Dedicated to: my parents and my grandpa
There once was an eight-year-old girl named Angela Arquette, Jr., who lived in a medium-sized yellow house in the medium-sized town of Neila, Utah with her pet turtle Surly and her mother, Angela “Blaze” Sr., an elementary school cafeteria lady.
AJ, as she liked to be called, was a cute but naive girl who liked to paint and suffered from clumsiness and scatterbrains. She was 42% brave but not that smart, and oftentimes she crashed into walls. AJ had her mother’s jade green eyes and pale skin, and her dad’s freckles and black hair, which she wore over her eyes. Her signature outfit was a pink bear hoodie with purple polka-dots and broken ears on top; a blue jean skirt with pink/white-striped stockings underneath; one blue boot, one brown; and a necklace with a broken whistle on it, which her father gave her before he’d died in a car crash when she was four years old.
One day, AJ was out playing hopscotch when she was suddenly approached by an orange-eyed ghost.
“Hello, AJ,” said the ghost.
“Sacre violet!” AJ gasped, jumping and stepping back from the specter. “‘Oo are you? And 'ow do you know my name?”
“Oh, I know more than that, cher,” the ghost said with a hearty chuckle. “Like, for example, I know that this morning you asked your mother what the hangy-downy thing at the back of the throat was.”
AJ shuffled her feet uncomfortably. “Yeah, she wouldn’t tell me, though…”
“Well, I can help you find the answer you seek, cher. All you have to do is–”
But AJ’s eyes had grown glassy, and it was apparent from what she said next that she’d completely lost interest. “Can I call you 'Daisy’? You look like a 'Daisy’.”
“What!?” the ghost sputtered, taken completely off-guard. “'No! I’m a guy, and besides that’s completely–”
“I know someone from school named Daisy,” AJ said, not noticing the ghost’s upsetness. “She goes by Flower, zough, and she’s pretty good at ze cello.”
“Daisy” was completely flustered by this point. “For the love of Pete, girl, could we please just focus on–”
But AJ had already lost her full attention span and gone back to playing hopscotch, humming “Need Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane.
Daisy sighed. “Now I know how the Boogeyman feels…”
After roughly half an hour of redirecting, Daisy eventually managed to convince AJ to stick a popsicle stick down her mom’s throat to find out what the hangy-downy thing at the back of the throat was.
AJ was all tucked in bed in her pink turtle pajamas. Once she was certain her mother was fast asleep, she snuck down to the TV room where, sure enough, Blaze was conked out on the couch with “High School Dropout Quiz War” playing on the tube in front of her.
Trembling, AJ slowly moved her Popsicle stick toward her mother’s mouth; when she was just four inches away, however, she broke down and burst into tears, unable to continue.
Daisy materialized in front of AJ in a huff.
“Good gravy, girl!” he exclaimed, exasperated. “Even Jason the Werewolf has more brains and guts than you!”
“'Oo-'Oo-'Ooo’s – hick – z-z-zat?” AJ choked out in between sobs.
“Oh, c'mon!” Daisy said, his patience wearing thin. “Surely you must’ve heard about werewolves at school!”
“My name’s – hick – AJ, not – hick – Shirley.”
Daisy let out a howl of rage that opened the windows to a cold, breezy winter’s night, his orange eyes flashing dangerously.
“THAT’S IT!” the ghost roared. “THAT’S THE LAST FREAKIN’ STRAW, LI'L GIRL! I’M TAKING YOU TO WHERE THE SUN DON’T SHINE!”
“Seattle?” AJ hiccuped.
“SHUT UP, YOU MESSY-HAIRED LITTLE BOOGER!” Daisy yelled.
With a single swipe, the specter cut AJ’s leg, making her cry out. Then, Daisy picked AJ up in his ghostly-white fist and raised her to his wide, slime-smelling mouth.
“Goodbye, Angela Arquette, Jr.!”
Just as Daisy was about to barf ectoplasm all over AJ, however, Surly shell-spun into the room and threw a bucket of oranges at the ghost (oranges were his weakness, hence his color). Daisy howled in agony and dropped AJ, who picked up her turtle and ran into the bathroom and locked the door, screaming at the top of her lungs.
This proved futile, of course, as Daisy just phased right through the door.
“You idiots! Why the dickens would you think a locked door could stop a ghost!? Wrack your freakin’ brains, if you even have any!”
AJ and Surly screamed, as the silly girl ran into the storage closet behind the TV room. Blaze stirred slightly.
“No, not zat one, Ollie, ze blue eez my favorite…” she moaned.
Eventually, Daisy had cornered AJ and Surly into a wall of crates filled with food storage, stuffed animals, quilts, and other keepsakes.
“You have irked me for the last time, AJ,” the ghost growled. “Now it is time for you to die.”
“OK, but could I – hick – at least keess a – hick – boy first?” AJ requested.
“Oh, for the love of Pete and holy, SHUT UP!” yelled Daisy.
The ghostly prankster sliced at the air with his ghost hands and accidentally cut a crate of oranges open, spraying himself with their juice.
“AAAHHHHH!!! MOMMY!” he screamed as he melted into a pool of ghostly ectoplasm.
The screams woke up AJ’s mother, who, seeing the ecto-mess, took her to bed as fast as she could.
The next morning…
AJ woke up from a weird dream and groggily sauntered into the kitchen where her mom - still in her white tank top and blue boyshorts - was eating waffles.
“Bon matin, AJ,” said the latter. (Trans.: “Good morning.”)
Blaze was a tall Frenchwoman with pale skin, green eyes, strawberry-blonde hair that fell to her waist when it wasn’t tied up in a bun, and a dragon tattoo on her right hand.
AJ, still half-asleep, muttered, “Mmm, matin, Mommy.”
AJ went to the cupboard by the fridge to pour herself some cereal, and as she did so Blaze looked up and noticed a gaping hole in her (AJ’s) pajama bottoms that exposed her teal, fish-patterned undies.
“Angela Kallie Arquette, Jr.!!” Blaze gasped, shocked and beside herself with parental outrage.
AJ flinched and nearly dropped her Frosted Fork Bites.
“Oui, Mommy?” she squeaked meekly.
“YOU ARE A LADY!” Blaze thundered. “WHY ARE YOU EXPOSING YOUR UNDERPANTS TO ALL!?”
The younger Angel felt the bottom of her pajama pants and turned a bright shade of magenta to match her PJs. She poured her cereal as quickly as she could and sat down at the table so no one could see her undies.
Blaze, hysterical, began to sob: “ZEES EEZ ALL MY FAULT! I AM A FAILURE AS A MERE! MY DAUGHTER 'AS YET TO CLIMB ZE LADDER OF LADY’OOD ZANKS TO ME! ZAT’S EET! AJ, GET READY BY 10:30! WE’RE GOING SHOPPING!”
Blaze got up and stormed out of the kitchen, revealing the hole in the back of her tank-top that exposed a hideous pimple on her back.
AJ started eating, her face still beet-red, not noticing the orange-eyed ghost snickering in the window behind her.
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