The house was dirty. The walls were covered with cracked paint that long ago lost all luster. As dust clung to the old pictures of happier times, the house had a ghostly feel. I looked around and felt a twinge of familiarity.
Hearing footsteps, I turned to see a young girl headed straight towards me. My breath stopped as I looked at her. She had angry, mascara smudged, eyes and a bright red blossom on her right cheek that would surely turn into a bruise. Her hair was short and black; styled so it gave off a spiked look. Her denim jeans were faded and a hole was beginning to form in the right knee. Recognition hit and I knew that young girl was me.
I went to say something. The girl walked right through me. I whirled around. Words were just about to escape my lips when a loud voice paralyzed me. It was a voice I’ve heard many times before. As fear held me, I suddenly remembered what would happen next. I turned to face the voice. The owner was barreling down the hall in a drunken stupor. His eyes blazed with anger as he favored his right leg.
“You little shit!” the man’s voice boomed like thunder in the quiet house. I shook off my fear and put my hand out shouting “run!” at the young girl hoping, willing she would hear me. But the angry man just passed through me. I let out a frustrated scream and turned to watch the scene unfold in front of my tear filled eyes. He was a big man, almost six-feet tall. He towered over the girl as he reached her. His face was covered in stubble that added years to his age, and his bloodshot eyes focused on the girl.
“How dare you kick me! I am your father, damn it! You will do as I say, when I say it! If I tell you you’re not leaving this house,then you better unpack your damn bag and stay!” He shouted at her.
“No!” She screamed back, her own temper coming out like shield. “How dare you! I should have kicked a little higher and broken your damn knee you drunken bastard! This“ she pointed to the cheek that held the blossoming mark “this is NOT ok! I’ve put up with your shit for years because I was too young to leave, well not anymore, I’ll see hell freeze over before I spend one more night in this house where you can use me as your own personal punching bag!” I watched in silence. A part of me wanted to cheer the young girl on, to encourage her not to let anyone treat her that way. But a little part of me wanted to tell her to stop. “You claim you’re my father, HA! You stopped being my father the day you jumped off the wagon and started your liquid diet. That is the day the man I once knew and looked up too died” the young girl screamed back, hatred laced with sorrow dripped from every word.
I could see the anger radiating off the man as his hands balled into fist. I felt the familiar twinge of fear as my brain screamed at me to do something. The young girl squared her shoulders. I ran faster. She looked him straight in the eyes and turned her back to him without another word. The look in her eyes said it all. I picked up my pace but the hallway seemed to extend, never letting me get any closer. I watched in horror as I relived the horrible night.
I reached my hand out and yelled “NO!” as I watched the man grab her arm. She fought and tried to break free, but his grip was like a vice. I saw the young girl say something as she continued to struggle. I let out a gasp as his hand came up and a sickening sound filled the hallway. I watch in horror as her body hit the stairs and bounced. As she hit the second time, the world shattered and I was standing in darkness.
Slowly the blackness started fading, and I found myself in a derelict garden. I pivoted slowly, squinting in the semi dark, taking in my surroundings. The mist filled sky gave off a murky light as I surveyed the dried up vines and withered bushes. I looked around for the body of the young girl but I found nothing. Confusion set in. A chill in the night air tingled as it ran up my back beneath the satin robe.
The mist started to clear and I found myself facing an imposing, dilapidated structure. The crumbling façade told me it was some sort of old Victorian mansion.
The flicker of a single light stood out against the dark night. Through a shabby lace curtain in the window, I made out a silhouette of someone in the room. Crouching down for a moment, afraid to be seen, I slowly crept towards the house. My curiosity won over my fear as I approached the mansion that my brain kept telling me was best observed from far away.
Hesitating in front of the house, I squinted, trying desperately to see more detail. I stood there, staring, for what seemed like hours.All I could make out was the severe disrepair. The walls were covered with vines and the shutters were either missing or barely hanging from a rusty hinge. The entire house appeared as it would collapse at any moment.
I gingerly placed my bare right foot on the first rotting, wooden, porch step and tested it. Leaning forward, the tarpaper-covered plank flexed, but held fast. I cautiously put my left foot on the next step and it creaked but did not give way. =My confidence was fleeting as I place my foot on the next step when the board gave way and my foot fell clean through with a crack. A severe, but brief, white hot pain pierced my ankle as I found myself knee deep in the stoop.
As I wiggled my foot to make sure everything was ok, I felt something slither against my leg. A small scream escaped my lips and I felt my body stiffen. After a few moments I quickly felt around for something secure to grab onto. With my upper body in a secure position I moved my foot around, looking for a foothold so I could hoist myself out. A triumphant smile played on my lips as I transferred all my weight and pulled my throbbing foot from the abyss and proceeded up the stair with renewed caution. Thanks to the sliver of light cast between the curtains by the front door, I was able to notice the less worn pattern of the wood to one side was stronger. Using that, I made my way to the front door.
The darkness seemed to thicken as I approached the door. I lifted my hand to push on the peeling paint, barely recognizing anything in the dark. Just as I was about to touch the door, very slowly, it opened.
“Katsia.” I heard a soft whisper, as if the house itself was calling to me, my name echo through the house as the door opened all the way, inviting me in.
A warm glow greeted me. Mesmerized I took a cautious step into the house. Once inside, the mesmerizing glow took off up the stairs. I was left shivering in the darkness. I looked around but I could barely see an inch in front of my face.
“Katsia...Katsia” a soft voice chanted my name.
The sound seemed to encase me. I shook my head as I started to back up towards the door. I could feel the blood drain from my face and the dizziness set in. But before my body could give into the fainting, a loud BANG made me jump and come back to my senses.
I felt the familiar hand of fear grip me as hard as I grasped the handle on the front door. I pulled and pulled with all my might, but I could not get the door to budge.
“DAMN!” I shouted as once again the mysterious voice called my name.
“Katisa...” the chanting of my name grew louder and louder until I couldn’t tell if it was in my head or all around me. I clasped my hands over my ears and tried to stop a sob from escaping. It sounded like...but I shook my head in denial and realized the loud chanting faded to a dull whisper.
I took a deep breath and strained to listen more closely. I looked up the stairs towards the light. Every time the mysterious voice said my name the light pulsed. It was beckoning me. My body involuntarily moved up the staircase. Even the most worthy moth could not resist warm glow. I closed my eyes tightly as the light got brighter. Behind my eyes all I could see is white. My body continued to float toward the light, my toes barely brushing over the hand-loomed Persian rug. I braced myself to feel the scorching heat that should have matched the intensity of the light, but it did not burn. Slowly the light receded and I was able to open my eyes. Blinking a few times to remove the white spots from my vision, I stood in front of an orange-red glow and the more I focused, the more I could make out a blue figure standing in the center of the room. I squinted, willing myself to look harder, but the light was doing its best to keep my vision to a minimum. The silhouetted figure was all I could see as I heard my name being chanted once again.
The light finally dimmed down and the specter began to form more recognizable features. My feet touched the floor. It felt like a hand released me. But the feeling was fleeting. I tried to move closer, but found myself frozen in place as if I was standing in a pile of glue. I tried to find my voice. The words ‘who are you?’ and ‘what do you want?’ kept forming in my head but I could not bring myself to utter them. I felt warm liquid start running down my cheeks as the figure became clearer.
“It’s ok Katsia, I’m here now. Come to me. Join me.” The voice was sweet and melodic.. As the figure became clear I felt the urge to scream ‘you’re not real!’ but once again no scream came out. I was only able to utter one word and it came out like a whisper.
I watched in horror as the figure turned to me. There standing before me was my dead mother, her arms outstretched, palms face up. She was in a dirty white gown that was torn and rotted away. Her once luscious black hair was now dull and matted. Her angelic face was now gaunt and sunken in. She focused her once happy eyes onto mine and I noticed the dull, glassy, look they now held. I stared in horror as the scars on her upturned wrist burst open and blood pooled onto the floor. I tried to turn, to run, too get away from the sight, but I couldn’t move. I was helpless.
I closed my eyes tightly and muttered ‘you’re not real, you’re not real’ like my sister taught me when I was younger and scared.
“LOOK AT ME!” She shouted and I obeyed. She started walking towards me, angling her wrist so I could see the constant flow of blood poor out of her. “It’s your fault, all your fault” she cried as she continued her slow walk in my direction. “You saw the signs, you knew where I was headed, yet you did nothing!” she screamed.
I closed my eyes and screamed my denial. I could feel her breath next to my face as I sobbed, knowing that deep down she was right; it was all my fault.
The breath ceased, and silence followed. I opened my eyes and looked around the room. No blood, no signs that the last few minutes happened. I took a closer look and realized I was no longer in the strange mansion but back in my old hallway. I approached the door that was cracked open. It had a light on. I slowly opened the door, and screamed.