By Terri Bruce
She wasn’t sure what to do next. The house seemed quiet and still—in fact, almost dead. She listened hard. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it, but somehow the house, her house, seemed foreign and strange. The house seemed to be holding its breath, almost as if it was waiting for something. She felt the thick, gathered pause pushing around her. Irene shivered. She crossed her upper arms, trying to smooth away the sudden goose bumps. How could she get goose bumps if she was dead?
The phone rang, causing her to jump. Her drink crashed to the floor. She stared at the phone stupidly for a moment, and then, recognizing LaRayne’s phone number on the caller I.D., she grabbed the receiver.
“Yes! It’s me!” Relief flooded through her. LaRayne could hear her!
There was a pause and then LaRayne said, “Hello?”
“LaRayne? Can you hear me?”
Relief fizzled away. Disappointment washed over her, so strong her knees buckled and she grabbed the counter for support.
The line went dead. LaRayne had hung up.
Slowly, Irene replaced the receiver, numb with shock.
The phone rang again. Irene let the answering machine pick up this time.
“Hey, Irene. It’s LaRayne…I’ve left you some messages...well…you know…call or whatever.”
Irene cleaned up the spilled drink, sweeping the broken glass into a dustpan and dumping it in to the trash, and then mixed herself another one. She wandered back to the hall and then back to the kitchen and finally to the living room where she dropped heavily onto the couch. She sipped her drink, not really tasting it. Then she spied her laptop across the room on a chair. She fetched it, firing it up.
Email. Yes, that’s it—email. I’ll email everyone and tell them what happened, she thought through a fog of mounting hysteria.
Even as she thought it, dully watching the computer scroll through start-up screens, the “drunk emailing” incident of a few years ago—which had led to then-boyfriend Chase becoming ex-boyfriend Chase—came to mind. The part of her that was still thinking rationally pointed out that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to email anyone until she knew for certain what exactly was going on.
You still don’t know what you want anyone to do, she thought. Call a doctor? Perform an exorcism? What, exactly, was the remedy here?