E.N. Reyes

The September Editor's Pick Writer is E.N. Reyes

Please feel free to email E.N. at: ereyes@colum.edu


by E.N. Reyes

My parents told me that Mr. and Mrs. Davis lost their ten year-old son, but there’s always something about the dead that never likes to stay gone for long.

Three days after the Davis’s buried Timmy, he started roaming in our backyard. He slowly circled the area with his head hung low, and he constantly moaned and gurgled. I couldn’t make out his face, but I could tell it was him by the hoodie he always wore.

Timmy wasn’t the first one I was able to see. My problem started when I was an eight year-old boy, and I saw my Grandpa Louie in our front yard. I was plucking blades of grass when I noticed him. Just a day before I’d watched his casket get lowered and now he waved at me with his wrinkly smile, like it was all a bad dream.

I called out for my parents to see, but he was gone before they came, and I was scolded for trying to play a joke on them. Soon after other dead relatives, neighborhood pets, and neighbors all appeared around me for a short period of time.

Now it was Timmy's turn, but he was much noisier than all the others. Everyone that I saw appeared intact and, I guess you could say, peaceful, but Timmy walked around bloodied and gray as that afternoon he was discovered in the bushes. He gargled his own blood that bubbled from his neck and wailed out like he still felt pain. Unlike the others, Timmy did not look as I remembered him. 

Although I was practically used to the paranormal appearances in my back yard, Timmy’s moans became overwhelming. I had exams to study for and I’d been reading the same sentence for at least twenty minutes now. I felt bad for him and all, but I had things to do, so I went to my window and shouted, “Hey, shut up out there!”

I expected no reaction whatsoever because with Grandpa Louie, I had only managed to get a wave. But, like I said, Timmy was different. 

He stopped and turned toward my window looking straight at me. His mouth hung open, the hoodie casting shadows over his eyes. My chest tightened and I quickly shut the window and blinds. My heart raced and I felt myself begin to sweat. He saw me. Timmy actually saw me.

Suddenly, my door swung open and I automatically put up my fists. Nearly ready to swing, I was greeted by my mother's widened eyes that quickly turned ablaze.

“Who do you think you’re raising your hands at, young man?”

I quickly jammed my hands in my pockets, more worried about the wrath of my mother than upsetting some spirit.

“Sorry, Ma, you startled me,” I said, thinking that it would be better not to tell her I thought she was a ghost. Not like she would believe me anyway. She never has.

“That better be all that it was! Who were you screaming at?”

“Just some loudmouth kids. I need to study, get good grades, make it to college. You know.” I realized I was rambling, but I felt I looked relatively calm and collected on the outside. Inside, I was a wreck at the thought of the boy beyond my blinds.

“All right, Adam, I’ll leave you to it.” You could tell Ma figured something was up, but did not know exactly what.

“By the way, your dad and I are going out tonight,” she announced before closing the door behind her, leaving me with unease in my stomach and silence. I hadn’t heard Timmy make a noise since he looked at me. Something about the quietness of it all left me unable to focus on studying.

Ma and Dad stepped out at about 9 o’clock, so the sky was already that midnight blue, and the air was the kind of chilly that required you to wear a sweater. It's the kind of weather I usually like to walk in, but not when you have caught the attention of a ghost that was probably still lingering in your backyard.

After I was sure Mom and Dad had driven off safely, I picked up the house phone to call Ricky. Ricky’s my friend, the only person who has ever believed I could see a ghost, or ghosts in general. Ricky was a horror fanatic even when we first met at the age of six. He loved Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street and all those things. At that age I couldn’t even stomach spiders. I still can’t.

Ricky was over in ten minutes after I caught him up on the phone. He plopped himself on the couch with his feet on the coffee table, like it was his own home.

“So, you’re seeing that Davis kid in your yard?”

“Well, not ‘seeing.’ I saw him once, earlier today.”

“That’s cool. You weren’t close to him, were you?”

“I wouldn’t exactly say it’s cool. But I was never close to Timmy, not at all. My parents hung out with the Davis’s sometimes, but I never even talked to that kid,” I said, but when I really thought about it, I’ve seen so many dead that I have never spoken a word to before.
“And you didn’t do anything to piss him off when he was alive?”

I opened my mouth to speak, but I found myself second guessing my answer. Had I done something to piss him off? I couldn’t recall anything.

All I could think of was when I was playing street hockey with a group of boys my age and Timmy asked to join us, but we all said no because we didn't want to have to go easy on him in case he was a crybaby. It wasn’t only me though. Local asshole, Jack MacBride, from down the street was the one who called him a shithead and told him to scram, so if anything, he should be the one who got haunted.

“Looks like you don’t even know if Timmy got mad at you.” Ricky spoke up, breaking me from my thoughts.

“Would being there while someone else insulted him count?”

“Oh, for sure, you didn’t stick up him when kids bullied him. That’s major disrespect to him, so anyone who could’ve sided with him but didn’t is game for his wrath. Especially, if he’s a little psycho who plotted revenge on all the kids who bullied him.” Ricky suddenly gasped at his own train of thoughts. “Dude, a bully could’ve totally killed him.”

“Are you saying that Jack MacBride murdered Timmy?”

“Maybe no, or maybe yes. So far, the police don’t know who did it.”

All this time I’d been afraid of ghost Timmy, but I never felt afraid of a murderer. To be honest, I was so focused on my own life I never really sought out the whole story for him. I just knew he was found in the bushes and the rumor was homicide. Could homicide be more than rumor?

I shuddered at the thought and responded, hoping to put it out of my mind. “I think you watch too many scary movies.”

“With an ability like yours, I don’t think you watch enough.” He laughed and so did I.

From there, he convinced me to watch some cheesy old movie about some girl who could talk to ghosts to 'enlighten' me. It was his only way of getting me to watch those kinds of movies. I couldn't get past the characters running into obviously dangerous areas and the main girl tripping each time a chase scene occurred.

It was a good attempt to distract my mind, but all I could think of was Timmy hanging out in my backyard and his possible murderer in the neighborhood.

Ricky left around 11 o’clock, and even though the movie we watched was entirely cheesy, my heart couldn’t help but pound as I constantly looked over my shoulder. The house was silent, and that itself was enough to make my skin crawl.

Despite my eventful day, my eyes began to grow heavy. Usually I would stay up later and find something to occupy my mind because this was not a school night, but maybe if I just slept, morning would come, and Timmy would move on.

I don’t remember falling asleep, but at about one in the morning, I woke to a chill. I glanced over to my window through the grogginess. It was closed, but it felt like the AC was blasting in my room.

I was freezing inside. Pain shot through my bones as I reached to pull up the covers. I hoped that it would give me some relief, but no way. It felt like I was naked in a snowstorm.

As I shivered in bed, I felt something weigh itself down on the next to me, like someone had sat down. I knew it had to be Timmy.

It was.

I peeked.

Silently he was staring at me.

My heart pounded in my chest as if it were telling me to run, but the cold in my bones wouldn’t allow me any movement, and despite feeling like I was going to freeze to death, I was sweating rivulets down my face and back. All the times I had seen ghosts, they had never seen me.

Timmy not only saw me, but he knew where my bedroom was.

I tried to duck under my covers. I knew what would happen if I looked at him: it would be like all those scary movies. He would become some gruesome looking thing that I wouldn't even recognize as once a human. I would scream—and I would be the next person to be found dead in the bushes.

If I don’t look, he’ll leave.

I knew what would happen if I did look.

If I don’t look, he’ll leave. I kept repeating it in my head, hoping it was true.

“Look,” he whispered in a strained voice.

I gasped, affirming to Timmy that I could hear him. Never in my life had I heard a ghost speak. I’d always figured when someone died, so did their voice.

“Look…” his voice whispered again, so with what little strength I had, I turned my head.

For the first time I could see his face and the empty eye sockets. I wanted to scream, had to scream, and tried to scream, but he jammed his fingers into my mouth. My tongue tasted pennies on his fingers and the gritty texture of dirt under his fingernails.

His grip was like the jaws of a hungry predator. I teared up and gagged when his fingers touched the back of my throat, but each time I tried to pull away he reeled me in deeper. The feeling of his dead cold flesh felt so real I wonder if he actually was a ghost.

“Parents,” he managed to say through wettish-sounding gargles, looking at me with those two black holes. His voice was so quiet I could barely make it out, but I got it. Does he mean his parents?


Parents kill me…

Timmy’s parents killed him.

He slowly pulled his fingers from my mouth, and I gasped for air. Before I could ask anything more, he was gone, like he had never been here, but that metallic taste and worse still lingered on my tongue and throat.

All this time I’d thought the Davis’s were mourning their son.

They weren’t.

The warmth was returning to my body, but I was unable to sleep. Even though a ghost, or a zombie, or a whatever just came in my room and physically touched me, I was more worried about the murderers that slumbered next door.  

Elena Reyes is a recent graduate at Columbia College with a BA in creative writing. She lives in Chicago with her family and enormous pile of books. This is her first piece to ever be published, and she hopes to keep putting stories out in the world.