*Quick preface, this was originally meant to be a horror story, but turned more into a tragedy. If you could tell me what you were feeling while reading, or some general horror tips I would greatly appreciate it
The engine of the car was soft, much like how my son was when he was a baby. The image of his plump pink cheeks, his chubby feeble toes, and his irradiating smile brought about cold shadows in my car as we drove forward. To save myself from depression, I looked at the cloudy sky. They were menacing, signaling an upcoming storm, yet they were still better than dealing with those dark shadows of days past.
I gently put my foot on the break as I came to a stop sign. I turned along with the car, as we faced down a long a lonely stretch of forest road. We continued on for a few unbearably long minutes, only glancing occasionally at the shadowy figure to my right.
With one final left turn, we arrived at an old home, hidden away in the forest. The car slowly crept into the drive way, leaving me to stare into a cold empty house. For a moment, its black windows acted like movie screens, playing footage of warmer days, but the picture didn’t last. Soon blackness overtook those sunny days, reminding me of what this place had become.
As I turned off the comforting engine, I turned to glance at my wife, hidden away in the shadows the car, and the past. She stared out the window with a blank lifeless stare. Her sunken eyes, cracked lips, and tangled graying hair gave her an uncomforting look of insanity. She was like that the entire trip from the hospital. Not knowing whether she was asleep, I leaned over to ear to whisper softly into her ear.
“Emma, we’re home.”
I got a weak response of acknowledgement from her, and she opened her door and left, taking her shadow with her. Fear gripped me, I was scared to open that door, to pursue the dark figure that made its way to that equally dark home. No, it wasn’t a home anymore, not since he left us.
I got out of my car, gently caressing its bright red color with the tip of my finger. He always said it reminded him of apples. Like lightning, I instantly banished the image of my son from my thoughts, just before the tears started to come. I am home, with my wife. I did my crying all ready, now was the time to be strong, for her, for me.
I made my way through the door and into our poorly lit house. It was ill kept, with dust everywhere, showing the shadows where once happy portraits stood. I looked at my wife, who stared at the invisible frames that littered our house with a look of sad reminiscence.
I asked if she wanted any food, but she rejected my offer meekly, saying she would rather go to bed. Although the night was certainly coming, it was still seven. I didn’t want any arguments, no flying dishes, no shouting, all I wanted was for this day to be done. I watched her timidly make her way up the stairs. I bet she was still afraid to come across an untouched shrine, one that she had to pass on her way to our room. A shrine filled with old toys that have not been played with in a long time. Of all the rooms in the house, that one was the dustiest.
While she was gone, I made myself some old left over steak and potatoes. People cooked on warm days, days where it could be enjoyed with family, today was not one of those days. I planted myself with food and beer in hand and watched some tv. I watched it well into the night, not wanting to face the shadow of the one whom I once loved. After 11, and after six more beers, I made my way back to bed, ready to quietly sleep next to that shadow, ready to pretend like nothing had happened.
In a way I was eager. My dream was always the same, me alone in an old movie theater from my childhood. I spent many days watching movies with my dad, those days made up some of my happier memories. It wasn’t like a normal theater though, where they flood it with a cold misty air. Instead it was well lit, filled with indescribable warmth, and it played old home movies. It was only in these dreams that I could escape the harsh reality of my past, present, and future.
I wobbled up the steps, forced to breathe back in the alcohol on my breath. At the top, I made my way down the dark hallway, hugging the wall to my left. Another figureless shadow was to my right, one I had to pass every day. Sometimes I would just sleep on the couch, just to hide from its cold stare. I could feel its small cold eyes pierce me as I walked by, drunkenly making my way to the door. Light was pouring out from underneath it.
Before I entered our room, I noticed that the door leading up to the attic was open. As I gently felt its knob, part of me expected it to be warm, but there was no warmth left in this house. It was open and it shouldn’t have been.
Like a thunderous beast, I barged into the bedroom. I was a foul mixture of anger, fear, sorrow, and alcohol. With a shocked and fearful expression on her face, my Emma stared back. On the floor was an old box I hoped would never be open again. In her pale white bony hands was an old silver frame. On it was a picture of a happy smiling boy, unaware of the tragic fate that would one day befall him. I snatched the picture from her hands and threw it back into the box, trying my best not to look at the countless numbers of other photos that lay dormant.
“What are you doing” I yelled. My words were slurred and drunken. I eyed down the shadow figure in front of the yellow lamp. No words came from her mouth, only tears.
“You have no right to look at these!” The sober part of me wanted to avoid just this, but he wasn’t in control. Instead an angry drunk filled with rage was the puppeteer. I picked up the box, not looking at its contents, for fear of them staring back. I quickly made my way to the attic, ignoring the cries and pleas from Emma. Each angry step I took up the stairs was filled creeks and wails like a sirens. At the top, I set down the box. Up here it was too dark to see anything, but for a moment I thought I saw a shadow dash from the box, and across the cobweb filled room. Unnerved, I made my way back down.
I closed the attic door with a slam, making sure it wouldn’t open again. The yellow light that lit our room was ugly. I always hated it even though she loved it. The figure I was once able to call my wife, Emma, laid in bed under the sheets, crying, sobbing her sad story to the pillow. I made my way to the lamp on her end. She was pitiful as she cried. Part of me wanted to spit on her, show that she was beneath my pity. Instead I turned off the light, and made my way to my side of the bed.
We did not face each other, we did not speak to each other, we merely laid there. I tried to drown out her silent sobs with my inner thoughts, and eventually I drifted off to sleep.
Warm sun poured into my small office through a nearby window, gripping me with tiny hands that never wanted to leave. I was filling out some business sheets, but I couldn’t see what forms. All the words blurred together into an illegible blob, but that didn’t matter. All I had to do was sign my name mindlessly over and over again. A simple job that allowed my mind to wander, letting me think about returning to my beautiful household, walking in to the great smell of my wife’s cooking, and getting a chance to play some baseball in a clearing by a nearby lake with my son
The phone on my desk started to ring. Right behind it was a picture of my son, his smiling face reminding me why I lived. I knew what this was, I remember living through this. As my hand went to pick up the phone, I screamed at myself to stop. I brought it to my ear, and I pleaded to myself to put it down, too afraid to listen to all this again.
The screaming voice of my wife flooded my ear.
“John its Max! He got hit by a car!”
For a moment I was stun in disbelief. This wasn’t happening, it was some sick dream.
“What do you…”
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry! I took my eyes off him for a second, and the next thing I knew…” She began to cry like she never cried before. The phone slipped from my hand and fell to my empty desk. My eyes wandered to the photo of Max, hoping he would talk to me, hoping he’d tell me this was all a bad dream. The frame was empty, only blackness stood there. It spread out of the frame, engulfing my office. The sun was snuffed out, and I was left alone, cold, in the dark. A shadow figure stood in front of me, something about its darkness stood out from the darkness that consumed my world. His name escaped me, I tried to say it, but only tears came out. I reached for him, but my hands grabbed at nothing.
I jumped up, sweaty, panicky, gasping for air. It was all just a bad dream, a dream I never wanted to live again. The uneasy silence of the room was nice, like how it was when she was gone. I looked to where she was supposed to be sleeping, and to my surprise she was gone. Despite myself being half asleep, I knew where she was.
I got out of bed, and out our room. The attic door stood open. I walked past it and made my way past the shadowy door of his room. By the stairs, I began to hear her. I walked down and leaned against a wall to listen.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry Max!”
Her tears were the only sound in the house. Behind me she was crying, pleading for forgiveness. Photos lay out almost ritualistically around her, opening a door to the other side, allowing her to talk to Max. I merely stood there behind that wall, knowing all to well I couldn’t bear to walk in on this again. Memories of that day flooded my mind like a storm. The shock in my voice, her pleads, her telling me she wasn’t crazy, watching her get taken away, it was all too much.
I left her to her own madness, and made my way back upstairs as quietly as I could. Deep down, part of her insanity made me hopeful. Maybe she wasn’t crazy, maybe he was still here. After his funeral, I always felt like there was something in this house, like something was watching me.
Unusually hopeful, I made my way to Max’s room, not wanting to go to bed. I dropped myself in front of his door, still too scared to walk in, waiting for something to happen. When nothing came, I began to feel down. Odd thoughts started to pop into my head as I sat in the darkness, thoughts about Emma.
She should still be in the hospital, she obviously wasn’t well. But I didn’t want to go through all that again. When your wife asks you if you think she’s crazy, how do you respond? I learned that silence was no answer. The look of betrayal on her face still haunts me.
She was always so apologetic after the day Max was killed, trying to do the best she could, and I knew that. Still I hated her. Part of me I knew it wasn’t her fault, I even told her that so many times to comfort her, but deep down I still blamed her. Someone had to be blamed for his death. The man who hit him drove off, no one was ever caught. How can I blame him when I don’t even know his face? All that left was Emma.
My hands tightened as the anger inside me boiled. It was her fault, she should have kept a better eye on Max. If she did, then he would still be here! If she did that one simple thing, I wouldn’t be sitting outside his room like a scared rabbit.
Before my thoughts could continue, a loud crack spill through the stagnant air. It came from downstairs, and instinctively I thought about Emma. I rushed down as quickly as I could, wondering why I was worrying so much, why such fear was gripping me.
I ran into her shrine, and saw Emma on her back, starring at me with cold dead eyes, blood gushing out her neck. Around her was every picture of Max we possessed, all cracked and distorted.
Tears began to run down my face. No matter how hard I tried, they just kept coming down. I had to be strong, I already cried more then a lifetimes worth, I can’t cry! I ran outside, into the woods, waiting for the storm to start, waiting for the rain to hide my tears. As I moved through the forest, shadows danced around me. I don’t know how long I ran for, but eventually my legs stopped. Exhaustion brought me to my knees.
I yelled at the sky, demanding it rained. The world owed me at least that much. A single rain drop hit my salty wet face, then another. Before I knew it, a down pour had started. In a matter of seconds I was drenched, my tears washed away by the skies. I sat there motionless, trying to understand what had happened.
Light filled the forest for a brief moment. I saw my shadow clearly, beside it were two more. To my right was a tall womanly shadow, she was absolutely beautiful. The shadow to my left was much smaller, but no less beautiful. Both of them hugged me, hugged me as tight as they could. Then the light disappeared as quickly as it came, taking them with it.
All I could think about was how cold I was as the thunder came and laughed at me. I gripped myself, trying to make sense of what happened. I sat there alone in the woods, cold and wet, just hoping for another flash of lightning to come. Hoping I could see those two again. Hoping with all my heart that I wouldn’t be alone again, if only for an instant. But it didn’t come, all that greeted me was more rain.