Friday, November 3, 2017

I Live with Ghosts Story by Alexia

I promised another Halloween related post so here you go! Next week I'll be jumping head first into fall with my Cutting Cafe Post and another jar for the Funkie Junkie, but this week I'm Halloweening! Enjoy this story by my daughter Lexi!

I Live With Ghosts

My eyes pull themselves open and I stare into the inky blackness clinging to the ceiling in my room. A car drives by, it sounds like it’s going too fast. The headlights flash past my bedroom window temporarily illuminating the room. I make out the shape of my wife beside me and feel a mournful weight in my chest. I know what woke me, but I wait for it again, it’s always the same thing. I wait for it anyway. A piercing scream splits the quiet of my quiet house, then another and another. I push myself wearily from  the bed. My wife doesn’t stir, she’s always been a heavy sleeper after all. I pull on a bathrobe over my ratty t-shirt and old shorts and make my way out into the hallway. It’s dark, so dark, but I know the way. I’ve lived in this house for a very long time, and made this trek many times. I make my way down the hallway, to the next room over as another scream splits the night. I push the door open gently. I can see the outline of the cradle and the bookcase and toybox from the pathetic light cast by the tiny nightlight in the opposite corner. I make my way over to the small bundle of blankets resting in the cradle and carefully lean over the railing. “Baby… Baby please stop. Please just rest so that I can…” I whisper. I know it won’t help, but I hope anyway. My shoulders slump as another scream rips through my mind. It’d been wet and rainy lately, which agitated some old injuries and made me ache all over. I knew what I had to do, but I was loathe to. There was no other way. I left the baby’s room and made my way down the rest of the hallway to the kitchen. My hip connected with the chair sitting at the dining table, making a loud screech across the floor and the cat, who was resting peacefully by the front door skittering across the floor. I attempted to calm the racing in my chest and listened to the next screech that clawed it’s way to my ears. I shoved my feet into the sneakers by the door, undid the deadbolt and stepped out into the night. I glanced behind me to see the cat watching me reproachfully from the hallway. I let the door close behind me. It was cold and clammy out. The street was quiet and deserted as I left my port and set my path onto the rain-wet sidewalk. This path was too familiar. I’d taken it day and night and any time in between. Sometimes I imagined that there was a groove worn into the sidewalk from my many walks. The moon was full tonight and lit the desolate world around me with a dusty grey. A biting wind blew and pierced its way right through my bathrobe. I shivered and shoved my icy hands under my arms. I stopped in front of my all too familiar destination. I pushed the gate open, it creaked and wailed and swung closed behind me. I heard my baby’s scream again, muffled though this time. I followed it carefully, avoiding the short obstacles around me, until I found myself in front of two stones. One large, the other one much smaller. I ran my fingers over the larger one gently, and it felt like cold fingers squeezed my heart. I knelt in front of the smaller one and pressed my cold fingers into the damp earth. I bowed my head. “Baby, please. You must rest so I can. I wish everyday for you to come back to me, but I can’t keep doing this.” I looked up at the gravestone as a small whimper replaced the scream. “Caroline Hayes, 10/13/2008 - 10/15/2008” “I know you’re lonely, but you’re killing me. I need sleep. I need peace…” I waited for another cry, sometimes it didn’t work on the first try. When several minutes had passed I pushed myself up from the earth. I paused at the first gravestone- the larger one. I rested my hand on it’s cool surface and re-read its inscription for what felt like the millionth time, “Meredith Hayes, 7/19/1984 - 10/13/2008”. I turned from the two bleak graves and trudged back to the sidewalk. I paused and listened to the gate squeal closed behind me. I dreaded the walk home. Going home was always the worst part. I put one foot in front of the other as a slow mist descended upon the earth. I felt the old aches flare up in protest. Every fiber of my body knew what came next,  and not one of them wanted to keep walking towards it. The pale moonlight was suddenly blotted out by heavy clouds and everything was plunged into darkness. When I was about half way home headlights blazed from behind me. I stopped to watch the car blaze past, going 65 in a 35. Going too fast. Each new step forward seemed to pour more cement into my shoes. I heard the crash, squealing tires and the sharp sound of metal being bent and wrenched in ways the seemed unreal. A few more steps and I crested the gentle hill in front of me, though it felt like a mountain. The scene was all there in front of me, the car that had been going too fast was red and the one it had collided with was silver. Broken glass and various vehicle fluids monopolized the surrounding asphalt. There was hissing and creaking from hot metal. The silver car had been going the speed limit, but had swerved suddenly to avoid hitting a stray cat. That cat was well know in this neighborhood and generally well taken care of by the food scraps and bowls of water left out on front porches. That cat now lay in a disfigured, pitiful lump a few feet from the scene. The red car had come over the hill and swerved to avoid the silver car. Unfortunately the person in the red car hadn’t had the reaction time  or sobriety to compete with the pure velocity of the car and avoid the silver car or the cat. The lights from the surrounding houses all seemed to flare on at once as doors were flung open. The drizzle hardened into a steady pour, soaking me further. I approached the wreck. The red car had been bigger and newer and had fared much better than the silver one, which had been essentially flung into the trunk of a nearby tree and knocked onto its passenger side. I heard groaning from the red car, but I ignored it. I heard the baby screaming and squeezed my eyes shut. It would be the last time I heard her scream tonight. I walked around to where the windshield was- cracked and partially popped out of its frame. My eyes landed on the woman in the passenger seat. She had died instantly when her neck snapped, her eyes half closed and shock frozen on her face. The baby’s screaming continued, she was scared and hurt. She had fallen from the woman's arms and now lay against the passenger side window. She wouldn’t survive either, though she had at least made it to the same hospital she had just come from. Lastly I dragged my eyes to the driver. He was bleeding from the head and had a severe concussion and had had countless broken bones. He hung limply from the seat belt. The airbags hung awkwardly like low budget ghosts. I saw the man twitch and his eyes open painfully slowly. They landed on me, but they were not seeing me. I turned and stared at the man from the red car. He was bloody, both inside and out. He would later die from complications during a surgery to stop a bleed in his brain. His voice rasped out like death “I’m…So sorry…”. He wasn’t speaking to me, I sighed and slowly turned. The man in the car didn’t seem to understand, he couldn’t hear anything anyway over the ringing in his ear. I watched his brow furrow as he tried to piece things together, a feat he wouldn’t manage until it was explained to him several days later in the hospital. The baby was still wailing and it had reached a deafening crescendo now as people flocked to the grisly scene. Sirens bit through the night air and drowned the baby’s cries out and blocked out the maddening mumbling from the driver of the red car. He stood and just stared through the windshield in shock. I bowed my head and turned on my heels, stepping up to the side walk. I didn’t turn once to look back at the crash and slowly the lights from the houses faded back to black and the darkness of the night swallowed me up again. I stood in front of my house for a moment. The cat sat outside now on the railing of my porch, it’s yellow eyes tracking my every move silently. I pushed the door open and stepped back into the darkness of my home. I didn’t hear anything, but I knew the cat had jumped down from it’s post and followed me inside. I stepped on the heels of my sneaker to pull them off and trudged wearily out of the kitchen to the hallway. I paused momentarily outside the baby’s room and almost went inside, but decided against it, like I do every night, for fear I’d wake her again. I pushed the door open to my bedroom. The cat sat at the window, it’s back turned to me as a red car sped by. My wife shifted as I sat down on the edge of the bed. I put my head in my hands. She moved closer to me, so that she was just behind me, close enough where I should feel her warmth. I feel icy fingers on my shoulder, “you should rest in peace now.” she whispered in my ear. I knew better than to look at her, I couldn’t face her. “We can’t rest until you do, dear.” she continued drawing away, her fingers leaving my shoulder. I took a deep, shaky breath and steeled my nerves. I turned suddenly, changing my mind for a split second and hoping to catch a glimpse of her one last time. I was alone again and I felt it weigh on me. There were many souls in this house, but only one of them was alive. Even still, I felt as though mine was ready to give out at any second now. I settled down beneath the cold covers and waited for sleep to come and claim me.


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