This is an unfinished suspense/horror piece. It involves a young boy, lonely, who moves to a new town. He encounters a strange girl, who is, unbeknownst to him, a restless spirit. Why does she come to him? What is her story?
It was a rather chilly autumn day:amber leaves from the half bare trees lay scattered across the road, gathering in the ditches and such, not the best weather for house-hunting. Joshua sighed as he leaned his head against the glass, staring through his own reflection at the sullen landscape, the glum, overcast sky seeming to mimic his brooding demeanor. He sighed again as they drove past a small service station followed by a quaint veterinary hospital, trying to ignore the conversation between his parents and the real estate agent. The road ahead revealed nothing but endless acres of harvest-ready corn and barren fallow fields. A sign appeared, informing them they were entering Centreville. Joshua despised everything he saw around him. He hated the wheat fields, the rows of corn, and the miles of outstretched country highway. Most of all, though, he hated the wide openness of it all.
“Well, what do you think of this ride through the country, huh?” his mom asked, trying to tease a smile out of him.
“Oh yeah, it’s great. Love it!” Joshua answered unconvincingly, cracking a crooked mockery of a smile.
“I swear, if you aren’t about the most ill person I’ve ever met,” she continued, turning to continue her conversation with the agent.
“Why everyone thinks I should be so thrilled to be moving out to middle of nowhere I will never know,” Joshua thought to himself.
After all, moving out to the quiet serenity of the country, away from the hustle and bustle of suburban life, was his parents idea, not his. In fact the whole idea of moving, the mere thought of up-rooting oneself, and settling someplace so far removed from anything familiar, seemed more, to Joshua, like a nightmare than a dream. And it was a nightmare he stubbornly refused to accept.
Suddenly, Joshua was jerked out of his private realm of introspection, and yanked back into reality by the intrusive crunching sound of loose gravel, as they pulled into an unpaved driveway. He looked up to see an approaching tan house with greyish-blue shudders.
“ This is it?,” he thought, “ They drug me way out into the middle of nowhere for this?”
“ This is it!,” his mom said almost too cheerfully, confirming his worst fears, “What do you think?”
“ I think it’s nice,” his dad answered, admiring the attached garage as though he were picturing how all of his junk would pile into it, “ How much land did you say this is again?”
“ It’s about two and a half acres,” the agent responded with a sugar-coated smile that made Joshua want to puke, “ Shall we have a look inside?”
“ Yeah, let’s look inside, “ Joshua’s mom answered, the excitement of finally getting a place out in the country written all over her face.
As the agent opened the front door, they all followed her in, glancing about at the bare walls as they entered. The agent moved forward, Joshua’s parents close behind, as she began her routine to try and sell the house. Joshua hung back from the group, his hands trenched deep into his pockets. While the others examined the kitchen sink, and the cabinets, the included stove and dishwasher, and where the fridge would go, Joshua examined the way light entered in through the windows. He observed how it sprawled across the floor in strange geometric patterns, like an eerie Picasso, and how it clung to the walls. He liked how the sun just seemed to walk into the living room, reflecting light off of each of the four walls, and how it lingered in the den, carrying on meaningful conversation with the shadows while it waited to be offered a cup of tea.
The house had two bathrooms, one in the master bedroom and one at the end of the hallway. Joshua smiled an invisible smile at the prospect of having his own bathroom. He broke away from the group to explore a room, one of three bedrooms, that he was certain would become his. He explored the closet, small but adequate, then turned admire the great increase in space the room afforded, picturing just how everything would fit into this new surrounding. Looking out the window, he glanced across the road that passed in front of the property, fixing his gaze upon the sluggardly kept field of corn just over the way. Joshua moved closer to the window, close enough to see his own reflection in the shiny new panes of glass, continuing to peer out into the great wide open.
A girl was walking along the road in front of the house, her long dark hair tossed gently about by the cool autumn wind as she walked, hunching her shoulders in a vain effort to shield herself from the cold. She had a strange aura about her. The leaves on the ground seemed to stir in front of her, settling only after she had passed. As she pressed onward, passing directly in front of the house, she paused momentarily to straighten her jacket. She turned to meet Joshua’s gaze, revealing her dark lips and haunting eyes set upon the pale skin of her face. Joshua was captured by her solemn stare, and moved by its loneliness. The two stood, unaware of time or space, trapped in a state of longing, held prisoner by the need to touch, and saddened by their collective inability to do so.
“ Joshua!,” a voice called from another room, half audible and half ignored, drowned out by the bizarre chemistry of the moment.
“ Here he is!,” his dad announced from the hallway, as the others soon entered the room.
“So what do you think?,” his mother asked.
“About what?,” Joshua answered, just turning his attention away from the window.
“About the house, silly! Do you like it? she continued.
“Yeah, I like it!” Joshua replied, turning his attention back to the window.
Strangely, though, the girl was nowhere to be seen. It was almost as though she had vanished into thin air. A cold chill inched its way up Joshua’s back, raising the hairs on his neck.
“I couldn’t have imagined all that,” he told himself, “Where could she have gotten to that fast. She was right there just two seconds ago!”
“Hey, Joshua,” his dad boomed from down the hall, “Hurry up or we’re leaving you behind!”
“Coming,” Joshua trailed off, still haunted by thoughts of the strange girl.
It rained the next day. Actually, it poured. But the weather matched Joshua’s mood perfectly. As his psychology professor droned on, endlessly it seemed, about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, humanist psychology, and self-actualization, Joshua stared, watching the rain coming down from the heavens. From where he was seated, he could watch others students as they darted in and out of the rain, coming to and from their classes. He found it rather amusing the way some students hopelessly avoided the rain, trying with certain failure to dance between the rain-drops.
“Rain-drops keep falling on my head..dadada....,” he thought, the song danced melodically with in his head as a wicked grin crawled across his lips.
His attention was soon drawn back into the classroom as he noticed everyone begin to turn their attention his way.
“Perhaps Joshua would care to explain to us what it means to be self-actualized,” the professor offered to the class.
“Uh...well, uhm, self-actualization is, like, when an individual achieves their, you know, unique potential or whatever,” Joshua muttered, befuddled by this sudden urge to keep his attention.
“Okay. But before one can be self-actualized, according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, what two categories must be met? Can anyone tell me?,” the professor posed an open ended question.
Joshua heaved a huge sigh of relief and leaned back in his chair. The professor was just doing his usual lecture recap questions. For a moment, he was afraid that he had been humming that song out loud. After all, it had happened before.
He thought about the strange girl he had seen at the Centreville house.