Fire. Glitches of fire, then it was pitch black with just a small beam of light on a simple brown urn. It felt cold and empty like this was what loneliness felt like, only it was for an eternity. Then there was another glitch and in the distance, a man was hunched over, but it was facing to where you could only see its back. You could hear it, the aggressive breathing like someone was suffocating through a gas mask.
You could also hear in the distance, murmuring. It was like someone, or something, was screaming, but only it was continuous as if it was trying to say something. Then where it stood, bones started cracking as it stood up straight. Slowly, but loudly, it turned its neck all the way, leaving its body unmoved. Because it was completely dark, the face remained unknown, but its body shape was disoriented. As soon as the man's neck stopped turned, the murmuring stopped, and the sound of falling drops of water and fire cracking filled the silence. The screaming stopped in the distance and the sound of a clock ticking echoed across the darkness.
Then the man quickly crawled its way towards her, murmuring and screaming in agony the entire way, it was just seconds before it reached her. She tried to move, no muscles moved. She tried to scream, but nothing escaped from her mouth. The creature crawled faster with a choir of laughter and raised both its claws, ready to strike it across her…
Ms.Willows woke up.
Ms.Willows stared at her bookshelf, hoping for an idea to pop in her head for just that one spot that was missing something. She's had this bookshelf for the past few days and nothing came to mind on what to put there. She stroked her chin in hopes that it would help her think, but her mind remained blank. She crossed her arms after pulling her glasses back up to her eyes, maybe she should go to a quick stop at the thrift store. They’ve got to have something there. She grabbed her fur coat and stepped out into the winter air. On the way to her car, the snow under her feet crunched at every step. As soon as she closed the door of her car, she immediately turned on the warm air and felt the heat melt away the cold that tightened her skin. She looked into the mirror, fluffed her blond hair, and examined the lines of her wrinkles from old age. Next to the mirror she stared in was a picture of a man. Ms.Willows never knew who he was but she always forgot to take the picture out. She told herself she’ll have to do it after she’s done. So with that, she backed out of her driveway and drove to the nearest thrift store.
Walking through the thrift store reminded her of her grandmother. Her house smelled musky but it wasn’t so bad, just a slight essence of wool with a mix of the smallest essence of cigarette smoke from her next door neighbor. She always told her grandmother to close the windows to prevent the smell of smoke coming in, but she always said that she loved the small gust of wind that flew around her room and sometimes whispered in her ears but spoke no words. She never understood what she meant by that.
Ms.Willows walked around, scanning the store for anything that would fit among her bookshelf. Only clothes caught her eyes, so she walked towards the back. Normally they have shelves of random stuff. She made her way towards the back, her eyes fixed on what looked like a vase, maybe she could put some flowers in there and just put that on her bookshelf. As she walked, her eyes drifted off to looking at the cloths instead. It was crazy how there were so many cloths but yet none of them were her type. After looking around for a short period of time, she decided that it was time to go home, completely forgetting about the vase.
She sat there on her table with a plate of food in front of her, staring at the bookshelf as if she hoped for something to come out of thin air and fill up that empty spot. It didn’t work. She took another bite of her food in disappointment, something should’ve been there by now. She stared out her open window and the wind slowly crept around her room, blowing slightly in her ear as if whispering something. There was a small scent around the room that she couldn’t quiet make out.
Just as she finished her last bite of her food, there was a knock on her door.
Come in she called.
Grandma, how many times have I told you to not let random strangers in the house, what if I was someone else? And how many times have I told you to stop opening the window, you’re making the smell of cigarettes come in here.
Oh hey Marley girl.
Grandma, my name is Charlie, did you forget to take your medication today?
Ms.Willows stared at the girl in front of her, she knows that face but yet doesn’t remember, I have medication?
Grandma yes! Its that note right in front of you!
She looked in front of her, and there on the table was a sticky note that read take medication.
You know what happens when you don’t read that, you better not have gone out today.
She shook her head, I didn’t.
Good, now I have to go, just wanted to check in with you, I love you and take your medication!
And with that, Charlie closed the front door and left. Ms.Willows watched as she got in her car and drove away, already forgetting who that girl was.
She looked down at her plate of food, wondering where it all went. But all she did was look up at that same spot in the bookshelf, something needed to go there. All that was up there was a picture of that same man as the one in the car, only he had his arm around her. She gazed at the picture through her glasses, Charlie always told her that was her love of her life, but he passed. Ms.Willows always knew she was joking, she would’ve remembered him.
After staring at the picture for a few minutes, she then decided to put her plate away and walk across her hall, not sure where to. She stopped in front of a door, there was a sticky note that said basement. So she opened it and there was another sticky note that said watch your step. Ms.Willows slowly went down the stairs, hoping to find more of these sticky notes, but down the stairs was pitch black. There was a small beam of light that shone on top of a brown urn. Perfect! It would go perfect on the bookshelf! So she made her way towards it, stretching her hands out like a baby asking to be held, it felt very cold down here, and for some reason, everything was covered in black ash, almost as if there was a fire down here. Ms.Willows ignored that realization and grabbed the urn, making her way back up the stairs.
She grabbed herself a step stool to make sure she didn’t drop it. She placed it in that very spot of emptiness, it went perfect.
So that night, Ms.Willows went to bed with a smile on her face. The one thing she needed was found. When she drifted off to sleep, she had the same dream once again, only it was a little different. This time, the fire was more intense, the room wasn’t as pitch black, it was more like a basement. But that man remained there, only he was lying on the floor, screaming once more. Ms.Willows tried to walk towards to man, but once again, couldn’t move. The intense breathing came again, the room became foggy as dark shapes appeared, running towards the man. The murmurs became a bit more clear, sounded like a he’s here, he’s in here! But the man seemed to still be screaming and mumbling. The shapes continued talking, whats he saying? I think he’s saying he wants his wife. He’s asking if shes okay. Sir! Can you hear me? Whats your name? Whats your wife’s name! We need to get him out of this fire! The murmuring continued and turned to screaming. He said Marie Willows! His wife’s name is Marie Willows! Sir! Whats your name! But the fog disappeared as the urn appeared once more in the darkness.
That morning, Ms.Willows felt disturbed but she couldn’t exactly figure out why. That urn was looking more familiar to her now and she didn’t know why. Everything was always feeling familiar though. She drank her coffee as her glasses stood on the table. She stared out the open window again, but her eyes kept drifting off to that urn. There was something yellow on it, maybe a sticky note? She got up to look more closely at it, does that say Harry?
Ms.Willows sighed and reached up to grab it so she could read it better, but she didn’t use a step stool to grab it this time, so the cause of not using a step stool was horrifying. The urn slipped right through her fingers, slowly falling into the floor, breaking in the process. It scattered all over the floor, but among the broken pieces of the urn, were ashes. The yellow sticky note slowly drifted to the floor and landed on her foot, reading Henry Willows ashes. Do not touch!