Hello all my faithful fans! Thank you for your encouragement to post the next chapter. There is “adult” content in this one, and it is not for the squeamish. Just a warning! I decided to go ahead and post it in its entirety. Still looking for just the right publisher for this book!
I have decided to play with her mind a little bit. She is convinced I’m trying to tell her something. Now that I’ve touched her, I think I actually can. Just from touching, I see things she’s been hiding, even from her husband. Things only I know. I don’t think it would be cruel if I make her even more crazy to get to me.
I think Dollie may have called him about the incessant doorbell-ringing. She must’ve gotten our number when she came over yesterday.
“Aurora, honey, why did you go back up there today? You were supposed to stay here,” he says, as he turns down the sheets.
“And were those doctor’s orders?” I say.
“You know what I mean. Dollie is worried about you. She says you were ringing the doorbell for five minutes. She had to run out of the bathroom to open it.”
I laugh a little.
He looks at me, bewildered. “You seem so far away from me since we’ve moved. You won’t have sex with me. Are you seeing someone? Chatting online?”
Chatting online? That cracks me up. Even if I did chat, our slow connection would shut me down in the middle of the conversation.
“No, the only people I’ve been seeing are the loyal employees of the Kroger in town and the helpful CVS worker. He did show me where the lipsticks are, in a very friendly way.”
I can’t help poking fun at his possessive streak.
“Aurora, you are enough to drive a man mad.”
I feel a sudden urge to make everything up to him, all the deliberate shunnings I’ve been giving him. I feel like an imp as I say, “So you’re feeling deprived?”
He turns and grabs my arms, not hurting me. Just pulling me. He has always been a man of few words.
Later that night, I wake myself up with a scream. I never have nightmares, never remember my dreams. But this one I can never forget. It was the baby. The baby I aborted. She was hanging by the umbilical cord, drenched in blood.
He wakes up, groggy. “Aury?” he says, and reaches for me.
I roll over, away from him. I had not thought of that for fifteen years. If I ever see that again, even in my mind, it is enough to make me want to kill myself.
I don’t go to Dollie’s the next day. I sit in the house, with the blinds shut. I wear my old sweatpants and yellow sweatshirt that I’ve had since college. And I just rock, back and forth, back and forth, like an old woman myself.
I do throw a coat on and go meet Phoebe at the bus. She looks at me, aware that Mother does not look her normal glam self. She grabs my hand, almost supporting me back to the house. She opens her lunch box and pulls out an oatmeal cream pie she must have been saving. “Are you hungry, Mother?” she says, and pushes it toward me.
“No, Phoebe. Just tired,” I say.
“You lay down on the couch,” she says, like a little mommy herself. I can’t get over how mature she is becoming all of the sudden. “I got some homework to do.”
I do lay down, and then wake up when I hear him opening the front door. I can hear Phoebe coming down the steps from her loft. She has changed into pajamas by herself.
He looks from her to me. “Had a good day?” he says.
“Mother’s tired,” she says, and I see her give him a glance.
“Okay,” he says.
That night, I decide that if I stay up later, maybe I won’t go into the REM or whatever cycle it is where people dream. So I stay up until 3, surfing the net to the best of my dialup‘s ability. I look up quite a few ghost hunting sites, but none of them talk about upside-down cats or blood on the stones. Also most of them have nothing to do with actual ghost sightings, just ghostly auras and objects moving and things. They do seem to indicate that perhaps a séance in the affected house might bring whatever issues the ghost has with people to the surface. That might not be too hard to do with the blissfully unaware Dollie.
I wonder if the man in the painting has a name. I can’t find anything in the article on the purple house. I don’t even know if the painting is original to that house. But it must be, since the ghost is one and the same as the thin man in the painting. I wonder if something happened to his red-haired wife, and now he’s roaming the halls, looking for her? He might think I’m her.
I finally can’t keep my eyes on the glowing screen and climb into bed, still in my sweatpants and shirt. He has been snoring away for a few hours. I lay down and finally hit that in-between stage, where I’m almost asleep. But then I see a big hand fall on me. It is a heavy hand. It is ONLY a hand. It is right in the middle of my chest. I can’t get up. I can’t breathe. I think I’m making choking noises, but no sound is coming out. It is pushing harder. I try to roll over, I try to shove it off, but I cannot move. I think I may have a heart attack.
Suddenly, I see Phoebe’s outline in the doorway. I need to warn her! She reaches over and turns on the light. There is nothing on top of me. But she looks like she saw something. She looks like she is scared to death.
“Mother,” she cries. “I just had a bad nightscare. I needed to know you’re okay.”
He wakes, sits, and pats the bed for Phoebe. “Come on over, baby girl,” he says. I am still laying on the bed, completely flat, not moving.
“See,” he says, his eyes still squinted with sleep. “Your Mother is just fine.”
copyright Heather Day Gilbert–January 2009–all rights reserved