Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Genre: Middle Grade Adventure/Mystery
Title: Sons of the Sphinx
I don’t see dead people. I hear them. I talk to them. Boy, you should try that. Talk about people looking at you like you’re a freak. That will do it.
It would be one thing if I talked to famous dead people. You know like that Elvis guy my mother still drools over? I mean really? Like the guy would be seventy-something today! Anyway, if I talked to him, I could give my mom a personal message like “Sorry we never got to hook up.” That would be worth a few extra bucks, don’t you think?
No, the dead people who talk to me are just dead nobodies. Nothing exciting to say. Nothing going down. They’re just hanging out, waiting for I don’t know, to be more dead, I guess. Or, to see how much trouble they can get me in.
Take today in math class. We are taking this test, see. I’m concentrating real hard on this problem trying to figure height or something. Then I hear this.
I jerked up in my chair, looking around for the guy doing the talking. I glanced at the kids on either side of me. Nothing. I look up at my teacher. He is glaring at me.
“Great,” I whispered. “He probably thinks I’m trying to cheat.” I bowed my head and focused on the problem again.
“You, I’m talking to you.”
I shake my head in hopes of tossing the voice out. I know now. Some dumb dead guy is trying to talk to me while I take this test.
Inside my head I say, “Would you be quiet? I’m trying to take a math test.”
“Oh sure, that’s okay for you to say. I’ll never take another test again.” His voice broke up, kind of like bad radio reception.
“Not my problem.” I formed the words in my head.
“I died too soon, I really did.”
“Look,” I told him, still in my head. “I haven’t talked to a dead person yet who didn’t say that. Kind of goes with the dead part. Now leave me alone. You’re going to make me fail this test.”
I heard him snort, like he had to blow his nose, if dead guys really do that. Then came the kicker.
“I just want another chance. I promise I’ll do better.”
“I’m going to say this one more time. Not my problem. Now leave me alone.” I formed three exclamation points in the head just so he would get the picture.
“But it isn’t fair,” he whined. “It just isn’t fair.”
Okay. I’m fed up with this guy. I can’t even remember the formula for whatever I’m trying to find. OMG. I am definitely going to fail math if this guy keeps on yapping.
Out loud I say, “Bud, I don’t give a damn if it isn’t fair. Just shut the hell up so I can get this test done!”
Did you get the part where I said “out loud”? Yep, that earned me an F on the test AND a trip to the AP’s (that’s assistant principal’s) office. I couldn’t even defend myself there. What was I going to say? “Excuse me, I’m sorry I blurted out loud in class in the middle of a test, and I’m sorry for cussing, but you see, this dead guy wouldn’t shut up.” Yeah, that would have gone over well. Nope, I just had to sit meekly back and say politely, “It won’t happen again. Had to be the stress over the test.” You get the picture.
Then I had to face my peers, as they are called, the rest of the day. I just shrugged and mumbled something like “Idiot dead people.” The kids will avoid me for next few days. I think they’re afraid whatever I have will rub off on them, or that I’ll go bananas or something. Understandable.
It would be nice to say that my great, great, great grandmother talked to dead people, and I inherited her gift, but I can’t say that. Nope. As far as I know, I’m the only one in my family with this curse. No, it’s not a gift. It is definitely a curse.
And when my parents get home and I tell them what happened...Well I may be the one shouting “It’s not fair!”
So now I sit here in my bedroom trying to work on a history project. You know, the kind where the teacher puts you in a group and then no one in the group does anything. Yep, that’s my luck. The project is due the day after tomorrow, and no one except me has done anything.
I’m thinking about what happened today, and what’s going to happen if this project isn’t done. I’m having a super hard time of focusing, and my eyes wander around my room.
Without thinking, I blurt out, “It’s Rose, not Roose,” I screamed. “And I told you to get lost. Now.” I jump to the door and slam it shut. Do the dead have no respect?
And just who is this guy? It’s not the same voice. That’s nice. Now I have an army of dead people invading my brain. Too bad they can’t do this project for me.
Who is this idiot?
“Listen. This is my room, my space. These are my things, and I refuse to share them with dead people!”
“This is my bookshelf, with my favorite books on it. See, my marked up copy of The Once and Future King. I read that last year in seventh grade English and loved it. I can learn all that neat stuff from the animals, only I don’t know a wizard like Merlin who would turn me into different animals. I just know dead people, and you can’t learn anything from them.”
I’m really steamed now.
“These are my favorite horse books The Black Stallion series my grandma left me. My National Geographics, a gift from my uncle. All arranged on the bookshelves next to my desk.”
I think I’m going nuts. Who rants and raves at a dead person? I wish I could just become someone else like I do when I read. For weeks after reading The Black Stallion, I was that boy Alec except my name was Alexandria. Every day I fed, watered, brushed, and exercised The Black; he was my horse. The people in my books always have a better life than mine. Alexandria with my own stallion; Wart whom Merlin teaches by turning me into different animals. Beats sitting at a school desk nine months of the year.
Will this guy never give up? Stubbornly I continue.
“Here, above my desk, held by a blue (my favorite color, by the way) push pin is my ticket stub from the King Tut exhibit. My mom took me last fall when the exhibit toured the US. Magnificent. All mine.”
I continue to ignore him.
“King Tut ruled all of Egypt at the age of nine over 2500 years ago. It wasn’t until 1922 that his hidden burial site was discovered by that man Carter.
“Next to the Tut exhibit ticket is my picture of Ankhesenamun and Tut. You know the one. They are pictured on the back of the Golden Throne. He is sitting in the throne; she is standing facing him, her arm outstretched touching him. I’m not a romantic, well, maybe I am. The point is, when I look at that picture, I can feel the love they have for each other.”