September 20, 2020
Ivy stared out the window, watching the bustling late afternoon of Lagos whiz by. She had come back from school two days ago only to be told by her mother they had to move, again. She has lived in Canada, the US, The Philippines, and now Nigeria. When they had moved to the Philippines, it wasn't hard for her to blend in. She had gotten used to living in the Philippines and had made good friends. She thought her life was finally stable with no relocating to different parts of the world. But everything came crashing down when they had to move again, now she has to start all over again.
She sighed, sitting back on the back seat. She stared at her mother who was smiling at her father. Her mother has always been an optimist, always ready for a new beginning.
Her mother turned around to look at her. " What's wrong dear?", she asked, concerned.
She thought but she answered instead, "Nothing mum, just tired".
Her father looked at her from the mirror, guilt in his eyes. "You're probably fed up with all the movings because of my job, I'm sorry pumpkin".
" Oh Stephen, this is the last time we'll move. I'm sure she will love Nigeria", her mother said, patting her father on the arm.
"You'll fit in just fine", her mother reassured.
The car wound its way into the driveway of their purchased house on Victoria Island, Ikeja. She got out of the car, slamming the door behind her. The two-storied building stood tall and looked quite older than the surrounding houses. Her father walked up to her as she stood, staring at the house.
"It looks old, doesn't it?", her father said, wrapping his arm around her shoulder.
"It was built almost 7 years ago".
She stared at her father, a bewildered look on her face. The house looks old but not as old as its years.
" It doesn't look that old", she mumbled.
"This will be the last time we'll move again, I promise".
"It's alright dad, as long as mum, you, and I are together, it doesn't matter where we go", she said to her father as she wrapped her arms around his waist, giving him a tight hug.
"Let's go inside you two", her mother called out with a smile.
The inside of the house looks bigger than the exterior. It was painted a bright turquoise color, the stairs leading upstairs at the left side have been coated with oak wood color. The door of the basement is directly beside the staircase. At the right is a door leading into the kitchen. The center of the ground floor is the living room. The house smelled of polish used on the floorboards beneath the carpet.
Her mother walked to the dining area, running her finger on the table, checking it for dust. " The house has been cleaned, we just need to unpack", she said after checking the chairs as well.
"I'll take my bags upstairs", Ivy said, dragging the two suitcases on each side.
" Your room is the last one on the left".
An hour later, everything has been unpacked. She had arranged the books on the shelf, made the bed, filling up space with her stuffed animals. Posters of her favorite boy band, BTS hung from the opposite walls of the room. She'd taken out her clothes, dumping them on the bed.
" I'll arrange them later", she had told herself.
She went downstairs, heading towards the kitchen upon hearing clangs of pots.
"Do you need my help with anything?", she asked, taking a fresh apple from the kitchen counter.
"I'm alright dear. Why don't you take a stroll around the neighborhood, maybe you can see and make some friends?", her mother suggested.
"It wouldn't hurt, I guess" she replied, unsure.
"Everything would be alright Ivy, just be yourself".
"Ok, I'm leaving", she said as she walked towards the door.
"Don't stay out too long", her mother warned.
Children shout filled the air, their mother voices raising, yelling at them to keep it down. The smell of homemade Egusi soup, a Nigerian local delicacy waffled through the air as she walked past a house. The atmosphere was calm, filled with bright colors as people dressed in the native attire, Ankara, walked by.
She was lost in her thoughts not realizing she had walked into a football field until the ball hit her on her left thigh.
"Sorry!", a tall boy yelled from the midst of boys, jogging towards her.
She picked up the ball, using her left hand to dust her pants. "It's okay", she looked at the boy, smiling.
" Sorry 'bout that", he said, nodding his head to her stained pants.
"It's nothing", she said, handing the ball to the boy's outstretched hand.
"I'm Nelson by the way", the boy reached out his hand to her.
"Hi, I'm Ivy", she replied, shaking his hand. His palm felt like a girl's.
"You must be new here".
"Is it that obvious?", she laughed.
"Yeah, besides I know everyone that lives around here", he replied.
"Yo, Nelson!", a dark-skinned boy shouted from the goal, unsure of what he was doing, standing next to her.
"Gotta go, see you around", the boy smiled, showing commercial toothpaste-worthy teeth.
" Yeah, you too".
The boy ran back to his friends who gave him questioning looks as they got back to their positions to resume playing.
Nelson, it suits him.
She thought with a smile as she walked home.
"So did you meet anyone?", her mother asked from the dining chair immediately she closed the front door.
" Yeah, we didn't talk for long though", she replied, taking a seat opposite her mother.
"Why?". Her mother passed the plate of cheese topped omelet and toast to her.
She stuffed her mouth with an omelet before replying. "He had to go back. His friends were waiting for him".
"He?", her mother grinned.
She rolled her eyes at her mother who was smiling nonstop. " Don't even think about it mom".
"Where's dad?", she asked after some minutes, not catching a glimpse of him.
"He went to report to the office, you know, to get settled in".
"Oh". She ate the last piece of toast, standing up to take the plate to the kitchen. The sink was empty of dishes, so she decided to wash hers as well.
"I'll do it dear, go to bed, it's late". Her mother took the plate from her, taking the soap to wash it.
"I'll wait up for your father".
"Ok, goodnight mum".
"Goodnight dear", her mother replied, kissing her on the crown of her head.
She went up the stairs, treading on it softly as though it could cave in any moment. The wooden stairs creaked a bit, the echo rebounding slightly in the big room. She got to the hallway, passing her parent's room and a storeroom. She opened the door of her room, wrinkling her nose at how messy her bed looked as she closed the door.
The closet door creaked a bit when she opened it. She could see bits of it peeling off even though it had been coated with a new polish. She arranged the folded clothes neatly on one side of the closet. Next, she arranged her shoes at the bottom of the other side.
She sat back on her heels, inspecting her work. On the other side, a shoe was jutting out at the corner. She rammed the shoe inside, trying to get it to fit inside but it kept sliding out. She pushed the shoe forcefully inside, hitting her hand hard against something inside.
She removed the shoe, flashing a torch inside to see a wooden board covering half of the end of the closet. It looks like a small compartment. She pushed her hand against it, surprised to hear a small clicking sound. Half of the board gave way, receding into the closet to reveal a small book.
She reached inside, taking out the book.
It looks like a journal.
She thought, turning it around.
The book was old, the corners of the pages turned brown and frayed, with bits of the pages falling off. A thin strip of cloth was tied around the book. She opened the drawer of a table next to her bed, dumping the book into it. She stood up, closing the closet doors after putting the shoe inside.
She jumped on her bed, cocooning herself with the blanket, turning around to get into a comfortable position. Eventually, after tossing around for some minutes, she fell asleep.
Ivy awoke, sweating as a sense of uneasiness dawned on her. She reached for the water on the table. Just as her fingers touch the glass, she remembered the book she found earlier. Forgetting about the water, she reached into the drawer, pulling out the book.
She sat back on the bed, her back resting against the headboard, untying the strip of cloth tied around the journal. She skimmed through the pages, careful not to tear the fragile papers. After reading for some minutes, she noticed changes in the writing. In the beginning, it contains the thoughts of a bubbling energetic teenager, seeing the world in her youthful eyes, but getting to the middle, the thoughts changed to more darkened, almost haunting thoughts.
The writer of the journal started writing consistently about a lady that haunts her in her dreams and reality. She fears that no one believes her and thought that she was going crazy. She conveyed the fear she felt so accurately that Ivy could almost feel the terror she went through. She turned the last pages over only to see a blank page. This must have been the last entry the girl made, she thought as she read the last entry.
She didn't feel any real fear until she read the words in block letters.
WHOEVER READS THIS IN THE FUTURE, DO NOT READ IT AFTER THE MIDNIGHT HOUR. IF YOU DO, SHE WILL COME FOR YOU AND WOULDN'T REST UNTIL SHE HAS CLAIMED YOUR SOUL.
Immediately she read those lines, the grandfather clock in the hallway gave out a small chirping sound as the ticking got louder. She realized instantly that the time is an hour after midnight.
"You're just being paranoid".
She told herself, feeling dread In the pit of her stomach. The dread coiled and twisted, trying to spring loose, rendering her powerless into accepting the thought of an imaginary woman coming to haunt her.
As she turned her attention back to the book, she felt a huff of breath behind her ears as it whispered a word, the heat of the breath caressing her neck.
She snapped her head towards the voice, rubbing the nape of her neck as she searched for the voice owner.
The dread twists again like a snake, trying to uncoil as fear rises like bile in her throat, ready to release a scream.
She hurriedly closed the book, slammed it into the drawer, and closed it shut. She closed her eyes, taking measured breaths, trying to calm her racing heartbeat.
"It's nothing, I didn't hear any voices. I am just being paranoid".
She whispered as she tried to convince herself, saying the words again as she lay back on the bed, covering herself fully with the blanket.
Her breath slowed and came out much easier as she drifted off to sleep. She didn't notice the drawer opening, the journal opening itself to the last page as the drawer shut closed.
She was so lost in sleep, she didn't see the face leaning towards her ear, the face that had a wide, almost manic grin as it whispered into her right ear.