Things to do in Freehold

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Chapter Thirty-five:

Patrick Mackenzie (Night of September 10, 1994)

Zack and I were in the kitchen, helping Ma make snickerdoodles while we snitched some of the sweet dough for ourselves. “So why so many cookies, Ma?”

“Well, Mrs. Ricci mentioned to me the other day that you guys have a bake sale coming up at your school,” she answered, rolling a ball of dough in a bowl of brown sugar. “Just be sure to not to tell her we’re using instant cookie dough mix.”

I beamed up at her and suddenly, there was a knock at the door. For a brief moment, we all froze, even Ma. I looked over at her hands. They were shaking like crazy. Knock! Knock! We heard it once again.

“I’ll get it,” I heard Pops say as he came down the stairs.

“Are you expecting someone, Ma?” I asked.

“Uh, no, I’m not. I have no idea who that is,” Ma responded. “Keep rolling; I’ll be right back.”

I watched as Ma left the kitchen, clutching her stomach. Since I had a difficult time reading people and their emotions, Ma came up with her own set of signals for me to understand her, even when she wasn’t talking. Clutching onto her stomach was her way of telling me she was either feeling uncomfortable or unsafe. If she grabbed onto it tightly, she was demanding I keep my distance. Her veins were popping out, her grip was so tight.

“Who was it?” I heard Ma say after the door closed.

“I don’t know, she didn’t say,” Pops explained, walking into the kitchen with Ma following closely behind him.

“She?” Ma asked.

“The old woman,” Pops answered. “It was weird. She just stood there, looking at the house and at me.”

“She didn’t say anything?” Ma unclutched her belly.

“She just said she had the wrong house and walked away,” Pops grabbed a water bottle out of the fridge and took a seat next to me at the table. “I don’t know who an old broad like that could be trying to visit at this hour, though.”

“Speaking of which,” Ma switched her attention over to us. “Boys, you’ve been a great help, but I think it’s about time you get ready for bed.”

Zack and I washed our hands in the kitchen sink, then ran upstairs to brush our teeth and put on our pjs. While there, I noticed something outside my bedroom window, someone. At first glance, I thought it was the faceless man from my dream, standing in our side yard. Instead, it was a faceless woman. Why was Ma so afraid of that knock at the door? Who was she expecting to be there?

“So where did your brother disappear to?” Zack asked, coming out of the bathroom, making the hairs on my neck stand straight up.

“Uh, I don’t know,” I answered, taking a seat on the edge of my bed. “He didn’t say. He just ate dinner, then left.”

“It must’ve had something to do with that Adeline chick I overheard him and Brian talking about earlier.”

“You think?”

“Mhm. Apparently, he’s crazy about her.”

“Huh,” I said, reminiscing about yesterday. I guess that would explain why he was acting so strange around her.

“Well, goodnight,” Zack told me, getting comfortable on his side of the bed. He had his back facing towards me, so I couldn’t tell if his eyes were already closed or not.

Nevertheless, I decided it was time I went to sleep as well. While getting up to walk over to my nightstand to turn off the lamp, I peeked out the window once more to check if the woman had still been there. She was gone and at last, I could rest peacefully. That was until a couple of hours went by.

Knock, knock. I slowly opened my eyes, only to find the faceless woman knocking on the window. Her stringy grey hair blew in the wind as she smiled at me with her razor sharp teeth. I immediately sat up straight, nearly jumping out of my own skin. I was so horrified, I didn’t even let out a scream. Instead, I just cried in dead silence.

“Zack,” I repeated over and over, nudging at him, trying vigorously to wake him up. He would moan and groan, but not once did his eyes open. “Zack, wake up, there’s a—”

As I looked back at the window, I saw that the woman had disappeared once again. It’s just a silly nightmare, I told myself. Still, I slept with one eye open for the rest of the night.

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