“Please don’t do it! Please, I am begging you. I said I am sorry. I know it was my fault but we can make it even. If we try we can talk it out. Listen to me, Maria. Noo! Maria!” I screamed as I saw the bewildered woman jump from the tenth floor of our apartment in front of my naked eyes.
Her cold stare, honey melted eyes found me sitting upright clutching the cotton sheets staring at the old town clock with both its hands striking at twelve.
It was a dream.
The glittering splotches in the sky saw me puffing against the headboard mumbling some broken words with my hoarse voice. It wasn’t unusual having nightmares about Maria after she suicided but an embedded brick in my heart still provoked an indescribable feeling, maybe guilt or fear or regret- I couldn’t tell. It was like an ink soup favouring many shades.
A sudden voice of knuckles meeting the wood filled the midnight air. Someone was knocking at the front porch.
A cold shiver advanced through my spine. The sprouting sweat beads that seemed to cool down a bit were now back in business with my increasing heartbeat. Who can it be? At this hour?
My eyeballs burned in sleep but I forced my knees to open their folds and get out of bed.
When you are alone at home, sometimes the tiniest noises seem to scare you, putting the most abrupt thoughts in your skull on activation. At night, it gets a lot worse. I moved softly towards the door with my padded feet when the knock again struck my ears.
“I am coming” I squeaked, barely making it audible. I cleared my throat and again repeated it rather in a firm voice.
Before me, was standing a blond youth wearing a casual orange neon jacket, loose pants, his feet accompanied with orange running shoes. But something was off. His smooth face was masked with a horrified look. He was bursting into muck sweat, his left arm resting on the hinge of the wooden door.
“What happened, man! Nightmares booked your show too?” I asked facetiously.
He shot me a perplexed look as if saying what?
“Oh, nothing. But what happened to you?”
“I..There...came to...dog... saw” His panting took up more space than his words. A tingle arose underneath my skin.
“First of all calm down and come in. I’ll bring you some water.” I said and made Peter sit on the sofa.
I stared at Peter’s vocal folds as he shovelled big gulps of water. After a few minutes, my voice disturbed the silence.
“Okay, now tell me what happened.”
Peter took a deep sigh and started “Ok so, Chip (Peter’s Dalmatian) was acting really weird all night, weeping in a corner, making weird noises so I decided to take him out for a stroll. I was wandering around the pool, plucking flowers and singing ‘Hey Jude by ‘course Beatles when I saw her.” His voice quivered away and a scared look hovered over his eyes.
I cocked my eyebrows. “Saw who?” I said pressing my lips in a thin pink line.
“She was, huh, dangerous and her eyes...her eyes, they burned bright like fire but her face stood cold, like a sheet of ice on the water. She looked as if desperate for revenge. She was a spirit. An unsatisfied soul seeking revenge. She-” His voice lurched, fumbling into the dark silence of the room. His fingers were trembling, his mouth half hung as if he was submerged in deep thoughts.
I rose from my chair. “Peter, you’re hallucinating. There is nothing like ghosts or anguished souls. You’ve had a sleepless night. I think you should go to sleep.”
“No! No, it’s true. I know-” He said, tilting his head in a weird angle, pointing his lead finger to nothingness, just like the psychopaths they show in movies.
“Fine, then I’ll prove it. I will go where you saw the so-called ghost and let’s see if your eyes misguided you or not-” A knight feeling took over my body “-But wait a minute, where is Chip? You said you took him for a stroll with you.”
“Maybe near the pool.”
I raised my brows Seriously dude?
We were followed by trails of stars and constellations but no moon. The bellowing night winds carried the snores of sleeping people (which I should have been part of) owl hoots and little disguised chirpings across the woods. We were forging ahead towards the pool area when we heard a low cry of an animal.
“It must be Chip,” I assured Peter and of course, I was right. The Dalmatian was sitting on his overlapped limbs, whining for his master, wondering where he had runoff.
Thank God, dogs can’t speak, you never know what they’ll cough up next. And trust me, he looked pretty mad at his owner for being such a jerk. Chip’s loud bark dissolved with sudden dampness in the air.
Then my eyes fell on it. The one thing I still regret.
A woman was standing under the street light, facing her back towards us. She had dark flowing hair and a black dress with a red rose pinned at her waist.
“Uh-Peter is this-” I turned back but Peter wasn’t there. He and his dog had disappeared into the thick frosts of the night. Such a good way to say ‘thank you.
I took a few steps forward and yelled “Who are you?” My voice just seemed to strike through the air but never came back. The bleak grew with every step.
“Your death” Her shrill voice pierced right through my skin making the hair on my arms jolt up.
“Who are you?” I repeated again foolishly. That works for humans. They give a different answer. But not ghosts.
The reaped soul turned her face towards me with a sudden jerk. My heart crept into my throat. “No, this can’t be” I whimpered.
The next moment I knew, my feet couldn’t touch the ground, they were struggling in mid-air. Sharp nails were buried in my throat with a wild woman just an inch away from my nose.
“Let-me-go” I struggled to speak but only a crumbled voice got conveyed through.
Her red eyes resembled the bloody moon that had been dissolved in the dark realm leaving the dullness on the whole.
“I Am Your Death” She guffawed.
“Let-me-go” I repeated myself (I never learn, do I?) making it a bit audible this time. My request got answered by a burst of laughter.
“As your wish” She tilted her head with a hair prickling smirk curled up on her face.
She released my throat and I fell on the ground with a sudden thump. I felt my head slam a hard stone and the colours from the world seemed to seep away. Slowly I was covered in dark black mist with one fear clutching my heart. Will I see the light again?
My pupil did meet the light after all and found my soul staring at a whitewashed wall. I was dressed up in hospital clothes, lying listlessly on the bed. My whole body felt like getting stabbed every minute and my thoughts were making a hue and cry. My loneliness was dispersed with the entry of a blond man. A cowardly man who ran away. His eyes carried days of worry and fear.
“Are you ok?” His voice tightened the grip of pain in my spine.
I replied with a tiny voice.
“Man! I told you she was a spirit. What did she do to you? It’s impressive you’re still alive. Do you know who she was?”
The questions tend to take me back to yesterday’s night, or maybe a few nights before. Her devilish smile and thirsty sockets still gave me the creeps.
“Maria,” I answered.