It started when my father lost his job. We lost everything and had to move. We moved into an old house at the edge of town. It had been abandoned for many, many years and nobody really knew why. It looked as if it would crash to the ground at any moment. I didn’t like it. It gave me the creeps.
My friends came over one evening to help me unpack and that was when everything began.
“Have you ever seen so much dust?” I said and gave a disgusted laugh.
My eyes shifted toward the closed closet door and I realized that I hadn’t looked into it yet. It was jammed just a little, but Kenny and I pulled it open. There was a trunk sitting on the floor.
“Check it out,” I said and Kenny helped my pull it out of the closet.
“Wonder who it belongs to,” Marty said.
I looked at him. “Why don’t we find out?”
They gathered around as I undid the latch and lifted the top. Spiders and other critters scattered. I immediately noticed a photograph and an envelope lying on top. I reached down and picked up the envelope. There was a name written on the back of the photograph. Charlene Adman. I sat down on the bed and took out the piece of paper that was in the envelope.
I wanted to leave this note for whoever found the trunk. The items in this trunk are very precious to me. They belong to you now. Treasure them. I’m dying now…I know I am. I can feel it coming. The wound on my stomach continues to bleed. This will be my last Independence Day. Mommy is dead. Daddy shot her. Just moments ago, I heard the gun once more. I assume he is dead too. I’m getting tired and I know that it won’t be long. I’m not scared. Really, I’m not. Because I know up there, I’ll be happy and safe. Good-bye and take care.
I tasted a tear on my lip and quickly wiped it away. Kevin looked at me.
“What’s wrong, Graham?” he asked.
Keith looked at me. “Are you crying?”
Another tear escaped my eye and I quickly wiped it away. Kenny took the letter from my hand and read it.
“Wow,” he said his voice low.
I stared down into the face in the photograph. “Instead of trying to get help, she writes this letter and waits to die.”
“Everything in this trunk belongs to you, Graham,” Kenny said.
I stood up and looked at the bed. The covers were stained with red…her blood. Something made me peel back the covers and pictures began to flash before my eyes. I could see Charlene on the bed, bleeding to death. I threw the blanket back in place and backed away toward the door.
“Let’s go,” I said and quickly left the room.
That night, I was awakened by the sound of sobbing and the scream sounded like something from a horror movie. I got out of the bed and looked around the room. After a few more weeks of that, I couldn’t stand to be alone in the house anymore. I was terrified. I never said anything to anyone about my fears. I just made excuses to stay over with the guys. When my fears eased, I went back home. But soon I began to notice bruises and scratches on my body that I never saw before. I got up on Saturday and looked into the mirror. I gasped. There was a very black bruise covering my left eye.
“Oh, no,” I groaned. “There’s no way I can hide that!”
I drove over to Kenny’s house. The guys were there.
“Hey,” Kenny greeted as I entered. “What’s with the sunglasses?”
I took off the sunglasses and I thought their eyes would pop out of their head.
“What happened?” Marty asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” Keith said. “What do you mean you don’t know?”
“Just what I said,” I replied. “Something in that house is doing this to me.”
“What do you mean?”
I took off my sweatshirt and showed them the bruises all over my stomach and back. “How do you explain this? My ribs hurt like hell…like I’ve been kicked.”
They only stared at me.
The next day, they came over to my house. Marty came into the family room, with a cardboard box in his hands and threw it on my lap.
I looked at him. “What’s this?”
“It was my grandmothers,” he said. “She called it a Spirit Board. It was supposed to determine whether or not there was a spirit in your house.”
I wiped the dust off the cover with my hand. “Have you ever tried it?”
“After the stories my grandmother told me?” he said. “I wouldn’t touch the thing.”
“How does it work?”
“Just ask it a question,” he replied. I took the cover off and took the board out. “You’re not…really going to try that, are you?”
“Why not? It’s the best place,” I said. “Are you scared?”
“Well, no, but…” his voice trailed off. “Go ahead. We’ll see how long you last.”
I placed the board on the coffee table and placed my hands on the pointer. A cold chill went up my spine. Goosebumps broke out all over my skin. My heart began to pound.
“How many people are in the room?” I asked and waited. Nothing happened for a moment. Then the pointer suddenly shot across the board. We jumped back in surprise. We exchanged a wide-eyed glance. I looked at the board. Five? I thought for a moment. There were only four of us. Then it hit me and I jumped to my feet excitedly. “I knew it!” I cried. “I knew it!”
“Knew what?” Kenny asked.
“You did that!” Marty cried. He stared at me. “Didn’t you?”
I shook my head. “It wasn’t me. There is definitely something in this house.”
We were still for a moment.
“Ask it something else,” Kenny said.
“All right,” I said. I sat down and placed my hands on the pointer. I thought for a moment and then said, “Charlene? Is that you?”
We watched as it slowly moved to the word yes. We exchanged glances.
“Where are you?” I asked.
Right here, it spelled.
“Right where?” I asked.
“Right here,” came a human voice.
I stood up and whirled around. There was a girl standing there. I remembered the girl that was in the picture.
“Charlene?” I said, my voice just above a whisper.
She nodded and slowly came toward me. She stopped and few inches from me. My heart began to pound. I look into her eyes and a warm tingle went up my spine. She brought her hand to my face and she touched the bruise that was covering my left eye. She rubbed it gently with her fingers. Her hand was cold.
“I remember that bruise,” she said. “I came home late, way past curfew and my father was awake. He was drunk again. We fought and he punched me.”
I could only stare at her.
She laughed. “This may sound crazy, Graham, and you might not believe me, but you must listen or you’ll end up like me.”
“What do you mean?”
“Those bruises that you’ve been getting,” she said. “The cuts, the pains in your stomach. Graham, everything that you are experiencing is the same thing that I experienced.”
I glanced at the guys, who were watching with shock, and looked back at Charlene. “What are you talking about?”
“You are experiencing what I went through,” she said. “The bruises and the scratches are from the beatings that I got from my father. The pains in your stomach are for the times that I went hungry. Everything that happened to me is happening to you.”
“How is that possible?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but you’ve got to leave this house or he’ll kill you the way he did me.”
“My father.” She looked at me for a moment. “Good-bye, Graham.”
Then she was gone. It wasn’t too long after that that my father found a job and we were able to move back into our old house. I knew that Charlene had something to do with it.
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