Sturdy Walls

I leaned my head against my door. I had forgotten my keys inside once again. Once again, I’d have to use the key I stuffed underneath my welcome mat to get in. I know that I shouldn’t leave a key underneath my mat, and that it makes it easier for others to break in, but if I didn’t I would end up never getting back in my house through conventional methods.

I slid my mat aside and reached down for the grubby key. God, I should find someplace better to hide this thing. This is just disgusting, every time I have to touch it. Either way, I slid it into the lock and opened my door. I then lazily dropped the key back into the dirt, and exhaustively slid the mat over it. The only reason I need a mat is to cover up dirt in front of my door.

My home is a rather small home. I only have about six rooms. I have a front room, a kitchen, a bathroom, a closet, and two bedrooms. Each of those rooms branch off from one central hallway, which doesn’t have any turns. The first door to the left is the poorly furnished living room. It has a couple of wooden chairs and a coffee table. The room straight across from it is my closet. It was built with the idea of quickly storing coats and shoes after entering in mind, clearly.

After those two rooms are the kitchen and the bathroom. The kitchen is on the left, and the bathroom is on the right. It’s a rather nice kitchen, honestly. The rest of the house might be cheap and poor, but the kitchen is above par. I have a stove, and an oven, a refrigerator, and- get this- an island counter in the center of the kitchen. This is why I don’t often keep guests in the front room, because my tiled kitchen is just so much nicer.

The last two rooms are the two bedrooms. One is utterly empty- the one on the left- while the other is my room, and thus more full. I haven’t had any reason to use the spare bedroom in years, and so it has remained an empty and dead room for quite a long time.

I stepped into the house, and tossed my shoes and coat into the nearby closet. It had rained a couple days ago, but it was dry now. However, that didn’t mean that the weather wasn’t getting progressively chillier.

I thought about stopping in my kitchen for a late-night snack, but decided against it so that I could just get some more rest. It had been way too long since I had just stopped to sleep. My sleeping was certainly getting worse with every day that passed. It was hard to balance a job on top of other, more personal activities.

I walked past my kitchen, and toward my bedroom. This would be one well deserved rest. I haven’t had the chance to sleep this well in ages.

I groggily stumbled into my room, and let myself fall onto my floor bound mattress. I didn’t have any need for a taller bed frame, so I didn’t bother trying to get one. It’s not like anyone came into my bedroom for any reason. God, not that I’d want anyone to come into my bedroom with me.

I lay in bed, and closed my eyes. I hadn’t bothered turning on any lights in my house, now that I thought about it. I had just gotten used to the darkness rather fast. I was okay with that. I didn’t like spending extra money on my electric bill anyway.

I opened my eyes, and reached for the photo on the floor next to my bed. It was a photo of my long dead sister. She had died years ago, because of a disease. I tried to plead to get her medicine, but none of the doctors cared if I could pay or not. She was only eleven when she died. I still remember how she told me to face the problem head-on. She wouldn’t even let me use euphemisms like “passing on.” She demanded that I acknowledged that she was dying. I couldn’t get the word out the first time without crying. She just held me close to her, until I could finally say what she wanted. She was a rough little girl.

Then again, so was our father. At least, until he killed himself after the death of my sister. He didn’t even kill himself in an easy way, like blood loss or hanging. He just refused to eat until he finally shriveled away. He demanded that I have all of his rations, and told me that I was more important to him than he was to himself. That was the point that made me glad that my sister had been so abrasive about death, because it gave me the courage to tell my father I didn’t give him permission to die. Sadly, he didn’t care about whether or not I gave him permission.

So, he starved to death. I had been working for a few months already, so I didn’t have any issues paying the bills. I was mostly lucky that my co-workers were rather supportive.

I kissed the photo frame, and put it back. I closed my eyes again, ready to sleep. I slightly hoped I wouldn’t open them in the morning.

However, only minutes into my rest I saw a bright blue glow from beneath my eyelids. I opened my eyes and looked toward the glow at my door.

It was a hand, beckoning through the door. A small, girlish hand. It glowed blue. I didn’t care much for this ghostly presence. Yet, I didn’t feel uncomfortable with it, either. It continued to wave me over.

I stood up, and followed it. As I approached the door the hand slid back through it. It wasn’t going to make this easy, apparently.

I opened the door as fast as my jaded mind would let me. I saw a blue skirt float through the door across from me. My heart stopped short.

I gulped, then took a nervous breath. Squinching my eyes shut, I stepped forward and placed my hand on the knob. I twisted it counterclockwise, then tossed the door open. I turned my head toward the door, then opened my eyes. My sister was standing there. Standing in the empty room.

This wasn’t the first time I had seen apparitions of her. However, this was the first time she was so solid and coherent.

“Come,” she spoke. Her voice sounded more beckoning than I remembered. Not exactly seductive, but certainly attractive. God, I don’t know how it sounded. It just sounded.

I stepped toward the ghost. “Syf? You’re dead.” She nodded solemnly. She knew that she was dead too.

“That’s okay. I can still speak right now, in this room. There isn’t any reason to be afraid of me. I just want to be here, with you.” She had a moth sitting on her finger, and she pushed her finger up, and it flew away.

I nodded in response. She was certainly here. Yet, the way she said all of that felt just a bit off.

“Don’t worry. I sound a little strange right now, but that’s what happens to ghosts.”

Was I dreaming? Everything that she was saying felt off. Like, more off than anything I had been faced with before. Usually she was bubbly and excited, even while she was dying. Right now she was just so… something. She was too something.

“Come here. I will help you sleep.” She stretched out her arms, ready to embrace me. It was a stance I knew well, and it was certainly accurate.

I stepped toward her. I was one step closer to her than I should’ve been. Yet, I couldn’t stop myself.

“Syf, you shouldn’t be here. You died. This is unnatural.” I shook my head, and stepped backwards from her.

She put her arms down and shrugged. “Fine, suit yourself.” She then proceeded to walk through the wall that was next to the kitchen.

“SYF!” I shouted at her as she slipped through the wall. I turned around to see the door had shut behind me. I didn’t hear it, so it must have been a few moments ago. I tore it open, and ran into my kitchen.

There was a woman standing in the kitchen. I had never known this woman before.

“Hello, my child.”

I stood in my place. “I don’t know you. I don’t want to know you. Get out of my house.” I took a step toward the ghost. I was feeling rather gutsy in her comforting presence.

“I suppose it isn’t true, what they say about children knowing their mothers at first sight.” She motioned for me to hug her. I wasn’t sure whether I should or not.

“I’ve never seen you before. You died when I was an infant, refusing to eat because you thought that I would survive better if I had more food.” I wasn’t sure if I was saying that to her or for my own sake.

“That doesn’t matter. I’ve missed out on so many years of your life, and I don’t want to miss anymore!” She started walking towards me, trying to embrace me. I backed away, matching her pace.

“Don’t you trust me?” She whimpered. I shook my head.

“I’ve never seen ghosts before, and this is the absolute shittiest time to start.” I slid out of the door, and forced it close. I felt calm and collected. I wasn’t sure why that was the case.

I shook my head, and turned to walk back to my bedroom. Before I even took a single step, I heard a quiet hum behind me. I turned to look at it, and saw a blue and vaguely human shape slip into my living room wall. Even after seeing that, I didn’t panic. I just followed the figure.

“Let me guess, my father is in this room?” I stated just before turning into the empty doorway.

“That sounds about right.” My father was sitting on one of the wooden chairs. He was leaning back, and looked relaxed. Once more, I felt perplexed by the appearance of all of these people in such quick succession.

“You shouldn’t be here, either. You starved yourself. You died only a few blocks away. You- you aren’t alive.” I held my face in my hands. I had begun crying. I leaned against the door frame.

“That seems about right. I would react the same way if I saw my own dead father in my living room.” I heard the chair creak. “Son. There are a few things I would change if I had a second chance. One, I would’ve had a meal or two before I passed away. The second is that I would’ve tried to get you and your sister in school. I know that that isn’t really possible now, but I thought you might like to know of my regrets.”

I wiped my eyes with my wrists. “Why are all of you here?” I mumbled, almost as if to myself. “This isn’t right!” I screamed, almost as if to the world.

“I’m not one to question a good thing, kid. You should just let it go, and enjoy my company for a bit.” He stretched his arms upwards. “It would be nice to hold you again.”

I stepped away from the door, and away from him. My back hit the wall, and I slid down it. I didn’t feel right. They didn’t sound right. I didn’t want this to be right.

“I see. Maybe some other time. Stay safe in the meantime.” He slid through the wall leading into the kitchen again. I stood up, ready for whatever was going to greet me in the kitchen.

I took a tentative step down the hall. My hands were shaking, but not out of fear. I took another step. My heart was pounding, and my breath was staggered. I took another step. My teeth were chattering. I took another step, and looked into my kitchen.

The blue fell through the wall, and into the spare room once more. We were back to where we had started. I hoped that the encounter was over. I didn’t want this to repeat. Everything was wrong.

I walked away from my kitchen and toward my useless room. I opened the door, expecting to see my sister again.

Turns out, my expectations were accurate. My sister was in the room again. Sobbing in the corner.

“Syf.” I walked halfway across the room, and stopped in the center.

“Do you not love me anymore?” She picked her head up and looked toward me. She was crying, and looked absolutely shattered.

“Syf, of course I love you. I did everything in my power to keep you alive. You told me not to die, and I love you for that. You wouldn’t let me sacrifice myself like our parents did, and I love you because of that.” I leaned down to meet her eye level.

“Then why didn’t you hug me? Why did you deny my affection?” She stood up. I stood up with her.

“Syf, please don’t do this to me. I don’t need this right now. I’m, just trying to sort out what I’m seeing, okay?”

She screamed, and ran away from me, through the wall and into the hallway.

“SYF! WAIT!” I yelled after her, and tried to follow her. I burst through the door and into my hallway. I looked to my right, and saw her slip into my bathroom. I sprinted toward her.

“SYF!” I threw the door open, and witnessed my father vomit into the toilet.

“Wait, where did Syf go?” I looked at my father. He stood up from the toilet, with his back facing me.

“You had your chance to appease her. You denied it. Now, she’s gone. It’s just me and your mother now, and she isn’t very happy with you.”

“You three are ghosts, and you don’t think I’m going react poorly?” I stepped into the bathroom. The door slowly fell closed behind me, like usual.

“Well, I didn’t expect you to react this poorly. I never thought you would’ve treated your family so poorly.” His voice became more gravelly, and angry. “Matter of fact, I’m not very pleased either.” He turned around to face me.

His eyes were missing from his face, replaced by many tendrils reaching out, as if they were trying to grab me.

“I’m leaving. I hope you’re happy dying alone.” He turned and stepped through my wall to the right.

“Wait! Dad!” I leaped toward him, and missed. He slipped through the wall, and I fell to one knee. While I was on the ground, I saw what he had vomited. There were cockroaches swimming in the toilet bowl.

I stood up. The wall he escaped through leads to my closet. I shoved the door open, and began running to the closet.

“No one is in there, you know.” I stopped in front of the closet door. The voice had come from behind me. It had come from my living room.

“You!” I turned around, ready to face my mother.

It wasn’t my mother, however. It was my sister again. “Well, it looks like Dad isn’t very good at foreshadowing, is he?” I stepped toward my sister.

“Dad doesn’t have to do anything to make you happy.” She sat in one of the chairs, facing away from me. I shuddered. She was probably going to have another dramatic reveal, much like Dad.

“Look, Syf. I didn’t mean to make you feel rejected. I just really don’t know what’s going on here. I would love to help, if you could only explain what’s going on.”

“I also don’t have to do anything to appease you. You’re too late for apologies.” She stood up from the chair. I braced myself to see another awful thing.

She turned and looked at me. Nothing was wrong. She looked just like she had while in her bedroom.

“Syf, I saw Dad in the restroom. He vomited cockroaches, then his eyes were replaced with tentacles. Did you see anything like that?” I stepped toward her again. One step at a time, I would make it to her.

“No, I hadn’t. But I also hadn’t done anything to make Dad furious like you have. Maybe you should retrace your steps, try to make things right with him.” She stood perfectly still. I took another step toward her.

That was the point that I realised that there was something wrong with her. Her face was utterly blank. She stared through me, as if I was a ghost that she couldn’t see. Her eyes looked glossed over, as if she had been dead for a few hours. Her eyes were in the exact state I remember them being.

“I’m leaving. I don’t want to be around you anymore.” She walked through the chair, and swerved away from me, then phased through the wall to my left. I leaped out of the room, and saw blue slip through my front door.

I took a bound toward my front door, and shoved it open. It closed behind me as I ran forward.

I only ran a few steps in, before I tripped and fell onto something soft. It was my bed. I was back in my bedroom. That wasn’t right, though. I had gone outside, hadn’t I?

I sat up in my bed, then went back over to my door. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes, and pulled my door open.

I let the breath out and opened my eyes. I was facing my bedroom once more. I looked back, and saw my room behind me as well. I closed my eyes and tried to shake the image out of my head.

I opened my eyes again, and was greeted by the exact same sight. Regretfully, I stepped forward. The door shut behind me once again. I tried to flick the light switch. I didn’t feel it on the wall. I looked to where it should have been, and there was only wall. Out of the corner of my eye, I also noticed my door was missing. I faced the wall where it should have been. I was stuck in a concrete box, with a bed and a photo.

I laid back down on the bed. I was going to die in here. I sighed. I wasn’t angry, or sad. I still felt calm. This was exactly as it had been when I was chasing those ghosts.

“Well, you’ve got me pinned, guys. Take your revenge or whatever. I can’t imagine that any of you would be mad at me for surviving, though.”

As if on cue, the blue figure floated through the wall. “You are a lot more accepting of this than I would have expected.” The blue shape was blurry, as if I were near-sighted. It became clearer as I looked, until it had once again taken the form of my mother.

“I could easily kill you now. It would take no effort on my part. You would be gone within a few moments.” She paced back and forth in front of me.

“It seems to me that you would enjoy that too much. No, I have something much better in mind for you.” She turned to me and smiled, with all her teeth replaced by jagged shards of glass. A few spidery legs reached up and past the teeth. 

“I hope you enjoy your stay.” She turned back to the wall, and walked through it. “Wait!” I yelled, and I scrambled to my feet. I started pounding on the wall, hoping she would return.

She didn’t.

I laid back down and sobbed. Eventually, I cried myself to sleep.

*****

Part 1 of 2

Part 2

Author: Kaleb Kathleen Walker

I write short stories, and post them to my site justmynarratives.com

One thought on “Sturdy Walls”

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