Haunted: Chapter 2

November 15, 2009
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I woke up screaming with a mask of sweat wet on my face, and eyes opened wildly, searching around the room. I was on my bed, in my room, my bed room. There was no water, no mommy, no rotting nightmare, no nothing but the panting sounds which came from my mouth. Darkness swallowed the room completely, so dark that I could not see my hands. I did not want to stay blind in the dark alone. No, I did not want to. Something from out of nowhere could grab me anytime. It would take me away. No, no, no, no, no!
I stumbled to the side of my bed and reached for the lamp. The light appeared in a dull slack yellow. I huddled myself back to the head of the bed, pulling the cover with me, balling it into my fists. I raised my knees to my chest and buried my face in them. My hair was a mess, damp by tears and sweat, sticking around my face. I sat on my bed, hugging myself, rocking gently back and forth in the silence of my room. I did not dare to burst out crying, I did not want to scream, did not want to remember the awful dream, the picture of my beloved mother rotting away. It was awful, terrible! But I could not throw it out of my head, and it wouldn’t go away. It would stay and haunt me every night when I went to bed. It would make me wake up in the midnight in darkness, screaming helplessly in pain with the horror rolling my head mischievously. It had been haunting me for two months since my mom died and it would not stop. It came in eagerness every night, brought back the beautiful picture of my beautiful sleeping mother then ended with the melting greenish thing took over her body. It loved to scare me and enjoyed seeing me begging it to disappear.
I shook my head and cover my face in both hands, as if that would help shoo the consternation away. I bit the back of my hand to prevent the scream from escaping. I cried chokingly on my sobs with my hand still covering my mouth. Dad had been running from his room in haste to check on me every night he heard the screams. Seeing me crumbled and squirmed tore his heart in pieces. He did not cry, he never wanted to cry in front of me, in front of his two daughters even when we were at the funeral, when he was standing, holding my mother’s limp hand tenderly, he wouldn’t cry. He was a strong man. But I knew his heart had been bleeding with the emptiness took over it. And I knew that every time he hugged her picture, he was crying inside.
The first night when I started having the nightmare and screaming, dad ran to my room. The picture of him standing at the bed room door trembling and hopelessly, seeing his daughter crying for mom was like knife screw in his heart. He drew me in the circle of his arms with his sorrowful face buried in my hair, and we both cried. It was the first and also the last time I saw him cried outside.
It had been happening so frequently that he didn’t run to my room anymore. And I didn’t want him to. I couldn’t bear to see that agony on his face as much as he couldn’t bear to see it on mine.
But tonight was different. The door crack opened and Sophie with her white teddy bear in arm, little Adorable, standing there looking at me. I dried my tears quickly and smiled at her.
Taking in a deep breathe and letting it out through the mouth, I was ready to speak.
“What’s up, Sophie?” I said and flung the cover aside.
I got off the bed and went for the switch at the door way and hit it. The light glared brightly, chased all the tracks of darkness away. I slid my hands under Sophie’s arms and lifted her up. I carried her to my bed and we both sat down.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Did Ivy see mommy again?” She replied my question with another question.
Usually, she didn’t call me by name, but once she did, it meant that she thought the thing was pretty serious. Of course, I and dad had not told her anything about the mommy-away-bye-bye thing. I just told her that I had a bad dream because I missed mom and she let it go. She believed that was the reason I cried every night. True. I told her that mommy was visiting grandpa and grandma in the sky, and that they had so many chores that they couldn’t take care of all, so they needed her help. It was too strange for a three-year-old baby to be normal and okay with sleeping without mommy beside. Sometimes, I really couldn’t understand my sister well enough to figure out the reason.
She looked at me steadily, waiting for my response. That took me a heart beat to make up a counterfeit smile then I answered. “Yes.”
“Oh.” And with that she stayed silent.
“That’s why you come to my room? To check on me like dad had been doing?” I smiled and that wasn’t counterfeit.
She nodded.
I hugged her in my arms, rocking her back and forth with me. She was always a comfort to me. I would not know how I would feel if she was gone and didn’t want to know or test the theory, either.
“Ooh, little Sophie is trying to take care of this crying sister. So cute!” I kissed her cheeks and she smiled.
“Don’t cry. Mom just stays for a while with grandma and she’ll be back.” She said proudly, “See, I don’t cry!”
Seeing her innocent face enlarged the hole in my heart and my tears threatened to spill out. I hugged her again so she wouldn’t see the tears. I wiped them off and pushed away from her slowly, hand on her shoulder. I laughed and force her to lie down next to me on the bed.
“Do you want to sleep with me?” I said. “If you say no, I will tickle you.”
I tickled her and she laughed. Her voice was so naïve that eased the pain in me.
“Yes, yes, Sophie says yes,”
I went for the switch and turn the light off. I saw dad was standing outside. His back lean against the wall, his eyes were shut. He had been listening.
He opened his eyes as he felt me coming. Halos circled underneath his tired eyes, he looked sorrow and emaciated.
He smiled sadly and raised a finger to his mouth, a silent gesture. I nodded as he mouthed the world “go back”, and inside I went. I shut the door and lean against it for about two seconds and jumped on the bed. I relaxed with Sophie at my side. And the nightmare didn’t come back that night.

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