My friends cheered from beside me as we pushed off with our feet. The chains rattled against the metal swing as my weight pushed it down. I haven’t done this since I was a child and yet, it felt so freeing. The wind grazed against my face, touching my soft olive skin. I couldn’t help but smile, the smile escaped from me. Next, the sound of laughter. As we swung higher and higher and felt ourselves cut through the air like a knife. There were no more worries, no more concerns.
I looked to my right to see my oldest friend, Ava, she looked the happiest she had been in a long time and I was sure it was because she had come here to visit me. I had always had a small crush on Ava or perhaps I envied her. She was more than stunning, more beautiful than I could ever be. Her long chestnut hair blew in the breeze and with the small light from the lightpost I could see her orbs of blue. Her facial features were soft and freckles kissed her nose. When she smiled my heart tended to skip a beat and I found myself staring.
I always thought when we were older we were going to be together but everything changed when I met my husband. Don’t get me wrong, I loved him yet, a part of me still loved Ava. I watch as her small hands gripped the chains of the swing as she stretched forward and kicked her feet. She soared like a small bird. Her feet failing in the air.
To the other side of me was my newest friend, Raine, her soft mocha skin glistened in the dim light and her curls bounced along with her as she lightly touched the ground with the tips of her shoes. She was looking down, yet, smiling. Raine was happy to be here with Ava and I. I know she could feel the tension. That would be the only explanation as to why she was looking down at this moment. Ava and I couldn’t stop staring at each other, grinning ear to ear and I think it was making Raine uncomfortable.
As I soared through the sky, I looked forward to the trees, breaking eye contact with Ava who was now holding a conversation with Raine. The trees in front of me were spaced almost evenly throughout the park. It was a large park with a waterfall at one end and a creek you could swim in at the other. In the middle of the park was a large forest that was almost ominous. I had only been there a number of times and it was always beautiful and I wanted to share that moment with my friends, especially Ava.
The treetops rustled with the wind but there was one tree that seemed to not move with the gentle breeze. I began to lose my speed, concerned as to what was going on in front of me. I wanted to tell Ava and Raine but did not want to worry them.
With the tips of my white converses, I began to slow down, pressing my feet to the dirt. I skidded to a stop and leaned forward to take a look at the figure in front of me. The tree I thought was there seemed to now look like a towering woman wearing a gown of black. I couldn’t see her face from this distance but I feared to move closer. There was something about the figure had me hesitant and afraid. I got off the swing and stood behind Ava, trying not to let them see the worry on my face.
“Thanks for inviting me down.” Ava had directed her words at me but my eyes were glued on the figure that seemed to be moving closer slowly. The figure seemed to glide across the grass and grew taller in moments. With each blink it seemed she was moving. I shook my head and closed my eyes, thinking it was all in my head. This was all just my imagination but when I opened them once more, she was closer. She was almost at the edge of the woodline. She was just steps away from reaching the pavement then steps away from stepping into the playground.
I panicked, listening to my two friends giggle, ignoring my look of concern. I looked to the left, trying to think of a way out of here, fast. We parked about a mile down and running was out of the question. At the speed the figure was moving, she would be here in a minute.
To the left of me was a restroom for women, it had two stalls in it and only one way in not another way out. It would be pointless to run in there, considering there would be no escape. Adjacent to the women’s room was a small playground. Complete with a slide and monkey bars. Across from the small playground just feet away was a slide, the silver kind that burned your legs on the hottest of days. It would be pointless to run there, she was nearing the slide second by second. To the right, was the waterpark. They had closed it for the season considering the temperature drop and the change of seasons. They had also drained the pool so there was no hiding out there. Not to mention, the barbed wire fence that prevented rouge teens from entering.
Suddenly, I felt silly. I really thought that tree was a woman and that she was moving closer! How silly of me! It had to be my imagination! It was a long day after all, I had just picked the two girls up from the airport. I was so sure I just needed so much needed rest. I turned my head back toward the figure to find her standing there. The light from the light post shone on her gray skin that seemed almost crackled. Her hand was the only thing I could see.
I wanted to scream. I wanted to run, but I was frozen in place. My feet were stuck and I was glued to the earth. Words could not escape my lips so I was not able to warn my friends.
The towering woman stepped closer I was able to see her golden eyes in the darkness. Something was so cold, something was so unwelcoming about those eyes. I felt shivers rush down my spine. My hands grasped onto the chains of the swing, causing Ava to stir. She looked back, noticing my face, my look of fear, “What the hell, Stephanie!” She shot me a look then looked back at Raine.
“We need to go.” I whispered lowly. I don’t think my friends even heard what I had said. I wanted to say it again but that’s when she stepped completely out of the darkness. A black veil hid her face. She was almost as tall as the slide and she seemed to glide across the playground, inches away from us.
Raine was the first to notice, she got up from the swing and grabbed me by the arm. Frightened, she watched as Ava got up and began to yell at the woman, “Hey, asshole! Halloween isn’t for another month!” She spat at the woman. I’m sure Ava was expecting her to take off her veil, to have it be a man who was playing a cruel and sick joke on a few college girls and their married friend but instead, the woman stopped once more.
I couldn’t help looking at the gray hands once more. How they seemed to be wrinkled and her nails were black just like her attire. Her long fingers caressed the edge of her dress and clutched it.
My heart couldn’t help leaping as Ava stepped closer. She pointed a finger at the woman and began to curse at her, “Hey bitch!” She started, she was just steps away from being directly in front of the woman. “I am talking to you!” Ava moved closer once more, standing right under the woman.
She lingered there over Ava, not moving, clutching at her dress till black blood spilled from her palm. I watched it overflowed and stained her skin.
Raine’s eyes traveled, I heard her stutter and trip over her words, “A-Ava.” She started but Ava was already lifting her hands, angrily grabbing at the veil.
Her hands grasped around the sheer veil and threw it to the ground. The lady bent down and I was unable to see her face. Then, I heard it. The gruelling sound then the scream. Ava’s body began to shift. She crouched to the ground and her shoulder blade seemed to displace. I heard the pained cries of Ava but all Raine and I could do was just stand there and watch.
We were both frozen with fear. Our mind was telling us to run but our bodies were paralyzed. Ava stood straight suddenly and we noticed the woman had disappeared. She no longer stood there in front of Ava.
That’s when I heard it. The laugh; the sinister laugh that echoed and lingered throughout the wood. I watched Ava pivot and begin to turn toward us. Her feet dragged on the ground and she seemed to glide. Just like the woman.
“Ava?” Raine called, stepping forward, “It’s okay.” She cooed as she began to approach her.
I wanted to cry out, to say something, anything, but it was hopeless. Raine reached out a hand and placed it on Ava’s shoulder. The laughter sounded again and rang through my ears. It sent chills down my spine and made me feel planted to the ground. I couldn’t watch anymore, I didn’t know what to do. Raine turned Ava around with force and soon regretted it. Ava’s blue irises were no longer present, we could only see the whites of her eyes.