by Jason Evans
by Jason Evans
I forgot everything in the morning.
The days lulled me like moving dreams. I showered, drove, and stumbled through my work. But late at night, when the roads hushed and silence slid from the walls, I clawed my pillow into howling shapes. I would lie awake, and she was there.
The air shifted outside and pushed against the glass in the windowpanes. Cold was worming in, and dry leaves skittered across the patio. As always, my two hours of sleep shattered in a crystalline fear. The faraway fog of daylight exploded, and miles of darkness weighed with perfect focus.
From the bathroom, the nightlight glowed in the polish of the wood floors. It fanned across walls and died in the corners.
Minutes passed, and my throat withered. My tongue made the motions of swallowing, but nothing pushed through. Too much time was passing.
A fly tapped along the ceiling. It bumped in long, droning arcs. The frayed ends of my brain snapped to the sound. In a slow, lazy dive, it hummed past my head and glided over the bed to open air.
Wood on wood creaked. The groan of a chair shifting.
The buzz sliced off mid-flight. My face pulled into a silent scream.
But a real scream did slash the silence, only not from my lungs. I cowered and every angle of the room shook.
My wife thrashed upright in the bed. She howled and screeched, but I couldn't help her. Iron clamped me to the mattress. The bed pitched as she pulled her hair and pounded fists into the sides of her head.
Then, talons sank into my back. Skin split under the grip of her nails. She peeled me off my stomach. The pain rolled me. When she let go, her hands slapped onto my face and neck and forced me to look at her. Her eyes lolled white as they flew around the room.
"Make her stop! Make her stop!"
But I couldn't hear the voice my wife heard. I only heard the chair wobbling on one short leg.
I could see her, though. Oh yes, I could see her.
"Make her stop!"
She shoved my face in the direction I never looked. There the girl sat with her dead eyes bent sideways. Her face was twisted by the position death took her. The caverns of her cheeks wallowed in shadows.
I stared at the hideous vision, and the gnawing voice stopped. My wife collapsed into the bed weeping. Her hands rubbed at her skull to push away the senseless things the horrible child whispered to her.
Sleep returned quickly for her, but I was left to lock into those dead eyes. My sanity dripped away with the cold sweat sheeting me.
So many hours until dawn. But nonetheless, I stared. I stared until my heart threatened to explode. When I finally clamped my eyes closed against the rush of hot tears, I knew the airy voice would come.
My wife groaned and shifted. One of us had to suffer.
I forgot how long we lived there or why the dead girl tortured us. I only knew she was merciless. In the brief silence, I pressed the barrel of the gun to my head.
In my mind, I didn't hear a shot. I heard my wife's building screams. And nothing would stop them.
I released the trigger and laid the gun aside. I turned toward the chair, and once again I opened my eyes.