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Haunted Alice

Beware and maybe something else. A moon fallen and become liquid. Hard to define, but there it was. Erase it from your mind. It’s been so long since we played, stooped, crouched figures in white and blue. The watery womb of the moon.

There was a wooden writing desk and a chair opposite the bed. Don’t look. There was a stillness that reeked of stale life. She switched on the air conditioner. She didn’t want to remember. The bed was firm but had a sandy brown blanket that was a little frayed at the edges, the fuzzy sort that catches dust. Not much longer to go now.

She checked the amenities. So look. Maybe her eyes were playing tricks on her.

‘You’re fading, Alice.  Come and play with me.’

And prayers. ‘We’re leaving in five minutes.’

Out from one of the frames a smaller older photograph fell. It was John.

‘We need to hurry.’

It didn’t sound apologetic at all, and Alice felt a vicious anger rising within her. A cog that had stopped working, become frozen, rusted like dried blood, stuck. Her heart was beginning to beat like a drum with a slashed skin. It sounded like rage.

‘I love you.’

She turned to look at the TV and the newscaster’s lips did not move in sync with the sound. It was better that he didn’t come back. Just a piece of flotsam drifting with the tide. A tiny square of black and white, faded to sepia. Remember when houses smelled of apricots?

His mother had been a painter, a latter-day member of the St Ives school; his father a failed poet. The vicar was coming to tea at her house that afternoon to discuss the church flowers. She wanted her exquisite home-baked tea cakes to be the sole topic of conversation not some animated piece of tablecloth flapping around in a neighbour's garden.

‘One day I will move to a place where the sky doesn’t weep, where there’s light, and where I can thirst and sip sweet liquor from a lover’s lips.

“Why are you here?”

‘I thought you might like to play with me after all this time.’

But she didn’t believe him. She was sick of this game all of a sudden. She unbuttoned the starched white shirt she had been wearing. She was on the fifteenth floor. If a tree falls in the forest blah blah blah.

“I don’t want you in my life. You don’t love anyone but yourself! All you do is use people for your own pleasure! You’re a selfish bastard who deserves to die, not me. “

A male voice started to cry. ‘No, no,’ he said in between heaving sobs.

“Go back to wherever it is you’ve been hiding all this time.”

She felt a little foolish when nothing happened. All those wasted years.

“Don’t fight it! Stop screaming! I’ll kill you!” Her mind clouded—feelings of disgust, shame, anger, pain and pleasure intermingled, as if the feelings of two different people were tussling.

He exuded a scent of apricots. Manners are for frogs and prayers are for the dead. Look gents, it’s been luvverly, but I gotta run. She opened the window. A mirror made three-dimensional and flesh. And that’s what she did.