Fiction: She’s There

I know she’s there. Always. Watching. Waiting.

I don’t know why she’s there. What she really wants. If she even wants anything. If it’s anything that I can give. But she’s there, just the same.

Sometimes I think I see her. Drifting through the corner of my sight, hiding in my peripheral vision, just over a shoulder and whispering in my ear while I’m on the couch watching TV or trying to read.

I say “trying” because when that happens I’m not really doing anything except trying not to scream. When she’s on me like that, right on top of me, I can feel every inch of my skin trying to crawl off my bones and hide. My guts roil inside, and I want to gag and vomit but can’t. I have the almost unbearable urge to begin screaming, but can’t open my mouth to do it or summon enough breath to make anything above a whispering pant that doesn’t even begin to convey the fear and disgust I’m feeling.

I think she does it on purpose. I don’t know what she wants, but I know she likes what she does to me.

I made the mistake of falling asleep on the couch once. It wasn’t like I’d planned it; I did my best to stay the hell out of the living room unless it was broad daylight, or my roommate’s dog was with me, or there were plenty of people home. But I’d been running a fever, slipping in and out of consciousness, and had lurched to the couch to put something mindless and soothing on the TV, thinking it’d help.

I fell asleep, and stayed that way until dawn the next day. But it wasn’t restful. I was trapped, sitting behind the couch and staring at my own body as she poked and prodded and laughed and screamed. I was just as helpless to do anything about it as I was when I was awake. She knew it; I know she knew, because she kept looking up at me – the me that was watching, not the me that was passed out on the couch – and she was grinning. Her teeth were yellow and crooked and reminded me of broken tombstones.

Finally I felt something change, after hours and hours of being forced to sit and watch her. I could see myself stirring, and felt a tugging. I was being pulled back into myself. She seemed to realize it, too, and pulled away from me.

Before the aware version of me was drug into my body again, I saw her slide towards the patio door. It was a big sliding glass style, and the chill of the night had frosted it over. She cocked one finger at me, knowing I was watching, still grinning that graveyard grin. She put one hand against the door, and I saw the frost retreat from her touch. She extended one finger, and traced it against the glass, above the spot she’d put her palm on. Her body shook, and though I couldn’t hear it, I knew she was laughing.

When I woke up – all the way, that is – I stumbled towards that door to look.

A palmprint was perfectly preserved amidst the rime on the door. Just above it, in ragged letters, she’d scratched out a message for me.

“I’m here.”

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