Symptoms of a Haunting: Part IV

Armed with my newfound, albeit Googled, knowledge, I marched out of my apartment. I needed to talk to Edna.

Edna was the first person I met upon moving to this Washington town. I chose Washington because of its near-constant cloud cover and reputation for standoffish people. Somehow, I felt more myself when not in direct sunlight and when being ignored by passersby. Edna was the exception. I had just moved into my quaint home at the end of the street and was confused by the complete lack of a mailbox outside my house. How was I supposed to get mail? Did this town completely rid itself of the snail mail system? My next door neighbor saw my confusion and walked over to help. Her kindly smile in her aged face was just the thing to make me smile in return.

“Having trouble, dear?” Her voice was precisely what one would imagine a grandmother would sound like, especially if that grandmother had a particular proclivity for baked goods.

I smiled sheepishly. “That obvious?”

“Everyone is confused at first, no need to be embarrassed. We used to have a community mail box system at the front of the street, but it didn’t catch on. Now, we have a tradition of buying our own mailboxes and setting them up. You’ll have to call the Post Office to arrange to have your mail delivered here, but it’ll work out.”

I cocked my head to the side slightly. What an odd system. “I’m Emma,” I said, holding out my hand.

“Edna,” the old woman smiled, grasping my hand tightly in both of her own. When our skin touched, Edna’s eyes glazed over and her mouth formed around the word, “oh.”

I pulled my hand from hers with perhaps more force than was absolutely necessary, feeling the fear build up in my chest. Had she discovered me so easily?

“I’m so sorry that happened to you, Emma,” she whispered, stepping closer to me. I could count each white eyelash shading her grey eyes.

“What?” I breathed, so softly I was surprised she could hear me.

“No one should have a gift like yours and be persecuted in that manner.” Edna’s face softened and my chest ached. She wasn’t afraid of me; she pitied me. And, it seemed, she harbored a secret of her own.

“Would you like to come in?” I asked, suddenly bold. I was breaking my own rule of not associating with people, not trusting people, but in that moment all I cared about was inviting this sweet soul in for tea.

Edna smiled and took my arm, letting me lead the way past the blooming garden into my home. Since that day, Edna and I held a kind of unspoken pact to stand by the other in times of need. I never fully trusted her, but us freaks needed to stick together. This was definitely one of those times.

I hurried through the November drizzle, feeling a warmth in spite of the weather at the thought of seeing my friend. I came to her door and rapped sharply on the deep green-painted wood. I heard a shuffle behind the door as the woman came to answer my call. The door opened with a creak, displaying a much more tired Edna than I was accustomed to.

Immediately, I stepped forward, touching the woman’s shoulder. “Edna, is everything all right? You don’t seem quite yourself.”

Edna pulled her white cardigan closer about her body and glanced out the door to the street beyond. “Yes, yes. Everything is okay.” I was skeptical, but allowed her to usher me inside without a word.

Once the door was securely latched, Edna turned to me and pulled me into an unexpected tight hug. After a shocked beat, I returned the gesture. “Edna…”

“Emma, I’m so glad you’ve come.” Edna took me by the hand and led me to her cozy living room. We sat before the fire, the leather of the couch beneath me warming my bones. I smelled cookies in the oven, or maybe that’s just how her house always smells.

“Emma,” Edna began, her voice cracking with fatigue. She paused, taking my hand in her warm ones and daring not to meet my gaze. Her eyes glowed with the reflection of the fire, standing out starkly against her pale face. “Emma, I’m seeing him, too.”

Symptoms of a Haunting: Part 1

I saw him again today.

At first it was just a flicker at the edge of my vision. A dark shape, a shadow. Something that I always wrote off as nothing, despite the constant feeling of foreboding. You know that feeling you get when someone is watching you across the room? That itchy feeling sitting in the back of your skull and needling at your nerves? I’ve felt that every day since moving into this house.

I’ve had incidences before. Seeing things that weren’t there. First it was a little girl who was looking for her mother. We loved to play hopscotch together. I was six, so my parents and older brother just thought I had an imaginary friend. When I was eleven and still talking about Madeline and her yellow dress, I was met with anger and annoyance. When I met David, the man with the gunshot wound still gaping in his head, I was met with fear.

I’ve been dragged to countless psychologists and psychiatrists, been hit with every diagnosis in the book, but the feeling and the shadows never disappeared. My family, the people who are supposed to support you through everything, left me at an asylum when I was seventeen and never looked back. The only things that place taught me were to trust no one and pretend everything is normal. The asylum was full of shadows and apparitions; they knew I could see them, even when I pretended to see nothing.

But I don’t see nothing. I see things that could not possibly be there. Horrible things and beautiful things alike. This entity, this man in my house… I don’t know which category he falls into. I don’t feel threatened, but I don’t feel safe either. He hasn’t spoken to me yet, but I’m sure it’s coming. I can only hold my breath and wait.

All I Ask Is That You Expire Quietly

I decided to work the graveyard shift tonight. I
spend my nights running, so it’s not as if I would
lose sleep – you took that from me months ago.

I reported to the graveyard at the witching hour.
After you left, I couldn’t bear to be away from
you – so I come here every day, under work’s guise.

The tombs are loud tonight. Piercing wails cut
through the misty air, creating swirls usually seen
in dust kicked up in harsh sunlight.

I passed by where you rest on my rounds. You
reached up from the dirt and tried to grab my
ankle – I ran away as fast as I could.

I would never be fast enough to outrun you.