Friday, July 23, 2010

#fridayflash: The Essence

The Essence
by Louise Dragon

I crouched quietly in the darkest corner of the room, knowing she would appear. It was summertime. Warm dry breezes wafted the curtains gently. Neighborhood noises barked an occasional protest to the night. Ghostly shadows of an old black and white horror movie danced across silvery-white walls. Movie sounds, mere whispers, hovered scarcely within earshot. The buttery aroma of popcorn lingered like incense in our comfortable old living room.
As my chin bobbed gently against my chest, the apparition loomed out of the shadows. My breath whooshed out with a soft hiss. She didn’t glance in my direction.
The angelic vision glided by me with apparent purpose. I’ve seen her before. I’ve always marveled at her beauty. Long dark hair fell like midnight waves across her shoulders. Raven curls swirled softly around her cherub’s face. Large green doll-like eyes stared straight ahead. Her long white nightgown billowed behind her as her bare feet whispered over the carpet.
I watched with curious wonder as she floated from room to room. She stopped occasionally to pick up a knick-knack or bright object, and ran her fingers over its contours, as if blind, before gently replacing the object. She always returned the items to different locations -- not where she’d found them. Sporadically her pale lips opened and closed and she whispered uncertainly. The words were sometimes garbled and had no meaning. At times they were perfectly clear but out of context.
Fear settled over me like a sprayed tincture when the woman walked. I’ve thought about speaking to her. I’m curious about why she haunts my house on quiet summer nights. I wonder about her strange whisperings and even stranger wanderings.
As I opened my mouth to speak, her large round lustrous eyes jerked to my face – like she read my thoughts. Gooseflesh pebbled my arms. My mouth sagged soundlessly open as she lifted one pale and ghostly arm and pointed a finger directly at me. Her mouth yawned into a wide wavering cavern – I thought she would scream.
She vanished; dissipated like fog at daybreak.
With shaking hands I switched off the television, I paused briefly at my parent’s bedroom door. In the glare from the streetlights I saw two blanket covered humps. I heard gentle breathing and gained courage from the comforting sound. I pulled in a few shaky breaths of my own and struggled to shake off the fear that had enveloped me in its rigid clutches. Calmer, I tread softly upstairs to my own bedroom.
My three sisters, gently snoring cocoons, lay tucked away for the night in their own little rooms next to mine. I envied their oblivion. As I huddled wide-awake in my bed watching the streetlight beams dancing over my blanketed knees, I once again tried to unravel the mystery of the walking essence.
Am I the only one who sees her?
Am I the only one who hears her?
Sometimes, late at night, upstairs in my room, her whispers waken me. Disturbing cries echo mysteriously through our old house. Strange haunting pleas like, “where are my children?” Or “Please help me. The man! The man! He’s taking my children.”
“Can’t you see him,” she would moan. “He’s right over there.”
I would lie awake for hours on these nights . . . Listening and mulling those troubling words over in my mind. Too afraid to investigate. Too afraid to budge from the comforting warmth of my bed. I’m only a kid! Only a kid . . .
I worry that she’ll hurt herself wandering aimlessly through the dark shadowy house. I fear she may walk out into the night and never come back, lost forever in her gloomy trance. She could wander the dark streets for eternity, like a lost vampire.
I’m afraid to speak to her. I’m afraid that she’ll mistake me for the “man”; the one who wants to steal her children. The one she seems destined to evade.
Would the beautiful essence ever harm me?
Her voice is an echo from a deep cave. Her eyes are jade marbles in a pale face. Her words -- a meaningless jumble in the night.
Sometimes I’m so afraid.
I wish the woman didn’t look so much like me.
Maybe tomorrow I will speak to her.
Tomorrow, or the next warm summer night, I’ll dredge up the courage to walk quickly over to the essence of the woman, take hold of her smooth white pointing arm, look deeply into those rich green glazed eyes and speak to her.
If I speak quickly and calmly . . . it should work.
I’ll simply say, “wake up, Mom, you’re sleepwalking.”
No, I shouldn’t. Dad says it’s dangerous to wake a sleepwalker.
Do you think he knows?
Do you think he’s seen her?



Eric J. Krause said...

Ooh, very cool! I thought for sure she was a ghost. But especially the way you presented it may be even creepier than a haunting (though I guess it could be considered a haunting of sorts). Great story!

Valerie said...

I was waiting for the twist, wondering where you would take it, and that was definitely a surprise. Nice work. What a terrible burden for a child of any age, and how creepy.

Anonymous said...

Nicely done, Louise. I like the twist at the end, a much better ending than the run-of-the-mill ghost story it seems at first glance. Excellent job of holding the reveal back, too.

Draco Torre said...

Very cool. Great tone right to the end, and those last few lines shine.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Wonderful dream-like quality. Beautiful descriptions, and such a balance between 'gentle' and 'eerie'.

Anonymous said...


ganymeder said...

The ghostly feel nicely fools us about the story until the end. Nicely done.