Sometimes I’m an author…
Genre: Fiction-Short Story
Submission/Publication: Submitted to TheGhostStory.com for their annual Halloween contest.
Sandy was my oldest and dearest friend. She’s helped through some of the most horrible times of my life. She’s always been there, even when I neglected her…the only one who understood me all this time. And she came to me at just the right time.
She came to me by way of my pop-pop, a man of little means. But during the treasured summers I spent at his house, he treated me like his princess.
At the end of the last summer I spent with him, he gave Sandy to me. He said that she belonged to him when he wasn’t a little boy. And that when he wasn’t around, I could hold her close and think of him. As my parents drove me away from his house, I had no idea that would be the last time I saw him. He died that evening.
Sandy brought me peace in his absence. I talked to her about everything. And sometimes, in those years that my parents fought, I only spoke to her. My silence frightened them. They worried that my silence was a direct result of my grandfather’s death. But I wasn’t sad about losing him. I had Sandy. She gave me comfort. And whenever I felt sad, or alone, I’d head his words and hold her tight. When I breathed in her matted fur I could still smell him, a combination of cigarettes and Old Spice. No, my silence had nothing to do with him. It was a protest. If they were doting over me, trying to get me to speak, they weren’t focused on fighting with each other.
I soon realized that my silence wasn’t accomplishing anything. My parents bored of my protest and resumed with their constant fighting. Sometimes their fights would last into the night. One such night, the fighting was so bad that it seemed to echo across our neighborhood, which was silent with the sleep of the families that lived nearby. Somehow I managed to fall asleep after crying myself dry. I was awoken by my own coughs, smoke had filled my room and I grabbed Sandy to go find my parents. But as I set close to my bedroom door, I felt impelled to back away. It was as if Sandy, who was dangling from my hand was pulling me towards the window. I opened it and climbed down the trellis. When I stood back from the house I saw it was engulfed in flames. How I made it down the side of the house without catching fire myself, was anyone’s guess.
I listened to the voice in my head that said ‘Run!’ and I did just that. I jetted barefoot across the empty lot of land next to us and rang the doorbell of our closest neighbor. The old man who lived there opened his door and looked past me to my house in shock. He hurried me inside and rang for help.
My parents perished in that fire. But I didn’t feel alone. Because I still had Sandy.
The next ten years went by in a blur. I was shuttled from foster home to foster home, each experience more traumatic than the last. I always told the social workers what was being done to me. When Mrs. Ferguson twisted my arm so hard that it broke in two places I told the social worker. But she didn’t believe me. She said she’d been told I broke it climbing a tree and she didn’t want to hear any more of my ‘stories.’ So I stopped telling her. I only told Sandy. It was during one my late night talks with her that I begged Sandy to help me find a way to get away from Mrs. Ferguson. The next day while I played with the children down the street, Mrs. Ferguson fell asleep with a lit cigarette in her mouth. Her house burned to the ground with her inside. Luckily Sandy was tucked away in the backpack I carried everywhere with me, safe from the smoke and flames.
When I moved away to college I didn’t pack much because I didn’t have much. All I really needed was Sandy anyway. I kept my head down and studied. And as soon as I could, I got a single room. I didn’t make any lasting friendships. I didn’t even make acquaintances for studying purposes. And I’d convinced myself that there was absolutely no time for romance.
I lived a life of solitude throughout my undergraduate studies. But when I was in my second year of my masters, I met him, Derrick. He managed the coffee shop I frequented. He always had my coffee waiting for me when I went in every morning. And it was always made just the way I liked. He’s said that he made it with love and that’s why it tasted so good.
I recall marveling at how serious he was in those days when we first started dating. His mood much matched mine, I was always quiet, always a bit brooding. But over time we softened each other. I told him things I’d never shared with anyone besides Sandy. And he listened without judgement. He loved me without reserve. He was a real live representation of what Sandy had been for me all those years. So when he asked me to marry him, I gladly accepted.
We lived, just the two of us, in a small house that Derrick had been renting, for a few years. But after he got a promotion to district manager, he felt we were in a good place financially to start talking about adding to our family. I’d never thought I wanted to have any children. My childhood had been marred by so much trauma and I couldn’t bear to think about bringing another child into this horrible world. But my husband assured me that it was my traumas that would help to make me a better mother.
It was around this time that a lot of strange little things began to happen to Derrick. He had accident after accident. He fell off a ladder while changing a light bulb. He tripped on a rug and fell down the steps. He passed out when the pilot light on the stove went out and he was trying to surprise me with dinner one night. He might have died, had I not come home early unexpectedly. The accidents were taking their toll on him. He stopped sleeping and was convinced he was cursed. The lack of sleep started to make him go mad. He was hallucinating. He said he saw things in the house move. He’d find his keys in a totally different room than he thought he left them. These hallucinations extended to Sandy. He said that she would move when he wasn’t looking. I tried to assure him that she was always in the same place that I put her, in the reading nook in our bedroom. “Honey she doesn’t get up and walk around,” he argued. “But she does move. Sometimes her head is turned a different direction. Other times her legs are more askew than before. It’s small difference. But she moves!”
I was convinced my husband had completely lost his mind. But to appease him, and to prove to him that he must have been mistaken, put Sandy in the attic, locked the door, and carried the key on a string around my neck. This worked for a time. And Derrick returned to normal. We were happy again and it was during this time that I got pregnant.
It was a difficult pregnancy. I was sick morning, noon and night. My doctor was concerned I wasn’t gaining enough weight. I was plagued with insomnia and when I could call asleep, I was gripped by nightmares. Finally, I resorted to old comforts. While Derrick was at work one day I unlocked the attic and took Sandy down. I hid her under our bed and when Derrick fell asleep I’d take her out and cradle her under the covers so I could slumber in peace. Besides Derrick, she’d been the only other thing that brought me joy. And as I awaited my impending motherhood, I needed her more than ever, for assurance, comfort and love.
Things were good for a while. I had my two loves close to me again. And I made sure to keep Sandy out of sight. As long as Derrick didn’t see that she was out of the attic, everything would be fine.
When I went into labor early one morning, I stuffed Sandy under the bed before waking Derrick. We spent the next three days at the hospital getting to know our new little one, Hope. I’d never felt love like that before. Not even with Sandy had I felt so deeply for another being.
We brought her home and as I was getting her settled in her nursery I felt Derrick’s presence in the room. I turned to find him holding Sandy by her neck, terror in his eyes. He wanted to know how she’d gotten out. But before I could explain, he vowed to rid us of her once and for all. He didn’t want to allow her make him lose his mind again. He wouldn’t let her ruin our family. So he rushed down the stairs and buried her deep in the trash bin behind our house. I watched him stand over the garbage with an accomplished look on his face. I wanted to rescue her. But he was right. I didn’t need her anymore. I had everything that I never knew I wanted in life. I finally had a family.
That night as we readied for bed, I gave him a kiss on the cheek and put my arm around him. I promised him things would be different from now on. I closed my eyes feeling hopeful, albeit a little sad. My truest friend was gone, reduced to trash. But the despair I’d felt my entire life seemed to have all but disappeared with the birth of my daughter.
When I opened my eyes from my slumber, I was no longer in my bedroom, but in a different room that I soon realized was a hospital room. My first thought was that I’d dreamt the previous day’s experiences. I looked down and confirmed that I’d definitely given birth, my belly being much less swollen than it had been in previous months. But I also noticed that my arms and legs were bandaged. And it was then that the pain set in. My entire body hurt.
A doctor came into the room and I attempted to ask him what was wrong, but I was too weak. He checked my chart, and seeing I was awake told me what happened. As the words flowed from his lips I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I’d been unconscious for over a week. There was a fire in my home that began in the rear of the house in a trash bin that a lit cigarette had been thrown in. My Derrick and Hope had perished. And I’d been found badly burnt lying on the back patio, clutching a bear. I laid there crying silently. So the doctor walked over to a chair in the corner where Sandy now sat and brought her to me. He offered his condolences and tucked her under my arm and promised to return soon to check on me.
The odd occurrences, the doubt, and the confusion that had plagued Derrick and I was finally gone. My tears dried and I understood that I’d relied on Sandy all these years, but I wasn’t there for her when she needed me. It should have been just her and me all along. This was my fault. Derrick and Hope were gone because I dared to believe I deserved to have more than one true love. I looked down at Sandy and she turned to look up at me. As I exhaled one last time, I saw her smile.
(This is the real Sandy, and the inspiration for this story.)
Sable Foster is a fashion design major, in the final semester of her college career. At the beginning of the semester a horrific event threatens to completely derail her life. She spends the rest of the semester trying to put the pieces back together or risk being swallowed alive by all of the turmoil in her life.
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