“BFF Nana” – A short story for primary school children
This story is based around an encounter with a girl in my class who had been scared by what she thought was her grandmother’s ghost. Some of what you read really did happen but much is pure fiction.
Do you believe in ghosts? Are you afraid of ghosts? I’m not as much now. This is what happened. I swear it really did happen. Well, most of it did but I’m not going to tell you all my secrets.
My name is Alice. I’m not the one that follows rabbits so this isn’t a story about that.
I have two brothers and no sisters. I wanted a sister but my parents kept saying they couldn’t afford another child. I really didn’t think they bought us but we must have been expensive or at least I was but I bet they got my brothers on special. You know, two for the price of one. They’re twins.
In my house there was my mum but the only other girl in the house was my Nana. We were best friends and I would tell Nana all my secrets because she was good at keeping them. She would hug me and say she loved me when I was upset and would brush my hair each day.
Yes, she loved my brothers too and they loved her but Nana and I had secrets, girl secrets the boys didn’t know. I even told her about a boy I liked at school and my teacher who makes everyone laugh even when we have hard work to do. It makes the work easier.
On school days, it was Nana who took us to school because our parents had to leave early for work. We would walk together. I’d hold Nana’s hand and we’d talk as we walked but my brothers liked to run a bit ahead. That meant Nana would sometimes have to stop talking to call them to wait.
When we arrived at school, Nana would kiss us all goodbye. The boys said they didn’t always like it if their friends were watching but I know they really liked it as much as me.
This was our normal sort of day. She would walk us to school and be there for us when school ended. She would help make us meals and make sure we had baths by the time our parents got home from work.
On weekends, Nana would take us to the park sometimes or go with us when we had sport. That would be great because our parents usually came too unless they had work to do.
It was Nana that always took me to dance class after school on Fridays while the boys were at soccer practise. As we walked she would tell me about when she was a girl. She said that was a long, long time ago before there were dinosaurs. I think she was joking about dinosaurs.
Just like me, Nana had gone to dance class to do ballet and jazz. She said that’s why was good at dancing. She even bought me my first ballet slippers. They were so cool and pink.
See what I mean? Nana and I were best friends forever, BFF. She used to tell me I was her favourite granddaughter. It wasn’t because I was her only granddaughter. I think I would have been her favourite if she had a million granddaughters. When I told her that she use to laugh. I loved her laugh. It made me giggle.
I always thought this would go on forever but one day after school Nana wasn’t there. It was Mrs Smith from next door. She said our parents had asked her to bring us home. She wouldn’t tell us why as we walked. It made me scared. Nana never missed meeting us.
When we got home, Nana wasn’t in the house. Mrs Smith told us our parents would be there to pick us up soon. She made us some sandwiches and something to drink while we waited but still wouldn’t tell us anything.
“It’s okay, dears,” she said. “Your parents will tell you everything when they get here.”
When our parents came they told us Nana became sick at her bingo. She had been taken to the hospital. We had to go and visit her because she wanted to see us. I wanted to see her.
We changed out of our school uniforms and got in the car as I asked, “Is she okay?”
“The doctors are very good and are helping Nana but she may have to stay there a while,” dad explained to us.
I started to cry, “Will Nana be able to take me to dance on Friday?”
My mother smiled but I could see she had been crying too, “Not this time, Alice. Don’t worry, Mrs Smith will take you there. You know your Nana wouldn’t want you to miss dance class.”
When we arrived at the hospital, mum and dad took us to her room. She was lying in bed and had a tube thing on her nose. Mum said it was to help her breathe. She smiled at us as we came in.
I ran up to her to give her a hug but mum told me to be gentle. I sat up on her bed and leaned over to give her a hug but I could feel she had some things on her chest. My parents said it was to test Nana’s heart.
“How’s my favourite granddaughter?” she whispered.
I lay my head at Nana’s side. She hugged my brothers as best she could. Mum and dad gave her a kiss and sat on chairs near the bed. While my parents talked to my Nana, she was gently stroking my hair. It felt good.
When a nurse came in to say it was time to go, I didn’t want to leave.
I started to cry but Nana whispered in my ear, “My beautiful ballerina. We’re best friends. No matter where I am I’ll always love you and try to help you.”
Nana kissed me and we said goodbye to her. We all said we’d be back to see her again the next day.
On the way home no one talked very much. We were all sad Nana wasn’t with us but I knew we would see her again tomorrow when she was well.
After dinner and baths, my brothers and I went to bed. I fell asleep quickly I think but I can’t remember if I did. I was tired.
The phone rang and woke me. It was dark so I thought I hadn’t been asleep long. I could hear my dad talking but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I fell back asleep again I think because I looked around and it was now light outside the window.
I got up to go to the bathroom and get changed for school but mum came in and said we didn’t have to go to school.
“Are we going to see Nana instead?” I asked.
“Go downstairs to dad. I’ll get your brothers to come down too.”
I was excited because we were going to see Nana this morning instead of going to school. Nana is better than school even if your teacher makes you laugh.
When everyone was together, my mum and dad said they had something to tell us. I was scared again because I could see my parents were upset about something.
Mum started, “You know Nana was very sick when you saw her last night?”
We said we knew.
Dad continued, “We lost Nana last night.”
Mum started to cry so I asked, “Are we going to look for her? Is that why we’re not going to school?”
Dad smiled at me but I could see he wanted to cry too, “No, Alice. It’s not that kind of lost. Nana has gone to heaven.”
I didn’t know any better then so I asked, “Can I go with her? She’s my best friend.”
Mum hugged me and stroked my hair like Nana did, “She couldn’t take you with her this time, Alice.”
“When will she be coming back?” I asked.
I was only six when this happened. Now I’m seven I’m much more grown up so I know better. But I wasn’t old enough then. My brothers were twins and only five then so they didn’t know either. They still don’t because they’re only six.
My father smiled at me, “She’s gone to heaven to be with God.”
I’d learned about God in scripture classes so I knew He knew about everyone, “Was God lonely and wanted a Nana too?”
My parents told me there is a time when we all go to heaven. Only God knows when and whether we’d been good. It was Nana’s turn.
“Nana is very good,” I said. “She can keep God company but can she see us too?”
My mum smiled at me again, “If there is a way, Nana will try to check on you. You may not see her but she loves you.”
I was a bit happier then. I remembered Nana told me I was her beautiful ballerina and best friend. She told me she would always love me no matter where she was. She said she would try to help me when I needed it.
For the next few days we didn’t have to go to school. Mum and dad were with us most of the time except when Mrs Smith came in to look after us when our parents had to go to something for adults.
On Friday, we were able to go back to school. Mum and dad had made us breakfast and mum had brushed my hair. Nana always did it better but I didn’t tell mum that.
Mrs Smith came to our door. She would be taking us to school each day. I liked Mrs Smith because she was nice but she wasn’t Nana. She had to call the boys to wait when they got too far ahead. We talked and she held my hand but it wasn’t the same. I missed Nana.
When I got to school, a boy came up to me. He smiled at me. I smiled back.
“I heard your grandma died.”
“My Nana went to heaven,” I said.
“She’s a ghost now. Did you know that?”
I think he was trying to be mean, “No she isn’t! My Nana is good. She’s an angel.”
The boy ran off laughing. I didn’t like him. I went over and sat on a seat under a tree. Some of my friends came over to me.
“I’m sorry about your Nana,” they said. “We all liked her. She was nice.”
I told them what the boy had said. They thought he was just being mean. He wouldn’t like it if his Nana had died. They put their arms around me.
When the bell rang, we all went into class. My teacher smiled at me and told me how very lucky I was to have had such a nice Nana. He said he liked her. She made him smile whenever they had talked. He said I could come and talk to him whenever I needed. It made me feel a bit happier.
By the end of the day I was feeling better. I was happy again and it was Friday. Dance classes were today.
When the bell rang I ran out to meet my Nana. When I got to the gate, Mrs Smith was there. I forgot Nana wouldn’t be. I cried again so Mrs Smith gave me a hug.
“It’s all right dear. I’m here to drop the boys off at soccer and take you to dancing.”
When I got to dance, I didn’t really feel like doing it without Nana but I danced anyway. It wasn’t the same anymore.
After dance class, we met the boys and went home. Mum was there and had made meals. Mum and dad had been able to change their work hours so one of them would be home each day when we got back from school. They missed Nana too. She had always been there to help.
After dinner, my brothers and I took turns at having baths. When it was time to go to bed, I kissed mum and dad goodnight. Nana use to tuck me but this time dad did it. I liked him tucking me in and kissing me goodnight but it wasn’t the same as Nana.
Why don’t you remember falling asleep? Anyway I did somehow even though I had been crying.
“Nana! Nana!” I screamed as I sat up in bed.
My parents came running in to me. I was crying and scared and shaking.
Dad picked me up and held me, “It’s all right sweetheart. We’re here.”
I kept crying. Mum stroked my hair while I cried. It wasn’t the same as Nana. I must have fallen asleep again because it was day when I woke up.
My dad walked in, “Are you okay, sweetheart?”
I said I was okay. I didn’t remember what had happened the night before. I didn’t remember for a long time but I can remember to tell you the story now.
It was Saturday so we didn’t have school. My parents said they were taking us to the park for the day. We were excited they could both take us. We had fun. I didn’t know why but they kept asking if I was okay. I kept telling them I missed Nana but I was okay.
That night after dinner and baths it was time to go to bed again.
“Nana! Nana!” I screamed as I woke up shaking.
Again my parents rushed in.
Dad kept telling me it was okay. He said I was just having a bad dream that scared me.
I remember now it happened again on Sunday night and Monday night. Each night mum and dad would tell me it was okay. I’d just had a big scare and that’s what made me do it. The next morning I never remembered what had happened in the night.
On Tuesday, Mrs Smith took the boys to school but mum said I didn’t have to go. She wanted to take me to a doctor for a check-up. I said I wasn’t sick but she said she just wanted to make sure.
A nurse took me to a room where I could play with some toys while mum had a talk to the doctor. A little later mum came and took me in to see the doctor. She seemed nice. She had a big smile.
“Hello, Alice. I’m Doctor…” oh well, I can’t remember her name so I’ll call her Doctor.
Doctor spoke nicely to me as she checked me over. She asked me if I was sleeping well and she asked me about my Nana. I told her I slept okay but I missed my Nana.
I couldn’t remember what happened at night back then.
Doctor asked if it was okay for her to take some samples for tests. I said okay but I wouldn’t have if I knew they wanted to use a needle. They said I was so brave so I tried to be.
They even asked me to do… that was embarrassing. Why would they want that in a small jar? Doctors can be weird sometimes but mum said it was okay. At least it was better than the needle.
When it was all over, Doctor gave me a lolly for being brave. If I had known I would get a lolly, I would have been super brave so I might have been given two.
Mum and I spent the rest of the day together. We went shopping and had lunch in a café. Mum even bought me a chocolate milkshake, my favourite.
We were back home in time so we would be there when my brothers arrived. They said it was unfair I had the day off when they went to school but when I told them about the needle, they said school was better. I didn’t tell them about the milkshake.
That night it happened again, “Nana! Nana!”
I knew my parents were worried because I could hear them talking about something but they always stopped when I came in. I thought at the time my brothers had got up to mischief and they didn’t want me to know.
Wednesday and Thursday nights the same thing happened, “Nana! Nana!”
Each morning I didn’t remember anything but I was feeling more and more tired each day. I couldn’t remember why.
I did remember it was Friday. I didn’t want to go to dancing class after school without my Nana. It wasn’t the same. Mrs Smith was nice but she wasn’t Nana.
I wrapped my ballet slippers in paper and, when my parents weren’t watching, put them in the big bin outside. If my ballet slippers were lost, I couldn’t go to dance.
When I got to school on Friday I was very tired. I was doing my lessons as best I could but I kept nearly falling asleep. My friends later told me I had fallen asleep just before Recess and my teacher had explained I was having trouble sleeping after my Nana died. He said everyone should go to Recess quietly and let me sleep.
My teacher stayed in the room with me and let my two best friends stay in to help watch me. I was told even the boy who had teased me about Nana that day was sorry for me. Anyway, it happened at school.
“Nana! Nana!” I screamed as I woke up shaking.
It happened in class. I mean, in class. I had woken up screaming.
My teacher ran up to me. He was saying it was okay. He and my friends were there. I couldn’t stop crying and shaking.
I looked around the room and saw only my teacher and two best friends. My friends looked very scared. They were holding my hands and saying it was okay, they were there.
One of my friends ran to the office to tell the school secretary what had happened. When she returned she said my parents were on the way.
I did remember this time. It was daytime. I wouldn’t be going back to sleep. It had happened in class and now I was crying but this time I could remember why.
My teacher said my friends would never tell anyone at school what had happened. He said he would never tell the class so what had happened would be our secret.
“Will my parents know?” I asked as I sobbed.
My teacher smiled as he sat with my friends and me, “Of course, Alice. We don’t keep secrets from parents. They love you the most and should know. They’ll be here for you as soon as they can.”
“I know what happened,” I started. “I know what made me scream and I can remember it’s happened before. I saw a ghost. I think it was my Nana. I got really scared. It made me wake up and scream.”
My teacher looked worried as he asked, “Did you love your Nana?”
“Oh, yes,” I sobbed. “She was my best friend in the whole world and she said I was her favourite granddaughter. We had secrets we shared. We both loved dancing classes and she use to brush my hair better than anyone else.”
My teacher now smiled, “So she loved you very much too?”
I had stopped crying, “Yes. I know she loved me very much.”
“Then if you think you saw her ghost at night, why were you scared?” he asked.
“A boy told me my Nana was a ghost and ghosts are scary.”
“Alice,” my teacher was smiling still, “If you loved your Nana and she loved you she wouldn’t try to scare you. No one who loves you would want you to be upset. If you saw her ghost in a dream, maybe she is just checking to make sure you’re okay.”
I remembered exactly what Nana had said when we went to the hospital, “My beautiful ballerina. We’re best friends. No matter where I am I’ll always love you and try to help you.”
I told the teacher what she had said.
“You see, Alice. Maybe your Nana has found a way of checking up on you in your dreams. Who knows? Don’t be scared. You’re remembering all of the nice things about her. My Nana had also died when I was about your age. I still think I see her in my dreams sometimes. It makes me wake up happy.”
It was then my parents arrived. They looked very worried as they came in to the room. They took me home early and even collected my brothers.
On the way home, I told them I remembered what had been happening at night and how scared I had been. I told them what the teacher had said. It made them happy. They thought my teacher was very smart. I did too.
I think the reason I didn’t remember what had happened each night when I was so scared was Nana came to me in my dreams to help me get back to sleep. She wasn’t scaring me, she was helping me when I was scared and dreaming of ghosts like the boy had said.
When we arrived home, we had something to eat. We sat and talked about all the good times with Nana and the way her laugh use to make me giggle.
Mum went upstairs for something. I don’t know what as the rest of us were laughing about the funny things Nana use to do.
When she came down, she said, “I see you still want to go to dancing this afternoon. You left your ballet slippers on your bed.”
“Uh oh,” I thought. “Didn’t I put my ballet slippers in the bin?”
My mother continued, “… and I see you’ve learned how to tie the laces just like Nana use to. Did she teach you?”
I rushed upstairs and there they were on my bed. The laces were tied in a way only Nana use to do. Mum might have found them and brought them up but she didn’t know how to tie the laces like Nana.
It was then I thought I heard a soft whisper, “My beautiful ballerina.”
It sounded like my Nana but I was awake. I wasn’t sure.
I never woke up screaming for my Nana at night again. Sometimes I would come down to breakfast and tell them I dreamt of her. We were sharing secrets and having fun together just like before. Sometimes I could swear she had been brushing my hair as I slept.
I don’t know whether I believe in ghosts but I do believe my Nana still loves me and makes me feel good. Every time I go to dancing lessons I think I hear her voice but I’m not sure.
“My beautiful ballerina,” just a whisper in my ear.
I whisper back, “I love you BFF Nana.”