I am ignoring this inconsistency and writing the story anyway. I will assume that the reason for the odd memory versus logic problem is that at some point, I ended up in a parallel universe that is ALMOST the same as the one I grew up in, and I have memories from both realities. My perfect memory cannot be questioned, and the events that morning are not a combination of more than one Christmas morning.
“Leuxra… Leauxra! Wake up!” my brother’s voice hissed at me as he shook me
“What is it-“ I started to say, but he clapped his hand over my mouth. “SHHHH!” he said, louder than anything I was saying. He leaned close. “It’s Christmas!” he whispered.
I felt my eyes widen, and I looked around, shoving his hand off my face. It was still dark.
“What time is it?” I whispered.
I thought about laying back down. We were going to get in trouble, and I was tired.
“Come ON, Leauxra,” he said, “It’s time to bust some ghosts!” He stood in a superhero pose, and I could see by the nightlight that he was wearing his Ghostbusters T-shirt. It was white with a red collar and red sleeves that went almost to the elbows. It had the ghost symbol with the red line through it, like the movie.
Older-Brother hardly ever wanted to do anything with me anymore. He was a teenager, and younger sisters are remarkably uncool. I kicked off my blankets and swung my feet over the side.
“Come on!” he whispered, “You’ll miss it.”
“Just come on!”
I followed him out of the room, tip-toeing through the hallway past my parent's room.
“Miss what?” I whispered again as we went down the stairs.
I was concentrating on navigating the stairs quietly, which was difficult. The stairs were steep, with old carpet on them and we had all fallen down them on multiple occasions so I almost missed what he said.
I took another step before I stopped dead.
“Come on!” he whispered, louder now that we were farther away from the parents’ room, “She walks right up the stairs. Come hide in my room!”
"Who?" I said in disbelief.
"Shh!" he said. I had spoken in a normal voice.
"Who goes up the stairs?" I whispered, starting to panic.
"I told you. The old lady ghost."
Older-Brother reached the bottom of the stairs and jogged back towards his room.
The basement was partially finished, but Dad had recently finished putting in walls and a ceiling and a carpet in the living room. I caught the glitter or the tree and wrapping paper out of the corner of my eye as I went towards Older-Brother's room, but I didn't stop to look. I was sure that a ghost was about jump out and grab me from the unfinished laundry room and what would eventually be a bathroom to my right.
The hallway to his room was still open cement, with a piece of carpeting at the bottom of the stairs that had a little metal edge on it to keep it from curling. Anyone who walked over it made a little clinking noise.
Older-Brother shut the door as soon as I entered, and then rushed across the floor to his alarm clock. He picked it up and showed it to me. "It's almost time." It was even earlier than I thought, 4:15.
I couldn't speak by now. I didn't want to see a ghost.
"She comes up by my door," I jumped away when he said this, "and then goes up the stairs. Sometimes, I can hear her walk all the way down the hall to your room, but she usually goes in Mom and Dad's room, in the closet."
I held my hand over my mouth to keep from wimpering.
"You're lying!" I whispered, "There's no such-"
"Shh!" he said, "I can hear her!"
I held my breath. I couldn't hear anything. I was about to say so when I heard the sound of the floorboards above our head creaking. The steps went from above our heads and away towards the kitchen, and then there were little creaks on the stairs. A moment later, I heard a little click, as if someone were walking on the carpet at the bottom.
Older-Brother and I stared at each other with wide eyes. The ghost!
"She came in my room one time," he whispered, "She was all pale, and see through, and her hair went up in every direction. Her eyes were like empty eye sockets, glowing blue..."
I tried to ignore him. Older-Brother had made up stories for years trying to scare me, and would usually end up scaring himself as well. To this day I am surprised he is not a horror novelist.
He moved towards the door, and shut off the light.
"What are you doing?" I whispered. My voice caught in my throat and the end of the sentence came out as a little squeak.
I could see him opening the door in the light of the alarm clock, as he stepped into the basement.
"Wait!" I whispered.
"Come ON!" he replied, "I want to see her!"
I kept close to him, wondering exactly how he was going to fight the ghost. He didn't have one of those power packs like in the movie. It wasn't like you could hit a ghost, or outrun a ghost. What was he thinking?
Just as we reached the bottom of the stairs, the light flicked on.
I dove into the laundry room as my father pounded down the stairs. Older-Brother seemed to simply vanish. I moved blindly to the back of the room, and eventually crouched underneath the stairs.
"What are you doing down here?" My father said. I looked around frantically, wondering how he could see me. He was using his Someone's-going-to-get-in-trouble voice.
"I was just looking!" I heard Younger-Sister say. She was in the living room, looking at the Christmas tree.
I covered my mouth to keep from breathing loudly. There was only a piece of cloth between the rooms.
I heard them make their way up the stairs, my sister whining while Dad walked her back to our room. Relief washed over me. He hadn't seen me! I felt almost giddy with relief. Something soft brushed my hand, and I realized I was crouched under the stairs with the spiders and ghosts, and I jumped out into the laundry room shaking my hands frantically and looked around.
It was dark and I was alone.
I made my way to the bottom of the stairs, and looked back towards Older-Brother's room. His pale face was peeking out from his door, and he shut it immediately when he saw me.
It took forever to make my way back to my room. I stepped slowly, trying to keep anything from creaking, and tried to avoid letting my clothes rub together.
I must have made some noise, though, or maybe he was just waiting.
"What do you think you are doing?" Dad said in a loud voice.
I screamed and fell to the ground, twisting my ankle a little bit.
He flicked on the light. He looked huge from where I sat on the ground.
"How did you find me?" I squeaked.
"Your bed was empty. Your sister was wandering around and I saw you were missing," he said. I was surprised he answered, and filed away his answer for future reference. Next time, I thought, make it look like I'm still in bed.
"I was just... Older-Brother said there were ghosts!" I stammered. "We heard it! We heard it at the stairs!"
Dad was sleep rumpled and did not look amused. "There is no such thing as ghosts," he said, "The house makes noises as it settles. I've told you that. You were looking at the presents," he said.
"NO!" I said, "The carpet made the noise! We were busting ghosts..."
"Get. In. Bed."
I scrambled into my bed, pulling up the covers.
"And stay there until morning, or there won't be a Christmas."
I nodded. "I'm sorry," I said.
He shook his head and flicked off the light, muttering to himself as he walked away.
I huddled under the blankets, only my face exposed, listening to the creaks in the hallway. It was probably the ghost. I pulled the blankets closer, hoping they would protect me, and drifted off into a dreamless sleep.