Photo By Bryan Minear
“O most holy apostle, Saint Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church Honor and invoke thee universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, and of things almost despaired of. Pray for me, who am so miserable. Make use, I implore thee, to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of.” He said the prayer aloud as he turned to his blankets and covered up with them as there was a chill in his bones and he shivered from the icy air. The blankets were thick and damp from the rain that crept in through the window where the fan was blowing in cold moisture from outside. The storm was arriving soon and with it the thundering and the heavy rain which was welcome. He could smell the rain as it slowly began to get harder and louder on the rooftop sounding like footsteps. It was the season of growth and rejuvenation known to everyone else as summertime. The rain was welcome to the farmers and the businesses that needed crops to sell. It was also the time of heat, sweat, and hard work. He just laid in his bed staring out the window slowly closing his eyes.
A dark rim of clouds clouded the moonlight. The light shown through a hole like an eyeball peeking through a keyhole. He turned his attention to the sleep that he prayed would come. A small clock radio played the Moonlight Sonata lightly as he closed his eyes and focused on rest. Another restless night he just lay there thinking of the pain. The pain that was inevitable and would show itself in a matter of hours or minutes in dreams. She wife, mother, and soulmate just lying there beneath the red pick-up truck. The hopes of sharing their lives together cut short by a man high on meth. Those paralyzing screams that were in his head there as nightmares as he cried out from the pain of being split in two. The man that had killed his wife was nowhere to be found and blood was everywhere. A passerby had seen them there and soon the ambulance and the life forever changed was now laid out before him. A cruel world it was to live in without her and her beautiful soul. His wife and mother of his children was the backbone of the family and the keeper of dreams lost to the storm of life.
In the other room down the hall lived the seeds of those dreams, planted inside of his two teenage daughters. The light in their eyes was the light given to them by their mother. She lived on through them and in everything they did. The thunder clapped and roared in the distance as he drifted off to the land of dreams…
Olivia laid in her bed trying not to look at the closet. Her breathing was becoming more magnified and more profound as she panted. She could smell something like rotten eggs and if she turned around she knew she would see it.
The teddy bear aunt Cecily bought her sometimes moved around on its own. Sometimes there was a shadowy figure behind it with red eyes. It would stand there in the doorway of her closet watching her for hours. She heard it then and prayed to God it would go away. Why was it there just watching her? Why wouldn’t it go away? Only then her bedroom door creaked.
It was her mother’s voice whispering in the doorway. No one called her by her full name since her mom died. Everyone called her Liv short for Olivia. Liv turned around relieved to hear a familiar voice not thinking of the impossibility of it. Was she dreaming still? As she turned around that’s when she saw her. It was not her mom after all her mom had died in a nasty car accident three years ago when she was only 10. The ghost lingered in the doorway with its menacing presence.
“No! Go away!” she screamed her voice is barely finding itself. She felt as though she were choking on her very words.
There was a bloodied woman standing in the doorway with a gashed in the head and long blonde hair. She stood smiling staring at Liv with her big grin as though it were the most normal thing in the world. She was pale almost blue, and her body was thin. She looked like a cobweb in the way she hung there almost floating transparently.
Liv was crying now she was no longer pretending she was asleep. Instead she was completely wide awake panicked and having issues breathing. She looked at the closet door and the teddy bear appeared to be shaking its head back and forth. She wanted to make it stop but she couldn’t no matter how hard she tried. She was trying to think of a way to escape.
Olivia, paralyzed with fear, only wanted to run, instead she closed her eyes hoping it was just a bad dream.
If she hid deeper under her covers maybe they would go away. It wasn’t the first time this had happened. After her mother died she began to get plagued on a more regular basis by these entities as they always seemed to show themselves to the youngest of the McDonald children. No one seemed ever to believe Liv when she told them that there was a real-life monster coming in the night. She was only suffering from “bad dreams” or “night terrors.” No matter how many times she had told her father and even her sister they never wanted to believe it. Liv hoped one day they would experience them, so they could feel the terror and know she wasn’t lying. Liv was a good girl though and never got angry at them for disbelieving her. She instead would grow quiet and more reserved than she already was.
Ray awoke from his slumber, he was startled by the sound of his daughter screaming. The thunder outside clapped with a loud bang. The lightening flickered outside his window granting him enough light to see his way out of the bed. The screams and the combination of the storm caused him to feel a sense of enormous and immediate panic as though it was life or death. It was like that sometimes when you have kids. Every little thing hurts you even if it isn’t supposed to. He went to jump from his bed and with a startling realization he could no longer run. He tripped and grabbed the nearest thing to his bed. He did that sometimes now that he was without his left leg. He stood up he could hear sobbing in the room at the end of the hall. He hurried as fast as he could on his crutches. When he got to Liv’s bedroom he could see her covered and completely cowering under the blankets.
That’s when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She jumped almost wetting herself.
She screamed again this time a blood-curdling scream came from her. She was blind now with terror at who was touching her.
“LIV!” it was her dad.
He came in panting from trying to run with his crutches. The stress of his daughter only made it harder to move he couldn’t seem to get to her fast enough. Her father looked down at his daughter. The face staring up at him with her teary blue eyes was one of a tiny elves creature. Her long corn silk colored hair curled around her neck like Rapunzel. Her hair only added to the pitiful sight that lay before her father and in contrast Liv had light hair like her mother while her father was darker. Rays eyes were as black and brooding as her eyes were bright like a star. His hair wavy and a piece hung in his eyes. He was tired and dying to have a night where he could indeed rest. Ray was worried now and a little afraid himself it was as if every other night now she woke from these “terrors.”
“It was another bad dream wasn’t it?” He asked slightly annoyed but held back his anger once he saw the stress Liv was feeling.
She was shaking, pale-faced and looked like she was going to be sick. Ray went to grab her a cold washcloth. He returned to her side placing it on her forehead.
The doctor said it would pass but it had been three years and she still suffered from these nightmares. She was sobbing grateful for her father being there and yet wishing her sister had come to her rescue instead. Her older sister, Mia, had spent the night at her friend’s house. Mia was always way more understanding than her dad. She had taken the place of their mom at 16 she had a motherly way about her. Sadly, Mia being older never seemed to be around much lately.
He sat down on her bed just looking at her. He was an enormous man even with one leg. He lost his other leg in the accident that killed her mom when the driver hit them head-on causing the pickup truck to flip over crushing her mom to death and leaving Ray to be without his other leg. Raising two young, now teenage daughters, was not at the top of his list of fun activities and his youngest always seemed to have some issue these days. It was supposed to get more natural he thought that they were getting old enough to be young adults. Ray wasn’t the most understanding person he was practical and uninterested in frivolous teenage things. Liv had tried to tell her father of the ghosts, but he always shrugged it off. She was dreaming. She hid it from everyone even her sister would roll her eyes when she brought it up.
The doctor he took her to blamed it on her environment it wasn’t “nurturing” enough that she needs to feel secure. It was bullshit and he knew it. Liv was suffering from the trauma of losing her mom. She had been close to her mom closer than Mia was. Mia was 16 going on 40 and a professional drama queen and Liv was 13 now getting older now. It used to be easy when the girls were little. Granted it was probably girl stuff they all went through it. Ray sometimes felt that hormones and anxiety played a part in the issues of his daughters. She stared at her dad he just patted her on the shoulder. “Liv you have to try and stop this. Are you still writing things down in your journal? The doctor said it helps. ” Ray knew this sounded unfeeling but he tried to invoke some mirrored tenderness as her mother would have. Even if he wasn’t tender he could play act enough to be a convincing loving father. Not to say Ray didn’t love his children because he loved them with all his heart and soul. He was just not equipped to show emotion. It wasn’t practical in the world he lived in and Ray lived his entire life was harsh cold and unrelenting.
Liv looked at her dad. Was he serious? Liv didn’t want to say what it was that was causing the night terrors. She knew he would give her a long talk about how she imagined things and that she was only dreaming with her eyes open. She merely nodded in response to her dad. She wiped her tears from her eyes and used her sleeve to her nightgown to rub her nose. She felt better with him there even if he didn’t believe a word she said.
“You want me to sleep in the rocking chair?” He asked referring to the nursery chair she still had in her room since she was a baby. She wanted to scream at her father to leave because she could see the look in his eyes. It was that patronizing look that he gave her sometimes out of irritation. Instead she just shook her head no and as tears rolled down her cheek again this time she hid it from her father by looking down holding her pillow in front of her face.
“I’m a fine dad just the dream was so real.” She tried to sound sincere in her lie to him. It made more relaxed than the ghosts were no longer there. It was just her father with her now.
She went along with the lie. Whatever made her father feel better. She knew she wasn’t dreaming and that was the terrifying part. Why couldn’t her dad understand? She wasn’t crazy she knew what Olivia had seen what she had been experiencing most nights. She would wake up sweating and things would be moving or shadows with eyes would be watching her. She knew what she had seen. But she knew what they would think if she said anything.
She turned her head and tried to lay back down as she shifted away from him. He patted her shoulder standing up.
He looked at her and that answer was good enough he hated feeling like a failure as a father. Ray wished his wife could be alive at times like these. Everything he seemed to touch these days was like turning gold into a pile of coal. Ray was severely depressed and struggled to stay above water for his kids. He went back to bed and passed out as soon as his head hit the pillow. Tomorrow was going to be a busy one running the farm Ray had inherited from his father before him. It was almost bankrupt at this point given his inability to do most of the things he used to do himself. Or perhaps it was the stuff Ray didn’t want to try and fail at and instead he relied on hired help from a couple of college students on summer break.
She closed her eyes and then she could hear nothing the smell and the creepy ghosts were gone. She turned her lamp on only finally falling asleep once it started to become daylight.
Olivia had seen them her entire life, the ghosts, in some capacity when she was just a toddler she remembered seeing people trying to talk to her that no one else could see. She would crawl into her parent’s bed to feel safe after seeing the “witch lady.” She hated she couldn’t talk to anyone about them. She hoped it would stop and for tonight it did. Ray went back to his bed leaving his door cracked in case of another bad dream. He laid on his bed and stared up at the ceiling. Ray turned the radio up a bit and just listened to the late-night talk radio. He hated the light of the television, but he liked the sound of the voices that made things seem reasonable. Just looking to stuff like the news or a talk show about weird phenomena like the Bermuda Triangle as the host interviewed some scientist. It was something to take his mind off the life he dreaded waking up to these days.
The following day was Saturday and after she finished her chores she saw her friends coming up the driveway on their bikes. Olivia was standing near her dad helping him with his truck. Ray relied on his girls more than before to help do the things that helped run the farm. Ray was capable to run the farm physically, however, he was slower and he was still learning to be without his left leg and could hear the kids in the driveway. He pretended not to pay too close attention to them to give Olivia her privacy, but he was still her dad he worried.
“Liv you home?”
Olivia was glad to see them to feel normal after her rough night. Her friend Rebecca and her other friend, Nina looked at her running down the driveway. Just behind Olivia was her dad suddenly appearing behind her. He stood on his one leg leaning on his crutch for support his dark brooding eyes looking at the three girls. Nina and Rebecca tried to pretend Olivia’s dad didn’t creep them out these days. But Rebecca was especially creeped out she couldn’t take her eyes from his missing leg. Even though it was rude to stare she did it every time she encountered Ray.
“Hi Mr. McDonald!” Said Nina as cheery as she could manage.
He didn’t smile just nodded and walked into the garage.
“So, Liv, you want to go to town with us? There’s a new movie out with a scary stalker Nina and I want to see.” said Rebecca finally able to look away from Ray.
The thought of going to see a creepy movie right now didn’t sit well but Liv needed to be with her friends.
“Oh yeah I’ll ask my dad.” She said running up to the garage
“Dad, do you mind if I go to a movie with Nina and Becky?”
“Nah just be home by dark.”
“I will, thanks.” She grinned leaning her head out of the garage addressing her friends.
“Hey guys he said yes! Let me grab my allowance money and I’ll be out.”
Rebecca and Nina stood at the end of the driveway looking at each other. Olivia’s dad stood cleaning off his hands of grease and oil and could hear Becky and Nina talking- it was about him.
“Liv’s dad gets creepier and creepier every time we come over.” Nina said shivering and wrinkling her nose.
“I know! No wonder she has bad dreams. Can you imagine living in that house with that freak?”
“Oh my God Becky!” laughed Nina rolling her eyes.
“Seriously did you see the way he just stood there looking at us?” asked Rebecca
Before Nina could answer Liv was running down the drive pulling her bike next to her. She didn’t even bother to say goodbye. Her father stood there leaning on his truck watching her go trying not to stare at them, but his heart was breaking. Was he that weird? If his wife were alive she’d tell him to shave to be normal all that stuff. He went into the house and walked into the bathroom looking in the mirror. He did seem a little wild. His face that was once bare of all hair now had a beard and he needed a new haircut.
The fact he looked dirty only added to the creep factor. He chuckled to himself thinking of what he must appear to everyone. It was no wonder the kids were a little creeped out. He decided to shower and clean up a bit. He wondered to himself where Mia was she had not called, and it was going on 5 pm. He tried not to worry but it was hard not to his eldest was a bit of a rebel.
He turned on his radio it was the oldie station or at least what Mia and Liv called it. “House of the Rising Sun” came on he turned it up loud while he showered. Ray was enjoying the hot water and it just felt right on his sore body. Only then as he was finishing up his shower he heard a loud bang.
He turned off the radio and dried off pulling on his sweatpants and a clean shirt he had hanging on the bathroom door.
“Fuck you Billy!” It sounded like Mia yelling.
He quickly opened the door to the hallway he could see her tear stained face mascara running down it.
Was the drama of teenage girls ever over? He shook his head and used one of his crutches to pound on the floor to get her attention.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
“What the hell is going on?” he yelled in her direction as she quickly passed him by the downstairs bathroom.
” Not now dad!” Mia ran upstairs slamming her bedroom door.
There was a knock at the back door. It was the boy from down the street he suspected was the root of why Mia was upset. “Hi Billy, now isn’t a good time.”
“Hi sir, can you tell her it’s a misunderstanding?”
“Sure.” Said Ray nodding
He recalled what it was like being a teenage boy he felt sorry for him he had this sad pathetic air about him.
Billy left, and Ray rolled his eyes. He went to the kitchen getting ready to put a roast on for dinner. It was pretty much all they had to eat. It seemed it was either roast or eggs and bacon and pancakes. Sometimes there was a salad but most of the time those were the staple foods.
Mia came down a little later. She had this look on her face.
“Roast?” She asked her dark hair in a sloppy bun on top of her head.
“Yup.” he said
“I expected nothing less.” Mia said rolling her eyes.
“What was all that about with The Sumpter kid?”
“He’s a cheating asshole.”
“He wanted me to tell you it was a misunderstanding.”
“A misunderstanding that he broke up with me two weeks before school ended to go with Tara Burk? Yeah fuck him!”
Ray didn’t scold her for her language instead he smiled. “Hey text your sister and find out how long till she is going to be home from the movies.”
Mia did as tell and got up to set the table. It was the only traditional thing the three of them still did after her mom died.
Then the telephone rang. It was the landline Mia grabbed it and picked up.
“Mia this is aunt Cecily is Ray home?”
“Oh, hey yeah -Dad?”
Ray came back into the kitchen
“Hi Cecelia,”. He turned sullen just at the prospect of who was on the phone.
“No, it’s fine everything is fine. I talk to the bank on Friday. Why are you bothering me about this now? You both are so quick to judge. Tonight? Yes, we do – ROAST- I’m not- she’s fine. No don’t do that call first! Seriously it’s fine. I don’t need a bunch of people here lingering when I have work to do” He slammed the phone down and walked out of the back door. When he was mad he moved faster, and his crutches made this angry sound like a single boot when he was angry. Mia didn’t ask what she had wanted she sighed because she knew.
Aunt Cecily was always trying to take over since her mom died. She was her mom’s older sister and after Ray lost his leg she was always hovering over them all. Aunt Cecily would often come by unannounced to see what was going on with their father was hiding something. She had even called children services once because Mia had gotten into a fight at school and aunt Cecily thought her father should have taken her to the doctor. It hadn’t been that bad. Everything her dad did was under a microscope. The fact that the farm was going bankrupt from medical bills and lost labor didn’t help matters. Mia had seen the papers from the bank. They had three months to catch up. The farm was her dad’s whole life. Their needs were met even though now they were poor. Mia sometimes felt angry because before her mom died things were happier and she didn’t have to rely on everyone around her. Her dad made her mad because he was so unhappy and depressed most of the time. Just because you lost your leg is no reason to be so dramatic all the time! At least he was alive! He still had us she thought. She sometimes had to call her aunt for stuff and felt like she was betraying her dad. She hated asking her aunt to help her when she needed to run to the drug store for feminine hygiene products or makeup. It would have been mortifying to ask her dad. While her aunt could be helpful she was also sometimes afraid of telling her too much about their lives so that her aunt couldn’t use it against her father.
Ray came back into the kitchen and threw a frozen bag of carrots on the stove. He sighed he looked at Mia. “Your sister’s movie over?”
Mia looked at her cell no answer yet. “She hasn’t sent me anything. What time did she leave?”
“Maybe an hour ago? I don’t know can’t seem to keep track of you two anymore.”
Mia looked up at him, smiled and laughed. “Here dad let me put the carrots and potatoes in with the roast. I think you need to chill pops don’t let crazy aunt Cecily get to you.”
Ray rolled his eyes and went out the back door.
Liv sat in the movie theatre with her two best friends watching the actors on the screen overact at a “supposed killer” chasing a young girl wearing high heels. It was your typical run of the mill horror thriller. Olivia suddenly felt a chill and looked over to where the EXIT sign was in the theatre that is when she noticed the man standing there just staring at her. She whispered to Becky, “Hey you see that weird guy just staring in our direction?”
Becky looked at Mia then in the direction of the exit sign and then back at Liv.
“I don’t see anyone, Liv.” Becky sounded annoyed.
Liv looked back at the EXIT sign he was no longer there. She tried to return her attention to the movie but it was harder because she knew what she had seen and hoped it wasn’t another ghost. Now it was outside of her house? She pretended to be normal and pretended to laugh at the funny parts of the film and be scared at the scary scenes. There was just one issue with that and that was she WAS frightened only not of the movie. It was the shadows in the dark.
When the movie was over she got up and saw her sister had texted her. She texted back and saw the sun was going down when they had left the theatre. Liv looked at her friends and she unlocked her bicycle from the bike rack outside the theatre.
“What now ladies?” asked Becky
“Nothing for me my dad needs me home for dinner.” Said Liv anxious now to get home.
“I can hang but you want to come over my brother’s friend are going to be there. His friend Reggie just got back from Washington and has weed that supposedly smells like pine trees. I want to be there when he gets home.”
Becky giggled like it was a secret and blushed.
“Weed? Since when do you smoke anything?” asked Liv smiling back nervously. She wanted to appear calm but the thought of her dad ever finding out she was friends with girls who at 12 and 13 were smoking weed scared the shit out of her.
“I have since New Year’s. Remember my resolution to try new stuff? Well that is it.”
Becky looked at her “What’s it like?”
“Nothing bad makes you mellow and sleepy.”
“Okay I’ll go. You sure you don’t want to escape with us Liv?”
“Yeah sorry. I got to get home.” With that Liv hopped on her bike waved and was off riding. She secretly wanted to get away from the theatre in case that man wasn’t a ghost but a creeper.
She sped home and when she turned around the bend to her family’s farm she could sigh a breath of relief. Her dad was sitting on the porch with Mia and they looked like they were playing cards.
“Hey!” said Mia
“I’m kicking your sister’s ass at Go-Fish! Want to join us?”
“GO FISH?” laughed Liv “Isn’t that like really a game for little kids?”
“That is the only game dad can remember to play.”
The accident had not just taken his leg sometimes Ray had trouble remembering things that were simple like how to play Rummy or Poker. There were other things like managing his checkbook. He had Mia help him with that sometimes or remembering the grocery list. He had gotten better at his memory loss, but it was something that plagued him on occasion. He did recall how to play Go Fish, so he had Mia get out the deck of cards and that was family night.
Liv didn’t mind she put her bike in the garage and ran over to the porch and cracked a cheesy smile at her dad and Mia. “I think Mia might have more matches dad.”
“No way!” he laughed
“Well dad unless you are also bad at math I have eight you have 6!”
“Yeah yeah yeah if you say so.”
Ray smiled and for the first time was enjoying himself. He didn’t seem to enjoy himself as often as he used to. So much darkness had encroached into his life. After an hour or so he had to check on the roast which smelled done. Mia set the table and Liv got glasses with ice and poured lemonade. They sat around the table and Ray said prayer is holding his necklace in his hands which held a locket with the intercession of St. Jude. After he prayed they began to eat. Dinner was quiet for the most part. Mia broke the silence. “How was your movie?”
“Okay. Kind of dumb at parts.”
“Oh, was it “Call of Midnight?” I heard it was terrifying.”
“Yeah that’s the one but I didn’t think it was scary.”
“Oh Bummer.” said Mia
Mia ate her food she looked at her dad and Liv. What a funny pair they were. Liv was so fair and blonde her dad so dark like she was. She watched Liv eat and her dad looked at her finally.
“What don’t you like it?”
“Oh, it’s fine dad. It is good. This one has some taste.”
“Well good eat it.”
That was the cue for Mia to shut up and eat. After dinner the girls helped clean up and went into the living room to watch tv. Some reality tv show was on MTV so like zombies they watched in pure silence. Ray had his laptop and had some business to take care of, and when the television was on it gave him a chance to get things done. He could order supplies and do the accounting for the farm and figure out wages for his summer help. He was looking at the numbers and realized that the last month he had come up shorter than he would have liked. Another month behind the bank could take the farm. He had to take out a second mortgage to help pay for repairs and costs. Why couldn’t he just have sold the farm and stayed in sales all those years ago? Then he remembered his wife loved the farm. She enjoyed moving from the city to nearby Seville. Free range eggs were becoming all the rage, but it had not pushed his sales any further. The local organics store could only take in so many jars of strawberry jam.
After a couple of hours both his daughters had fallen asleep on the couch. Mia slept with her mouth open. He budged them both and told them to go to bed.
He secretly hoped that things would get better. He prayed for it. It never seemed to come.
The world Ray now new had few moments of happiness and it was cruel and uninviting. At least he had his children while they were still young.
“House of the Rising Sun”
O -L-I-V-A it was the voice again. Only this time she awoke to the sight of pure darkness. She could not see who or what was making that sound, but she could hear it. The only thing she could see was black. It frightened her more than if she had seen something. The darkness made the presence in her room even more sinister.
Liv began to breathe heavy. She didn’t want to wake up her dad not again not two nights in a row. She knew her father had had a long day.
“Please go away!” she cried in a whisper.
Suddenly Mia appeared in the doorway to her room. She was starring at Liv. Mia didn’t say anything. She looked at her sister. “Mia?” There was a blue light coming from the upstairs bathroom night light and it hung over Mia’s head and gave her a menacing look. It was as if she was not looking at her sister but something that was mimicking her. Liv stopped breathing in shock of the sight. “Mia? STOP IT!” Mia tilted her head and walked back to her room and slammed it behind her. Liv sat in her bed stunned at what had just occurred and mad. If Mia was playing some joke on her she was dead tomorrow. She would have gone in to yell at her, but something told her not to wake her father up again. If Liv had went into Mia’s room she knew she would only wake her dad and she did NOT want that. He would be furious.
Liv sat there suddenly the room was less dark. She turned on her night light again and tried to rest. At least tonight there was no lady with a broken skull. She finally fell asleep and woke up early to get ready to help her dad. They used to go to church on Sundays but now her dad just left his relationship with God to those moments he would spend on the tractor or in the garden or greenhouse. He said he felt closer to the almighty when he was outside in nature. Liv got out of her comfy bed trying to recall why she felt so annoyed the night before. In a half sleep state, she remembered. She darted to toward her sister’s room and swung open her door. Mia was floating in the air! Levitating!
“OH MY GOD MIA!” Mia crashed down on to her bed with a force that only barely woke her. Liv screamed at her sister not sure what to do. “Mia Oh please are you okay?” Liv had never seen anything like it. Her sisters face was pale, and she looked up at Liv sleepily. “What’s the big deal can’t you see I’m trying to sleep?” She had no idea what was going on. Liv felt even more terrified of the ghosts in her house. Why was her sister floating? She had seen the exorcist enough times and feared Mia was now possessed, however, if she wasn’t then her home was.
Mia’s dark curly hair was in a bun atop of her head. She rolled over to look at her sister. “Why are you in here waking me up Liv?”
“Mia you were floating above your bed! How did you not feel that? I told you the ghosts were real they are trying to hurt us! Please believe me!” Liv began to cry, and Mia looked at her annoyingly, but she felt uneasy enough to yell for her father.
Ray came up the stairs as fast as he could, and he went into Mia’s room. “What the hell is all the screaming about?”
“Dad Liv is going nuts! She needs a doctor!”
“No, I don’t! Dad I’m telling you the ghosts are trying to hurt us. Mia was Mia floating above her bed, but she won’t believe me. DAD! Daddy please believe me!” Liv began to become hysterical she had plopped down on the floor and wouldn’t move just started crying. Ray took a deep breath and tried to lure her up from her spot on the floor. He had no idea what else to do with her. He did the one thing he hated doing which was that he had to ask for help.
Aunt Cecily was over within what seemed like minutes to Liv. Ray stood over his daughters as he waited with them on the porch. Liv was still crying. Mia was always weirded out and annoyed with her sister, so she pouted in a corner with her headphones on.
Cecily pulled up the long driveway in her red Impala. She got out of the car with her Stepford wife hair curled in a perfect long wave down her back. Aunt Cecily had on a business suit and sunglasses. She had a bible in her hand and when she got up the stairs to the porch she grabbed Liv and hugged her.
“God is with you now Oliva. You have to believe that.”
Cecily and Ray went into the house and spoke for a while. Finally, Ray emerged and hugged Liv then he hugged Mia. “Girls lets go get ice cream.”
Mia rolled her eyes. “Seriously dad? She needs therapy. Why can’t you see that?”
Ray looked at her wishing he could put a sock in her mouth to shut her up.
“Look I think we need a break today. Is that okay?”
They both nodded and together their aunt Cecily thinking they just needed attention felt a day of shopping and ice cream could do the trick.
So, off the four of them went with Aunt Cecily into the city for ice cream and some shopping.
Liv was still mad but getting out the house was a better idea than spending the day in a house with ghosts.
The days and nights seemed to go on for the next few weeks without any preternatural occurrence. Liv, Mia and Ray went on their day to day lives and there even seemed to be a bit of silver lining. Ray got some help this time for free for the summer. After two chickens went missing it came out that some high school kids were behind the recent theft of the stolen chickens. The joke had not been funny, and the chickens were later returned. The two boys, Jim and Henry, were placed on punishment by both their respective parents and had to help Ray out on the farm for free for the entire summer which helped tremendously. This new situation left Ray free, so he could concentrate on the other things like managing the finances and keeping his teenage daughters in line.
The school year would begin in about six weeks and Mia was looking forward to getting back to school where she could start planning her senior year of school. There would be photos that would need taken for her senior year as well as some shopping too. She was excited more than she was the previous year. It means going off to college and getting out of Medina. Most of her friends were friendly enough and the guys were okay, but she craved the city life away from farms and the smell of horses, cows, chickens and shit. She was getting ready for the afternoon shopping trip with her aunt Cecily. Aunt Cecily was taking her to Cleveland to do some shopping for the school year and to get a good look at some homecoming dresses. The senior year was fast approaching for Mia and homecoming was around the corner. According to her aunt Cecily it was best to be proactive and shop over the summer so that her friends wouldn’t have the same dress. Liv would stay home and help Ray with picking some strawberries and cleaning the house. Aunt Cecily would be there in less than an hour and Liv was in the basement grabbing clean laundry and putting new clothes in the washer. She heard a gust of wind suddenly and looked up toward the top of the basement stairs. Liv figured the back door was open and that is why the sudden chill. She quickly grabbed the basket of clothing and ran up the stairs into the living room. Just then Mia was running down the stairs. Just outside Aunt Cecily was pulling in.
“Shit she’s early!” said Mia scrambling to find her purse.
“Language missy!” said Ray coming in and looking at her.
“Since when you care dad? I’ll be seventeen in a few months.”
“Your aunt doesn’t need to hear it if you know what I mean? Liv after your sister leaves I need the bathrooms cleaned and the carpets vacuumed.”
“Sorry dad.” Said Mia looking up at her dad who seemed to tower over her when he stood up straight.
Just then Aunt Cecily came up the front steps. “Hey there! Mia ya ready? Sorry I am so early. I got my time confused with my church meeting and our shopping. I swear sometimes I am losing it. Good thing I have a calendar book though I marked you down.”
Mia smiled but Liv could tell she was annoyed by it. With that the two of them left. Liv got the time alone to clean it was nice to have the house to yourself sometimes. Dad was far out into the fields doing some stuff with Jim and Henry that now had to help him. Liv was sure he was barking orders and she laughed to herself thinking of how mean her dad could seem when he was on a mission. If they only knew what a gentle giant he was deep down.
Liv finished the vacuuming, the cleaning and folding laundry in record time. When she was upstairs in her room just about to put on some music she could hear people laughing and talking. She peeked out into the hallway of her bedroom door and realized it was her father with Jim and Henry.
“It’s okay it happens sometimes. Just let me get a bandage and some rubbing alcohol.” It was her dad. “Liv come here now! Where are the bandages I left down here?”
Liv ran downstairs feeling a little awkward when she saw the older teenage boys. They were looking at her smiling. Liv turned her attention to her dad. “Under the sink dad on your left.”
He grabbed the bandages and the tape and went over to one of the boys and began bandaging his hand. “Thanks Mr. MacDonald, I appreciate it.”
“No problem, you have to be careful with those barbed wires sometimes they can bite you.” He smiled at him then looked up at Liv who was standing with her arms crossed in the hallway looking at her father interact with the two boys it was surreal to her because boys never really came around that often. She smirked and shook her head. Ray caught her looking at him and he laughed and then introduced the boys to Liv. They both nodded and smiled at Liv. After some brief conversation, the boys left out back with her dad and Liv began rummaging through the kitchen cupboards for an afternoon snack. She found some snack mix and was about to put a handful of it in her mouth when one of the boys came back in. He was the cuter of the two and had been the one with the smirk on his face. “Hey sorry forgot my water.” He said grabbing a bottle of water off the kitchen table and going back outside. Liv was mildly embarrassed.
She spied after him after he left running out into the barn in the back and she turned and continued her snacking. A little later Mia got home and had shopping bag after shopping bag she was carrying along with aunt Cecily helping. Aunt Cecily helped her take the bags inside and then kissed Mia on the forehead and left in the big rush she always seemed to be in every time they encountered her.
“What the heck did you guys buy?” asked Liv to Mia who was glowing like a pirate from the massive amount of booty.
“I got you something, well Aunt Cecily got it for you.” She said grabbing a small back with a new braw in it. It was pink and small just Liv’s size and a matching pair of underwear. “We went to Victoria Secret.” She laughed.
Liv just rolled her eyes and took the little pink bag. It was embarrassing that her sister and her aunt both were thinking about her boobs and how they thought she needed a grown-up bra.
Mia showed off her new clothes for her upcoming senior year and Liv looked in awe at most of them. “Aunt Cecily said she is going to take you in the next month or so to get your school clothes since dad has been a little short on cash lately.” As Mia said this she took out her new powder foundation compact to look at her face. “Oh my god I have a pimple on my forehead! Ewe!” As usual Mia was completely wrapped up in herself. Liv took her small bag upstairs and she heard her dad yell for them both that Henry and Jim were staying for dinner which was pizza. That was new thought Liv. She quickly changed her shirt and put her hair up in a ponytail. She found herself intimidated by the teenage boys. As soon as Mia found out the boys were staying for dinner, she was running up the stairs to primp and cover up her pimple. “Liv where is my concealer?” she panted
“I have no idea I don’t wear it Mia!”
“You cleaned today did you see it?”
Mia ran to her bedroom and changed her entire outfit and then combed out her long curly dark hair. She now had on a full face of make-up. Liv looked at her sister “Why do you care so much?”
“Henry is like the coolest guy in school and I can’t have him thinking I’m white trash. It’s bad enough my weird dad and sister are here. I wish we lived in a house like Aunt Cecily’s. “Sometimes this place is so embarrassing.” She primped in the mirror one last time then looked at her sister. “Do these shorts look dumb and make my ass fat?”
“No. You look gorgeous as always.” Said Liv rolling her eyes at her sister.
Mia laughed and took a brush to Liv’s hair. Liv stepped back from the uninvited gesture “Stop I don’t care how I look.”
“Well I DO!” said Mia brushing the tangles out of her fair-haired sister’s long waves.
After about 15 minutes the girls came downstairs and the two boys were standing in the kitchen sweaty, smelly and starving. “Pizza will be here in 25 minutes why don’t you help the boys feel at home.” Said Ray in a serious dad tone.
Mia pretended she didn’t care who they were and tried to act as casual as possible. Henry eyed her and smiled at her. He was tall thin and very tan with dark blonde hair. Jim was shorter with dark hair and blue eyes. He was shyer then Henry but the two were always together. Mia was forgetting all about Billy for good now. At the sudden glance of a new cute guy she was smitten.
The pizza dinner went well, and the boys hung around for a little while after so that they could chat up Mia. They paid little attention to Liv because she was 13 after all.
A few hours later Ray went to bed and the girls stayed up watching the television and Mia passed out on the couch. Liv turned off the TV and went upstairs to the bathroom to pee, brush her teeth and get ready for bed. She stood in the bathroom brushing her teeth and washing her face when suddenly the bathroom lights began to flicker over the sink. She looked up at the lightbulbs the bulbs were new, and she wasn’t sure why not just one, but all were flickering. Her dad had just changed them about a week or so. The flickering stopped after a few seconds and she continued washing her face. As she patted her face dry and she went to grab her moisturizer that Mia had told her to start using so she wouldn’t get pimples, that is when she noticed a shadow moving in the corner of her eye. She turned and looked behind her and she couldn’t see the shadow anymore. Liv figured she was just tired, but she knew deep down it wasn’t a trick of her mind. She began to shake she could feel the air turn colder than it was moments before in the hot sticky summer air. She took a deep breath and turned to face her assailant. She knew the electric charge that would appear in the air when they would appear. There was a current that led to fear that was a road best not traveled if she could help make it disappear.
There it was the eyes peering out from the corner of the bathroom looking at her menacingly as she began to shake. “Go away.” She said barely whispering.
She looked up again and the horrible thing that was staring back at her it’s gaze pinning her with the blackest eyes of a creature that was straight from hell. Liv dropped her toothbrush and slowly picked up a razor from the sink and began slicing her arm and wrist without a cause to stop it. It was controlling her, and she started to black out. In her mind’s eye she started to see a vision of her mother smiling at her the time they had went to get ice cream on a day trip. There was a sea of wild grass near the roadside ice cream stand and her mother in her Sunday best dress with peach flowers and long pale scarf she often wore then. It blew in the wind catching the chocolate ice cream from Liv’s tiny hands. Her mother had at first frowned at her scarf getting ruined then looked at Liv’s sad face and smiled. Liv felt suddenly warm and fuzzy at the thought of her mother being there because it was so real.
Liv was caught in her vision of a past that she missed. The creature in the bathroom could see what she wished for and was giving it to her. It was an evil Jinn seeing through your very soul as if it could grant three wishes that it had only for you and no one else. It sought you out and when it found you it pushed you down into the ground burying you beneath the creature’s very feet unable or unwilling to move away from it. It lied to you and convinced you to make your wishes as you missed the fine print. Innocent and wanting you decide to blindly make your final wish that you cannot take back. This demon was out for blood and Liv’s one desire was to have her mother again and this creature was giving it to her here and now. Even though Liv subconsciously knew it wasn’t real and it wasn’t right she still held her arm up cutting it again and again with the small razor. The blood was rushing out of her left arm, but the cuts were not deep enough to cause death. The more she cut the more she bled as though the creature with the black eyes craved her demise to be slow and careful.
Mia was laying on the couch when she felt something whisper in her ear. It was a female’s voice and she at first thought that it was Liv trying to wake her up. She sat up looking around the living room realizing there was no one there and she assumed her sister was in bed. Mia had the biggest urge to pee. She saw the light was on in the bathroom and that the door was cracked open. Mia was about to open the door when she caught a whiff of something unpleasant like rotten shit. She was about to tease her sister for being gross when she saw Liv just standing with her back to the door just standing there. Mia had no idea what she was doing and almost shut the door so that she could have privacy. Then she saw blood on the floor Mia had not realized it immediately that Liv was cutting herself. When she saw more blood dripping down onto the floor she grabbed Liv and tapped her shoulder trying to see what was causing the blood. “Liv? Are you okay?”
She was crying and staring into the corner of the bathroom not facing Mia, so she turned her around to look at her. “Liv what the fuck are you doing?” She realized Liv was cutting herself as she stood in a trance, Mia grabbed the razor out of Liv’s hand and she was still making the cutting motion with a dead blank expression on her face. Tears were falling from Liv’s eyes as she stood in front of her sister, but she wasn’t looking at Mia she was looking through her instead. Mia grabbed her face thinking she was having a seizure like the girl in gym class that had epilepsy and had frequent seizures when the lights got bright. Mia was trying to figure out how to help her sister because there was blood everywhere as she grabbed the hand towel that was on the rack and began holding her sister’s arm with it. Mia wet the cloth with cold water and started cleaning off the wounds. Mia was so freaked out she began crying hysterically. She called out for her father and it seemed like hours before he finally came in.
“What’s going on?” Ray asked in a panic. It only got more insanely urgent when he saw the blood. “What did you do to her Mia? Were you two fighting again?”
“Nothing dad nothing I found her here just cutting herself!” she cried out. “I don’t know why but she’s got blood all over the place!”
By now Liv had snapped out of her trance enough to stop making the cutting motions. She had no expression and was white as a sheet. She had lost more blood than they realized, and Liv looked pale as a ghost. Ray took over cleaning and mending Liv’s wounds. He looked at her tears in his eyes now too. “What are you doing? Why are you trying to hurt yourself Liv? Liv my baby girl why?” He grabbed her and held her in his arms blood dripped on him now too from her wounds as she just leaned into him like a rag doll. Ray was so fearful she was going to die. The wounds as it turned out were not deep enough to warrant the paramedics to be called, but cuts were everywhere on her arm. Mia was crying and freaked out. Both were thinking the harm she was doing to herself was in an attempt on her own life. Mia, without thinking, called her aunt Cecily because she was so frightened.
Aunt Cecily was there within minutes it seemed and with her she brought her husband Avery. He was very tall and thin with glasses he always seemed to be cleaning off. Avery was a nervous man that always said one or two words at a time. He never said much really, he was a “YES” man someone to present his wife, Cecile, with whatever she needed whenever she asked. He stood in the doorway and did not move far from the living room as aunt Cecily ran up the stairs in a flood of anger and worry at what could have brought on this catastrophe of this magnitude.
“Ray is she okay?”
Ray wanted to kill Mia for calling her at this very moment, but he was so upset himself Ray felt like perhaps he needed some help in this situation from an outside source, even if it was from Cecily.
“I honestly don’t know; the wounds aren’t deep.” He said still holding her in his arms. Cecily yelled for her husband. Avery came up the stairs as fast as he could. Together they took Liv into her bedroom keeping her arm wrapped in a large towel.
“She should see a doctor, Ray.”
Ray looked at Cecily and then stood up walking toward Liv’s bedroom. He saw her just sitting on her bed staring at the floor with tears still in her eyes. He slowly leaned his crutches on the nightstand and sat down next to Liv. “Olivia, what on earth were you thinking?”
She began to sob suddenly she had no idea why she cut herself. The last thing she could recall was that there was another ghost. This one was evil, and it was there one second then gone the next and the last thing she could remember was the memories of her mom as she brushed her teeth. Was she going bonkers? Liv still said nothing to her father she was scared at this moment and unsure what to say.
Aunt Cecily walked into the bedroom and looked at her niece with tears in her eyes. She looked back at Ray who sat bewildered and unsure of his ability to be a father at this very moment. “She needs a doctor and if you don’t want to take her I will.” She tried to remain firm but calm. She couldn’t be mean or start to lecture Ray as she had in the past this was apparently a man beside himself in his grief.
All of them sat for a long time in silence until Liv finally spoke. “It was the demon again it made me see mom and I blacked out, dad you have to believe me. I miss mommy so much and it knows. I didn’t do it and I don’t know why it keeps happening to me.”
“Olivia, you have to stop blaming everything on ghosts!” Now he was getting mad and was even more so that she was using a made-up story about imaginary ghosts as a reason behind her erratic behavior as of late. “Look, Liv, I know you miss your mom, I am not sure what to do with you. You have to stop this I don’t want to find you dead from doing this shit to yourself or making up stories about your sister floating!”
“I’m not lying dad, why can’t you ever believe me? I hate living here- I hate this house and I hate you! GET OUT!” Liv threw his crutches into the hallway and began throwing things into the hallway to make them all leave. Liv was angry and felt like she had a fever and the room felt so hot it created a claustrophobic aura suddenly and she just wanted to hurt them all. She was becoming more and more angry by the second and without thinking she threw a shoe and it hit her aunt Cecily in the cheek. It wasn’t on purpose it just happened in the moment. She looked at her aunt and the shock were not only on her face but on her sister who stood in the hallway with no words coming from her mouth. Mia’s eyes were wide, and she had no idea where this tantrum of Liv’s was coming as this odd behavior was not like her sister at all. She was always a sweet, shy and quiet soul. Ray grabbed her by the arm and slapped her across the face. It was the first time her father had ever hit her. It scared her and broke her heart all in the same second. It snapped her out of it just long enough to run out into the hallway as fast as she could down the stairs and into the yard. From there she ran into the field behind her house and kept going. She could hear her sister, aunt and father calling after her. Liv began to cry she was running as though she was running for her life. She was confused and saddened by her behavior. Liv was frustrated at the fact that everyone and everything in her young life had become so dark. The house she used to love now scared her to death. There were ghosts everywhere and not just literally. It was in the eyes of her father who always seemed to struggle no matter how hard he tried. She was cruel in the moment she found his sore spot by throwing his crutches, so he couldn’t reach them Liv knew what she had done and why. She wanted to hurt him literally. She didn’t care about him or his feelings. She was angry at him and blamed him for everything in that moment. Her mom died, her annoying and meddling aunt and her being poor not having things like her friends did. Becky and Nina had things she didn’t. They lived in a regular house with beautiful things and didn’t have to eat stupid roast every other day. They didn’t have to live on a farm in stupid Ohio and they could live in a cul-de-sac and ride their bikes on a sidewalk and have friends stay over. They had the latest technology and the latest clothing fashions. Her simple Walmart fashion wasn’t cutting it in her circle. She was so tired of having to use her allowance for stuff like going to the movies because she was afraid to ask her dad who always seemed strapped for cash. She resented her sister, Mia, she had things too like good looks and friends who didn’t care she was poor. She knew the way Becky and Nina looked at her and why they never came around as much. Mia’s dad the creepy one-legged freak. Why couldn’t her father be like Becky and Nina’s dads? Liv started to cry and sob uncontrollably. Sometimes she wished she lived with her stupid aunt Cecily because at least she would live a normal life.
In the distance, she could hear her sister yelling her name, but Liv just pretended not to listen to it. She was still crying snot running out of her nose. She wiped her face with her shirt. Suddenly she felt the sting of her cut up arm. The blood had dried but a lot of it had smeared all over her and her arm. She thought about her dad again this time she was no longer as angry so much as sad. She recalled his fear when he had held her in his arms. She knew he loved her and she felt it at that moment when he thought she may be seriously injured.
Liv stood up suddenly and looked around her and the field was darker suddenly and only the stars provided her light. She could no longer hear anyone calling her name. That is when she turned and ran face forward into her father’s chest. He was holding onto her there in the field. Liv just started to cry again. She had no idea how he had made it out to her so fast with his crutches and one leg he had found her more swiftly than the others.
“I’m so sorry baby girl, I didn’t mean to hurt you and I never want to cause any pain to you. Olivia, stupid girl, don’t you know how worried we all are for you? How worried I am?” he was crying too because she could hear his voice cracking. As Liv stood there she felt awful for throwing his crutches and trying to hurt him. The way he held her felt like life and death and she knew he would do anything to protect her.
“I’m sorry dad. I’m sorry for everything.” She sobbed.
“I know. We will work it out.”
That night it was too late to work it out. The events of that night set in motion what was still to come. The thing about a Jinn is they know the heart of the ones wishing for the darkness to come. It gladly brings it to your front door and gleefully leaves it for you to deal with it.
to be continued…