Her Cherry Tree

The tattoo’s eyes bore past me.

Frantically, I banged on the door. When she opened the door again her face had recognizably paled.

“Kyra?” I asked.

“Come,” she said, coldly.

The branches on her neck emanated, as I watched her turn to climb the stairs. She disappeared into the shadow at the top of the stairwell before I decided to step across the threshold.

Her house was hollow, with all the windows closed and the shades drawn. A thin film of dust covered the furniture. As I bent down to survey everything a little closer, the door slammed itself shut.

Or at least I thought it did. There, standing just off to the right was what was left of Mrs. Williams’ body, peering at me. My heart began to race. I slowly crept towards the stairs, hoping not to attract its attention. Mrs. Williams’ shoulders hunched forward like an animal alert of its prey. In between her heaving pants, she crouched, lowering her face to the floor.

I waited. She was a statue, a gargoyle awaiting instructions.

Once I was sure she wouldn’t lunge at me I went to find Kyra. Down the corridor I could see her sitting on the edge of her bed, the door ajar. She was still as I came closer.

“Kyra?” I said.

“You can see us?” she said, her voice a harsh whisper. The cherry tree ink on her neck rippled, glowing a low purple. “How…” The sound this time was husky and sweet, a deeper decimal just below hers speaking along with her.

“I can help you, but you have to leave Kyra and her family alone!” I yelled, not meaning to appear so desperate before the spirit. “Where’s your people?” I said.

She pushed a curl behind her ear trying to wipe the water from Kyra’s eyes.

“Gone,” was her only reply.

She bunched up her skirt into clenched fists, tears falling into her lap. I looked up in time to catch a gathering of shadows down the hall around Mrs.Williams’ body. Apparently, the emotional state of the spirit had awoken its watch dog. The darkness scattered up the walls, frittering like insects, as the body moved towards us. Her leaden footsteps dropped onto the floorboards. I jumped to the other side of the room to throw open the window for a quick escape.

Mrs. Williams reached the sunlight, and somehow she smiled at me as sweetly as the first day we met in church. A little surprised I was in her daughter’s room, she crossed over the carpeting feebly when only moments ago she was sprinting.

Kyra perked up, transforming as if nothing was amiss. After she ushered her mom out, she happily bounced towards me with a mischievous smile on her round face.

The shades snapped shut, and instantly her expression hardened. Fog rose around us as she tiptoed to reach my face. She touched her forehead to my third eye, her warmth spreading as the fog filled the room.



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