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The glass felt like ice against my burning hand. Drops of rain slid down the window like snakes. I
put my head against the glass, watching lightning strike in the distance. Other people might look out this
window and see a suburban neighborhood with the Atlantic Ocean gleaming in the distance. All I see
when I look out is my school, my dad, and my best friend trapped inside a burning car. That memory was
like a photograph inside my head. I could remember every sight, sound, scream, and emotion.
The gas leak was completely unexpected. No one smelled it, no one saw it, but it was there.
Before the three of us knew it, the inside of the car was ablaze with flame. The hot flames licked the
seats, nearing my skin every second. I had to get out of that car! I unlocked my door, but before I could
get to the ground, I heard a cracking sound behind me. The last thing I saw before jumping to the
ground was my friend, Erin, begging to be let out. As my body hit the asphalt, I heard the glass behind
me shatter and then the crackling of fire.
I turned and, ignoring the aching pain in my head, saw the orange and red flames consuming the
car. A blood curdling scream ripped from my throat, making the few people in the school’s parking lot
“Dad! Erin! Dad! No!”
Despite the matter at hand, neither my brother nor my mom was there and running over.
Someone did get to me first, though. I didn’t know who it was, not that I could see anything through my
tear-stained eyes, but before I could take two steps toward the fire, someone pulled me back.
A crash of thunder pulled me back from the depths of my brain. Drops of rain continued to fall
from the Jacksonville sky. Thinking about my mom and brother, I realized both of their reactions to the
incident were not what I expected. When my mom saw me walk through the front door and heard me
utter the words, “Dad’s dead”, she stayed in her room for twelve hours. It was now three days later and
she acted as if nothing had happened. My brother had showed no emotion. I didn’t care-they had lost
only one person in their lives while I had lost two people. For the past couple of days, I had walked
through the school’s hallways, a ghost of my former self, never taking my eyes off the empty locker next
to mine or the equally empty desk. I had expressed no emotion those two days, but inside, I felt dead.
Yet, I had the strangest feeling that my dad and Erin were still alive.
* * *
Two days later, it was a week until Halloween and I was, interestingly, already forgetting the
accident; however, on that particular day, I started rummaging through our Halloween decorations
when I heard a car squeal in the distance. At first, I thought nothing of it, but almost immediately after
the squeal, I heard a faint voice call my name.
“I didn’t say anything.” my mom called from another room. I went back to the decorations,
thinking I was just hearing things. Then, a few seconds later, that faint voice entered t my ears again.
I whirled around and, though I didn’t see anything, I suddenly recognized the voice. It was Erin’s
voice, that whiny voice that I, strangely, enjoyed listening to everyday.
The voice was then in front of me and I spun back around.
Wait, my dad’s dead, but I heard his voice clearly. I thought was going crazy; however, nothing
else happened for the rest of the day, so I continued to think I was just hearing things. The next day at
school, Halloween fever caught up with the school, well, with the teachers anyway. Most of the students
didn’t care and I wasn’t in the mood to get excited. I was still edgy about what had happened yesterday.
The bell rang in my ears and I was just packing up when I heard a car squeal very near to the building,
but I couldn’t tell where exactly. Then, right next to my ear, I heard Erin’s faint, whispery, whiny voice
say my name.
“Janine, I’m right here.”
I felt a scream rise in my lungs, but I held it in so no one would come rushing over. I tore out of
the room, slid across the linoleum, and almost knocked over a group of boys. As most of them walked
away with sneers on their faces, one of them stayed behind and he looked vaguely familiar.
“Did you hear it?”
“That voice! I heard it yesterday also! It comes, like, right after a car squeals! Please tell me you heard it!”
Without thinking about it, I grabbed the dude by the shoulders and started shaking him.
“I am not going crazy! I know you heard that voice!”
“Hey! People are staring!”
I stopped shaking the guy and was actually able to recognize him.
“Oh, hey, Nick. Sorry.”
“It’s fine. Hey, listen, I didn’t hear any voice. Maybe you’re just paranoid from the accident.”
“Wait, are you the person who held me back from the car that day?”
“Yeah. Sorry. Was that okay?”
“Oh, yeah, I was just, not paying attention to what I was doing. Thanks, for helping that day.”
I ended up going home for the rest of the day to clear my head. Maybe Nick was right-maybe I
was just paranoid. I sat on the couch and felt my eyes drift closed.
My eyes shot open. I hadn’t heard a car that time, but when I turned my head, my mom was
getting out of the car. It made me realize two things: I hear either Erin’s or my dad’s voice and this
happens right after something occurs with a car.
“Janine! I’m still here!”
The scream I had held in finally exploded.
“Where are you? I hear you! Where are you?”
The door suddenly swung open and my mom stepped in with an extremely shocked expression
“Janine! What is going on in here?”
“Mom, help me. I’m going insane.”
I suddenly dropped to floor and started shaking, murmuring, “I’m hearing voices. I’m hearing
dad and Erin. They’re alive. They’re alive. They’re alive…”
* * *
I am writing this from this hard, wooden desk that sits in front of window in the “Jacksonville
Juvenile Mental Facility” on October 31, the day of Halloween. The walls are bleach white and I almost
go blind staring at it all day. My room is cramped with nothing but a small bed with just a mattress,
pillow, and sheet, three walls for anything from home that I may want, a shelf for any miscellaneous
items, a window, and this desk. Don’t get me wrong, this place is probably best for me, even if I would
rather be home than in a cramped, blinding room.
“Janine, is everything going okay?” I doctor comes in and asks. I look over toward my bed and
smile. They had been there all day and hadn’t left-the shimmering transparencies of my dad’s and Erin’s
“Yeah,” I say to the doctor. “Everything’s fine.