Authors: Naomi Canale
The girls only come to church when I sing in the choir. I wish I would have this weekend just so they could be here with me, especially after having these nightmares. But I’ve been too resentful to sing after being snubbed by just about everyone that worships under this roof.
I glance down at my phone and play with the text app. No one’s messaged me since Saturday. The one on the very top is Dad’s.
Can’t wait for our date and talk with Mom.
I rushed home from Lucky’s on Saturday out of guilt. I sent Dad a text after my nightmare asking if he wanted to go to the movies. I had to get away from Lucky before I started acting weird by holding onto her and spilling my guts about cat intestines and bloodied walls. It felt way too real and I didn’t want to risk freaking her out again. Dad got ridiculously excited anyway that I “reached out”.
It was a surprisingly fun night. Being around Dad calmed something inside me. He’s always had the best vibes hovering around him even if he is a little crazy and believes in all the fairy tales the Bible speaks of.
The last couple of people are out the front doors of church and look filled up with “Sunday spiritual goodness” for their week ahead—Erica straggles behind. I slump over and pull my hoodie over a messy ponytail as she walks by. She was such a jerk to me the other day and I don’t hold back from scoffing at her from under my breath. “Blech,” spills like invisible vomit from my mouth.
Her steps slow. She blows a strand of yellow hair from her face and rolls her eyes. I’m sure the highlight of her day will be scrapbooking. Not that putting cute little pictures together is a bad thing, but with her it is. A while back I went to her house with Mom and she kept reaching across the table to rearrange the stuff on my page. I’m pretty sure she’s tried to tell me I suck at everything without saying a word. That woman hates me and the feeling’s becoming mutual. There’s a sense of relief when I hear the front doors close behind her.
Dad comes around the corner with papers in hand. It’s like he got up too fast and didn’t have time to put them down before walking out here. “Lucky is in the hospital.”
“What? Why?” I say, as I stand to my feet. The only time we’ve ever had to visit the hospital was because we were all being dumb asses together—it wouldn’t be like her to be a dumb ass all by herself. I start toward the exit to go see her.
Dad reaches out a gentle arm to stop me and guides me to take a seat again. “Her parents said the hospital isn’t allowing visitors for another hour.” There’s a long pause between us. “She’s in serious condition. Lucky was just resuscitated by EMT on the scene.”
Resuscitated? Doesn’t that mean mouth-to-mouth—chest compressions? Death was just kissing Lucky on the lips? It doesn’t feel real because I just left her house yesterday morning. Dad takes a seat beside me and buries his face into his palms with deep breaths. “Oh, God. Have you girls been doing drugs?”
I know I’ve been out of it lately, but drugs? “No, Dad.”
“Did you guys throw a party at her house this weekend then?”
I shake my head no. All of my answers are probably going to be the same, no.
“Then why was her house a disaster when her parents got home?”
“I don’t know.” I pause and think about Jared. Oh shit, did she confront him and he didn’t take it well? I let out a long droned out sigh. “Dad I swear, I don't know what’s going on.”
He reaches out a hand. “Honey, we need to pray.”
As hard as it is, I reach out and hold on—his grip tightens as he closes his eyes. “Dear God, we come humbly as your servants and ask that you will reach your healing hands into Lucky and take away whatever it is that’s ailing her. God only you know best and we ask for your blessings right now upon her and her family. Amen.”
“Amen,” I say trying to believe in that prayer as much as he does, but sitting here feels like a waste of time. “Let’s go, maybe they’ll let us in sooner.”
“Let me grab my keys out of the office real quick.”
As Dad runs off, I send Jared a text. If that bastard laid a hand on her, I’m going to kill him myself. My hands tremble and it’s not from the draft that constantly flows through this building, it’s from the thought of losing Lucky. It’s difficult to move my fingers around on the screen as I text the douche.
I’m going to kill you if you’re the one that hurt Lucky.
A response comes in quick.
WTF you talking about?
Lucky’s in the hospital, asshole.
There’s no response. I know he probably wouldn’t have responded right away if he did do something—he’s always been a bad liar, and Lucky wouldn’t have thrown a party without letting us know.
Dad returns with his keys and locks up before we get into his black car.
I close my eyes and rest my head onto the side of the window. The glass is cold on my scalp and brings on a shiver. The ride’s bumpy from chunks of snow that have yet to be cleared by the snowplow and my dream comes into view again like I’m carrying bad baggage from a memory I don’t want to remember. But I allow the images to play out because this dream’s about Lucky. Mom always told me that no matter how strange a dream is they can most often leave clues for the answers you’re looking for in real life.
I’m in the foyer. The first thing I notice is muddied shoes. I’ve got this bad feeling I shouldn’t turn into the hall, but I do and stop at the bathroom door. Lights flicker from damaged electrical cords. Bloodied bulbs are broken as if someone was hanging on them. Nerve endings thunder straight to my heart as I examine claw marks through the linoleum and into the carpet—they lead into Lucky’s room. A bloodied hand print is smeared across the bottom of the door. It’s strange because there are no sounds and the silence is nearly deafening because I know whatever’s in there probably didn’t make it.
I nudge the door.
The paint on the walls has claw marks—they help uncover old seventies wallpaper, and the carpet is soaked in blood under the bed. Grey carpet almost resembles a sponge.
As I look up, my knees nearly give out. Words are written out in blood across the wall.
Fear of what can take your Soul.
The car coming to a stop barely breaks the vision. The words on the wall are crap—I wouldn’t let anything take my soul, if I even have one, so I’ve nothing to fear. I’ve always been too much of a fighter anyway if there was something to fear.
The first people we see in the waiting room are Lucky’s parents. My nerves are twitchy because they probably assume a lot of this is my fault. I see Amy tucked into the corner of the room inside a brown chair wiping snot from her nose with a tissue. I sit down and wrap an arm around one of hers. “Did you get to see her yet?”
She shakes her head and I catch Lucky’s dad, Richard, glaring at us from across the waiting room—this is awkward. It’s rare to see that man upset. The last time he carried weight that heavy on his face was when he was laid off at the mines a year ago—he was one of the first ones let go, probably from his late nights of gambling at the local bar and coming in exhausted all the time.
Amy hasn’t cried since her dad died. Richard must have said something to really upset her. In a way I can understand since we haven’t been the best influences in Lucky’s life, but this sucks.
Dad, Richard, and Lucky’s mom, Elizabeth, walk out into a larger area of the waiting room. I grab another tissue, slide it under Amy’s tear dribbled chin, and attempt to dab it dry. “What happened?”
Words faintly make it off her lips. “I don’t know. I left late last night because I had to get home to Mom and next thing I know there were cops at my door asking me questions.”
She lowers her voice even further, so I have to lean in to catch what she’s whispering. “She was mumbling my name when she came to; I guess that’s why they interviewed me right away.”
I’m at a loss for words; it’s difficult to think. “Why would they interview you?” I pause and let out a huff, “It’s not a crime scene or anything, right?”
She gives me a strange look. “They didn’t interview you yet?”
Snot is peaking through the tip of her nose. I swipe another paper thin hospital tissue for her as I answer. “No. Did Jared do something?”
“I mentioned that and their response was they couldn’t tell me any information. They only wanted to hear my side of the story.” She grows quiet and whispers as she peeks toward the entrance of the waiting room. “Did you see the blood on her Mom’s clothes?”
The thought of my dream tries to pile into the part of my brain that only accepts truths and I try to shove it away into lies.
I nod no. “When did it happen?”
“They said she probably struggled for a few hours before her parents found her after coming back from Vegas.”
As I lean over to let things soak in, I run shaky fingers through my hair. “Do you know anything else?”
There’s a pounding in the back of my brain like someone’s trying to knock at the door of my skull and won’t let up. “Have you been by the house?”
Before she can answer, Dad walks in. “She’s able to have visitors now, but only for a moment.”
Amy trails behind. I lock fingers with her left hand and squeeze.
We are the last ones in Lucky’s room.
A tube about the size of a garden hose starts at a machine, sits taped on Lucky’s lips, and ends in her body somewhere. Every time the machine plugged into the wall makes a noise, her chest moves up—then down. This is not okay. I scoop her fingers into the palm of my hand and talk to her. “Hey, Lucky. It’s us, Savanna, and Amy.”
The only response is a beeping machine, and the rise of her chest. I’ve always hated being overruled by emotions, but suddenly I could not care less whether I cry.
I examine her limp fingers and look up at her face. Three gashes sit crossways on her cheeks and match the size of the ones in the dream. Panic settles in. The motion of my thumb rubbing her skin stops—I’m breathless and acutely aware of every movement and sound in the room, my senses on overdrive. Anyone who touches their face, sniffles into a tissue, or slightly chews bubble gum is all I make out until the ringing turns on in my ears. The billboard that likes to flash words across my forehead lately turns on. The flash is bright. FINGERNAILS. FINGERNAILS. FINGERNAILS.
I need to get inside that house and see what happened—tonight.
Layers of Truth
After an orderly wheeled Lucky away to be scanned, we decided to get in the car and drive straight to Lucky’s. After I told Amy about my dream, she was just as much, if not more, in a hurry to come out here as I was. I hated lying to everyone at the hospital before Lucky went off though. But no matter how stupid this feels, you simply can’t turn off the need for truth, especially when it comes to someone you love. Lucky is our family.
There’s silence between us and I can only focus on the yellow marks in middle of the road. If my dreams are true, we need to help get rid of whatever paid Lucky a visit.
Our silence is broken. “I didn’t say anything before,” Amy says, “but during our séance I felt something hostile, angry.”
I nod and keep my eyes on the road. The universe is smacking me in the face with just about any answer I’ve ever asked it, but I still don’t want to believe.
From the corner of my eye, Amy’s now looking at me. The tone in her voice has changed, like she’s guilty. “I should have stopped the séance when I felt that, but I was selfish and didn’t.” Her chest pants up, then down—more tears fall. “They usually only come out when they’re attracted to someone in your group who is dysfunctional. I mean, she didn’t know about Jared at the time, but still.”
She reaches in the glove box, retrieves a napkin, and dabs newly soaked cheeks dry. “God, it was awful seeing Lucky like that and all the stuff going on with my mom, and now Dad, dead. I’m falling apart.”
I could say something like it’s okay, we’re all the dysfunctional ones. Or things will get better, but that might make me a liar. I didn’t lose my Dad recently, and I don’t have to live with a mother who sits staring at a wall all day and keeps me up by night. All I can think is to hold on to her hand, and give her a half smile. She squeezes back, and corrects her posture against the seat with confidence, as if she’s trying to stuff everything back to where it was, like in the department of lost and not wanting to be found.
I rarely see her cry and I feel stupid for not being able to say something clever or fitting for the moment. Dad’s always taught in his sermons that actions speak louder than words; I guess I’ve been raised to believe that—I’m at a loss for words and the only actions that feel right is to grab a hand. Life is intense lately. It’s like I’m watching bombs explode all around me and I’m too confused to know where to run.
Snow begins to fall as we pull up closer to the house. Small flakes quickly increase in size and start to stick. The wind lifts up a fresh layer on the front porch and carries it up into the air over yellow caution tape. Before I turn off the engine, I notice muddied tracks that reach farther than where her parents usually park their cars in the driveway—those must be from the emergency truck. The snow is already dusting the dirt mounds it left behind as if to cover any evidence of the evil that took place. Any remaining sun is now hiding behind the mountains.
Amy sits up and her seatbelt keeps her hostage. “There’s tape everywhere, wouldn’t it be tampering with evidence if we go in there? That could be capital punishment for all we know.”
I reach under Dad’s seat and pull out a silver maglite. “Let’s just walk around the house first.”
“Good idea,” she says as she releases the seat belt and buttons up her pea coat. It’s as if she has a sudden loss of fear.
Amy looks all business type New Yorker and no longer resembles a Goth. All her makeup is gone from tears, which just feels weird because I’ve seen her sleep with the stuff on. I pull my hoodie over my head and tighten the strings, probably appearing more criminal, but the cold is going to bite at my ears and I hate that, especially when nerves are already frayed.