My parents couldn’t settle on a place to live. This is what I told my therapist the last time we spoke, I suggested this to be the cause of my inability to make friends. It wasn’t that I was bullied or anything, it’s just that nobody ever wanted to talk to me. I blamed my parents for that.
I also blamed them for my insecurity and lack of self-esteem. I remember waiting for my dad to finish eating his dinner, which he normally ate alone in front of the television, because right after, he would sit there, killing time waiting for one of his favorite crime shows to begin. That’s when I could ask him about a new commercial that I saw, or about how I was learning to play the guitar they got me for Christmas two years ago. With only three strings left and no clue that you could change them, I thought that guitars should have to be replaced as soon as the strings run out.
I remember his look toward me, the look that showed me that he wished I could go away and that he didn’t care. Mom was usually in the room talking on the phone with her friends. My parents didn’t like each other very much. So I didn’t feel too bad when I tried to do something to relieve them from each other’s pains.
You see, when I was even younger, one of my cousins from out of state stayed with us. She was supposed to be moving into a new house with another set of parents or distant relatives. For obvious reasons I wasn’t told the truth about what happened to Gabby’s parents. I was too young to get it.
She asked me if I wanted to know a secret. I had several secrets too. For example, I knew where my dad had buried Mr. Bingo when he died. I just went along with the story that Mr. Bingo had been sent to a farm to not hurt his feelings. But Gabby’s secret seemed better. She said that it would make me able to do whatever I wished for and that I could go where ever I wanted. The only thing I had to do was to ask Katie for it in a letter. Katie was Gabby’s friend, I think. She granted wishes, and Gabby said it worked for her.
I kind of knew how to write letters. Though they were simpler and my writing was not the best, Santa used to understand mine most of the time. So I wrote it, but I didn’t burn it. According to Gabby, I was supposed to light it on fire in order for it to work. I forgot about that last part.
But Gabby did other strange things too. She would make me cut pieces of my hair to put them on the floor, she would play around with dead animals, and one time, though I don’t remember it very clearly anymore, she would sing in a deep voice and then go back to her normal tone.
After Gabby left, strange things started happening around the house. I had seen strange things with Gabby so I didn’t find them as strange as my parents seemed to find them, but it was enough to get my mom to go hysterical and to force us to move to a different house in the same city, but I had to go to a different elementary school.
That’s when my parents lost it and became even worse.
We weren’t exactly normal before then, but after the first move, we just kept changing houses, I kept going to new schools, and my parents grew distant. I would heat up my own frozen food, my dad got lost in his own work, and my mom started wasting money on perfumes and random things like that.
It wasn’t until one of these times when we were moving once again, by this time I was in high school, when I found the letter I had written back when I was seven years old. It was the letter that was supposed to make things all better.
I’m not sure if it did. Only time will tell. But once I burned it, things really took a sinister turn. Random knocks on our windows and walls started it all. Then the disembodied grunts. Imagine being woken up by the haunting chant of a woman standing right beside your bed. I was terrified.
My parents were planning another move when the fire happened. It was in the middle of the night when all the smoke filled the house. I remember the flashing lights. I still see the sheets that covered up both my parent’s bodies and the truck that took them away. I remember having to change houses for the last time.
Now I think it was that letter. It said:
I want a better family.
I wanted Katie to understand that I wanted my family to get better. I was only kind of good at writing letters.
The screams were the worst part. I’m not sure if you know what a blown up microphone sounds like, and I don’t mean exploding or anything, I mean when the sounds are so loud that the microphone sound pops and gets distorted.
We were having a meetup through Zoom a few months ago with an old friend of mine. It was three of us on the call, my best friend and I, plus the other friend who had to move two cities over right before high school started. Her name was Jamie. We kept in touch through Instagram and text, but we all knew things would change after the move.
We all got online, like normal, except for Jamie, because her camera had gone dark and then her microphone got muted. We kept calling her name, but she didn’t respond. So we figured that my other friend Anna should just start the meeting over again.
We all joined again, but this time, I caught a glimpse of Jamie’s camera, except it wasn’t Jamie at the desk. Then, her screen went dark. It was a man wearing a black jacket, his eyes opened wide.
Then everything started. We heard the door open. Jamie screamed.
Anna screamed, and I froze.
The screams, the evil laughter.
The sound of blood splashing against the wall.
When I heard a familiar voice, Anna, Sandra, are you guys okay? Did you see what happened? It was the voice of another man in a panic. Then the webcam came back on.
It was Jamie’s dad. Jamie was sitting on the floor crying, as the man with the black jacket laid still seated against the wall. Half of his face darkened by the swing of a wooden baseball bat.