I pull my fingers tight into a fist and throw my whole body towards the woman. She laughs as my punch is about to connect with her jaw and then she disappears into thin air and I crash forward into the wall of the deserted spaza shop, like an idiot.

Great – a ghost who likes to play games, I think. Just what I need on a school night.

I know there isn’t much time before this ghost woman comes back. Even though my knuckles are starting to throb, I quickly remove the packet of herb mix from my pocket, and tear it open. The dust puffs out in a cloud then falls onto the floor just before the woman reappears.

Black smoke swirls around her and she screams so loudly I’m sure that someone will definitely hear this time. But even when they do, they will just tell themselves it was a bad dream. They will roll over and go back to sleep.

After three weeks of everyone being too scared to go anywhere near the spaza, I’ve sent this ghost back to wherever she came from. Thanks to me, finally Ma Thlolo is safe.

I know I took a risk coming back tonight to kill the ghost but Ma Thlolo was always kind to me. When my strange dreams started and the other girls began avoiding me, Ma Thlolo would always give me sweets on the way home. She told me it was OK to be different.

When I heard what people were saying, about how there was someone screaming and throwing things around inside the locked spaza at night, only I knew that Ma Thlolo was in danger. Who else would have seen the woman sitting by the back door of the spaza? Who else would have known that the woman had been the owner before Ma Thlolo? Her husband had murdered her in the nineties. Everybody in the neighborhood knew about it and some had accused him, but no-one could prove it.

After the wife died and the husband moved away, Ma Thlolo took over the spaza shop and, for years, things had been quiet. Until the day the woman’s husband remarried. She had become angry and had come back to haunt the place where she died. She wanted revenge – and that included blood. I had seen it all in my dreams. If I didn’t stop her, it was only a matter of time before Ma Thlolo was hurt.

Now, I can relax knowing I did what I had to, and she is safe.

But another part of me can’t relax. Lindi, you are one messed-up chick, I worry to myself. What the hell are you even doing? Running around killing ghosts, thinking you’re saving people? You must be nuts.

It’s not safe for a girl to be walking around like this at this time of night: ghost hunter or no ghost hunter. I walk faster to warm up. My thin jacket whips around my small frame and from the corner of my eye, I see a big rip down the side. Oh no – that’s all I need, I think. It must have happened during the fight tonight. Gogo won’t be happy about this. Which makes one more thing she won’t be happy about. Somehow, I’m going to have to explain my bloody knuckles too. Can I maybe just say I was in a fight? That part is true: I was fighting for my life against that vengeful spirit. I could lie just a little bit to Gogo and tell her that I didn’t know who the other girl was – I was just walking home and it happened. But I know Gogo would never believe that. She’ll shake her head and tell me again how she wasn’t born yesterday.

When I do make it back, creeping in like a thief, Gogo isn’t even home. When I check my cell, I find one unread message from Gogo, sent hours ago:

The madam’s husband is havin a party 2nite. hav 2 wrk late. sleeping ova in da cottage. c u 2morrow 🙂 🙂 :).

I smile. Ever since I taught her how to send messages from her phone, Gogo has been trying to act all cool, using SMS language with lots of smiley faces. I hate it when she has to work late but I’m relieved she’s not home to greet me on a night like this.

I pull on a T-shirt and collapse into bed. Not for the first time, I wonder if the ability I have to see ghosts and get rid of them is a gift or a curse. Umkhulu, the spirit that guides me, revealed that I was born with an idlozi spirit attached to me. I see things in my dreams and I can see ghosts too. Most of them are OK but some… yeah, some I have to get rid of. I have been seeing them and fighting the bad ones for as long as I can remember. It’s scary as hell and you never get used to it.

I’ve been a freak for as long as I can remember too. It’s like the other kids at school can smell that I’m different somehow. I try to talk to the other girls at break or smile at them during class but they mostly just roll their eyes and whisper quickly to each other while they walk away from me.

I fall asleep thinking, Yeah right, like I need friends: I kill dead things that won’t stay dead. I can handle spending break alone.

The next day, I walk past the spaza on the way to school. Ma Thlolo is outside, sweeping the front of the store. She sings as she works and when she sees me, she calls out to me, “Lindiwe, my child! My prayers have been answered.”

“What happened, Ma Thlolo?”

“The evil in this shop is gone. I told you about it, and you said you would pray for me. Someone must have been listening to your prayers Lindi, because the spirit is gone – the very next day!”

“Oh Ma! That’s wonderful news but how can you be sure that you are safe now?”

She shakes her head and laughs, “Some things you just can’t explain. I know I’m safe now. Somebody saved me and my business,”

I laugh too and wave goodbye. Ma Thlolo looks happier than I have seen her in weeks and I know it’s because of what I did for her. As I walk to school, I hope that I will stop seeing these ghosts for a while. It would be nice to have a break from being a freak. Maybe I can try to make friends again if I could just be normal for a few months.

Once I get to school, it’s another boring day. At break, I sit in the sun at the end of the dusty soccer field, pulling at clumps of dry grass just for something to do. And then I hear the beep-beep of a new message. No-one besides Gogo ever messages me and she is at work, probably still cleaning up after the party at the McGregor’s house.

I pull my phone out of my inside blazer pocket and see ‘1 new message’. When I read the words on my screen, I almost drop the phone.

It says:

i kno ur scrt, i kno abt da ghosts.


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