July 29- August 07

I stayed home for days. Most of the time I felt too tired to leave or do anything. One day I texted Darcy bring myself to text her. The days just passed by in a daze. I had left just o, but she said she had plans for her days off work. Eli didn't call or text me, and I couldn't nce that week to get food, but I didn't feel like eating much. So basically, I just sat there staring at the ceiling for a week. I think it was a week.

It felt like one of those time loops where every day is the same day. Honestly the best part of all this were the dreams. I started having dreams of my grandmother. I know she's dead, but in my dreams she was alive- like she had just magically stopped being dead and came back to live with us, with me. Moms never there, just like she is in real life. It's just me, the cat and grandmother. Every time I wake up from those dreams it feels like she is really there, like I will find her in the kitchen making me breakfast or something. But she isn't there' because she's dead.

Sometimes I wake up at night and I hear footsteps outside my door. Sometimes I'm too tired to close my door and I wake up to the sound of footsteps and the sight of pitch black darkness outside my ajar door. Sometimes I hear them in my room.

The cat stops and looks up into empty space, but she only does that with people. She meows at the air and walks in semi-circles around the spot like she was rubbing around a person's legs when she wants something. The cat only this does with family members and close friends though. I was scared, deep down , but too tired to do anything about it. It's been this way since I got back- no matter how long I sleep – I feel tired. Moving from one room to another was about all I can do, without feeling lightheaded. I figured I might be sick but my doctor is on holiday, and the substitute had a two week long line. I didn't know any other doctors; have been going to the same one since I was a kid.

Honestly all I wanted to do was sleep. The dreams felt so much more real than reality. In the dreams I was happy, I had everything I ever wanted: witch apparently consisted of endless sunny days , my grandma making me junk food for breakfast and watching cartoons till lunch and playing video games till midnight and going for walks by the lake sometimes.

All of those were thing I used to do back when I was a kid, when grandmother was still alive and before I met any friends. My friends weren't there, they weren't in the dreams, but the cat was. I had known Eli before grandma died. at the time it never struck me as odd, that my dreams didn't include her at least. I was too tired to think about anything for long.

After a week of being stuck in this state , something happened. Something that made me realized that this a lot more than I had initially assumed. It was just a passing thought as I got out of bed but I had wished I could stay in bed. I had wished I didn't need to get up every morning, the day was just a waste of time, just sitting there waiting to fall asleep so I could dream. I never asked to wake up, I wanted to keep sleeping forever. I could be happy with my grandmother in those dreams forever.

Later the same day the cat managed to break a vase, at least I think it was the cat. I wasn't in the room then. I heard a crash. I came in and the cat was puffed up and curved in the "c" shape like when she was scared of something. A vase was broken, but it wasn't the shards that surprised me, it was what had been in the vase – sleeping pills. I remembered mother saying she had sleeping problems because her workplace could be noisy at night. We had a special place to keep medicine in the house, so why were these here?

After staring at the box for what felt like minutes I took it and opened it. Inside were two metal sheet with plastic bubbles full of pills. Not a single one had been taken. I put it on the table, got the broom and cleaned up. Then I remembered that I still haven't fed the cat and it was almost lunch time.

I open the fridge and for the first time in a while I notice an item that had been there a while. It's a bottle of red wine, an opened one. If I had opened a bottle of any alcohol we have in the house mom would kill me, she checks those every time. But this one was open and left there.

I could just sleep forever, no more waking up. No more annoying mom that always complains about everything I do. Just me and grandma, in our own perfect little world till the end of time. I'm not sure how long I stood there just staring the pills while holding the bottle. Finally, I began taking them out of the bubbles, one by one and piling them. Last two were left. Will this be enough? Will I sleep without waking up ever again?

Should I drink them one at a time or all together? Does it matter in the long run?

The doorbell rings. And that moment it felt like something shattered. No, I didn't drop the bottle. But it felt like reality around had just shattered. Well, more like I had just woken up for the first time in days. I put the bottle down.

Whoever it was they probably left because I waited too long. But no, there it goes ringing again, and every time it rings I wake up a little more.

I opened the door. It was Eli and Darren.

"Can we talk." Was all she said.

I became terrified they will see the pills.

"Alright, just not here. I'll change."

Since I spend a week without getting out of my pajamas. I probably needed a shower but there wasn't time for that, was there?

I put on whatever and was out the door in five minutes. And the moment I left the apartment I felt like something had been lifted from me. I felt alert again, I felt awake.

"I'm sorry" was the first thing I said, still standing on the stairs next to my door.

" is your brother okay?"

Why had it been so hard to say those words when things were happening? Why was it suddenly so easy to say them now?

" Adrian's fine." She said " sprain ankle, but nothing too serious."

We got some food and sat there on the lawn in front of my block of flats. None of my windows faced this way however. But I could stil feel it somehow, like an eerie, cold and slimy presence at the back of my neck. Strange way to think of my own home.

"I wanted to show you something" Eli said.

She took out her laptop from her bag pack.

It was a picture of us, the four of us in one of the abandoned places Only I couldn't see my own face. It was covered by something like fog, strangely it only covered my face.

"A bad photo? "

"We thought so too, but the filmed video is the same and we filmed with a different camera."

She showed me the video, everything is clear until we get to about the same place as we were in the photo. There is something like a mist that passes over my face. Darren was filming us while walking backwards as I recall.

"Is it like a car light or a flash?" as say after a while.

"We thought so too, so we sent it an expert. It's real, there is nothing wrong with the footage. It's not just these either."

"What you mean?"

"Show her the hospital ones" Darren said.

Eli opened another video.

Darren pauses and zooms in at about the time when Adrian complains something touched him. There is a something in there. Something behind me that looks almost like a person but it's only a face with no body.

"Is it always me?" I ask.

"Yeah, every time it's just on you."

She opens another picture, from the factory and there is a faint white orb on my left in the photo. I think it might be a flashlight but I remember that I had been walking last so all the lights were pointing to the front and my flashlight is visible at the bottom of the photo it light's path visible. No one is walking behind me and the factory had no reflective surfaces in the halls.

"And remember when something would happen, it would right after you said it?"

"It did, didn't it?" I think about it.

The factory, Adrian vanished, I wish some scary shit happened and then.- footsteps in a dark room. Hospital – I start thinks it's all boring and the flashlights go crazy. All this time was all me?

" I've been hearing footsteps outside my room " I say after a while.

"And you didn't tell us?"

"No it just started after I got back home. I mean… I think it did."

To be honest, now that I give it more thought. Mother would get me for being loud when I get up to go to the bathroom, but I almost never get up to go to bathroom at night. All this time I thought it was the neighbors kids being super loud upstairs, but who lets schools age kids run around this late?

Then there were the electric problems with the lights suddenly turning dim. Not of just dim, like all the lights are on but their light just isn't as bright as it usually is. This would often happen when I was home alone. Sometimes that cat would stare into space like there was something there. Maybe there was.

How long was it there? I remember a few other photos that didn't work out. Two years ago a photographers got so mad he couldn't get my picture because my face was always blurred out in the photo. I tell this to Eli.

"Remember when the photographer couldn't get my picture because my face was blurred every time?

"Yeah." Something flashed in her face. "He was so mad, I thought he would throw his camera."

" I think this thing isn't new." I say. " I think it's been here for a while."

"Do you know who it could be?"

"I think… maybe… my grandmother." I say after a pause.

"How so?"

"Remember when I said I saw her on the bus? And I've been having dreams about her, like she is alive and here kind dreams. I know it's been a long time, but I've never truly felt like she was gone."

It was somehow scary to think that my grandmother really was here.

"Do you have any ideas why she's here?"

"I've read that spirits stay sometimes when they are not buried properly. But we buried her properly. Or when they have unfinished business like finding their killer or getting revenge. But grandma wasn't murdered, she died of cancer. What unfinished business could she …it's me. She's here because of me, because she must have had regrets that she'll never get to see me grow up."

I cried. I haven't cried in a long time. I didn't even cry when grandma died. looking at the person in the coffin it felt strange, like it was some stranger, like it wasn't the grandmother that I had known all this time- it was someone else. It felt like I was the only one who could see it- the body was an impostor. I was ten then. And I believed all the way through the funeral that grandma had just played a joke, that she ran away for a while and she will be back soon. But never did, or so I thought until now.

" What will you do?"

"I don't know. To think that she was here the whole time…. I thought she had gone to, you know heaven or where ever you go after life. But all tis time instead of eternal rest she had been watching over me. it just feel wrong somehow. You know, like after death you should be at peace, got to happy place. I feel like I robbed her of that by being selfish and just refusing to let go of her. I want her to know peace, I want her to go."

I had to say those words, more for myself than anything. I felt like I might offend Eli because her grandmother passed away couple years back and then there was Rayne. We've all lost people or person we loved; only mine came back.

I stay at Eli's place for the night. Strangely her mom isn't mad at me. After that incident few years back I had stopped coming over because I was scared of her mother. It was strange that she acted like none of it ever happened.

I didn't say anything to mom. I won't talk much about how I met Remy, that could be a book on it's own. I had made the decision on starting a new life. I had applied to collage outside of my comfort zone and chose the same town all my friends had. I realized why I had been scared of leaving home so much. My mom told me she wanted to leave too, but grandmother had scared her into thinking that she would not make it one own. Why? Because she was scared mom would leave home and leave her like most of her friends kids did. These fears were not mine. As I recall grandmother was so very afraid of so many things.

I realized why it was so hard for me to say and do what I want to do. I'm not placing the blame or making excuses. Why would I do the opposite of what I wanted to? Why did I leave my friends and go home? Because grandmother was afraid I would leave her for my friends. Because she afraid that she will die alone and it so happened that we left to get grandpa so he could say goodbye to her in the hospital but when we came back it was too late- she was gone. She died alone just as she feared. Now she feared I would leave her. She did everything in her power to keep me. Scare away my friends, make tired, make want to die so could be wither forever just because she loved me so much.

I never agreed with the statement "you hurt the ones you love." Until today. Now I understand. And I want to tell her somehow that I'm not abandoning her, that I'm not throwing her away. I want her to know peace because I loved her.

Remy opens the door to the small two room apartment. It smells like flowers and incense. The walls are peach coloured. It's cozy, relaxing. He tells me to lay down the sofa. I close my eyes.

Remy is nice old man, not super old just around fifty maybe.. he has white hair, and it's long. He is one of those people who do things with crystals and talismans and dream catchers and well you get the picture.

It is an experience. One that cannot be described by words, well not easily.

I feel alive, for the first time in a long time. I feel happy, I am with my friends and the feeling of everything being fake isn't there anymore. I can genuinely enjoy very moment of my life and not feel bad about it. I can say what I feel and do what I want when I want and my actions and words no longer contradict eachtoher. The feelings of fear that my friends are going to leave me, that no one loves me – they are gone. I guess these fears weren't truly mine to begin with. No they are gone to a better place.

We finished settling into our dorm rooms. Sitting on the hill and watching city in the light of the setting sun. Eli looks at me:

"Why do you think She never came back?"

I know she is talking about Rayne.

" I think it's because she didn't blame you. She knew you did all you could to help her but in the end there was nothing you could do. I think she realized it and she didn't blame you for it."

"I tried to stop cars for help and call for rescue. There weren't any cars for a long time"

"I'm sorry" is all I can say.

Another horrible realization has hit me after the fact. I was so possessive of Eli back when we first met and became friends. I didn't know how to share or let go. I wanted it to just be Eli and me for forever. We don't need other people was what I thought. Back when Rayne drowned, my grandma had already been dead.

We don't need other people. I want just Eli. Grandma did what I wanted in the abandoned places , what if she did other time when I didn't know she was there.? What if she dragged Rayne under because I said I don't need other people? What I had indirectly caused her to die.

Not once had I thought of Rayne as other people. I wanted her to my friend. I admired her . The only person who wasn't Eli whom I wanted to spent all my time with. But only met a hand full of times and she was gone before we could become friends properly. I didn't want her gone. But isn't always those wished that you wish you didn't make that come true? Like the whole be careful what you wish for because you just might get it thing.

I can't be certain about this, but I'm certain of one thing- everyone is haunted. Not always by actual ghosts of the dead, no. the memories, the what if's, the endless possibilities of what could have gone different. We all have someone we lost, we all have skeletons in our closets. We are the same, each one of us with their own personal tragedy. We are all suffering and believing that we are alone in our suffering. But that couldn't be further from the truth.

We all believe that no one else can understand us, that's why we don't even try to be understood. But if we take this risk of opening up to others we see that they the same. No one is truly alone in their suffering.