Shimmering Silence

Paralyzed, his heart racing, Daniel laid in bed as beads of sweat began to form on his forehead. He struggled to slow his breathing. ‘What was that?’ he wondered. A loud crashing sound had yanked him unceremoniously from sleep. He strained in the darkness, desperate to hear any and everything. He knew he should get out of bed and investigate the noise, but fear gripped him. ‘It was too loud to not be something,” he rationalized. With a great effort, he got out of bed. He went to his closet to find some sort of makeshift weapon, but all he could find were a set of 10lb. weights. He quickly grabbed them and made his way toward his bedroom door.

He saw a bright light under the door, making his fear rise. He knew that he hadn’t left any lights on before he went to bed, and his apartment was too small for the light to be coming from anywhere but his living room. ‘Somebody is in there,’ he thought to himself. He ignored the fact that even his internal voice sounded panic-stricken.

He silently eased the door open, hoping to catch the intruder off-guard. He tightened his grip on the weights and tip-toed out of the bedroom, but was again paralyzed after only a few steps. His eyes opened wide as he took in the sight before him. Shimmering a pure white in the middle of the living room was a— he wasn’t sure what it was. But he knew what it looked like.

“L-Leo?” he stammered. The figure merely stared amid the slight bobbing movement of flotation.

Daniel could feel tears forming in his eyes. How could Leonard (Leo) be here? He was gone. His funeral was a few days prior. And he didn’t look alive, but the image was so clear and bright. ‘I must be losing it,” Daniel thought. ‘It’s not real. I’m still asleep.’ He pinched himself as hard as he could in an attempt to wake himself, but nothing happened aside from the pain now throbbing from his arm. Could Leo actually be here? Or rather, some form of him?

“You can’t be here,” Leo said aloud. “Ghosts.. real… ghosts aren’t real.” Even as the words fell from his lips, his belief in them faded. The shimmering Leo continued to float in front of him, eyes boring into him. It was the eyes that made Daniel feel as though this was indeed a real ghost. It was Leo. His Leo.

Tears began to stream down Daniel’s face. “How are you here?” Silence. “I just said good-bye to you. I haven’t… I’m—” Daniel couldn’t find the words to express what he was feeling. His mind was reeling. How could this be? And why? Logic began to creep into his thoughts. If this was real, then there had to be a reason Leo had returned. Supernatural shows and movies began flying through Daniel’s mental eye. ‘Ghosts appear when the person that died has unfinished business on earth, don’t they?’ he asked himself. The thought was alarming. What residual dealings could Leo possibly have to resolve?

Alarming fear and confusion was soon replaced with guilt. Thick tears began cascading down Daniel’s cheeks. “Are you here because of me?” he queried. Ghost Leo remained silent. Daniel began finding it difficult to breathe. He felt unable to take a deep breath. Could he know? Had death shown Leo all the secrets Daniel had worked tirelessly to keep hidden from his lover? “Y-you are. Here. Because of me. You kn-know. Everything. Don’t you?” Still, Ghost Leo said nothing.

The crushing weight of Daniel’s guilt brought him to his knees. He wept violently. “I’M SORRY!” he bellowed suddenly. “I’m so sorry. I- You deserved more. Better.” He struggled to focus through his tears to look at Leo. The ghost remained silent. His face was as expressionless asit had been during the entire ordeal. “What do you want from me? WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?” Silence.

“You already know everything,” Daniel said between sobs. “Are you just here to torture me? Haunt me? What?” Silence. Daniel huffed.

“WHAT DO YOU WANT?” Silence.

“Please, tell me. Say something. DO something.” Silence.

“Oh my God. Just say something!” Silence.

“You know what I’ve done. That’s why you’re here. So why don’t you say something?” A horrible thought suddenly invaded Daniel’s mind. “Are y-you here to kill me?” Still, silence.

Daniel screamed in frustration. “I don’t know what you want,” he declared miserably. ‘Confess,’ a voice said in his head. He recognized it as his own voice. Reluctantly, he spoke his transgressions aloud. He expected some sort of reaction from the ghost. But he was met with more infuriating silence. He continued, chronicling every lie he had ever told. Every time he cheated. Every time he stole. It was an emotional purge of sorts. The guilt lifted slightly as the tears flowed more freely. He ended his confession with a whispered “I’m sorry.”

He again looked up at the ghost of Leo. He blinked rapidly. Without warning, the bright shimmering figure morphed. Within a second, it had expanded into a dark, hulking figure, surrounded by a menacing mist. Daniel stumbled backwards from his knees to his backside. Horrified, he tried to back away from whatever it was that was in front of him. The figure roared. Daniel opened his mouth, but before he could think of something to say, the figure rushed forward and invaded his mouth. Daniel snapped his mouth shut, but it was too late. He could feel the awkward sensation move from his mouth to his throat before settling somewhere in his chest. He felt the wind be knocked out of him and something seized his heart. He threw his head back as the feeling enveloped his entire body. ‘I’m sorry,’ he thought again before darkness enclosed him.

Daniel sat up bolt right in his bed. He looked around his room. His bedroom door was open. On the floor right outside the door, he could see something black on the floor. He approached the space before fumbling backward in fear. On the floor, written in elegant script in what appeared to be black soot, were the words ‘I forgive you.’

 

© 2017 T.J. Clayton

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