Chapter 54: Synched
I’m out in the yard, getting ready to mow the lawn for the first time that spring when I hear a tapping in the tree house. I poke my head up through the hatch. Diane’s iPad is there, laying on the floor, totally exposed to the elements. What’s more, the damned thing is turned on.
I had gotten used to strange little pranks and noises over the last few days, but this is too much. I clamber up the ladder.
The poltergeist arrived about two days after the storm. I heard the door creak open, saw the curtain ruffle and bulge. And it wasn’t just me. Gina noticed too when she came by yesterday, a chill draft, a distorted and muffled voice. She went into the kitchen for a glass of water. I heard the tap run, and glass breaking on the floor. She ran back and leaped into bed, telling me she saw a chair move on its own.
It’s out here now, in this willow tree, working that iPad of Diane’s that, by all rights, should be in Long Island with Diane. The words of that weird lady from Connecticut, the one who back in March tried to deliver a message from a ghost, return back to me. I wish I had a way to contact her, because I have so many questions.
That weird feeling in my spine comes back from time to time, but it never lingers long. I get a twitch and a shooting pain and then it’s gone. If I gird myself against it when it comes, I find I can resist its influence. It’s easier to do when I’m aware it’s in me. Its only when I don’t pay attention that it gets the better of me.
I clamber onto the platform of the tree house. The iPad sits in the corner, screen changing ESPN to Patriots.com like it’s surfing the web all on its own. I sit and watch it for a while, trying to get a clue from the sites it visits, who might be operating it. Eerily, every site it visits has a slot on my favorites. Mist condenses on the screen and frosts over.
I crawl across the platform cautiously. I’ve been up here and the wood is getting pretty rotted. I am afraid of falling through the floor.
I lunge for the iPad. My hands tingle and go cold. Something ripples into my limbs, running first down my arms, my torso, and finally, my legs. I panic. It’s the poltergeist, dissolving into me like sugar into coffee, possessing me.
Something snaps into my head, and then I know things I wish I never did. But it’s too late to forget them. I sit in the tree house and quiver.
I remember something falling—a tree. Before I could even flinch it smashed through the windshield, and drove through me into my seat, cracking ribs, bulging out my eyes, flattening my lungs so no air gets in or out. My heart skittered like a frog trapped under a rock then stopped. Softly, slowly, everything faded.
I know about Lethe and Sabonis and Bianca and what waits for us after death. Despair emulsifies with hope. I’m both scared and relieved to know that life goes on after we die, only it’s kind of like this one—no picnic.
I scramble out of the willows and run for the house. The puffy clouds over Cortland never looked so evil. I slam the kitchen door, scoop my phone off the table to call Gina. I need her with me. Now! But for some reason, I don’t know why, I hang up before the second ring.
And the next moments that come and those that come after them, bear a newness and purity about them that astounds me. For the first time in my life I realize how potent with possibility is every one of these seconds that passes. And those to come, they’re mine to do whatever I please.
I don’t know what’s gotten into me, but it’s like finding a drug with no down side. No possibility of overdose. No hangover or withdrawal symptoms. Who knew that getting up and getting a glass of water could be so exciting?
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