Children born under the Cancer sign are said to have terrible mood swings that no one can predict. One moment they are knitting socks with grandma, the next they are stampeding through the streets naked with a machine gun.
Cancer, the disease cancer, seemed to share the same characteristics. One moment the doctor's are saying 'Don't worry, sweetheart, your sister will be better in no time.' The next you're standing in an itchy black dress in the rain, listening to a preacher talk about your sister, your best friend, in the past tense.
The heady, oily scent of incense hung throughout the dim room. Michele glanced around uneasily at the bookshelves full of spell books and jars of herbs and the spindly tables covered in rich silks and cluttered with a ton of New Age-y things. She wrinkled her nose at what appeared to be a diagram on how to read bird entrails.
A small stone of doubt pitted in her stomach, but she quickly abolished it. Trish was more important than her queasiness.
"So, Ms. McDougall. Welcome to my home."
Michele nodded at the woman, "Thank you for letting me in. Um, I'm not really sure how this works…"
The woman batted her hand, "Oh, really, it's nothing. First, why don't you take a seat?"
She sat on a velvet ottoman across a table from the woman, who was already shuffling a deck of Tarot cards.
"Oh, I didn't really want…"
The old woman peered over her glasses, "Pardon?"
"I didn't… I didn't want my fortune told."
"Then what did you come here for, my dear."
Michele took in a deep breath, "I need help on learning how to summon a spirit."
The room was quiet for a minute. The hole in Michele's chest wavered, partially with excitement, and partially with the fear of rejection.
"I'll need some more detail then that, dear."
"It was my sister. She was my best friend. We did everything together. There wasn't a secret we didn't share. And now it's like a part of me has been ripped out and shoved in a wood chipper. But I can still feel her here; she's so close to me. Sometimes I hear her voice. I get this, this presence. I know she's still here, that she didn't want to leave me, she didn't!" Michele had gone hysterical by the end.
The woman pressed her hand to her face. Then she stood up and walked to a bookshelf.
"I may have something to help you. But it wont be easy, or without consequence." She murmured, flipping through the pages of a dusty tome.
Michele bowed her head, "Thank you."
If, four weeks earlier, someone were to tell her she would perform a séance in the middle of her living room, Michele would have laughed in their face.
'Me, orderly, level-headed, no nonsense Michele McDougall? What have you been smoking?'
The irony didn't fail on her.
The air seemed to quiver with the energy buzzing around. The sharp smell of ozone filled the room as the candles burned intensely brighter for a moment, before dimming to less than usual.
Michele looked up from her hands and glanced around the room. Nothing. Her heart sank and she felt the old feelings beginning to creep back in, this time with the additional emotion of self-loathing. What she attempted was disgusting; she ought to be punished for even trying to bring her back.
She let out a sigh that condescended in the air in front of her. Goosebumps raised the hair on her arms, and a bead of cold sweat ran down the back of her neck.
That all came seconds before the strong feeling of eyes on her. Michele was suddenly afraid to turn around, sure that something grotesque and vengeful was sitting right behind her. Slowly, cautiously, Michele turned her body around to face the presence behind her.
Kneeling down in a soft white nightgown was Michele's late sister; her mass of corkscrew curls haloing her pale face.
Michele pushed herself backward, a gasp escaping her mouth.
Trish cocked her head, a small frown marring her features, "Did I upset you?"
"No, no… You just… surprised me, that's all." She sat up, "Why are you here?"
Trish laughed, "You asked me to come to you. So I came. Aren't you happy?"
"Of course I'm happy! I've missed you so much!" Tears filled Michele's eyes.
"I know you have. But I'm here again. Not for long, but soon we can be together forever. Doesn't that sound nice?"
Trish reached out a pale hand and smoothed it over Michele's hair.
"Were you in Heaven, Tricia?"
"I liked your hair better short. I think you should cut it again." Was all she replied with.
Michele was silent for a while. She couldn't keep her eyes off her sister's face. Why wasn't everyone doing this? Being able to see your deceased loved ones whenever you wanted. Michele put a hand over her heart, and she could feel no pain. Her best friend was home again, promising her they'd never be apart ever.
A sudden thought occurred to Michele, "I have to call Shelley! She'll want to see you too!"
"No!" Trish snapped. For a second Michele thought she saw her eyes flash red. It must have been a trick of the light.
"I mean, Shelley never really was emotionally stable. It'll probably break her poor young heart. Besides, she still lives at home. I don't want to bother dad."
Michele nodded, "Okay. I'll keep this a secret, if that's what you want."
Trish grinned, "That's my girl."
Death never scared Michele. Her family had its fair share of it, yes, but she had never been afraid of dying herself. It was the death of people, the loss of human life that scared her. How easily a person could just be… snuffed out.
Now, to discover that those lost lives, those forgotten souls could just be… relit.
Michele was feeling a little overwhelmed.
"Where were you?"
Trish stood in front of her, arms akimbo and eyes snapping. Michele sidled around her sister, placing the grocery bags on the kitchen table.
"You've kept me locked in here for two weeks, Tricia. I needed to get some food. Why haven't you been eating, anyway?"
Trish plucked an apple from the paper bag and bit into it, "Happy?"
Michele took a glance around her small apartment. The shutters were drawn; almost all the lights were off. The sofa cushions were torn to shreds.
"What did you do to my couch?"
Trish shrugged, "I got angry when I woke up and you weren't here. You shouldn't leave me Michy."
There was something in her voice, something… ominous. Michele turned her head so Trish wouldn't see her frown. She didn't seem to like it when Michele expressed uncomfort.
Trish was sitting on the edge of the table, "Are you upset with me?"
"What are you? You aren't a ghost, you aren't a zombie…"
Trish chuckled, "I'm not a unicorn either. You shouldn't believe all the movies you watch, Michy."
She started digging through the bags. When she pulled out a small violet bound book, Michele grabbed it from her hands and hid it behind her back.
Trish narrowed her eyes at Michele, "Let me see that."
"No, it's mine."
Michele felt the book being pulled from her hands. She gripped it tighter before relenting. The book daintily floated to Trish's lap. She looked at Michele with hatred.
"Summoning and Banishing the Supernatural? Is this your idea of funny?"
Before Michele could answer, Trish reached out an arm and slapped her across the face. Michele fell to the floor, the bitter taste of blood in her mouth.
"That's for being a bad girl." The book caught fire.
In all her twenty-four years of life on this earth, Michele had experienced a great deal of pain. Her mother passed when she was eight. Her father married a monster when she was eleven. Her little sister Shelley had helped home-pierce her navel when she was sixteen.
Nothing she could remember hurt as bad as that look Trish had on her face before she struck Michele.
Over the next couple days, Trish became more and more restless. She would get angry faster, lash out harder, and then refuse to talk to Michele for hours. Michele was still plagued by the notion that there was something off about her sister, but whenever she brought anything of the sort up in conversation, Trish would just change the subject.
Michele was sitting on the couch, which she had covered with a blanket to hide the rips in it. Trish was in the bathroom taking a bubble bath, door open so she could keep an eye on Michele.
"Tricia?" Michele called quietly.
Trish halted her sickening rendition of Ring-Around-The-Rosie.
"When you said we would be together forever… What did you mean?"
There was a long pause, "Michele, you know I can't stay here forever. Right?"
"Okay then. There's your answer." Trish continued her song.
When Michele was in college, she had dated a boy who was a Satanist. She hadn't known when they started dating, she only thought his mysterious and demanding personality was irresistibly sexy. One night he had taken her to the Victoria cemetery. Shown her his parents grave, clean and whole resting side by side.
Colin, the Satanist, told Michele to close her eyes and imagine the afterlife. Michele had asked him which one, Heaven or Hell. Colin just shook his head and said 'Who does a god think he is, deciding where we go when we die? Where do you want to be, after you croak?'
Michele had replied 'Someplace better."
Cold, dry fingers brushed against Michele's face. She squeezed her eyes shut.
Trish's face was inches from her own when Michele finally opened her eyes.
"It's time to go, now. We have to leave."
Michele frowned, "Go where?"
"I have to go back, I need to go back now. You're coming with me, right? You promised we would be together forever."
"You have to go back to… Heaven?"
Trish's eyes filled with tears, "I don't know! I don't know where I'm going; I just know I have to go back. It's calling me, Michele. I'm so scared!"
Michele sat up and put her hands on her sister's shoulders, "It'll be okay, Tricia. I promise. I was wrong to ask you to leave wherever you were. I'm sorry."
"… But you're coming with me."
Trish dropped something cold and hard in Michele's lap. In the moonlight drifting through the cracks in the blinds, the knife looked ten times as menacing.
Michele stared at Trish. Her face was stony.
"I can't. You have to go alone."
Anger flashed in Trish's eyes, turning them a dark red.
"You liar. You lied to me!"
Cold hands were on her throat, and bright white lights were popping in her vision. Through the ringing in her ears, Michele could hear Trish screaming profanities at her. She tried to gasp for breath, but it was impossible.
She couldn't see anything now, not even the white lights. It felt like an eternity suspended in space and time, and nothing moved. The only thing she was aware of was a rushing sound, like a train flying past her at lightning speed.
And then warmth tingled back into her toes and fingertips. A thick thumping coursed through her body, she realized was her heart beating again. Air, sweet air was flooding into her lungs.
Coming to, Michele saw a dark form at the end of her bed. The corkscrew curls created a dark halo around the figures head.
"I wish we could have had more time together, sister. I didn't want to leave you, I didn't want to leave anyone."
The figure shuddered.
"I remember where I must go now. Please forgive me. I might see you again someday, but not here. Someplace better. I love you, Michele."
The air quivered with energy. The sharp smell of ozone filled Michele's nose. Then the figure vanished.
"Everyone close! No, closer! Now smile!" Paul McDougall shouted at his three young daughters. His wife Marcella stood at his shoulder.
"Patricia Ann, if you don't stop making those faces I'll wash your mouth out with soap!" She called.
Michele and Shelley tittered, while Trish frowned, "Sorry, mommy."
The three girls hugged each other tightly, smiling their largest, toothiest smiles.
The flashbulb went off.
A/N: This was a short story I had to write for my English class. Came to about 13 pages on Word, which was 4 over the max. Oops.
I'd really appreciate it, if you happen to stumble upon this one in millions of hopeless drabbles on this site, if you could leave a small comment. :)