I'm sure it’s goin 2 be okay, Sarah. still, it doesn’t hurt 2 let someone know. just in case...
call not connectin. don't know what's happenin with my signal.
still not able 2 reach U. Grrr. I hate this. typin, walkin, lookin around. yeah, I'm not a multitaskin queen. I get it. LOL
did U see my email? call me
To: Sarah Marie John
From: Samah Marie John
Subject: Can't reach you on phone
I am sorry I kept ignoring your calls for weeks. Mom tried to call too. I saw all of your messages and I know you were really worried. There is a lot going on.
I don't want to beat around the bush here. I’ve got news for you! Andrew is alive! The pompous, good for nothing ex-boyfriend of mine? Yes, exactly. And wasn’t he supposed to be dead? Yes to that too. But I swear it was him, Sarah. I saw him with my own eyes.
It was two weeks ago. I had just closed up the coffee shop and put the keys in my bag. I turned around and there he was. Standing across the street and watching me with a smug smile. My heart skipped a beat. My knees were about to hit the asphalt and I immediately reached for the railing. He looked a bit different. Leaner. Tired. Was it really him? Would it be possible that he was some random guy who looked like Andrew? Like a doppelganger? Intuition was telling me that there was something else going on but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. The twinkle in his eyes. The knowing smile on his face. The jingle bells scarf around his neck. The scarf – I had seen it before. It looked like the one I gifted him last Christmas. You remember that, don’t you? You thought it was hideous. I thought the same too. Andrew wanted it. So I got him one. Looking back, you were right about him, Sarah. He was weird. And I was too blind to notice it.
I saw his legs moving and it looked like he was walking over to where I was standing. I froze, rooted to the spot. But then I saw him pulling the phone out of his jeans pocket and moving aside to answer an incoming call. Seizing the opportunity, I bolted for my car.
By the time I reached home, I was shaking like a leaf. I threw the bag on the sofa, ran around my apartment shutting all the doors and windows. I hadn’t been this frightened since I was nine years old and got locked in the car. The sight of him standing there brought in a steady stream of memories, thoughts, feelings – none of them was pleasant. Andrew was dead. That’s what the policeman said on the phone. Andrew and three of his friends were involved in a bad skiing accident. There was an avalanche. And despite the vigorous search, their bodies were never found. When I was finished with the call I was relieved. Then I felt guilty for feeling relieved.
Was he really that bad, Sarah? It was so easy for me to fall in love with him you know. I thought he was the perfect boyfriend material. The hard part came much later – staying in love. You and mom didn’t believe me when I said he wasn’t violent. It was true. He never was. Not physically at least. After the novelty wore off, he just became insufferable. Hopped from one temper tantrum to the other. He screamed. Said hateful things. But never raised his hand to me. Would it have changed had we continued to live together? *Shudders*
Somewhere along the journey, I stopped feeling anything for him. Not love. Not even indifference. But I stayed. I know his kind. I had to take it slow. I thought I would just act aloof around him and he would eventually get bored and break things off. But the silent treatment didn’t work. I continued to wait. And while he was on the skiing trip with his friends, I thought it over. I was ready to finally have the ‘talk’ with him when he came back. And then, the call came. Just like that, I was free.
So if someone says I should have shed a tear or two for my dead ex-boyfriend, I have a piece of advice for them. ‘Get yourself a nasty boyfriend and then we can talk about it.’
Seeing Andrew was definitely a shocker for me. But little did I know that time, it was only the start. Not sure when I started to feel like something odd was happening around me. Suddenly, Andrew was everywhere – the coffee shop, the church, the library. I would feel his eyes on me. My neck would stiffen and a tingling sensation would spread all over. I can’t really explain it you know. But it was there. I didn’t know whom to tell. Would someone have believed me? You know what, Sarah. Paranoia is fiction until you experience it yourself.
I was fine when I was in the coffee shop. Working. Talking. Laughing. But it would change when I got back home. What I once thought was a cosy, little apartment started to suffocate me. I would enter my home, close the door softly and walk around carefully without making any sound even though I was the only person living here. The lights in my bedroom – they were turning dimmer day by day. The hallway to my apartment – it was looking narrower than usual. I would stay up all night waiting for morning to come so I could dress and leave home.
Last weekend when Amira asked me if I wanted to join her for a pizza, I didn’t think twice before saying ‘yes’. Amira and pizza – not my favourites. But I was desperate. I had a nice time with them though, Sarah. Sometimes this is all you need, give others a chance. Amira turned out to be a great company. The pizza wasn’t bad either. We ate. Drank. Gossiped. Bitched. I went to bed with a smile on my face. But when morning came, my mood was sour again. It was like, someone or something was out there deliberately trying to snatch the light from me. Turning my world to a dark, scary place.
I know. I know. I could’ve. I should’ve. I know.
Hey! Do you still remember the small white brick house on the side of the river? The one with a rose garden in front? That’s where I am going to go now.
I have a confession to make, Sarah. I followed Andrew here. He was standing outside the coffee shop today, his eyes following every movement of mine. Don’t know what got to me when I saw him getting into his truck. I told Amira I had an emergency and took off after him. I stayed behind his truck, close enough to keep him in sight, but not too close to arousing any suspicion. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him heading towards the river. I simply gawked and stared while he parked the car by the riverside and walked towards the house. Do you remember my little obsession with that house when we were kids? I would always talk about how I wanted a house like that when I grew up, with a garden and fountain in front. And you would tell me that it looked like a Halloween prop, just to spite me.
But why would Andrew stay on this side of the town? And that too in an abandoned house like this? With a garden that looks like a jungle with all the weeds growing in between the rose beds and a dry fountain? Surely he can afford a Hilton or a Sheraton, right?
What I am going to do might be the dumbest thing I have ever done in my life. And I might live to regret it. But it needs to be done. This has gone too far. It’s time I face him. It’s time I face my fears.
Call me when you see this email K?
Love you sis
no signal again, Sarah. I think I've waited enough. i'm goin to go in now.
there go all my childhood fantasies! the house is nothin like I've imagined it 2 be. U were right again. it does look like a cheap halloween prop. everythin creaks here. floor. door. creaks. squeaks.
the air smells funny. mothballs, dust and somethin else. that’s not even the worst part. this place looks like it hasn’t seen water or a broom for decades. grime and mold everywhere. Yuck!
the walls. look so crumbled. what if they collapse? OMG! It’s startin to creep me out, Sarah. in a horror movie kind of way. i hear alarm bells. gettin louder now. is it too late to turn back and run? but I've come this far. haven't I? I'm tired. of bein scared. of every noise. of my own shadow. of bein a victim. it’s time. to face my fear. to face it and be done with it.
4: 34 PM
hearin footsteps now, Sarah. is it too late to turn back and run? they are comin closer. call me. no. can you come? the small white brick house on the side of the river. with a rose garden and a fountain in the front. you know where it is, right?
i'm sure it’s goin to be okay. still, it doesn’t hurt to let someone know. just in case…