Written by Jamie Board
I stared into the freshly made hole in the moist ground where my grandfather now lays. I clutched the soil tight in my hand, not wanting to let go of the last connection I have with him. The casket was long with a beautiful shade of burgundy painted all over. Above his grave stood a stone that read “Victor Starling, 1925 – 2019”. A hand landed on my shoulder, startling me from my thoughts. I turned to see who it was and I was met with my bushy brow father.
“It’s time.” he whispered. He cleared his throat while straightening his tie, I could see he was fighting back tears. He was always good at hiding his emotions. “We’ll be waiting in the car.”
I nodded and he patted my back, leaving me with my final thoughts. Tears poured down my face as I slowly raised my arm above the grave, my hand shaking as I finally released the dirt. It splattered across the casket, sliding off the side and onto the bottom of the grave. I took one last look before I numbly rubbed the leftover dirt against my black dress. Looking around I saw I was the only one left aside from the workers. Everyone else was in their cars waiting to follow us to my parents’ house where the reception will be held. I hurried over towards our car.
As I hopped into the back, my mom turned around from her seat and uncovered her black veil that hung over her face. She took my hand, her red lips twitching to say something reassuring. Instead she smiled and patted my hand. I nodded at her and she gave me a quick squeeze, her lips began to quiver and she turned away, pulling the veil back over her face as she stared out the window. Dad started the car and I watched the cemetery grow smaller and smaller.
We pulled in front of my parents’ beautiful tall, blue and white house that I’ve always loved to gaze at when I was growing up. Small droplets of water began to tap on the car until it grew louder and we were then under a waterfall. My sister, Charolette, swung the front door wide open, signaling for us to hurry inside. My parents jumped out of the car and dived straight to the door while I slowly trailed behind them. I didn’t care if I get wet from the rain, it was the only thing that felt real for the time being. As soon as I walked inside, Charolette stood there with her hands firmly on her hips, scowling at my soaked clothing.
“You better go changed.” She snapped.
“What? You think I’m just going to stay in these?” I snapped back.
Her jaw was tight and my hands were balled into a fist. Ever since we were kids, my sister felt she had to be in charge just because she was older by two minutes. Staring at her was like staring into a mirror.
Her bottom lip started to twitch and went for a hug.
“I’m going to miss him!” She howled.
“Me too.” I mumbled as my face crashed into her silky black curls. We stood there for a moment until we remembered that I was still soaked from the rain. As we broke our hug, I immediately felt guilty because my sister’s clothes were damp from my own.
“I think I have to change too.” Charolette said with a giggle. We looked at our clothes and then the stairs. A grin crawled onto my face as our eyes met.
“Race you to the top?” I challenged.
“Eat my dust!” She countered.
We dashed for the stairs, shoving each other while we climbed them. By the time we reached the top, I was flat on the fuzzy blue carpet with my arm stretched out and Charolette sat on top of me, preventing me from going further while the top half of her body stretched farther than my arm.
“I win!” She cheered.
“It’s not my fault you weren’t quick enough.”
“Well I would have made it but your ass was too heavy.”
“Someone has to make up for what you lack.” She sneered.
Startled, Charolette leaped off of me and held her hands innocently behind her. Struggling to get up, I searched for the familiar voice. My eyes caught my mom’s stern face as she gripped the banister.
“Hi mom!” I offered, smiling weakly.
“Don’t ‘Hi mom’ me, show some respect for our guests and your grandfather! This is no time to be rough housing!” She hissed.
“Sorry mom.” Charolette and I said in unison.
She glanced at our clothes and her eyes widen. “And go get changed!”
“Yes mom.” Charolette and I took one look at each other and stuck out our tongues while walking towards our rooms.
I quietly shut my door and leaned against it, sighing. Looking around, I was surprised that everything was still the same as I had left it two years ago when I left for college. My room was covered posters of all the bands I enjoyed growing up. A nice shade of dark red, almost burgundy, peeked behind them. Trying to remember where my clothes were, I spotted my blue dresser that had stickers all over it and decided that must be where they are. Pulling the drawers and rummaging through them, I settled for a plain black t-shirt and a pair of black jeans.
Changing out of my cold, soaked clothes, my eyes locked onto a picture of my grandpa and I that sat on my bedside table. Hopping over as I slid my leg into my pants and buttoning it, I grabbed it and sat on my bed. The picture was taken on grandpa’s eighty-seventh birthday and I was seven years old. Grandpa didn’t have to try too hard to get me to smile for the camera, all he had to do was tickle me. I’m surprised I didn’t fall out of his lap but he held me just in time for the snap. The frame that held the picture was also made that day. Grandpa helped me put it together. It was made out of popsicle sticks and was covered in macaroni painted in gold.
Knock, knock. Startled I placed the picture back on the nightstand.
“Hey kiddo, it’s dad.”
“Hi dad!” I greeted as I opened the door.
“There’s someone here who would like to talk to you.”
“Oh?” I was surprised someone wanted to talk to me of all people.
“Yeah, he’s waiting downstairs for you right now.”
“Ok, thanks dad!” I almost closed the door but he caught it with his hand.
“Gretta?” Looking up, his eyes were full of sorrow, it was like looking at a kid who was just told his hamster died. But instead of a hamster, it was his own dad.
“I love you.”
“I love you too!” I said smiling.
“C’mere kiddo.” He said as he pulled me for a bear hug. I could feel him shaking as I held him. My dad didn’t normally show his emotions and if he ever felt overwhelmed, he would just leave the room.
He breaks the hug and wipes the tears from his eyes, bumping his glasses off the bridge of his nose.
“I needed that, thank you.” He said as he cleared his throat and straightened his tie.
“Anytime, dad.” I beamed.
“That’s my girl!” He said as he patted my head.
We went down the long white stairs and walked into the living room that was filled with mourning guests. Mom was sitting on the couch by the window with a man I hadn’t seen before. He must be a family friend of some sort.
Mom spotted us and waved us over.
“Gretta, this is Mr. Larson.” Turning towards him she continued, “Mr. Larson, this is my daughter, Gretta.”
“Hi.” I greeted quietly. The man stood up and extended his hand. In the light, I could see he was beginning to bald. His forehead shined like a polished bowling ball. He looked to be in his late thirties, early forties.
“I’m very pleased to meet you. I’m in charge of your grandfather’s will and I wanted to go over it with you and your family.”
My heart was pounding, echoing in my ears. I could feel the blood leaving my head. My grandpa’s will? Another thing that felt unreal yet it shook me to the core.
“Uh, I’m not sure if I’m ready for this.”
“I understand and I know it’s hard to accept. Many have said similar things. Unfortunately, It’s something I have to do, so shall we go somewhere quiet?” He questioned as he looked at my parents. Mom nodded.
“We can use my office.”
“Great!” Mr. Larson said, a little too cheerfully as he took a handkerchief out from his front suit pocket and blotted his sweaty forehead.
We walked in to my mom’s beautiful office. It was large and covered in books on one side of the room. A small desk filled with random things my mom was working on stood in the middle of the room. I dreamed since I was a little girl to have an office just like hers. I wanted my house to be filled with many books, maybe even more than she had.
Mr. Larson made his way to her desk, stuffing the handkerchief back into his pocket and dropped the fat folder onto the desk. While we sat down, he opened the yellow folder and took out a large tan envelope. Opening it up, he pulled a stack of papers that were individually paper clipped and handed them to us, one packet at a time. I took a look at it and gasped. The first page began with a letter from my grandpa. His handwriting was shaky but he could still write beautifully, each word was written gracefully.
“To my loving family,
If you are reading this, it means my time has been up and I’m no longer able to share this world with you.
I want to thank you all for all the wonderful memories each and every one of you has given me. I can honestly say that I was given a happy life.”
I paused for a moment as I catch the tears that escaped from my eyes before they could soil the paper. I could hear mom sniffling in the background. I looked up and watched as dad took her hand in his while Mr. Larson offered some tissues he found in her top drawer. She accepted it willingly and buried her head against dad’s chest. Taking a large gulp of air, I continued to read.
“I don’t plan on leaving you a sappy letter so let’s just get straight to the chase.
To my son and daughter-in-law, I leave you my money and all my things to do what you please.
To my sweet Charolette, I leave you my art supplies and my paintings because I know how much you loved them.
Last but not least, my dearest Gretta. I am giving you my home and my books. This house has been passed down through generations and now it is your turn. It has been filled with so many lovely memories for the both of us and I want this to be a special place for you to do what you wish. I also know how much you dreamed to have a much larger collection of books than your mother and I combined, so now you have a head start!
I love you all so very much,
I pulled the letter away from my face and sat there, staring at nothing. My body felt heavy and my breath felt slim. I couldn’t believe he was actually giving me his house! This was all too much for me.
“I’m going to go get some air.”
“Gretta?” Mom stared at me with her eyes full of worry as she watched me walk out of her office.
I closed the door quietly and as I head for the door, Charolette trotted over.
“Hey, what’s the hurry? Where’s mom and dad?”
“They’re in the office. You need to read this.” I shoved the paper in her hands and headed outside before she could ask more questions.
It had stopped raining and the air felt cool against my skin. I took a deep breath, feeling the fresh air fill my lungs and slowly let them out. I needed to get away from the house or I’ll go mad. I stuffed my hands into the front pockets of my jeans and began to walk, not caring where my legs take me.
The sun was beginning to set as I made my way back home. When I reached my parents’ house, I saw mom peaking her head through the curtains. Once she saw me her eyes lit up and disappeared from the window. The door suddenly flew open and mom ran out and hugged me.
“Where on earth were you?! I was worried sick!”
“Sorry mom, I needed some fresh air.” I said as I returned her hug. She took a step back and placed her hands on my face.
“Don’t take off like that again without at least letting us know where you’re going. This has been a hard day already, I don’t need more things to worry about.”
“Good girl! Now let’s get you inside.”
I woke up in the morning twisted in my blanket and halfway off the bed. I was surprised I didn’t fall off. Unraveling myself, I stepped on the cold hard wood floor. Today I was going to move into my new home. I emailed my professors letting them know I was going to be gone for a few days and that I would be stopping by for any homework that needed to be done while I pack up my things. They all told me to not worry about it and to take as much time necessary to heal. I felt grateful to have such amazing professors. I wasn’t planning on moving in so quickly but I also didn’t want to spend another day with my “let’s party all the time” roommate. My parents agreed it would be a good idea to have my own space to get myself together.
I took a long stretched and hopped off the bed. A nice hot shower would feel good right now and it’s exactly what I need to start the day. I dug through my dresser until I found what I wanted. The great thing I loved about my room was having my own shower. When my parents first bought the house, they had a huge grin on their faces when they said they had a surprise for Charolette and I. We were beyond grateful.
I flipped on the bathroom light and was welcomed by my hot pink Hello Kitty wall paper. I turned on the shower and slipped out of my pajamas. Steam began to fill the room and I stepped into heaven. Water never felt so good as it did right now.
Once I was done, I dried off and threw on my clothes. I dashed down the stairs and headed for the kitchen. The house was filled with the smell of maple syrup. Charolette looked up with a waffle hanging halfway out of her mouth.
“Is there anymore left?” I asked as my stomach grumbled. She nodded and pointed behind her where the counter was. A stack of waffles stood perfectly on top of each other enough to feed five more people. I took a plate and loaded up with two. Turning around I caught a glance at a plate full of fresh cookies and a sink full of dirty dishes. “Mom on a baking spree again?”
Charolette shoved the last piece of her waffle in her mouth and chased it down with orange juice. “You know how mom gets when she’s upset.” She paused to lick her fingers. “She won’t stop until she’s all baked out.” She pointed towards the living room couch. Mom was draped over it, her face stuffed into the pillow with her arm hanging off the edge of the couch.
“Poor mom.” I said as I sat down.
“Yeah. But this is mom’s way of coping, so whatever works for her I guess.”
I nodded in agreement as I covered my waffles in butter and drowned it in syrup. Charolette sat back in her chair and watched as I began to dig in.
“So what do you have planned? You’re going to stop by your school today, right?”
“Yeah.” I stole the rest of her orange juice and gulped down the last of my waffle. “I can’t wait to finally have my own space without my roommate making loud noises when she comes stumbling in late at night.”
“Do you need any help moving your stuff?”
“Nah I’ll be fine. Thanks though.”
“Suit yourself!” She said as she collected her dishes. “Why don’t you go ahead and head out, I’ll take care of this.”
“Yeah, go ahead. You can make it up to me by cooking dinner for me at your new house.” She winked at me as she headed for the sink.
“Deal.” I wiped off the syrup from my lips and headed upstairs to brush my teeth.
I hopped into my car and pulled out of the garage. Today was going to be a long day.
I parked my car in the school lot and shut the trunk with my arms full of boxes. Raising my sunglasses above my head, I saw my best friend Lizzy waving her hands wildly as she skipped towards me.
“Looking good Gretta!” She wiggled her eyebrows as she grabbed some of my boxes.
She took a step in front of me and squinted her eyes. “But really, how are you?”
I shifted the boxes. “Eh, taking one day at a time basically.”
“Of course.” She patted my shoulder, her eyebrows scrunched together. She pulled me close as we walked towards the dorms. “Lizzy is here to make all your pain go away.” She poked me in the ribs and a giggle popped from my mouth.
“See my powers are already working!” She takes my hand and starts to run, dragging me behind her.
We reached my dorm, my hands grew sweaty as anxiety took over me. Taking a deep breath, I turned the door knob. The room smelled like dirty gym socks mixed with sweet perfume. The combination was not welcoming. Lizzy wrinkled her nose as she made her way to my bed in the corner of the room.
“I forgot how gross it is in here.” Lizzy said as she hugged my pillow.
“I won’t be missing this, that’s for sure.” I said, rolling my eyes. I put a box together and started filling it, not caring what I put in it as long as it get’s me out faster. Lizzy took a box and did what I did–fill it.
By the time we were done, my roommate, Cassy, came in with her mouth full of pink bubble gum. She blew a bubble and popped it with her tongue.
“So, I hear you’re leaving me roomy.” She blew another bubble and tossed her dull blond hair.
“Yeah, new house and all.” I said as I fiddled with the box lid. She pops another bubble.
“Ah that’s too bad.” She said pouting her lips. “I was really enjoying your company.”
“Same.” I lied
“Well, don’t be a stranger G.” She twirled her hair around her finger tips and grabbed her books. I forced a smile as she waved good-bye.
“Oh. My. Gahd! She is so fake!”
I turned around to see Lizzy making a gag face. I chuckled.
“Why do you think I never hang out with her, who needs fake friends!”
“You make me so proud!” Lizzy cooed as she pinched my cheeks.
We made it back to my car and buckled the boxes in the back seat. Shutting the doors, Lizzy gave me a quick hug.
“Good luck with your new house Gretta, and I’m sorry about your grandpa.”
“Thanks Liz.” She smiled and waved me off.
“Now be gone with you!”
“Aye-aye captain!” I said with a salute. I hopped into my car with the hood rolled down and slipped my sunglasses on. Now to my new home.
I pulled in front of my new home and it was just how I remembered it. It was an old tall house painted white. Despite its age, grandpa did a good job at keeping it looking like new. The memories of him and I fluttered before my eyes and before I could stop them from coming, tears poured down my cheeks. The last memory was grandpa standing in front of his house, waving good-bye. His smile could stretch for miles.
I quickly wiped away my tears and got out of the car. I hoisted a box as I went up the steep stone stairs, careful not to let it slip from my hands. It felt good to be back here.
Unlocking the front door, I was greeted by the smell of dust and old books. I placed my box on the table by the door and took a look around. It was so weird to hear how quiet the house was instead of being filled with voices and laughter. It almost felt eerie. I went back outside to grab the rest of the boxes and made myself feel at home.
The house was filled with tall black bookshelves, paintings, and family photos that went all the way back to our ancestors. Behind them was a pretty pale wall paper covered in thin, diamond shaped flowers. In the dining room was a beautiful piano that sat against the wall across the dinner table. I walked further to where the bedrooms were and forgot how small the hallway that connected to them was. The room I used to sleep in was on my right, an old drawing Charolette and I made still hung on the door. The hallway twisted and turned to the bathroom and grandpa’s bedroom and as well as his office. I couldn’t face them at the moment so I went back to my bedroom and flopped on the bed. I caught a whiff of stale sheets but it was better than my old dorm. It felt like home.
I woke up startled from a dream and my eyes opened to the pitch black room. Yawning I stretched my arm over to turn on the lamp. Squinting at the clock across my bed I was that it was already seven o’ clock. I slipped my phone out from my back pocket and felt thankful I had no missed messages or calls. I have the night all to myself. I sighed with content as I headed for the kitchen, food is all that matters to me at the moment. I didn’t dare to open the fridge for fearing what I might find spoiled or moldy. I opened the food cabinet that my grandpa had next to the fridge and searched for anything appealing. I settled for a can of peaches and crackers. As I munched on the crackers I heard something that made me stop. Scratch. Scratch. Thump. I walked closer to the sound and stopped in the dining room. Scratch. Scratch. Thump. What could possibly be making those sounds? I wonder if this is what grandpa complained about from time to time. He spoke of cats and rats that could have gotten stuck in the attic somehow. He couldn’t do anything about it because he could never open the attic door for whatever reason. I remembered hearing them when I was a kid but I managed to sleep through it. Guess they never left, I chuckled.
The next few nights the noises never went away. I kept hearing the same thing every time late at night that would scare me wide awake. Scratch. Scratch. Thump. Today was the day I decided to check out the attic and see if I could shoo them out myself. Taking a flashlight from the kitchen drawer, I headed for the hallway where the door to the attic hung above me. I turned the light in the hall on so that I could see what I was grabbing as I jumped to catch the handle. It took me a few tries until I had it in my grasp. The door was tough as hell! My feet could barely touch the floor. I used all my weight as I jiggled the door and finally swung open, making me fall straight onto my back. Fuck that hurt. A ladder was folded against the door. Dust fluttered all around me causing me to sneeze as I pulled out the ladder. I turned on my flashlight and placed the bottom of it in my mouth so that I could climb it. My legs wobbled as the sketchy ladder creaked beneath my feet.
Hoisting myself up onto the attic floor, I took the flashlight and moved it across the room, not sure where to look first. A pile of boxes and random things were on my right and furniture sat on my left. Not a sign of life in sight. I wonder what’s in those boxes. Curiosity spiking, I went to take a look, walking carefully across. I had to cover my nose so that I don’t inhale the dust as I removed lids off the boxes. I felt like a kid in a candy store! They were filled with so many trinkets and photos, I didn’t know what to look at first. As soon as I reached in to take a look, I felt something bump sharply against me. I lost my step and crashed into the boxes, falling with the boxes on me and around me. “Ouch!” I shrieked. What the hell was that?! Shoving the boxes aside, I decided to take one with me and leave the attic. I struggled for a moment to pick myself up; it felt like I was going to sprout bruises left and right. I picked up my flashlight and put it in my back pocket, grabbed the box and went down the ladder with one hand. I felt relieved when I closed the attic door, no more dust! At least, for now.
I brought the box onto the dining room table and opened it up. I found old glasses, a hair brush, jewelry, and photographs. Before I could look further my phone went off. Leaving the box and looking at my phone, it was Lizzy.
“Hey girl! Whatcha doing?”
“Looking through stuff I found in grandpa’s attic.”
“Ooooh! Nifty! Say, do you want to come over to my house for dinner?”
“Yeah that sounds great!”
“Ok cool! I’ll swing by to pick you up at four o’ clock.”
“Awesome, see you then!”
“So tell me about your new place!” Lizzy said as she twirled her noodles around her fork and popped it into her mouth.
“Nice? Just nice? Come on there’s got to be more to it than that!” She says as she stuffs her face.
“There’s really not much to say about it haha! It’s grandpa’s house.”
She leans forward, studying me. “You know, if I were you, I would be talking your ear off on how great it is to have my own house.” She sits back and shoves another bite of noodles in her mouth, chewing for more information.
“Well, there is one thing.” I offered as I push my noodles around.
Lizzy’s eyes light up and slams her fork down. “Out with it!”
“I keep hearing these weird scratching noises.”
“Could be just the house settling in.”
“Maybe but this is more consistent.” I paused to take a sip of my water. “I think there’s an animal stuck somewhere but I checked and didn’t find anything.”
“So get someone to check it out! No point in living with an unwanted guest.”
“Yeah, I’ll do that.”
I waved good-bye to Lizzy as she drove away and my new house sat waiting for me. Opening the door, I turned on the light switch and found books lying on the floor. I don’t remember an earthquake happening earlier, I thought to myself. I shrugged and placed the books back in their spot.
I took off my shoes and made my way towards the bathroom to brush my teeth. As I finished rinsing my mouth, I went to dry my face and saw something in the mirror. Chills ran down my spine. I turned around and saw nothing was there. I looked back at the mirror and nothing there either. I need to get some sleep.
The next day I woke up feeling refreshed. I didn’t hear a single sound! Maybe I scared off the little critters when I fell into the boxes. One could only hope!
Today I had to go back to college so that I don’t fall behind on my classes. As I made my way to my first class, I bumped into Lizzy. “Hey Liz! Guess what?!”
“What?” She asked as she leaned in.
“I didn’t hear any noises last night!”
“That’s awesome!” She gave me a big high five that stung my hand.
“Yeah it really is!” I said as I rubbed my hand. “It’ll be nice to finally get some sleep.”
“Tell me about it! I wish I could get some sleep, I have so much homework!” She whined.
“Well you have me to help if you need it.”
“Girl, you can have all my homework!” She laughed. “I gotta go, good luck on your first day back!” And off she ran.
All my classes were a drag but it was good to see my professors. The only homework they gave me was to study up on the stuff I missed out on.
When I got home, I came to more stuff lying on the floor and a chair was knocked over. I bet Charolette is playing tricks on me because this was not caused by an earthquake. I pulled my phone out and dialed Charolette’s number.
“Hey, it’s me. Did you stop by at my house today?”
“This is the second time I came home to stuff thrown around. If it’s you, just spill the beans.”
“I haven’t been up there at all!” Her voice sounded hurt over the phone. “Besides, you still owe me dinner.”
“I’ll let you know when I have the time, I have so much studying to do.”
“Well the next time you call, you better have dinner made for me.” Click.
I threw my phone onto the couch. She can be so petty!
I sighed. Well if it wasn’t her then how the hell did this happen?
Later that evening I had trouble sleeping. I woke up in sweat, my heart racing. Another nightmare. I glanced at my alarm clock and the red numbers showed it was only two-forty-five a.m. Sighing I placed my head back on my pillow and turned to my side. Something looked weird as I stared into the dark. I turned my lamp on and turned around. Nothing was there. Turning back to my lamp I was met with a stranger in rags standing next to me. HOLY SHIT! I screamed and dashed out of bed to my bedroom door, grabbing blindly for something to use as a weapon but all I could grab was my teddy bear named Mr. Bubbles. I swung without looking and as I opened my eyes, nothing was there. My heart was beating so hard I could feel it in my throat. I grabbed my phone and my car keys, dialing Lizzy’s number as I ran out the door and hopped into my car.
A sleepy voice crawled onto the phone. “Hello?”
“Liz! I need to come over, it’s an emergency!”
“Uh it’s like almost three in the morning Gretta, are you okay?”
“Someone was in my house, Liz!” I started to cry, fear hit me like a baseball bat.
Her voice sounded more alert as she said, “Oh shit! Just stay calm and drive safely. I’ll talk to you soon okay?”
“Thank you!” I whimpered as I grabbed tissue from my glove box. I hung up and tossed my phone in the back seat.
When I arrived at Lizzy’s house and stepped out of the car, I realized I didn’t have the right clothes on for a chilly night. I was purely in my bed clothes: a black tank top and white lacy underwear covered strawberries. Lizzy walk towards me in her bunny slippers, giggling at me. She then looked straight passed me with her hand over her mouth, eyes wide. Fearing the stranger followed me, I turned around and saw no one but my car. Then it hit me. I accidentally brought Mr. Bubbles with me and he was sitting in the passenger seat. Lizzy doubled over and laughed, pointing at Mr. Bubbles.
“I’m so sorry!” She said as she held her stomach, waving her arm for me to come to her. “I really shouldn’t be laughing but this is too much in one moment.”
We sat down in the living room. Lizzy handed me a blanket and hot tea.
“So what happened? Do we need to call the cops?”
I stared into my cup, the heat felt nice against my hands. “I’m not really sure.” I bit my lip, trying to remember. “All I remember was that horrible face”
“Were they trying to mug you? Was it a pervert?” Her hands were tight against her mug. “I swear if it’s a pervert I’ll knock him out myself!”
“I don’t think it was anyone really. But Lizzy?” I could feel my face growing pale.
I gulped at the words I was about to say. “I think there’s a ghost in my home.”
She stared at me for a moment and started laughing. “Oh Gretta. There’s no such thing as ghosts!”
Heat rose into my cheeks, burning in embarrassment. “I wouldn’t normally say this but honestly it would make sense as to why I’ve been coming home to random messes and the feeling of being watched.”
She stopped laughing and looked concern. “You really think so? I mean Charolette could be playing tricks on you.”
I looked her straight in the eyes, not sure if I even believe my own words. She saw the seriousness on my face and sat back.
“This is some heavy info Gretta. I don’t even know what to tell you haha! I’ve never had to deal with this before.”
I ran my fingers through my hair. “Neither have I.”
“Well, you can sleep here for the night.”
I looked up. “Oh that would be great! I would really appreciate that.”
The next day I left feeling nervous. Lizzy told me if I need anything, to call her. I hoped I wouldn’t have to. I stood in the doorway of my house with Mr. Bubbles in one hand and my car keys in the other. If the house guest was going to try anything on me, I had my weapons.
The house was quiet and not a single mess was made. I tipped toed to my bedroom, pushing the door slowly. Creeeeeeeak. I flipped the light on and felt relieved when nothing was there. I sat Mr. Bubbles on his chair and set my keys on my nightstand.
I tried carry on with the day as if everything was normal but it was difficult with the knowledge that I was sharing a house with a ghost. Turning on the water for a bath, I was looking forward to surround myself with something comforting. I locked the bathroom door to prevent any surprises but a part of me knew doors don’t keep ghosts out. It felt good anyways to have a little security. But things started to go wrong bit by bit.
First the water turned black, as dark as an abyss. Then it went away when that didn’t faze me. Next when I had the radio going, it kept making these weird sounds to the point where it sent chills down my spin. I shivered in the hot water. It didn’t seem like the ghost wanted me to enjoy anything.
Eventually I gave up on wanting to relax in the tub and got out to dry myself. As I combed my hair I saw something outside the bathroom door, standing in the shadows. I turned to look but nothing was there. My grip over the comb tightened. Turning around I was face to face with the ghost. She had the most sinister smile on her face and tilted her head as she walked towards me. A scream got caught in my throat as I threw my comb at her. It went through her and her face began to twist into a frown. Bad idea.
She threw herself at me, causing me to slam against the bathroom door, head first. My vision began to blur and all I could see was that horrible face. Then nothing.
I felt like I was in and out of a dream. Not knowing what was real or not spiked dug into my bones. Everything was a blur. One moment I was down on the floor in the bathroom, the next I was sitting on a chair in the living room. Another time I was touching things across the house. I felt happy yet nothing at the same time. Then I was standing in front of the mirror, playing with my hair and touching my face. Why was I doing this? But as I watched myself I slowly began to realize. It’s not me. It’s her. I tried so hard to take a hold of my body but she wouldn’t let me. My grin—her grin—grew wider. Then my phone because to buzz. Her face changed to confusion as she looked around and realized it was coming from my pocket. She carefully took it out and stared at it. She closed her eyes and I could actually feel her trying to search my memories. When she opened them, that creepy grin rolled onto her face, my face. She picked up the call. No!
Charolette? It’s not me! Don’t listen to anything she says!
“Hey sis! I think it’s about time I collect that dinner date you promised me.” It felt so good to hear her voice.
The ghost looked at me in the mirror and winked. “Anything for my favorite sister.”
I could hear Charolette pausing for a moment, she probably wasn’t expecting that answer. That’s because it’s not me! Hang up! I tried to call out but the ghost was too strong.
“Wow! I didn’t think you would say yes but great! I’m glad because I have exciting news for you that I need to tell you in person.”
“I cannot wait to hear all about it.”
“Dinner at five?”
“Goodbye Charolette!” Click.
Those last words sounded strange. She wouldn’t do anything to my sister, would she? What could she be planning? She turned her head back to the mirror and leaned closely.
“We have lots to learn about each other, don’t we?”
Who are you and what are you planning to do with me and my sister.
She touched my face and said in a soothing voice, “Ah, straight to the point. We have plenty of time to get to that but I’ll be happy to tell you who I am, my dear cousin.”
She skips towards my bedroom and jumped backwards onto the bed, falling into the soft blankets.
“Yes. I am related to you through your grandfather’s bloodline. My name is Samantha Starling. I have lived in this house for many years and you my girl, have set me free.”
Me? How could I have possibly set you free? What does that even mean?
“The attic silly!”
It dawned on me. You were the one who bumped into me!
I could feel her smile spreading across my face. “Bingo!” Samantha said in a sing-song voice.
“You’re lucky I didn’t just throw you to your death. But I had my plans. My revenge.”
Reading my thoughts she sat up, playing with my hair. “Yes, revenge. You see, I was locked away in that attic until I died.” She gripped my hair, nearly pulling it. “Let me tell you a story about a little girl with parents who never cared about her.” She closed her eyes—my eyes—and I saw what looked to be her memories.
“I wanted so much to be loved and approved by my parents, but no matter how hard I tried to please them; I always did something wrong in their eyes. One day they decided to lock me up in the attic as punishment for all my so called ‘sins’. I would cry and cry, begging for them to let me out. It was cold and dark up there and worst of all I feared the dark. They let me out eventually but they continued to do this as I grew older. Imagine being locked away for days, hungry and afraid and no one to help you even if they heard your screams. I would hear family members stopping by and when I would beg them to help, they wouldn’t even lift a finger. It got worse on my twentieth birthday.” She paused for a moment, taking a deep breath for whatever was coming next.
“On my twentieth birthday, I accidentally broke one of my mother’s favorite dishes. I will never forget the look in my mother’s eyes when she came at me, hands locked on my throat. Cold and dark. She threw me on the floor then grabbed me by the hair and dragged me to the attic where I was once again locked up. But this time, I never left.
I screamed and cried as time grew longer. Days turned into more days. I was hungry, dirty, and worn out from all the crying. My throat was raw and my nails were practically ripped off from all the clawing I did in trying to get that little door to open. I finally gave up, growing weaker by the day. And I got no help whatsoever!” She gritted my teeth, I could feel my cheeks getting hot from her anger.
“Eventually I died from lack of food and water and most likely from the filth on me. But I think my true death was when it was the first time I got locked up.”
I didn’t know what to say to her. I felt sorry for her. No one should have went through all of that. I also felt angry and shocked that no one would help her. Our own family!
“Yes, our own family. The same family you praise and love.”
I forgot she could read my thoughts. I’m sorry this happened to you and I wish I could have helped you if I existed. But why take this out on me and my sister? We did nothing to you!
“Oh sweet innocent Gretta. You think that just because we are family, you’re given a free pass? Well, that’s where you’re wrong. There are no free passes. I’m going to take what I was not given.”
And what would that be? I could feel anger burning deep inside me and didn’t care if she could feel it.
A life? What?! What do you mean?
“Tsk. Tsk. I thought you would figure it out by now. I’m taking your body and live as much as I can, enjoying everything I missed out on. And in the meantime, I’m going to take down every single one of this family.”
You’re insane! You can’t just take my body and do what you feel. And don’t you dare touch anyone!
She tilted her head back with a throaty laugh. “Hahahahaha! Well I hate to break it to you, Gretta, but I’ve already succeeded in taking your body. Face it, you’ve lost. But guess what? I’m being so generous by giving you the front row seat!”
I was stunned. She was right though, I couldn’t do anything. She was much stronger than me. All that hate she built over the years.
“But for now, I need you to sleep. I have dinner to make for our special guest. Last thing I need is for you to beg my ear off.”
Before I could protest, everything went dark.
I woke up to my sister face-to-face with me. Run Charolette!
“How good it is to see you again my dear sister!”
She even gave her a hug!
You don’t even know her.
I watched as Charolette hung her coat and sat on the couch in the living room. Her black curls bounced behind her. Sorrow pinched my heart. I wish she could hear me.
“Wow, this place looks just like how I remembered it. You haven’t really done anything to it though, I’m surprised. But then again, you weren’t the greatest when it come to decorating.” She laughed.
Samantha laughed along with her. “Yes, it’s true, I must admit. But why fix what’s not broken.” She walked towards Charolette and sat next to her, leaning against the arm rest. “So, you said you had good news?”
As if you care! Just leave her alone!
Charolette beamed at Samantha’s interest. “Yes. Well…I’m not sure exactly how to say this, but..” She looks down and holds her stomach.
Oh my gosh, she’s pregnant! More reason to LEAVE HER ALONE!
“You’re going to be an aunt!” She said as she grabbed my hands.
Samantha gave the most fakest smile I have ever seen, more fake than Cassy, my old roommate.
“This is great!”
“Yes it is and I have more news!”
Samantha tilts her head, “Oh?”
“I’m leaving tonight, I’m moving to Oregon!”
Moving? Good then she can be away from you!
“When tonight are you leaving?”
“I’ll be leaving after I have dinner with you. First I have to stop by at mom and dad’s place because my boyfriend Madison is meeting me there. We’re going to take his car and drive up to our new home. That’s why I borrowed mom’s car.”
“Ah, ok. Well it looks like you have everything planned out!” Samantha gave a little laugh. “You must be hungry?”
Charolette gave a shy smile. “Now how could you have guessed?”
I was surprised at how well the food had smelled, Samantha actually out did herself. But She wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for me. Body hacker
Samantha giggled as she washed her hands. How thoughtful. Gag me with a spoon.
“Oh Gretta, the best part is coming and I’m so excited.” She whispered.
“Charlotte! What would you like to drink?”
“I’ll take some juice if you have any! Or water!”
“Coming right up!”
I watched as Samantha went to the fridge searching for the juice and found it. She began to hum as she brought a glass over and poured the juice. Then she started to rummage through the cabinet with all the seasonings and took a strange little glass bottle out.
What is that?
She continued to hum as she popped the top of and sprinkled the contents in to the juice.
You’re going to poison her?! You bitch! Don’t you dare do anything to her.
“Not poison, just something I put together to keep her body numb. She’s going to make a great host for me.”
What?! And what are you going to do with me?
“Hmm, good question. What am I going to do with you?”
She took Charolette’s drink and brought it over to her. “You were in luck!”
“Oh great! I’m so thirsty and I’ve been craving anything sweet.”
Don’t drink it! Throw it away, toss it, ANYTHING!
“This tastes so refreshing!”
Samantha smiled. “I’m so glad it does! I hope it hits the spot.”
They talked about random things but mostly about Charolette and her new life. Samantha kept digging at my memories so that she could blend in more as me. I could feel Samantha growing bored the more Charolette talked about herself; she kept tapping my legs beneath the table.
“Well I’m just going to run to the bathroom real quick, don’t run away!” Samantha said with a wink. As she closed the bathroom door, she went straight for the mirror.
“Well the dose should be kicking in soon, but unfortunately I am growing bored of your sister. Her life sounds boring and her new life will just be pure torture for me. I don’t think I want to raise a child. So I think I’ll just keep your body.
Relief swept over me. Good at least my sister will be safe.
“Ah, sweet, sweet Gretta. The plans I have for us. This will be fun! Especially what’s coming up next.”
What is coming up? I want this to end!
“Don’t worry, it will.” She said while listening to my thoughts again.
She went through the drawers in the bathroom and brightened at the sight of long silver scissors. She picked it up and it felt cool against my palm. Another sinister smile.
What are you going to do with those?
“Shhhh! You ask too many questions.”
We left the bathroom and Samantha put her hands behind her back. “Well Charolette, I must admit I am getting tired.”
Charolette placed her napkin on the table and turned around smiling. “It is getting late, I should probably go.”
“Yes you must be going now.”
Yes please let her go Samantha!
“As you wish!”
Charolette looked at her with confusion written all over her face and that’s when my world fell apart.
Samantha rose her arm and quickly stabbed Charolette with the sharp scissors.
I screamed as Charolette fell into Samantha’s arms—my arms—as she pressed harder and further into Charolette’s chest. My sister raised her hand and placed it over mine as she choked on her own blood.
Tears pooled over my face as Samantha laughed hysterically. Completely covered in my sister’s blood.
Why did you do this?! Why her! She was pregnant for fuck’s sake!
“Like I said Gretta, no one gets a free pass.”
I cried and I cried as I watched the light in Charolette’s eyes go out. Her body slumped to the floor.
“Here’s to a new life and it’s just the beginning!.”