When the Rain Refused To Let Up

Submitted into Contest #34 in response to: Write a story about a rainy day spent indoors.... view prompt

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Fantasy Drama Adventure

The family was staying in the house a lot more than they used to.

Another war? That was the first thing my mind leapt to. But as the younger brother carried in the mail, I scanned through it and noticed no propaganda screaming on the headlines. Nor any posters urging young people to enlist for the army. The father locked himself up in the office, the mother cooked for nearly every single meal, the younger brother and older sister did not go to school, even though it was a Monday.

I was definitely not used to the noise. As I wrote in my journal, telling you, my imaginary reader, of my observations, the sky covered itself in a shroud of grey, and began to rain. Droplets of water splashing like little red beans against the rooftop, sliding across the window pane next to me. Ah, they turned on the news, downstairs in the living room with the rickety-old TV. They never used to tune into the news channel.

‘As of today, there has been a grand total of 266,073 reported cases of Covid-19 in the world, as well as a total of 11184 deaths. The government will be enforcing a partial lockdown from March 18 to 31…’

I couldn’t make out the rest. The noise from the rain was too loud. Ah, it’s another virus pandemic. I suppose they’ll get over it somehow. They always do.

The stormy skies really threw in a tint of negativity to the entire ordeal. I would’ve headed downstairs to check out the news, but I was lazy that day. I wanted to sit by the window and watch the rain. The droplets of water, streaking downwards, as if every single drop of water was an individual of its own, racing its way towards the goal—the ground. Much like people, I supposed, always fighting for those almost identical goals, and yet whether they reach it is another question of its own. Forgive me for sounding pretentious, but believe me, I am very much qualified to talk about humanity. I’ve seen more than enough for myself.

My little moment of peace was broken when the door to the storeroom I was in opened. The younger brother clumsily made his way through the junk. I watched, half-amused. The nine-year-old kid I found quite cute, and I would’ve enjoyed cuddling him as much as his mom did, if only I could do so. He wondered around the storeroom, looking for something. He stumbled over a broom sticking out, tripping and falling with a crash. ‘Ow…’ he murmured. I stifled a little laugh, even though he couldn’t hear me anyways.

I was just writing the above entry when he suddenly looked upwards, at the pile of boxes I was sitting on top of, and said, ‘Hey, mister… please help me…’

I thought he was talking to his imaginary friend for a moment. He did have one, back when he was younger, maybe two or three years ago? I think he dubbed the imaginary friend ‘Big Bro’ or something along those lines—I had to flip back through my journal to check, and yes, the imaginary friend was called ‘Big Bro’, and the various works of fanart he had made depicted a muscular man in boxing gloves and only a pair of trousers. I wondered if all the boxing shows his father watched had gotten to him. Whatever the case may be, I doubt it was a good influence.

‘Hey, misterrrr…. My knee’s bleeding…’

It finally occurred to me that I should take a look at him, and when I lifted my head from my journal, he was looking straight at me. Not at the boxes, nor at the wall behind me, but me. As myself. Me.

‘You’re talking to me?’

That actually caught me off-guard. The pen I was casually scribbling in my journal with came to a halt.

‘Yeah, who else would I be talking to???’

He looked up at me, wide blue eyes pleading for help.

‘Ask your parents. I can’t help you.’

‘Why can’t you, mister?’

‘I’m a ghost, you know. Ghosts can’t touch people. Plus, your knee isn’t even hurt.’ I pointed at his left knee. ‘It’s just a light scrape. It’ll disappear by tomorrow.’

‘Really?’ he said. ‘But it hurts… Mister Ghost, can you cast a heal spell?’

‘No, I can’t.’

‘Aw—’ he complained. ‘Then what can you do?’

‘Nothing,’ I replied.

The kid touched his ‘injured’ knee gingerly. ‘But it feels better already,’ he said. ‘You must’ve casted the spell without me looking!’

‘Stop your fantasies.’

‘Hey, Mister Ghost,’ he moved on to another topic almost immediately. ‘Can you help me find the Monopoly set? I’m sure it’s in here.’

I was too lazy to move. The arduous task of searching through the storeroom was too much for me that day. Say what you will of the mother, but she has not been responsible in her duties with regards to the order of the storeroom. The towering masses of boxes, discarded toys, old, dusty books intimidated even me, a ghost who has been in the house for nearly a century since it was built. ‘Why do you want the Monopoly set?’ I chose to ask instead.

‘To play, of course!’

What I meant wasn’t quite that, but I can’t expect too much from a nine-year-old kid. ‘Dad isn’t working, Mom isn’t cooking, so we should play!’

‘Ah, ok.’

He poked his head into one of the dusty boxes and came up coughing. ‘We haven’t—cough—played in a long—cough—time,’ he said with much difficulty. ‘So, please help me, Mister Ghost!’

‘Argh, fine.’

I deposited my journal and floated down the big pile of boxes I was sitting on. The kid’s eyes lit up, like a candle burning bright. ‘Wow—you can fly! And you said you can’t do anything!’

‘Isn’t floating kind of basic for a ghost?’ I poked my head into another box—and by that I meant poking my head straight through the cardboard of the box. It’s more convenient to search this way, I suppose. The kid smiled and began opening more boxes, very nearly falling again.

‘Mister Ghost, how long have you been in this house? How did you become a ghost?’

Prying me with questions, now. ‘I’ve been in this house for… roundabout a century, I suppose. And if you’re interested, I died of cholera. It was a big thing back then.’

‘What is cho-le-ra?’ he pronounced the syllables like a pre-school kid reading a picture book.

‘A disease that makes you poop a lot and turns your face blue,’ I think I heard somebody explain it like that before. And it was a lot better than the explanation the doctor gave me at the time. ‘It hurt very bad.’

‘Would I get cholera?’

‘No. The pandemic ended a long time ago. At this rate you’re more likely to get infected with that Covid-virus than cholera. Isn’t that why they’re telling you not to go to school?’

‘Yeah! That’s why I like the virus!’

‘Oi, didn’t it kill more than a handful of people already?’

He gave no response, because he exploded into another fit of coughs. The dust was getting to him. I walked into another stack of boxes, spying something familiar as I crossed my eyes.

‘Oh yeah, it’s in here. Second box from the top.’

‘Yippee!’ he cheered. Grabbing a nearby stool, he climbed up and made a perilous attempt at moving away the first box. I was certain if his mom were to see this, she’d have a huge freakout right on the spot. Somehow, he managed to push the box away, just enough to reveal the Monopoly set stashed in the second box. He pulled it out carefully, setting it down on the floor.

The board was yellowing and old. The exterior box looked like it was going to wither away at any second. I remembered now—the older sister had demanded for it a long time back, wailing and crying for it, but they’ve hardly touched it since. I’m surprised the kid even knew of its existence. He hugged the dusty box against his chest, coughing heavily again as he did so. ‘Can you come play with us?’ he asked.

‘No way. They can’t see me, and I can’t touch the pieces either.’

‘Awww…’ his enthusiasm finally seemed to deflate for a bit. ‘I want to play with everyone…’

‘I’m not part of your family. I hardly even belong to this house anymore. You can just take the box and pretend you never saw me.’

He hung his head. He travelled across the treacherous labyrinth of the storeroom again and stumbled out of the door. ‘Bye, Mister Ghost.’ I gave a quick wave in response. Afterwards I just sat inside and finished embedding this record into my trusted journal, before I finally got over my ever-pressing apathy and headed downstairs.

Thunder flashed outside. As I floated down the stairs, the skies outside the windows brewed a threatening black, like God himself is angry at us. I wasn’t a big believer, but after my existence on this earth flickers out, surely there must be something waiting on the other side. An afterlife must exist, if ghosts can exist, right?

‘Papa, you’re cheating!’

Laughter echoed from the living room. Ah, it really was a lot noisier in the house than it has ever been for years. The father, the mother, the younger brother, and even the older sister, who had been occupying herself recently with exam studies, were in their respective seats around the dining table. What a rare sight.

I could’ve certainly given you, my imaginary reader, a full commentary of the game’s proceedings, but I’m certain you would be bored beyond salvation by the time I finished, so let’s speak only of final results of the game. With 2 victories for the father, 1 victory for the older sister, and 5 red cards to the younger brother for cheating, it was an epic showdown of wits—or so they had portrayed it, but if it all amounted to a game of fake money transactions, I saw no point in it all.

‘Papa, you must’ve cheated! You must’ve cheated!’ the little kid, dissatisfied at his utter defeat, howled in despair. The older sister cast upon him a most withering and disdainful glare, as if she were bemoaning fate for granting her such a childish little brother. In sharp contrast, the mother maintained a careful smile throughout the game—and consistently scored second in the three rounds of Monopoly they’d played. The father gave a victor’s smirk, which only caused the little kid to further explode.

It could’ve just stopped there, but it didn’t. The kid, being the sore loser he is, challenged the family to a game of soccer, but received a harsh reminder that it was raining outside. Instead, crumpling to the kid’s demands, they went with a game of video game soccer instead. In which the father was ruthlessly beaten to the ground, before he issued another challenge of video game wrestling. This he won without even breaking a sweat. The challenges continued. The mom headed off to the kitchen in the middle of the ruckus, in order to prepare dinner. The sun set, although it was hard to tell in midst of the unending rain.

I was writing this in a corner of the landing of the stairs when I was jostled back into reality by another fit of coughing. ‘Mister Ghost! Thank you for helping me find the Monopoly box! I had lots of fun!’

‘Oh, sure.’ Gratitude wasn’t something I was used to receiving.

He coughed again, but halfway through he sucked a breath in, successfully stifling the noise. ‘Hey, Mister Ghost, do everyone become ghosts when they die?’

‘If that was the case, the world would be overpopulated with ghosts. Course not. I’ve never even met another ghost other than myself.’ Although, to be frank, I had no right to say much, given that I’ve never even stepped foot outside of this house.

‘Aw… I wanted to become a ghost when I die, and hang out in the storeroom with you.’

‘Who knows?’ I shrugged. ‘You might just become one.’

‘Whoa! Then I can fly and pass through stuff and everything! That’d be super cool!’

I wanted to add that dying was not cool no matter how you looked at it, but stopped myself somehow.

As we discussed useless things like soccer and wrestling, we found ourselves gradually retreating into the dusty depths of the storeroom, earning more coughing on the kid’s part. His name was Sam, I finally recalled after all this time. Sam. A simple name.

The little kid lay down on the floor. ‘Today was the best day I’ve ever had, Mister Ghost. It was really fun.’ Again and again, he kept repeating that word. Fun. ‘I feel kinda tired though.’

‘Has your knee stopped hurting?’

‘Yeah, it stopped! Thanks to your healing!’

It was a lost cause to insist that I had no power of any sort, so I just sighed. ‘Isn’t your bedtime eight o’ clock?’ I asked.

‘Hehe, my mom won’t find me here.’ A mischievous grin spread across his face.

‘She would. She isn’t that dumb.’

He pouted instead. ‘Then, Mister Ghost? I wanted to ask you, how did it feel like to die? I just… kinda wanted to know?’

He was staring into the ceiling, not quite at me, anymore. ‘Eh, it’s relatively painless,’ I answered. ‘Your brain would break down anyways, so there’s nothing left to feel pain. And then… I don’t know anymore. When I woke up, I was a ghost, stuck here in this house.’

‘Then that’s good,’ he replied. His voice seemed softer than before.

He stopped speaking, and I realised he had fallen asleep, so I sat at my usual place, on top of the pile of boxes, looking outside the window—the rain had finally let up. Having nothing else to do, I penned this entry, until I was interrupted, once again, by the shouts of ‘Sam! Sam! Where are you?’

Sam remained asleep, up until the storeroom door burst open, and in strode his mother, obviously displeased. ‘Sam! Why are you sleeping here?’

His eyelids lifted. ‘Uh… I was talking with Mister Ghost…’

The mother frowned, before kneeling down and resting a hand on his shoulder. ‘There. The storeroom’s really dirty, and it’s filled with spiders too.’ She made wiggly motions with her hands. ‘Next time, don’t—’

Her hand went to his forehead. ‘Oh, my. You’re burning up.’

At that precise timing, he let loose the most violent fit of coughing I’d heard from him for the entire day. Lasting nearly half a minute, loud and almost… painful.

‘Mom… will I be alright?’

Somebody turned on the TV downstairs. ‘If you have any of these symptoms listed below, please report to your nearest hospital immediately. Symptoms of Covid-19 include coughing, sneezing, fever over 37.5 Celsius, and difficulty breathing…’

Ah.

In that instant, we all knew.

The silhouette of the car departing from the garage, gaining speed almost illegally fast. The entire family. The father. The mother. The older sister. The younger brother. All of them, gone in an instant, leaving a hollow husk of a house behind.

It was a fun day, wasn’t it? At least you had the sense to spend your last day well.

The people in white coats came in a few days later. Holding white umbrellas to shelter themselves from the rain, coated in white, astronaut-like suits and equipped with a sprayer that released stinky-smelling disinfectant all over the house. When they finally left for the day, the rain was still not letting up. At this rate, there’d be a flood soon enough.

And so I sit in the dusty storeroom, waiting for the day when they’d come back, somehow recovered. Or for the ‘For Sale’ sign go up on the front gates. Another cycle. It would’ve happened someday, anyway.

But that would be unbearably painful to watch, wouldn’t it? The memories of this house, obliterated once again.

Wouldn’t it, Sam?

The dust gathered on the boxes, and the stormy skies persisted in its rampage.

When will the sky finally clear up, I wondered? 

March 23, 2020 14:33

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1 comment

Leah Friedman
13:34 Apr 03, 2020

This is great! I love how unique the writing style is. The only thing that I wish is that we could get a bit more backstory on the ghost. But overall, great writing!

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