds. I could see her screaming but I couldn’t hear anything. Goosebumps jumped onto my arms and legs and everywhere, while she just screamed and screamed for—practically ever. When she finally stopped, we both just stood there looking at each other.

After a while, my goosebumps finally went away, and she just looked around the bathroom like she forgot something. That’s when I decided to help her.

“They’re looking for you, y’know.”

She looked at me so sad, shrugged her shoulders a little, nodded.

“Guess I should tell them you’re in here.”

She shook her head real, real slow, staring at me the whole time.

“Why not?”

A raised eyebrow, bratty little smile, like she was telling me ‘duh’.


The principal had talked to all of us in the cafeteria that morning, using the microphone so everybody in the school could hear. He was really tall and really dark brown with this really big poof of hair on his head, so I liked him on the first day because we both had stupid hair. He shook my hand when I walked up to the school so he was one of those ‘okay’ grownups that aren’t too weird. But when he talked in the microphone about Isabella, he sounded kind of sleepy or babyish or something, like he swallowed a bug and he was trying not to barf.

“Children, one of our friends has been—lost. There is nothing to be scared of, we just need your—help. If you see Isabella, you are to run and find the nearest grownup—a teacher, or playground aide, or even Mr. Morris when he’s helping keep our school beautiful. No matter what, you grab the nearest adult helper, and tell them!” His voice sort of did a hiccup-thing when he said the last part. I guess he was pretty excited and sleepy at the same time.

“But Principal Davis said if anyone saw you, we had to run and tell a grownup.”

Shaking her head again, picking at a Band-Aid on her hand with little pink hearts on it.

She knows they won’t believe me. I started huffing and puffing, breathing faster, squishing my hands to fists, getting madder and madder. Grownups never listen to kids. They tell us all this stuff, but then they never listen when we talk. I hate it!

“I’m gonna make them believe me!” I yelled, stomping my foot on the ground, splashing water onto my legs. “Just wait!”

Really mad now, I stormed out of the bathroom, slamming the door wide open. I ran-walked down the hall, trying to go fast without getting in trouble for running. Looking up and down the hall, into the little windows on the classroom doors.

Of course there’s never a stupid grownup around when you need one! They’re always there to boss everyone, but you can never find them when you want to. Stupid grownups.


I spun around to see who it was, feeling like steam was coming out of my head, like Donald Duck in the cartoons. It was my teacher, Miss Melody. She was super young so she told us to use her first name, but nobody would because she was a grownup and it was just—wrong.

“Miss Melody!” Anger suddenly forgotten, I ran into her arms, bawling like a stupid sissy baby, “Isabella! I saw her! She’s—she’s down there!” Pointing back the way I came, towards the bathroom, my whole body shaking and snot running out of my nose, my eyes blurry.

“What? Oh, my God! You saw her? Where? Where is she, Amber?” Sounding hyper, her eyes really big, she was looking all over the place, like she forgot I was totally squished into her belly, wiping tears and snot everywhere.

“There! In the bathroom!” I yelled, pointing at the door.

“Come on, let’s make sure she’s all right, Amber!” she dragged me by my hand, practically running to the bathroom. If I wasn’t so scared, I would’ve laughed at how funny she looked running to the bathroom, like she had to pee really bad.

She slowed down right when we got to the door, putting her hand on it really slow.

“Isabella?” she asked. Nothing.

“Are you sure she’s in there?” she asked me.

I nodded, wiping my face with my sleeve.

She turned back toward the door, slowly pushing it open, looking up and down and around, but really sneaky-like.

Like she’s playing hide-and-seek, I thought. My goosebumps were back.

When we were both finally all the way in the bathroom, I realized it was empty. I mean, sure, Isabella could’ve been hiding in one of the stalls, but I knew she wasn’t.

“Isabella? Sweetie, you can come out now, it’s okay. I know you’re scared but we just want to let your mommy know you’re all right.” She opened each stall door, looking underneath each one first.

Is Miss Melody scared of something? I squished her hand even harder. When grownups are scared, it means something really bad is happening.

She finally looked in the last stall and found—nothing. Turning to look at me, her eyebrows smooshed down all mad, like my dad does when he catches my brother in his tools.

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