by corissa haury
“Yes,” She says casually, eating her french toast doused in real American maple syrup and French butter, while both those continents slowly rotate by in the window behind her. My leg touches Alec’s, feeling the bump of his larger leg against my smaller one. It feels comforting, unlike what Maureen is saying while she gnaws on her bacon strips. “I heard that place had a really crazy couple in it before you. Heard that poor boy hanged himself.” She licks her fingers clean of bacon grease.
I squeeze a little closer to Alec. He puts his left hand on my thigh under the table and squeezes to comfort me. It will be okay, I think, trying not to remember the nightmares I had for the last three nights. My eyes are tired just thinking of it. I have barely slept. Is Maureen still talking? ”Something happened with her, I don’t remember what, and he was just so depressed he hung himself. So it’s no wonder you feel strange about that place.”
“No wonder,” I say, reaching for my decaf coffee and trying not to feel my clammy hands tremble against the hot ceramic. I watch the world turn in the big cafeteria window behind Maureen; I watch Europe go by while I sip my coffee with real American half and half from the Midwest. Maybe from Nebraska, where my great-grandmother lived. Alec squeezes my thigh again.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the apartment.” He says with a grin that makes me smile too, I cannot help it. He is so goddamn handsome, it really is unfair to the rest of the world. Er, universe. “The place is nice, actually.” He continues. “The windows on this thing are a lot bigger than I thought possible in space.”
“It is nice, isn’t it?” Maureen giggles, and swallows the last of her french toast. “Living in space is like being on vacation all the time, even when I have to work.” She laughs.
“Well duh,” I smile, glad to state the obvious and get back at her for scaring me about the apartment, “You’re a waitress on a top floor lounge. You have the best views.” Maureen giggles again, finishing her bacon.
“Oh, it’s a life!” She laughs, her bright eyes flashing. Well, I think, at least she’s happy being dumb. I have to console myself, though I know I am mean and she doesn’t deserve it. She has done something to me, though. The idea of living in a dead man’s apartment stays with me.
The nightmares have come to me for three nights, last night was the third, and every night I dream of a blond man and a redhead fighting in our apartment. It is a nice place, Alec is right, I think as we enter the apartment again.
The windows in the main living space look out on Earth and the distant planets beyond. The porthole in the adjacent bedroom makes that room private. The bathroom and the kitchen have no windows; they are utility rooms. The ceilings are not high, which makes me wonder how the man could have hung himself. Maybe the reason I have nightmares is because it was in the closet. I am sleeping in the room someone died in.
A few days ago when we arrived, I sensed that there was something off about the place. I can always sense those kinds of things, spiritual things Alec calls them. Make no mistake, I can feel bad energy. I can tell when someone is upset or not feeling well. I don’t know where I got this hypersensitivity. It is an advantage sometimes, and sometimes it is a curse. It makes me scare easily… Which is why I am not sure if I am just anxious right now or if I am sensing something unhappy about this bedroom.
“Do you think ghosts are real?” I ask Alec, as the door to the apartment room slides open at our approach. We slip inside and hang our jackets on the hooks near the door. Alec laughs.
“Do you mean, do I think this place has a ghost who hanged himself?” Alec smiles and approaches me. “No.” He reaches out to hold my hands. “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know.” I say. “I have been having those nightmares every night since we got here.” I emphasize the have. “I am a little scared. I am exhausted. I have barely slept.”
“Well, don’t worry.” He says, and pulls me in close. I can smell his body and his comforting largeness, all around me. Sometimes it does feel like he could cover me from the world. “I’ll fight off any ghosts that come knocking. Wake me up if something happens.” I laugh. “Besides, we have a lease for 6 months here. It’s not very long. You’ll settle in.”
“I don’t think that’s how it works.” I say. “With the ghosts?”
“It will be fine.” He smiles, and touches my cheek. He leans in for a kiss. I know where this is going, and I welcome the distraction.
That night I have the nightmares again. This time they escalate.
The redhead is screaming at the blond man as she exits the apartment with a packed bag in tow. The blond man is crying and angry, his eyes red as he screams back. Then he turns in the dream to look at me. My chest is constricting and I am scared as the man locks his eyes with mine. It is like he is there with me in that bedroom. The goosebumps on my spine, legs, and arms are like pins and needles. I open my eyes and look up into the pitch black darkness. I feel hands close in on my throat. Someone is here, I cannot see them, and they are not Alec.