By Shuvojit Karmakar
After a long day at work I was walking home as usual, while looking at my phone. It was raining hard, and I was trying to text my friends to remind them about my birthday party tomorrow; while also holding an umbrella, and being veiled by a scarf as the cold wind blew. As I was walking carelessly and looking at my phone, I tripped over a piece of scantling and fell hard on the ground. A few people looked down at me with derision, laughed, and walked away. I was trying to get back on my feet when suddenly a hand offered me help, so I grabbed it and stood up. As I was about to thank the person, I looked at the person’s face and realized that it was my middle school friend. As she realized the same, she vehemently pulled me into a big hug and said, “OH MY GOD!!”
We had been best friends since middle school, and we lost contact after college. People always thought that we were in love with each other, and called us “love birds” every time they saw us together. But it was pretty clear to me that we were lifelong friends, not love birds. I would go to sleep at night and I would have dreams of us getting married. But the surroundings were dark and we wore black clothing instead of white. There were candles instead of lights. I would wake up in the morning and be confused. I had heard my family members talk about prophecies like seeing yourself getting married in your dreams, or you eating in your dreams, were bad luck. However I never really believed in any omens like these becoming true, or even things like deja-vu. One time I heard my aunt saying that she saw a snake in her dream, and that it meant a new family member. A few weeks later she got married. All I thought of that was that it was just a coincidence.
So I asked her to come to my house to spend some time together after us being so long apart. Since it was Friday, with no work tomorrow, she agreed. We talked about our childhood memories as we kept walking. We had reached a vantage point atop a hill when I pointed to show her my house. She smiled, and we continued walking. She grabbed my arm and placed her head on my shoulder. We reached my house and I took out my key and struggled with my door. For some reason, it was difficult to open, maybe because of the cold. I stepped in, but no one was in the house and it was pretty dark. I tried turning on the lights but they didn’t turn on. Maybe because it was raining and the power went out. So I lit a candle and placed it on a table, then told her to sit while I got some snacks from the kitchen.
She sat, and I looked out the rainy window and saw that my neighboring houses had their lights on. I went to try the main light switch, but nothing happened. I felt that it might seem trifling to investigate any further to see what happened to the lights, while leaving my guest alone. So I walked to the kitchen where I found a note on a shelf saying, “Out for shopping, we’ll be late.” I grabbed some Lay’s Barbecue chips that were laying around, and some coffee. I thought, “Coffee? At night? Whatever.” When I placed these in front of her I noticed that she still ate her chips by placing them between her index and middle fingers, and that she drank her coffee, even from a mug, sticking her pinky out. Nothing had changed about her, and we started talking, in the warm light by the candle.
My watch beeped at 8 p.m, as it always does every hour, and I noticed that three hours had gone by since we started talking. I didn’t even notice that the candle had melted almost to its bottom and was flickering. Suddenly, I heard our land phone ring upstairs. I told her to relax on the sofa while I answered the phone.
I went up the stairs, walked into the room blindly groping for the phone in the dark. I picked it up and said, “Hello?” but heard no reply. I held the phone to my ear for some moments, still nothing. So I put down the phone. As I was about to leave the room, it rang again. I again picked up the phone and said, “Hello?” It was my friend who I texted couple of hours ago. He asked me what I was doing and I replied that I am spending time with my old friend. He replied that she died in a car accident three years ago while on a vacation. I told him he was raving. He said he had proof, and told me that he was sending me her funeral pictures. My cell phone beeped in my pocket, with a picture message from him. I pressed the message and saw her face all pale lying in the casket. I swiped to the next picture and saw a funeral parlor was all burned. Still holding the phone, he replied that her funeral was not completed, an accident at the funeral place had burned everything. It hadn’t been a proper funeral, and her soul could still be wandering around.
Hearing this, I froze in place. I couldn’t even move. It was as if I was suffering from sleep paralysis. In that moment I was too afraid to go and check on her. After awhile I came to my senses, and told him to hold while I went to check downstairs. He told me not to. I didn’t feel like reasoning with him. I put the phone on hold, walked out of the room and saw that the candlelight was no more. I went down the stairs calling her name: no answer. I went towards the sofa and patted to feel for her, but the sofa was empty. I turned to go back up the stairs when I felt an icy cold hand slowing grabbing on my neck.