Saturday, October 31, 2009

Something in the mirror by Ivy

Momma always said to stay away from the Hathaway House. No one lived there. No one had lived there for a long time. The Johnson grass hid most of the two story white house now from the road. There was nothing but dark windows looking like errie eyes, giving a creepy invitation.

Sheri Jones said someone was murdered there. At the time I was only seven with big pale baby eyes to absorb the story. Only she didn't know what happened.

"What do you think happened there?" I yearned for another story on those backseat bus rides home.

"We'd have to go there to find out." Sheri swore she knew how to call up spirits from the bathroom mirror. I never was able to call up Bloody Mary nor the Candyman. I'd screech their names a hundred and twenty or so times. Nothing ever happened. Just me in the dark staring into the mirror, wishing I knew who was out there in the spirit world.

Why couldn't it be any easier this time? It took me ten years to get up the nerve to go into the Hathaway house.

"Cause we're not in your bathroom, Page!"

I looked over at Randy Travis. Not the singer, just a whimpy guy I knew in high school.

I made a face, snuggling the flashlight to my chest. The shadow was a Halloween delight. Randy gasped and jumped back almost falling through the wall. A mouse streaked by.

"Nothings happened. Nothing will ever happen." I gave up.

"You look scary even in daylight, Page." Like my attire had anything to do with Bloody Mary. I rolled my eyes. That's all he could find to say about me.

"Thanks, Randy." I smiled. It wasn't a cheap gothic look. Of course, most of my clothes were from salvation army. But to find the strange dark lipsticks and the pale makeup was a mail-order expense. Then there was the fake nose piercing that really freaked Dad out. I still haven't shown him my bellybutton ring yet. Randy doesn't even know about that. Not that my plan was to expose anything tonight except something in the bathroom mirror.

When, just when was I going to meet the people I wanted to meet in my life? Living in an old railroad town, certainly was no Greenwich Village.

"So do you sleep in that stuff or what?"

"This is no time to ask what I do in my sleep. I don't sleep at all, Randy, okay." I was a caffeine addict who thrived on bewitching hours.

"Sorry, I just wished we'd hung out at the cementary, maybe."

"Pushing gravestones over is so disrespective. You have to respect the dead, Randy!" God, I thought I'd gone over this with him before. Does he ever listen to me, really?

"Did I say anything about gravestones. I just want to get out of here." His dark chin length hair hid his eyes which made it all the more harder to have any sympathy for him. In spite of the dark, I wished he had something dangerous in mind. But not Randy. He moped around never deciding who he wanted to be. He just knew who he didn't want to be, a nobody.

"I'll try again." I looked back at the cracked mirror. I started out with some lucious Latin words. To bad I didn't know what they meant. I forgot my book of spells. Maybe I just wasn't dedicated to this sort of stuff. Maybe it was my grandmother still haunting me. She always said if my spirit remained empty like some vessel, and if I didn't fill it up with Bible scriptures, anything could happen. Even bad things could happen in the bathroom mirror. But it was only me, Randy and the flashlight. Kind of depressing.

I remembered those foolish games Sheri and I used to recite. Maybe something would have happened if she were here, but she ran away with a truckdriver.

So I started chanting the words I learned from her. Over and over I began to call up Bloody Mary.

And then like an ember, a face sparkled in the mirror. Struggling to see who was there, no more brighter than a candle was someone looking at me.

My eyes widen. I wanted a closer look. Something was in the bathroom mirror!

I swallowed my fear. Maybe Randy didn't see a thing but he tightened his grip around my shoulders.

"Who in the hell is Bloody Mary?" Someone whispered.

"Did you hear something?" I turned to Randy and a beam of light hit our faces. A force greater than any wind and a heat so fierce came rushing toward us.

"Make it stop...make it stop!" cried Randy. The force surged past me, hitting him, jolting him to the floor.

"Randy?" I flashed the light to the floor where I thought he fell. He wasn't there. Something smelled rancid in the air, like old trash, fermenting too long in the sun.

"Oh, God." Where was he? He wasn't on the floor. I checked the wall. I heard something move in the darkness. Hunting with the flashlight, I saw a rat running down the hallway. Was Randy a rat now? How could I do something like that? He let me paint his fingernails with silver nail polish. He was my only friend in high school. Thanks to me, he was a rat now. What was I going to do, take the rat home and keep it? Mom would just die. People would start asking about Randy. Nobody ever disappeared in Rockford.

My life was....SHIT.

My eyes cringed. The pit of my stomach felt woozy. I was an awful person. I never even kissed Randy. The thought of kissing a rat made me a little jumpy. I sprinted down the dark hallway.

"Randy, where are you?" Could he remember his name if he were a rat? Did he know who I was even if he was an animal?

There was an old naked iron framed bed. Sheets covered the windows. From time to time a car light from the highway would shine through the windows. I noticed the bright light and wondered if it was a spirit, a ghost or what.

"Randy, are you under there?" I thought I heard a whimper. Flashing the light under the bed, there the rat hid. "Come on, don't be afraid. I'll read my book of spells better, next time. I'll do whatever it takes. I'll change you back. I'll stay with you. I promise." It sounded lame, talking to a rat.

Another car light went by. I noticed a shadow by the window.

"Randy?" I stood up and shined the flashlight toward the bedroom window.

There was a chill in the air. I thought I saw a shadow. My pulse raced. I wanted to scream, but I couldn't. I wasn't alone. Or either, Randy was a rat. I couldn't just stand there in the dark and be swallowed by the chill sliding across the room. I ran. I leaped down the flight of stairs, stepping on a rat's tail.

"Randy!" The thought of him being a rat made me cry. "Randy! OH GOD, WHAT HAVE I DONE." I reached for the front door. Only it was stuck.

I heard footsteps behind me on the stairway. Maybe it was just my heart beat drumming in my ear. I grasped the door, kept turning the knob hard, but it would barely move.

I pulled the rusty knob, using all my strength. And then the wind rushed, pushing the door open. Leaves clung to my face. Into the fall night, I ran never wanting to look back at the Hathaway House.

I can't say I slept that night. I didn't. Randy was on my mind. Every toss and turn made me wonder where was he. Was he still at the Hathaway house? Was he a rat?

Monday morning came too early, I pulled myself together, thinking it would be the worst day of my life. Randy would be missing, and I was the worst person on earth. I didn't even take home the rat.

It was true I was a witch. Who else could conjure something like that up in a mirror? I didn't even remember what words I used. Maybe it was pig-latin?

My pasty skin flushed when I turned the corrider and saw Randy standing by the principal's office. Sure, it was a relief to see him human and alive, but I didn't know what to say. Maybe he didn't want me to say anything. Maybe I should act like nothing ever happened that night, and maybe it didn't. Maybe I dreamed the whole thing up. I could handle this. It was nothing.

I smiled. But when he looked at me, there was something dead in his dark eyes. He was mad, mad that I left him there. I bet. I couldn't expect him to be happy to see me. Before I knew what was coming, he slammed me into the lockers. A cold metal pain in the back of my head hung on to every word he said.

"Happy to see me?" Randy growled. Now I felt like a little mouse trapped, no one helped. Faces stared at me like this was all way too intense. It wasn't there business, just ours.

"Sorry, I- I..." My eyes searched him wondering if he was the boy I grew up with. "I'm sorry about everything."

His breath was hot, and I felt a little sweaty when he dropped me too the ground, and pressed his palms against my shoulders.

"I could take care of you real easy..real easy." He smiled. "Watch it." His brow lifted. He aimed a finger like a gun and pressed it against my forehead, "Pow." He whispered. "Friends forever."

He knew I was weak. His smile was quick as he backed away. He watched me for sometime. Staring, I wondered just who in the hell was he.

Stupid, the only song on my mind was that one where the guy keeps singing, "How's it going to be when you don't know me." I should have done my homework, gone to my grandmother's, hid at home. Something. But no. There I was at lunch. No place to go. Not a dime in my pocket and a grumbling stomach. A free soda would have been nice. But would I have really enjoyed it? Would I ever enjoy anything, anymore? And I thought my life sucked before. I wasn't making friends. I was making enemies.

There was no pleasure even in black lipstick. I didn't care anymore. See what a difference a day makes?

It was there on the steps of Rockford High I saw the old red sports car roll in. I couldn't say I knew the make, but it was pretty much a low riding busted car, except for the crimson paint job. Joy riders on a noon rush and Randy was with them.

My eyes widen. What kind of guy was he? He was supposed to be with me, not with scum of the earth.

The trio was plastered. Were they here to prove their reputation?

Maybe I am strange, but I wasn't an idiot. I never thought of Randy as one of the daredevils of Rockford High, known for trainspotting and other stupid human tricks which usually meant motion of some kind. I'd seen them down at the K-Mart parking lot jumping on the hood while the car peeled circles.

"What are you doing with them?" Okay, I like stupid questions.

"What do you care?" His breath was heavy with alcohol and his head dropped toward mine. Damn, he enjoyed making me squirm with his threatening stare. "But then you've been waiting for me."

"No I haven't." I took the defensive. Uptight and slightly phobic to crowds, he was too close for my comfort zone.

"Just get in the car." That was Randy's smile, but he didn't act a thing like Randy.

I shook my head, no.

"Come on, what are you afraid of? You weren't afraid last night." He took my hand, played with my fingers. I froze looking into his dizzy eyes. He wasn't Randy anymore.

"What did you do with him?"

"What do you mean? What did I do? It was you." His index finger pressed into my chest. "So get over it? Are you coming or not?" His words were cold. I felt a twinge of fear, yet it had a power of it's own just like he did. I went.

The old car was blaring with sweet notes from the stereo, "Put your arms around me, Baby... put your arms around me, Baby....All I want to do is fly." And we were flying down the interstate. I was sitting in the front seat in his lap. I can't say I was sitting in Randy's lap because if he was Randy we wouldn't be on this road trip. We'd be on some back street maybe sharing a soda and stupid stories about somebody on TV. Not this. Not the wind in my face, not the music soaring as fast as the car. We wouldn't be this way. Never. I never made a wish in the bathroom mirror. If I had, it wouldn't be this.

His hand hung on to my shoulder making me stiff. It was difficult to stay comfortable in his lap.

He sat there with a cigarette between his lips. I was too jittery to be cool, but he passed the cigarette and I took a slow drag. Actually, I was having a bit of a nicotine fit. Not that I'm addicted or anything, but I needed something to sooth the edge, glued to him.

What if I wet my pants or something? What would this rowdy bunch think? Maybe they'd just leave me at a roadside park, but we took a turn down a dirt road toward the river.

I didn't ask where we were going. I wanted this to be over. But then would it ever be over.

When I looked into his eyes, I searched for Randy. If I knew how to get him back, I would. But I don't think dragging him back to some mirror in an old house and saying a few words was going get back my Randy.

The car halted at the river's edge. Everyone got out. At least I could get to my feet. Most everyone but him stumbled. His grip tightened.

"What are we doing here?" I watched the wide stream babble. The current was probably stronger than it looked. The Platt was deceiving, sometimes. There was always at least one drowning a year around here. Had it met it's quota yet? I sighed.

"She wants to know what we're doing here?" Randy laughed.

Everyone laughed but I didn't get the joke.

"Randy, wouldn't you rather just have a beer and forget about it." The boy asked who drove us there. He pulled a reefer from his pocket and lit it. "You need to chill, man."

"Then don't watch." Randy's cold words hung in my mind.

"You're not going to hurt her, are you?" A girl asked. I remembered her from Living Class. We never talked. She was always tired but usually liked anyone's cooking.

I looked at the driver, then the girl with the stringy hair and her companion who looked as dim as she did.

Was I an idiot or what? Did they care what he had in mind?

My sweaty hand slid from his grip, and I took off running fast as I could get from the river. To bad I never tried out for track. God, I stink. Too many cigarettes. I felt dizzy. Before I knew it, I hit the ground, and he was right on me.

My palms cut into the gravel, but I managed to pull myself up and kept going even if he pulled at my shirt tail. I dropped out of the shirt and ran toward the highway.

Things I now knew to give up, clunky shoes, stupid retroware and cigarettes. But then would I see tomorrow with his plans? He grabbed me. We tumbled, but I fought to get up before he could. Only I wasn't going anywhere, but with him, down the rocky embankment toward the river.

He hit the water first. My chance to get away. But like quicksand, he pulled me under with him. His hands clung to my wet neck and he squeezed, pushing me harder under the merky water. Bubbles spewed from my mouth.

I couldn't make out a word he said. But I fought back.

We were swallowed in the current. He clung on to me. I did the same. Inspite of everything, I knew this guy liked me. You can't just give up on somebody when their personality changes.

We washed up on the sandbar. Too exhausted to even talk. Damn, if he didn't get to ride in the ambulance with me.

I don't know if I'll ever know who Randy is. Some lady at the library's been trying to help me find some old newspapers about the Hathaway murder. I haven't found much. Newspapers just don't spell out stuff like they do these days on the news.

Anyway, he hasn't asked me to visit him at the treatment center. And I haven't been trying to call up Bloody Mary in bathroom mirror.


e.l. said...

Just in time for Halloween. Sweet!

the oaks said...

Always need a scary story.

simon n josh said...

I am glad you posted the story.

Cait said...

I remember this story. The first time I read it..I thought of him so Johnny Depp perhaps.

selena st.john said...

Wow that was a looong post.
But it was good.
Glad you posted. :)