Reflection

And there you go.  The first full version of a new short story.  Reflection. 

Enjoy. 

Send me msgs of any errors. please

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https://seanwritesstuff.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/wem_270.jpg

And there she was.  I could see her in the bathroom mirror, sitting in the windowsill behind and slightly to my right, swinging her legs, smiling as she twiddled with the edge of her frilly white and blue dress.  I caught myself briefly almost turning to look then quickly resuming the vantage point of the mirror.

“You know, I really wish you didn’t pop up in the bathroom.  I’d appreciate a little privacy in here.”
“Can’t help it.  I’m bored. When I’m bored I look for you.”
“I’m just saying, bathroom.  It would be nice if it was not the place you chose to pop up.”
“Tell ya what Mister David.  If I show up and you are in the bathroom, I will leave.”
“But you’ll come back right.”
“When I’m bored. Of course I will.”
“Okay then.”
“You’re weird” she laughed aloud.
“I’m weird?  You’re the little girl that pops up in people’s bathrooms unannounced.”  I rinsed my razor and bared my teeth to makes sure I wasn’t heading to work with a face full of food bits.
“You’re the one that likes to talk to dead people.” she said with a coy smile as she looked for effect at the ceiling.
“Oh, so you are a ghost? You admit this?” I asked, looking directly at her through the now slightly fogged up glass.
She swung her feet faster, “Didn’t say that but you like to talk to me and you are convinced I am a ghost so, you know, ipso facto whatever blah blah…”
“Are you?”
“We’ve been through this before.  I’m a spirit.”
“Of who?”
“Me dummy. Ooh. You are bleeding.” her eyes flared as she leapt from the window toward me.

I turned on a dime, the look in her eyes going from pretty blue and innocent to dark.  As I turned, she dissolved into a vaguely human shaped mist that vanished into the ether.  Her laughter faded into the humid air, a funk of flowers and mild decay along with it.

“Frig what was that?” I yelled, my heart in my throat.  I stood, panting and looking around the room as my towel dropped to the floor from my gyrations.

“Go to work Mister.  We’ll visit later” her voice from far away spoke.

I picked up the towel, re-wrapped it and opened the door.  For the second time that morning jumped in fright as my eldest stood just outside it, his hand in mid-reach for the handle, a quizzical, concerned look on his face.

“Um, dad.  What the hell are you doing in there?”
“On the phone Chad, jeesh, privacy… and hurry up if you want a ride.  I’m leaving in fifteen minutes.”

I scurried to my room to dress.  Behind me I could vaguely make out the words “freak” as the bathroom door shut and teeth began to be brushed in short order.  The subsequent drive to work was quiet.  I dropped off my aforementioned eldest and his younger brother at school and the remainder of the drive and day were not surprisingly, uneventful.

She rarely made two appearances a day.

Given the scare she had given me, I was okay with that.

You might ask yourself why I seem to be so nonchalant about a ghost talking to me in a mirror.  Hell, you may just think I am ape-shit nuts.  I can explain. I will rewind the clock a bit, back before I met my evil and recently departed wife.

Aside:
By departed I mean she left.  Took off.  Screwed off.  She vanished one day after the boys and I had left for work and school and such after yet another marathon gripe-fest with her skanky friend Theresa the night before and me ending up sleeping on the couch.

My guess was that she vamoosed with the neighbours’ pool guy as she spent the spring and part of the summer watching him clean, scrub, hose, skim, clean, stretch, sun-tan et-fucking-cetera from the bathroom window.  She chatted with him from over the fence while I pulled weeds, generally acting about twenty years younger than she was.  Unabashedly flirting right in front of me. One might think she was trying to get a rise out of me, make me jealous, but no, even when I pretended I was she just laughed and told me to go do something else worthwhile.  We had been this way for a while.

Back in the day, in college, when I had hair, I was one of those guys that spent hours upon hours in the sub 140.00 region of the library.  If you know the Dewey Decimal system (who does nowadays?) you know, where the parapsychology books are kept.  I was a smart kid, no real religious affiliations however I was fixated on the idea of ghosts.  I read everything, fiction, non and in between, watched every movie, read every news article, tabloid and semi-tabloid that promised pictures or stories of poltergeists, wraiths, spectres and generally spooky shit.  When I graduated with a degree in architecture (I know, I know, zzz), I puttered away at various day jobs designing septic systems for much higher paid staff while spending my much more entertaining nights and weekends “researching” mysterious events with others who belonged to the Gray Eagle Association.  I lasted about two years before they kicked me out.  This was partly because as much as I wanted to really and truly find evidence of a ghost or something connected to a ghostly event, my scientific, logical mind made me a little too critical and found a way to disprove everything I investigated.  I was more than a tad annoyed with the grizzled old coots and crystal wielding hippies, ready  to start my own research group when I met Deborah.

I have no fucking clue what she liked about me.  She was five seven, blond (from a bottle), legs to her ears and hot as a stripper after a bar mitzvah.  At first she clung, and clung and made me go to social things and drink with her lawyer pals and go to parties and hung around me like a frigging lead necklace with boobs and next thing you know we were married twenty years, two sons and pretty much on the edge of killing each other.  We were waiting impatiently for them to move out so we could split.  Me to some god-forsaken rental room in Paris so I could take part in illegal research of the Catacombs, her to some imagined island of twenty year old men with nothing better to do but feed grapes to fifty year old women with alimony and twenty year old men to blow. Then, six months ago, she was gone.  Kids were upset at first but they were old enough to overcome the “where is mom” and replace it with “what the hell is wrong with mom?!” pretty quickly.

Good Boys.

Pip is eleven, Daniel is sixteen.

Daniel is the one that called me a freak.  Smarmy tall prick.

We never heard from her again, though her friend, the skank, Theresa called when she heard to say that the night before they spoke and she said she planned on leaving, that we were better off without her and I could keep the house and all that.  I am guessing she found a sugar daddy or the pool guy was loaded or who knows what but I have yet to hear from the lawyers and I’m just hoping she doesn’t come back all doe eyed and looking for forgiveness.  then again she is still hot and I am balding and damn.  I’d probably take her back.  Luckily Theresa (the skank)  said the same thing to the lawyers and the cops and after finding Deb had been socking money away in an account of her own and been to a travel agent they all left me be.

So here I am, single father, trying to play house and work and do the Dad stuff when all of a sudden one night three months ago when I was collecting clothes from the floor to wash, I glanced in the mirror and there she was, Marie.  Standing behind me one night .  I turned, dropping the clothes then dropping myself  in a kind of half-assed defensive stance and poof, she was gone.

I wasn’t as much scared as surprised.  I had read enough books, been to enough “haunted” houses, seen enough diddly squat.  I had been ready for it all the time.  When a real, honest to goodness spirit appeared, it was, well, unexpected but didn’t freak me out.  Over the remaining month I saw her every so often and much the same happened.  Eventually I no longer panicked.  Instead I looked into the reflection and spoke to her as one would a colleague.  Over time, she spoke back and over more time actual conversations were held.  Nothing similar to what had occurred the previous evening happened so I spent the entire day waiting till I saw her again.  I looked over posts impatiently on the parapsychology/ poltergeist web-forums so I could discuss such with her.  I spent many an hour. Not a very productive day at the office I may say.

She never told me her name. I had picked one that when she just smiled at me in that way that in my mind signalled acquiescence I had a target for my admiration.  Marie.  It fit her dress, it fit her eyes, it was a name my ex and I had picked for a girl we never had.  It fit her. It was hers.

She didn’t appear for three days, or maybe she had and I had not seen her which was unlikely due to my over-cautious nature and residual fright from the previous morning in the bathroom.  When she did it was late in the evening, as I was ironing my shirt and preparing for bed.

A gravely “I’m hungry” is all I heard at first.  Frankly it scared the living hell out of me.  I looked around and finally into the mirror on my wife’s dresser,.  There she was, in the far corner of the room, near the window, by the garbage pail, in the dark shadowy corner where we always thought a lamp should be placed but never got around to it.  “I’m hungry David.” she said again looking petulant and completely unlike the usual Marie, gripping a floppy doll, or some ghostly flowers or a sad little balloon.

“Hello Marie.  Where have you been.”
“Watching you.  Waiting.”
“Waiting for what, and why did you do that the other night?”
“Waiting for you to look for me again.”
“I, guess, I have been looking for you, yes…”
“It doesn’t work when you are scared. You have to want to see me.”
“Well I did want to see you, but I guess, yes, you did freak me out a bit you know.”

She slid through the reflected air a bit closer, into the light, though of course it didn’t actually illuminate her.  She looked gaunt, grey, not the same as usual.  Less like a little girl and more like an old woman in a little girl costume.

“Talk to me, look at me.  I’m what you always wanted.  A daughter. You are alone David.  Ask me anything you like, I can be what you wish.”  She hung in the air behind, her head level with my own.  This was not the little girl that had sat upon the windowsill, This was not the little ghost girl that chatted with me as I made the bed.  As I watched, intrigued, she began to change back into the little girl of before.  Brief flashes of older Marie, younger Marie, then finally, fully, the brightly coloured dress reformed, grey washed away into the night, young Marie again.
An unseen wind blew her fine long hair and made the fringe of her dress ripple.

“Are you a ghost?” I asked as my hand moved forward to the bottom edge of the mirror.
“Silly man.  I told you I am a spirit.”
“But what does that mean.  Spirit. It could be anything.”
“Yes I can.” She smiled. “Whatever you wish.” and she moved a bit closer. “That’s what I do. Lets not fight David. I need.  I need, a hug.” she batted her eyes toward me, moved again, closer, then away a bit, then with a flash of the older grizzled face, she flew at me, her mouth opening, wide and full of terrible teeth, arms akimbo.

I swung the mirror upward on its rotating hinges, it smacked into the wall behind as I turned and leapt to the side.  The thick brown misty shape let slip a wicked scream as it dissipated with a soft hiss, tendrils of viscous material in its wake.  I held my breath and turned aside.  I for one know the true reason people cover their mouths when they yawn and why others say “bless you”.  It is not politeness.  It is to keep such spirits at bay, from entering the body.  I hit the floor, wiping away the oily clingy bits of the spirit mist that swung about, trying to enter me and after panic filled moments, they too sizzled away.

My eldest ran in the room, looked around then at me on the floor and the mirror still moving back into its original position, heading slowly downward. He ran to me, asking animatedly if I was having a stroke,  holding my arm, looking into my eyes, lifting my limb up and down like I was some sort of water pump.  I waved him away, sat, stood, paused to thank him for his concern then made up an excuse about seeing  a bat.  He was used to my occasional jumpiness and reluctantly accepted my explanation. Shaking his head (probably calling me a freak again within, to himself) he  walked off to his room.

She was gone.  I didn’t see her that night, the next day, the next week, the next month, though I kept an eye out for her and even went to the trouble of removing the mirror from my bedroom, just in case.
Normalcy, well, an odd  version of normalcy, returned to our life and as Christmas approached I began to feel more at ease.  Being a decidedly proper father, a dad, became paramount.  I worked, made meals, rented movies, drove them places and when December first rolled around and snow began to appear in little drifts here and there overnight, I decide to prepare for the holiday season. The weekend came, we suited up and we headed out to the tree farm to pick, cut and haul home our usual spruce or fir.  This year to be different I decided to go against the norm and purchase a smaller tree than our usual ten footer.  Nothing ridiculously small, just, well, more easily navigable than the monstrosity I had come home with in the past.

A minor storm had picked up between the time we had strapped the tree, wrapped in a large fleece blanket, to the roof of my well beaten grey Hyundai.  Roads were manageable with attention given primarily to safety.  It was noted by all that it became colder with the addition of a fairly strong north wind that whipped my car about.  We stopped at the closest coffee shop, grabbed three hot chocolates to go and continued onward  toward home.  Pip was a bit on the sullen side as usual and quieter than even in the past week.  I asked him if anything was wrong and he said, of course,  “no”.  I asked if he was looking forward to the holidays and he said, “kinda”.  His brother raised an eyebrow toward me in the rear view mirror, so I asked the inevitable “are you missing Mom?” and he went silent.  After a few minutes, I added “we all do Pip, we all do.” and left it at that.  The sound of snow and ice pelted the windshield for the remaining, over-long drive home.

When we arrived, after a brief pause where nobody wanted to be the first to leap out into the increasing storm from the warm safety of the car, we exited and I began the task of un-strapping the tree so we could trim the base then attach it to the stand then let the boughs fall into place.  All before bringing it inside to decorate.  Pip looked horribly unhappy standing there, snow gathering on his shoulders and hat.

“Why don’t you go inside and stay warm Pip.  We’ll be done in a few minutes.”
He smiled briefly, replied “okay” and gave me an odd sideways hug then ran inside.
I paused then looked at his brother saying through the snow “okay, well, lets hurry up.”

We proceeded to work and in less than ten minutes had the tree on the deck, the end cut and the base fitted onto the newly trimmed trunk. Standing and stretching after being hunched over for most of the time, I choked on a few snowflakes I inadvertently inhaled.  We laughed and moved the tree aside so we could stomp off our boots and head in.

“Dad, before we go in, I was wondering, um, how old do kids usually have imaginary friends?”
“Cripes Dan, are you getting lonely?” I asked.

He laughed and gave me that half angry half not look he shared with his mother. “No dork, god, I’m wondering about Pip. He’s eleven  and  well, he’s always talking to himself at night.  I asked him what he was doing and he just flipped me the bird.”

A tingle started down the base of my neck and worked its way like cold sweat down my spine.
” When was this?” I asked as I set down my saw and looked at the pile of tools on the deck.
“I noticed him talking to himself back around when school started.  September?  I though the little goof had somehow made friends and was on the phone but when I picked up the line to check, it was just dial tone.  I hear him all the time, sometimes the middle of the night, talking away, laughing, whatever.”

I grabbed the small hatchet and kicked the snow off of my shoes, quietly.  I opened the front door and stood still at the bottom of the nearby stairs, turning my head to each side after removing my hat, listening intently.  The sound of the clock in the living room, Dan puttering around outside and the water dripping in the bathroom were all that were audible.  I was about to call out “hey, Pip, need some help down here…” but then I heard the laugh.  His small childish voice laughing at an unheard joke, then he responded with commentary of his own, and again, and again., laugh, speaking, laugh..  A one sided conversation flowing down the stairs from his bedroom bringing along with it the knowledge that perhaps this is what he and Daniel had heard from me in the past.

I looked to my left to the phone on the wall and confirmed to myself that no, he was not on a call with someone.  It’s red light indicated a line in use blank, dead.  Silently I walked up the ten thickly carpeted stairs until I was outside his room and peered inside the partially open door.  Under normal situations I would have given him trouble for still being in his outdoor clothes, snowy boots included, sitting on the edge of his bed melting snow onto the bedspread and rug but not this time, not now.  His back to me, I could see in the sliver of view available, he was talking to her.  Marie. The reflection in his closet door mirror showed her sitting beside him on the bed, her face withered and old with hair falling in matted grey clumps onto the shoulders of her tattered old blue and white dress.

“I miss you too Mom.  When will you come back?” Pip implored as he wiped away a tear from his eye.  Marie’s mouth moved in a snarl of a response, and as I watched, beside him, a brown human shaped mist began to form, faster than I expected, beside and above my dear son.

I burst into the room as tendrils of soot began to encircle Pip’s shoulders.  He reached around them and hugged an unseen shape that by its size, to him at least, would have been that of Deborah. “Pip, that’s not your mother!  Run!” I yelled, wielding the hatchet.  Marie snarled at me from the mirror as Pip leapt up and away from the mist to his right, a look of confusion, fear and muddled sadness upon his face.
“Get away from my son!” I snarled as the brown cloud, thick and no longer featureless turned its attention to me and promptly flew my way.  I let slip the hatchet toward the being then ran sideways to my son, who could now see fully what he had been conversing with.  The small axe spun through the air, slicing neatly through the substance-less mist and into the closet door, an inhuman scream bursting forth from the brown toothy maw that had formed where a head would naturally be in the creature, a second emitted from the direction of the now shattered glass.

I grabbed my son and ran from the room, slamming the door behind me as the creature flailed about, smashing blindly into walls and furniture.  We half fell down the stairs and landed on top of Daniel as he, as usual, ran in looking confused.  Wrapping my other arm around both, I pushed my sons outside, into the snow of the yard, just in time to see the creature burst through the upper floor window, into the night toward town.

After a short while, I re-entered the house leaving pip in the care of his brother and proceeded to break every mirror I could find. We slept, fitfully, aside the fireplace, together.

It was many months before any of us dared use a real mirror, especially within the confines of our home.  I can only assume that our general appearance suffered though no one actually stated so.  I performed some research into the spirit we had dealt with and as a result decided that it was imperative I spend more time with my two boys.  Signs, well, if you can trust what you read online, and who really can, point toward an old Irish legend of a Gaully.  Rarely written about, it is according to legend a spirit that takes on the appearance of someone you yearn for but cannot attain.  A daughter, a missing loved one and perhaps, perhaps, a pool boy.  When a connection is made and firmly entrenched, the spirit takes the victim away to another plane to become themselves, another Gaully.

A daughter.
A missing loved one.
And I hope, a pool boy.

This I believe and as such I can forgive Deborah.

KNEE

Oh ye gods magnum. I ran 12 km in record time ignoring the niggly little knee pain that has bugged me for over a month and now I am officially hobbled. GRRRR

Soccer is done. I will be in a gimp chair if I play. Argh…

Guess i will have to just write stuff and meet deadline and have less excuses to not do such things.