Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Oct 19, 2018

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2018 #12


The sweet mystery of first love while you're on the precipice of your teenage years and adulthood leaves a lasting impression on your memory no matter how long the passage of time may be.
That memory for me was Francesca Rose. We were all of thirteen years of age and much much too young to know anything about anything. During a school assembly we were sitting on opposite ends of the courtyard but somehow we managed to lock eyes from a distance and never broke our gaze. Once the assembly concluded we found one another through a mob of our classmates who gossiped and giggled excitedly. There were no formal introductions, we simply began speaking as if we'd been companions forever. I knew her name because it was written in blue ballpoint ink on her composition book. I thought it was only fair to show her my Mead Color Talk-Pee Chee Folder where my name was scribbled more than written.

"Roland Santos?" She asked and my reply was to nod and smile. "It's such an adult name; sort of like you have to grow into it, you know?"

"I can see that," I fully agreed not knowing what she was talking about. Not also realizing that the entire school had already filled up the lunch line in the cafeteria, and not really caring, we continued our conversation about everything and nothing. We finally stopped long enough to grab our lunch plates but there was nothing left. Luckily the lunch trucks outside the school were still there. A few minutes later, we sat on the steps of the old wood shop eating our manapua, fried noodles, and drinking our coca-cola. The bell finally rang for the last class of the day and we said our good-byes. An hour later, I was walking past the gas station just outside the north end of our school which also doubled as a 7-11. Francesca came walking out with a paper bag in both hands, she skipped up to me and gave me one of the bags.

"I figured you'd come walking by so I got you something," she smiled so beautifully that I couldn't help but return a smile back. "Coke, a bag of Fritos and lifesavers candy," she pointed. We ended up sitting on a bench behind the gas station where we enjoyed our snacks and talked about school, and home life and the things we did aside from that. When the drinks and the chips were done, she unwrapped her lifesavers candy and removed a red one and a purple one. "These are our commitment rings okay?"

"Okay," I nodded still as clueless as ever but glad at the same time to be in her light.

"We'll put it on each other's fingers at the same time and then you repeat after me," she instructed me as if she were a teacher herself and all I could do was follow. Her red lifesaver was on my left pointer finger as was my purple one on hers. "I commit myself to you, now and forever."

I repeated it back to her and then she placed her hand on the back of my head and pulled me toward her. It was my first of many awkward kisses but Francesca and I continued to be whatever it was that we were supposed to be even though we never officially titled one another as boyfriend and girlfriend. We were just Francesca and Roland.


It's nearly forty years since she and I graduated high school and swore to never be apart even as we left to attend college on two different ends of the continent. We were lucky to be mature enough in high school to realize that we didn't want to get pregnant and so we were safe. We also didn't get caught up in the romance of marriage because we had both set goals for life after graduation. It was the same thing with being separated during college. Every chance we had during a vacation or holiday we would take a flight to see one another. The love itself was never gone, it matured, and it grew.

Her junior year in college she and a bunch of her friends were on a weekend drive through San Luis Opisbo. A drunk driver who had already exceeded the speed limit crossed the medium and ran head-on into the car that Francesca was in. No one survived.


 I'm a counselor at a west Oahu middle school and I deal with all kinds of kids going through all kinds of things. Today at the lunchtime assembly they were giving out spirit awards and there was one being given out for kindness. When the principal got up to announce the name of the recipient she called out, "Francesca Rose."

I froze in my tracks and I'm quite certain that my mouth was open wide. The girl who walked on stage could have been the twin of my Francesca from high school. As her hands reached out to receive her plaque, there on her left pointer finger was a purple lifesaver. Of course, I couldn't afford to freak out and scare this girl with the story of my Francesca but the coincidences were too great. Of all the folders that are out there today, she also had the mead color talk pee chee folder too. I checked her records and her parents didn't share the same name as my Francesca so what was all this about? It turns out that the father of this girl had a sister who was supposed to have been in that car on the day that Francesca was killed. Francesca told this man's sister on the morning before the accident happened that she had a dream that they were all going to be killed in a wreck and so she made her stay back and as it turned out, Francesca's dream saved her life. It was a bit late in their lives to have had a child but to honor the girl who saved his sister's life, he named his daughter Francesca.

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