Breathe, Girl in the Black Jacket, and Haunted Houses
*A/N* Hey. These are some things that seemed a tad long for Ideas and Thoughts. I kinda liked them, so hopefully everybody else will!
Blood pounds in my head.
I tell myself to keep breathing as heart stopping cold twists its way into my bones, freezing my lungs over. I use my jacket sleeve to wipe my running nose.
I see nothing except for a field of snow and my own cloud of breath. An empty landscape. Ice. Hopelessness.
My boots crunch on the cold ground. My chest hurts from the effort of breathing and my heart. Maybe I should just die right here, I think. Then, Lillian’s face flashes briefly before my eyes. I blink rapidly. I can’t cry; my tears would freeze on my face. I pull my scarf higher up over my nose and mouth.
I can’t do it anymore.
Tears roll out of my eyes, and, as I predicted, they freeze.
I collapse heavily to the icy, cold ground, my thick jacket breaking my fall.
Breathe out, Raine, breathe out!
I try to push myself back up but I can’t. Father Winter’s unforgiving hands are reaching my lungs, throttling them, freezing them, pushing me down and keeping me there.
Everything goes black. A quick, frosty breath escapes my blue lips.
GIRL IN THE BLACK JACKET
The air outside is cool, lovely. My lungs are refreshed as I inhale and exhale, expecting my breath to come out in a cloud, but it doesn’t. It stays invisible, as I am, as I always have been.
The streets are full, but I am empty. I walk through the crowd as though in slow motion. Nobody looks at the girl with the big black jacket. I blend in as though I’m part of the sidewalk on which I and the others tread. I thrust my chilled hands into my jacket pockets and hunch my shoulders further.
Do I want to be noticed? I am not sure. I could be a sidewalk forever, like my mother, being beaten down by my father’s feet and fists and voice. Or, I could stand out from the crowd. I could be alive. I could be the vibrant girl wearing bright yellow. They would point and stare and gasp at how beautiful she is, how beautiful I am.
A young man holding a briefcase bumps my shoulder, and, thrown off balance, I fall.
“Sorry, are you all right?” he says, offering a hand up. He stands there for a moment, hand still extended, while I examine my stinging palm. “Are you okay?” he asks again. I look up at him, straight in the eye.
“Thank you,” I say.
“For what?” he asks, raising his eyebrows questioningly.
“For noticing me,” I say. He stares, appearing unsure of what to make of this, then half-smiles.
“They say ghosts haunt this place,” Joel tells me. I snort, staring ahead at the creaky old house. Its shutters are falling off the hinges, windows are broken, boards and shingles coming off everywhere. To cap it all off, it’s even leaning slightly to the side. Perfect haunted house.
“There are no ghosts,” I say, glancing to the side. Joel smirks in that infuriating way that always makes me think he knows something that I don’t.
“Whatever you say, Delilah Dearest,” he says teasingly. I roll my eyes and when he tries to take my hand before we make our way through the jungle that was once a lawn, I pull it away and fold my arms firmly over my chest.
“You might want to hold my hand, or the ghosts might take you away,” says Joel in what he obviously thinks to be a haunting voice.
“Not when your acting like a jerk. Let’s just get this over with,” I snap, but I smile anyway. I have trouble staying mad at him.
Joel shrugs. “Have it your way,” he says, and we walk into the lawn. Admittedly, the house does look a bit creepier as the sun set, since the shadows are being thrown around. It starts to get colder, the darker it gets, and once we’re at the front steps, I’m shivering. Joel puts a warm arm around my shoulders.
“You all right?” he asks. I nod, rubbing my arms with my palms to warm them.
“Guess I shouldn’t have worn a tank top today, huh?” I say with a small laugh. My voice is trembling a bit from my teeth trying to chatter. Joel’s eyebrows furrow slightly.
“Yeah. I didn’t know it was supposed to get this cold tonight,” he says. “Do you want to turn back?” he asks me.
I look at the dark house. The door is open, something I hadn’t noticed from the car. “Nah, I didn’t make that walk for nothing,” I say.
We go into the house, Joel keeping an arm firmly around me. The floorboards creak eerily. There is a stairwell to my left, and a coat hanger to my right, a large trench coat and hat hanging off of it that makes me shudder, and not from the cold. Neither the coat nor the hat is dusty.
We walk slowly, until we hear a voice.
“Ah, what next?” it says. It sounds male. I let out a small squeal before Joel claps a hand over my mouth.
“Be quiet!” he hisses. I nod fearfully, prying his hand away from my mouth.
“We should go, right now, before they know we’re here!” I whisper quickly, my heart going to my throat. “Maybe we shouldn’t have done this! I didn’t know somebody lived here!”
Joel shakes his head, his eyes intense. “I don’t know how anybody could. It’s falling apart, for one thing. And it’s really far from town, and there was no car. It was probably our minds getting to us.”
I snort, a habit of mine that I’m trying to get out of. “At the same time?” I hiss.
“Fine, the wind then!”
I begin to laugh wildly, until Joel shuts me up again. I shove his hand off. “The wind can’t talk, Joel,” I say seriously.
“How do you know?” says a croaky old voice from the doorway. He stands there, wearing only an undershirt and boxers. His eyes are bloodshot, full of hostility, and he leans heavily on a cane.
Joel and I are both quiet for a couple of moments, and then at the same time we launch into a full explanation.
“We’re so sorry-”
“Didn’t know that-”
“I mean, it looks deserted-”
“But, if, um, you live here-”
“It’s actually quite nice-”
“Once you’re inside-”
“We’ll just go-”
“If you don’t mind-”
“Well, of course he doesn’t mind, Joel, we’re intruding on his personal property!”
“Would you just stop it, Delilah!”
We both stop, breathless and not sure of what to say. Then, the old man starts to laugh. He’s wheezing and banging his fist on the wall beside him, tears of mirth streaking down his grimy face.
“You two stupid kids,” he chuckles, more to himself it seems than us.
Joel and I both smile blankly, though we have no idea what he’s laughing about.
Finally, the old man looks at us again. “Come with me,” he says, and he walks into the next room, the kitchen, but we hang back for a moment.
“He might have knives in there! Let’s just go,” I whisper, tugging desperately on his arm.
Joel chuckles. “He’s just an old man. We’ll be out of here in a second.” He starts to pull forward, but I keep my grip on his arm.
“Please, for me?” I say. I go on tiptoe and give him a quick kiss.
His face breaks out in a grin. “I’ll need one more of those,” he says. I smile and oblige, only this time making it a bit longer.
“You kids coming?” calls the old man from the kitchen. Joel looks half-heartedly at the kitchen, but I tug again on his arm. He looks at me and nods and we start to creep back down the hall and towards the door.
But then, as we open the door to the porch, the old man is standing there. I scream and even Joel gasps.
“Where are you two going? I need you for something,” he says. Joel’s grip on my shoulders tightens.
“Sorry, Delilah’s parents are expecting her,” says Joel.
“Don’t lie to me, Joel Hawthorne. Neither of your parents even know you’re gone,” replies the old man. I just now notice that his cane is gone. I swallow and look to Joel, who always has the answers, and is a far better liar than me.
But instead he asks, “How do you know my name?”
The old man laughs. “I know everybody’s name, and their secrets. That girl,” he nods to me, “is Delilah Bush, your girlfriend. You plan to propose to her as soon as you both turn eighteen.”
A flush creeps up to my cheeks. I didn’t know that.
“What do you want?” asks Joel harshly.
“I want companions,” says the old man. His back straightens. “I need somebody to entertain me.” He seems to be getting taller. I wonder if it’s just me, but I see the fear in Joel’s eyes when I glance over to him.
“RUN!” Joel shouts, grabbing my arm and taking off, which is hard to do because the creature is standing right in front of the doorway. It’s startled as we knock into it, and it stumbles back. We run across the porch and down the steps, me screaming my throat out.
I can hear the creature running after us. Briefly, I wonder what it looks like now. I whip my head around and see some sort of a cross between a dragon and a grizzly bear running toward us and I scream even louder. The tall grass and stinging nettle whip across all of the exposed parts of my body. My arms and feet sting. I’m grateful for the jeans. On the way up to the house, we had been careful to avoid stinging nettles, but now that we’ve got a gigantic grizzly-dragon running after us, we have bigger things to worry about.
We’re almost to the car when I feel claws grabbing around my middle.
“JOEL! JOEL!” I shriek, wildly grabbing at him with my arms. Joel screams my name as the monster drags me back. He’s running after me, grabs my hand. I cry out in pain as he clutches to my arm and pulls back. My shoulder’s on fire.
The grizzly-dragon snaps aggressively at him, but he dodges it. Spontaneously, as the sun begins to rise, the beast roars to the sky and drops me roughly to the ground. I scream as I fall and hit the ground with a jolt of pain from my ribs. I spit out dirt and find my limbs to weak to get back up. The beast falls with a thud behind me.
Joel is suddenly right next to me. I whimper as he picks me up, from my bloody wounds and aching ribs. He carries me quickly to the car and sets me down.
“Let’s get out of here,” he says after buckling me in. He runs around to the other side, turns the key, and drives away.
“Lil? Delilah? Delilah Dearest? We’re here,” Joel’s warm hand on my shoulder wakes me up.
“Hmm?” I mumble, stretching and realizing that I have no wounds, and that my ribs aren’t sore. I then look out of my window and see the broken down old haunted house and gasp.
Joel laughs. “Scared? Don’t worry, I won’t let the ghosts get you.”
“It’s not that I’m worried about,” I murmur, rubbing my ribs protectively.
Joel’s smile disappears. “Do you not want to go?” he asks.
I smile. “No, not really. Let’s go…..See a movie or something. No haunted houses please.”
Joel looks puzzled. “But I thought you wanted to-”
“Well I’ve changed my mind,” I snap. Then, I soften. I reach forward and kiss him. “Please, for me?”
Joel grins. “I’ll need one more of those.”
I almost break out hysterically laughing. Doesn’t this feel familiar? I think. But I kiss him again anyway and we leave, and instead of seeing a horror movie, like Joel wanted, we see Magic Unicorn 3: Pinky’s Quest, because I’ve had enough horror to last me a lifetime.