They say you can’t escape the ghosts of your past, especially when they come looking for you.
From under the covers, Leah looked out to her closet door. Although her dad sent all the monsters away, she knew one still lingered in there, watching her, and waiting for the right moment to come out. The knob turned and she gripped her stuffed panda close to her chest, squishing it against her face. The hairs of the panda tickled her neck but she ignored the urge to scratch it away and focused on the opening door.
Leah’s heartbeat picked up as it swung open. The dim white glow from her basketball nightlight illuminated the dark crevasse of the closet. Clothes hung from a bar while others piled underneath. For some time Leah waited. She closed her eyes and opened them, hoping the scene was merely a dream but it only remained the same.
Maybe that night would be different. Maybe she could sleep and wake without a single interruption.
But the Universe had other plans.
The pounding of something on her hardwood floor caused her to raise her head from under the covers a bit more, exposing the upper-half of her body. Her basketball, partially deflated, bounced next to her bed. She watched it bounce around to the front. It disappeared under them came back up every second until keeping a steady bounce. Leah glanced at her open door waiting for Erin to burst in. She hoped, prayed, her sister would.
“Leah.” The cracking voice of a boy just starting puberty came from her side. She jumped and flung the covers back over, covering every inch of her body. That’s the rule, right? The covers are a shield to keep the monsters away. “Leah, do you want to play tonight?”
“Go away.” She clenched the panda tight, sure she’d break its head off from the body.
Her blanket pulled itself away from her, sliding off the front of the bed. Leah kicked out as hard as she could muster but connected to nothing. The other leg flailed in response and she flung the covers off. Henry leaned against the front of her bed, grinning, his braces gleaming in the darkness. A pile of orange curls hung down to his ears that led to his throat where burn scars displayed a not-so-pleasant death. Wrinkled and red, the skin appeared to be of someone in the last stage of life and not of one that just started until the Universe took it away. It’s those moments when Leah looked at Henry’s scars, she felt a sense of sadness for him. For a life, he could’ve had but now trapped him to a house full of burning memories.
Then Henry talked.
“Maybe you could try flying tonight.” Henry skipped around the bed, his shoes patting against the floor. An oversized sweater hung off his small body with holes burned into the collar. Henry put his hands on the window sill and leaned over to look outside. “It’s not far. You won’t even feel it. Then you never have to leave again.”
Leah batted away tears, stuffing her face into the panda. She turned to look at her glowing purple clock: 10:43. Thirty-minutes until her dad got home. She debated sleeping with Erin but didn’t want to lead Henry to her.
Henry skipped back to the basketball and began dribbling. The ball bounced up to his shoulder. “Then you pick tonight, Leah. We could do that from now on. Switch every night. Oh! Or we could play Doctor on your bear. Or I could play Doctor on you…”
Leah reached behind her and grabbed a small, square pillow with a panda stitched into the cover. She flung it at Henry and watched as it zoomed through him and crashed against her dresser. The handles spun around, whipping against the wood. She glanced at the door waiting for Erin.
“What was that for?” Henry pouted.
“You can say whatever you want.” Leah glared at him, hoping he’d get how out of line he was. “But you do not get to touch me. I didn’t give you permission.”
Henry hung his head. “I’m…I forgot. Sorry.”
Leah didn’t accept the apology. She laid on her back and stared at the ceiling fan, focusing on one piece. It sent her into a daze. Sleep didn’t feel far off, but Henry didn’t want that.
“Then I can just sit here.” Henry took his usual seat in the corner, sitting on Leah’s beanbag chair. “And watch you sleep.”
Leah pulled the covers over her head. “Why don’t you open the window and fly by yourself?”
She heard Henry’s sneakers tap against the floor and end at the window. “We could jump together. We could…” He stopped and didn’t speak for some time. It made Leah curious. Maybe he fell asleep. It happened. Henry’s cracking voice graining into her head until nothing. He told her his energy got used up. Leah hoped that night would be the same.
Leah sent out a prayer and lifted the covers. Henry stared at a photo framed on the nightstand next to her bed. Her dad made it up for her that morning. Her and Rachel, arm over arm, wearing their little league jerseys. Leah’s red hair tangled into Rachel’s blonde.
“What are you staring at?” Leah didn’t like the idea of Henry finding Rachel any more than Erin, but the way his face contorted into a sneer sent shivers up her arm, and she wished for anything to take him away.
“Who is this?” Henry lifted the frame and pushed in Leah’s face. She couldn’t help but stare at the cartoon basketballs making up the frame.
“None of your business.” Leah reached for the frame but Henry kept a tight grip. She sat back, not sure of his next move. She couldn’t remember a time Henry got mad enough, conjured up enough energy, to hold onto something for so long. She started to pull the covers back up.
Henry threw the frame across the room and hit the opposite wall next to the door. Leah jumped and listened to the glass shatter to the floor. Her arms shivered around her panda that she pushed into her face. She closed her eyes and leaned her chin on the panda’s wet head, thinking of 11:13. Her dad had to be close.
“Why do you have other friends?” Henry’s hair hung in front of his face, blocking his expression. “You said, you said I was your only friend.”
Leah squeezed her eyes tight, squishing the tears to the corners of her eyes until they broke and ran down her cheek. “That was when we first moved here, but I started playing basketball. I thought you’d leave when I started making friends.”
After the move, Leah wondered if something made her different from everyone else. She couldn’t make one friend. Kids at school ignored her as the new girl. Every night Henry showed up to heal Leah of her loneliness. Then sign-ups for basketball started and it’s like fate wanted her to meet them that way. A way that allowed Leah to be herself and not hide in a cubicle of judgment and remarks.
After that, Henry needed to go. She didn’t want his sinister company anymore, but Henry returned to her every night with the same idea of Leah jumping out the window.
When Henry bent down into her personal space and she smelled the smoke wafting from his shirt she knew that night wouldn’t be like every other night. Leah eyed the door and the glass blocking her path. Anything, even jumping out the window, would be better than being around Henry.
He noticed her look and grabbed her arm, fingernails pinching into her skin. The pinch deepened and Leah watched as blood pooled around Henry’s white fingers. She looked up to see him staring at her with an anger she hadn’t seen in anyone before. He wanted to hurt her.
“Henry.” Leah tugged on her arm, but Henry’s energy didn’t quaver. It intensified, giving him a strength Leah wouldn’t reach until her teens. “Let go-ah! Henry. I won’t be friends with anyone else. I promise. I won’t. Please.” Leah couldn’t fight back the tears.
A life of full of Henry, draining her own energy for his own personal gain. She wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.
“That’s what you said the first time.” Henry flung her arm aside. She pressed her blanket into the wound and watched him tramp around the room, kicking her basketball, the dresser. He made matters worse by stomping on the already broken frame, crunching the glass into even smaller pieces. Leah watched in horror as Henry picked one up and stood in the doorway, his wide body making sure she wouldn’t get anywhere without a fight.
It’s what she needed to do. She had to ignore every flight sensation telling her to stay put, every tightening muscle and throbbing heartbeat. Leah wasn’t going to remain a coward tied to her bedframe for the rest of her life.
Leah threw the covers off, grabbed her panda, and got out of bed with her shirt wrapped around her arm. She tried to make herself look big, standing tall and mimicking Henry. She didn’t want Henry to see how much she didn’t want to try. She would never let anyone see that.
She didn’t understand what created Henry. Why sometimes objects went through him while he lifted others without a care. Henry’s energy that night would mean more than a simple bouncing basketball. He touched, hurt her. Without her permission.
“We’re friends forever Leah.” Henry started toward her. Leah backed to her bed and managed to back roll across it, away from Henry. She stumbled while standing up and stretched for the door, flying across the floor and landing on her bad arm. Her elbow throbbed and she used her other arm to stand up. Just as she ran out, Henry slashed the glass through the air and across her back. Leah felt it’s cool edge slide from one should to the other. It burned along with every memory of Henry, even the good ones. From being the first real friend she made to telling her how he died and being there when she felt her loneliest.
Leah landed in the hallway, her head smacking into her panda. She turned back and saw Henry hovering in the doorway, the glass still in his hand. She squirmed into a sitting position until realizing the truth. Why she never saw him anywhere but her room.
Henry couldn’t leave.
“Leah!” Her dad ran up the stairs with Erin on his tail. He fell to the floor next to her and positioned her back to him, getting a look at the cut that burned down her arms. Leah sniffled in her tears but wouldn’t take her eyes off Henry. She glared at him, but what she got back wasn’t anger. He lowered his head, his shoulders quivering and dropped the glass.
Erin started for the room but their dad stopped her. “Erin, go to the bathroom and get the med kit out.” Erin reached for the door. “Erin!” Their dad’s stern voice came out and Erin jumped. “Now.” Erin stared at Leah’s bleeding arm for a moment before running down the hall.
“Daddy.” Leah cradled into his chest. Her blood smeared onto his fresh scrubs. “Henry…got mad.”
“I didn’t think it would get this bad.” He pulled a wad of tissues out of his pants and pressed them to Leah’s back as he helped her stand. Leah didn’t take her eyes off Henry until she disappeared down the hall. The last thing she saw was his orange hair moving from side-to-side and the last she heard of his voice was her name coming out as a sob.
Once in the bathroom, her dad went to work on cleaning the cut, first using water and then alcohol. Leah hissed and clutched her panda close. It burned but not as much as the glass.
“You don’t need stitches, thank God.” He spoke to Erin in whispers but Leah heard them all. “You know my necklace, the one with the…yes…get it for Leah.” Without a word, Erin left the bathroom.
“Oh, Leah.” Her dad wrapped her into a hug. “I shouldn’t…once you told me about Henry we should’ve left.” Leah felt his body trembling against hers.
“But your…job.” Leah sniffled.
He shook his head, dark hair falling into his eyes. “We’ll manage, but you’re more important, and I don’t want you near Henry anymore.”
Erin returned, face white as a… “Here.” She placed it in their dad’s hand. He wrapped it around Leah’s neck and clasped it in the back. The cool chain hung just inches from the scar.
“You know what this does?” He lifted the charm to show her.
Leah shrugged as she eyed the chain. She saw it once or twice before, but her dad never took it off. It was a triangle but created out of three petals and weaved together with one continuous line.
“It’s a triquetra,” he said. “I wanted to get you one of your own. Erin has one.” Leah looked at Erin who lifted the chain out from under her shirt. The same symbol but in a rose quartz color rather than the silver one around her. “It keeps the bad things away. I should’ve…I didn’t think Henry would get like this. I didn’t think he’d hurt you.”
He pulled her into a hug and Leah leaned her head on his shoulder. “Me either.” As much as Leah hated Henry, it would be hard to imagine him not being there every night as she slept. She wanted nothing to do with him, and yet, she knew he’d be there when she needed someone to listen. Henry always listened, she gave him that.
“Would you rather sleep on the couch or my room?” he asked.
It didn’t take her long to think it over. “Yours.”
He nodded. “I need to call your aunt first.”
Erin’s face lit up at that. “Is she coming to visit?”
Their dad led them to their bedrooms. “The opposite. We’re going to stay with her for a while.” Erin grinned as if she forgot what happened minutes earlier. “I’ll be up in a few minutes, Leah.” She watched him eye her bedroom before walking downstairs.
“Why did Henry get mad?” Erin asked.
“He wasn’t my only friend anymore,” Leah said.
Part of her felt bad for Henry. An endless lifetime of being stuck in one place with no one to talk to except the one who chose to see you. Anyone would go insane.
Another wanted nothing more than to escape the hell he created for her. He deserved to cling there, by himself, until his energy stopped building up and sleep became the only form of comfort.
The second outweighed the first, but soon, all the weight began to fade. No more talks of jumping. No more late-night stares or interrupting her sleep. For years, Henry played no part in Leah’s life. Even when Leah awoke in the middle of the night, thinking someone sat in the corner, watching her, Henry didn’t cross her mind.
This is the first time I’ve posted an original story on my blog and yeah, I’m pretty nervous. I came up with the idea YEARS ago, I’m thinking 4-5 years, but never went any further than the original idea of a young girl being haunted and it coming back to her life many years later. The term “treskla” is actually an anagram of the word stalker and is something I made up for the story. It’s a story about having faith in yourself, others, and whatever you may believe in.
I hope to post a chapter each week, or every two weeks, so I can still put up reviews. I knew how this story would end back then and it seems to be going in that direction now.
So, if anyone has any feedback I’d totally love that. I figured while I’m in the process of trying to get another book published, I could put this out there. It fits a novella length, just to give an idea of how long it will be.
Okay, that’s it, I hope someone enjoys it x