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And Mira, Part 1: The Chalky Child
I am telling you this story not by my memory, but in my memory. I must ask you to try to hear my thoughts, take whatever cues, and fill in the blanks. Like a dream you wake up and remember only part-way, and my whole life is like that. Because I cannot talk, at least not in the way you would understand. I do have language, but my spoken language doesn’t make sense yet to most people. While I don’t speak many words, I hear them and understand what many of them mean. I have a good sense of what has happened, but simply cannot tell you my story with the spoken word.
Because, you see, I am 18 months old.
The world turns and its happenings occur around me over and over. I process what the adults say. I interpret what the other children do. Yet I am unable to speak about what has happened to a child I knew not long ago. I can only remember, and hope that you too can find sense in my thoughts and my memories.
My very first memory is of a crying child. Not the child in my story. Another. The sobbing baby might even be me, but I’m not sure. I’m certainly quite unpleasant, if it is in fact me. This child is pale, chalky white, marred and miserable. I’ve never heard such a cry. Not from myself, or from any of my friends.
Well, I don’t suppose I have friends, but the other children in the nursery school. The truth is I do not like them very much, since they spend their days and mine stealing my favorite toys, and finding new ways to brutalize each other. They can’t talk either, and their thoughts, whimpers and memories are all focused on food, their mothers, and pulling hair. Often mine.
But I never have heard a cry from any of those little beasts that is the same as the child in that brief early memory. It is the cry of a trapped animal, sweet yet sad. It is angered, frightened, and frightening. It evokes pity, yet implies flight. An anguished, horrifying cry. While you desire to extinguish the poor child’s pain, there is also a foreboding to it. Attempting any sort of comfort to this little one would certainly lead to death. It is a fleeting memory of a chalky child in the process of having soiled pants removed and changed by an adult, who clearly hates and fears it.
Nothing in the chalky child’s features is any clue. In fact, there are no prominent facial features at all. But, memories are like that, and the fog is thick. The grey-white skin is barely visible through the thick fog of my memory. The skin underneath the diaper is the only to have any color, red and bleeding from the apparent digestive incompetence of this pitiful child. Miserable…and that cry! Part of me perceives that it isn’t the pain of the bleeding skin or rash that causes this child’s pain. It is the pain of having been born at all. An abomination born into a life of pity, and hatred by all in view. This child, will never have comfort, and never know love. Not even from its own mother.
That is all from my first memory.
I no longer see that child when my eyes close, and rarely believe it to be myself. Left to my quietest thoughts, sometimes, alone in a crib, I hear the cry still, while even awake. Or sometimes, I hear it faintly in alone times with Mother, when she sings to me. Mother seemingly never hears, never responds. Wait, did I see her eyebrow twitch in that moment? No. No. Perhaps not.
My father is, or was, a hero. I’m not sure what that means. I believe his job was to kill, but that he died while doing his job. I’m not sure he is actually dead, but I don’t remember seeing him or ever meeting him. My mother says he wept uncontrollably the day I was born. And she says he adored me above all things. And then he was gone. I remember feeling that love, even though I have no actual memory or picture of him in my life.
There is a photo among our few personals in the library. It sits on the highest shelf, bookended by Christie and Mitchell, and a beautiful album adorned with two large “M’s”, the first beginning to wear on the right side. The photo is of mother, wearing a beautiful white dress next to a hopelessly handsome man in a suit. I imagine that beautiful man in the photo, adoring my mother, must be my father.
That’s most of what I know and remember about my family. There is so much more to my story.
As much as I’ve absorbed over my little time on the planet, there is little I’ve been able to organize into what makes sense. Most of my memories are from the nursery school. Disorganized, those memories are rich and plenty. They make more sense to a child my age. The children at the nursery do bizarre, unusual things, but they are the bizarre, unusual things that children do so well. And the behaviors of the adults caring for us are all the things a caring adult will do. Intuitive to me. When adults talk to each other, it’s about guns and cinema and nasties and nations. But when adults at nursery talk to children, they say “Ellie, would you like your meal”, or “Bing, do not bite the other children” or “Andrew, give the toy back to Mira”, or “Good morning Mira”…
Oh. I suppose I’ve neglected to “Introduce” myself. My name is Mira.
It seems. Most people call me Mira, though I’m not sure what it means or whether it is my first or my last name. Some other people refer to Mother by that name, calling her “Ms. Mira” or “Mother Mira”, or some such. Hard to say. Harder to remember. The adults at nursery just say “Mira” while looking at me and attempting to give me direction. So my name must be Mira. The other children, well, they do not call me anything.
Ellie is always hungry. She only eats. She is a sweet, pretty girl, who rarely causes a fuss. But she stays in place much of the time, and waits for the world to interact with her. This of course rarely happens unless one of the other children runs by and pulls her hair. That, sadly, happens a lot. The adults seem to forget about her much of the time. I stop by her at least once in a while, to give her a quick smile or a hug. I would never want to be forgotten by all of humanity for hours each day.
Andrew is a funny little boy that only wants to do whatever I’m doing. He is the closest to a friend I think I have here. More factually, I suppose, is that Andrew likes to take whatever I am playing with. He doesn’t hurt me, and he isn’t mean. He just takes things from me. He often smiles at me, and will even give me a small hug, all while he’s absconding with my playthings. I do think he likes me because he tries to say my name. Or, it’s possible that he’s lazy and is just saying “mama”. He is the youngest in his family, with three older siblings, all girls. Maybe that’s why he likes me. He says something which sounds like Mira and smiles and hugs me. That’s why I like Andrew.
There is also a set of twins. I don’t know their names. They confuse me.
Then there’s Bing.
Bing, I do not like. The adults call him “Beautiful Baby Bing” or “Baby Boy Bing” but they should call him “Biting Bing”. That is all Bing does, is bite all of the children in nursery school, every day. The adults get angry with him when he bites one of us, but not for very long. Bing is in fact a beautiful blond boy with a cute name, and no adult can stay mad at him. So he simply never stops biting the rest of us children. He waddles around with a little hop, with his little grin, and never says a word. He just waddles, hops into their arms, and grins. And he bites. Us.
There is another reason Bing the Bastard won’t stop biting, I think. (I heard Mother call him that once. It made all the adults laugh. I don’t know what that word means, actually). I think another reason Bastard Bing won’t stop biting is that his mother is the mean, angry type. Mother uses another word for her that also starts with “B”. It might be her name.
This woman hates life, hates us children, hates our parents, hates the adults in nursery, and in all likelihood hates Bing too. When the adults in nursery ask her for help with his behavior, she only yells at them, embarrasses and criticizes them in very personal ways. She hates us all. I’m pretty certain it makes her happy when he bites one of us. She certainly thought I deserved it when he bit my face a few weeks ago. She said so out loud. She said something about Mother, and me, and then laughed a laugh that wasn’t at all a human laugh but sick. Her laugh was miserable like the chalky child’s cry.
She laughed that day. I went home that night and cried. I don’t usually cry after something happens. I’m just not that type of toddler. Bing and his horrid mother hurt parts of me that I cannot see with their words and that laugh. Bing had bitten my cheek, and it bled, leaving a thin line of open skin close to my eye. Mother was angry. With me! She said that I should never allow this to happen to me. She was certain I would never be able to perform some function in front of a camera, whatever that meant. I was bad, and I would never be beautiful. Bing caused Mother to be angry with me and that hurt in a way that made me cry, all night, in my little bed.
Bing made me bad, so I thought. I was a disappointment already in my young life. Bing and his B-mother must be evil. I wanted them to die, which I also didn’t truly understand. When I’m older I will understand that that isn’t a nice thing to wish on people. I didn’t wish them to die out of hate or fate, but out of fairness. My father, the man in the photo, died. And he was good. Why should he die, but they get to live, biting and spreading filth in the nursery and in the world. I would never have really wished my father’s fate on another if I truly understood. I just knew he was good, death was bad, and Bing and his mother were bad. Fairness. Not fate.
I finally found sleep with those thoughts, deeply and firmly planted in my memory, along with the cry of that horrible child. You may be surprised to learn that here my story truly begins. It’s about Bing, and what happened to him. Because that was the last day Bing bit anyone. Ever. And I’m not sure if fate or fairness was the cause. What happened to Bing, the very next day, and each day forward for nearly a month was…
He never bit or tried to harm any of the children in nursery again. He never again victimized poor stationary Ellie. He stopped attempting to consume the confusing twins. He smiled at Andrew and me and didn’t try to hurt us. He still wobbled and hopped and grinned. Now even the children could love sweet Beautiful Bing. And it wasn’t just what he stopped doing, but what he began from that day forward. He actually started being nice to the other children.
He would bring Ellie bits of food when she was hungry, even sharing his own when there wasn’t enough. He learned how to open the pantry to get biscuits and an occasional snack cake for her! Ellie was happy every day and smiled more than ever I saw her. And not only at meals, but all the time. She would get up and chase him all through the day, laughing, catching him and hugging him.
He wouldn’t let Andrew take my toys away either. He wouldn’t hurt Andrew, but just took the toys back. He would smile, and give me hugs and kisses. It always made me nervous when he’d try to kiss my cheek, because I was afraid he would bite. But he never would. And Bing learned to say “Mira”. I secretly knew he loved Ellie though.
I am thinking of a B-word for lazy old Andrew…
Bing never bit the twins again. He didn’t really play with them either. None of us did very much I’m afraid. I think they confused him too. They’re a little creepy.
Bing, Sweet Bing was suddenly a good boy! And everyone, including the adults in nursery, and all of our parents, just loved Bing that much more! They would all tell his mother about what a good boy he was, how nice he was to the children, and how wonderful we all thought he was. Sadly, Bing’s mother did not change. As always, she would just laugh and defile our ancestors yet again. She didn’t see any difference and she didn’t care to.
Nearly a month.
Then, after those few wonderful weeks, Bing’s miserable mother seemed to care. One morning she came into nursery in tears. She came without threats. She came without insults, and without her miserable laugh. She howled, a much less bestial version of her miserable laugh. I’m sorry to say I liked it better. It was easier not to hate her, or want her dead, acting so human. I had no idea.
What confused us is when the adults at nursery started to cry. What a sight! The children in nursery calm and quiet, while every adult carried on like someone took their favorite toy! They said strange things, like “but he was never weak” or “he had no cough” and “he couldn’t have had a fever I would have noticed”. They were all confused, all sobbing, all looking to each other, and sometimes to us, for comfort and an answer to an unsolvable puzzle.
Without any warning, any symptoms, something called pneumonia had taken sweet Bing in his crib. Fate. Fairness. Perhaps both. Ellie, seeing Bing’s mother, looked around for him to play. Somehow, she understood, seeing the adults cry and Bing missing, that she would not see him again. So she sat down where she was, staring ahead, eventually shedding tears she could not explain. I don’t remember when she finally moved again.
I didn’t cry in my crib that night. True, I would miss Bing, and the wonderful boy he had become. I would miss hearing him say my name. But I remembered my father, who also died unfairly. He too was wonderful and he too adored me. That’s fair, and that’s how it goes.
Bing had been nice, a friend to all, suddenly becoming a giving person to everyone in his world. Then he was lost. But Bing, sweet Bing received his just reward for his behavior up to that point. Fate, or fairness. Hard to say. Bing’s mom changed however. She finally became human. She properly began hating herself more than the world and everyone who had seen fit to love her child through his short life, both bad and good. Fate had replaced her hate for us. What a thing to have to happen, in order for one so foul to become human.
At that, actually, I cried a little, saddened at the thought that some adults needed such a motivation to become decent members of humanity. I hoped I would never become that way. And as I quietly sobbed, I heard the pitiful cry of the chalky child, for a moment, then drifted away to sleep.
And Mira, Part 2: Smoke
“Hello Smoke,” I giggle.
“Don’t call me that. That isn’t my name…”
“Well then, what is your real name? I very well must call you something!” I assert.
“Oh…well…sorry…I..I just can’t…”
“But I don’t understand why you need to call me Smoke! It makes no sense, and it cannot be anything like my real name.”
He says this without being irritated, because I’m right. He is unable to share his real name with me at this time. My nickname for him makes little sense, but is a mantle of mystery he has to admit he enjoys.
It had been seven years since I heard the cry of the chalky child. I still remember the image of the pale child in pain, but no longer hear the terrible suffering in the back of my memory. Or in my dreams. He had remained silent for many years after the passing of baby Bing. It almost felt as if both children had suffered and died simultaneously. The chalky child no longer found a voice after the unexpected passing of my childhood friend from pneumonia. The cry was palpable that night, almost as if mourning with me, then went away with as little warning as it came. For seven years the piteous child and the agonizing cry was absent. Until recently.
Earlier this month, in the twilight between awareness and sleep, he began speaking to me. At first I was frightened, of course. But it did not take long to realize that this voice must be the miserable baby now grown, and able to speak. He, too has replaced his cry with words I can hear, and respond to. I am certain that this is the chalky child of my infancy. We are known and unknown, strangers and friends, yet unseen to each other. He seems unaware of who he is, and does not know who I am, other than the one soul that can hear him, and speak to him.
As a baby, I thought the chalky child was even a part of my own mind, perhaps an even earlier memory of myself. But, Smoke has the voice of a boy so I dimiss that fully. I’ve thought, too, on occasion, that he may be the spirit of sweet baby Bing back to haunt me, or bite me, or just lost in the next life. I’m not so quick to dismiss that, even though it is unlikely. The chalky child has been in my thoughts long before death had taken Bing.
So, impossibly, it seemed that I have friended a phantom in my quietest moments, most likely the auditory incarnation of a tormented baby from my memory! A lonely lost soul I call “Smoke”.
“You see, Smoke, you can’t tell me your name. Or you won’t! But I must call you something when I address you, when we speak. And, you see, I remember you from when you were just a baby. We never met, of course, but I knew you, and saw you, and…”
I pause, not wanting to bring up the constant cries of agony I remember. He doesn’t seem to know much about himself, and I don’t want to upset him. If I make Smoke angry, he may leave me for another seven years or more! Though I have many friends, I enjoy having this secret friend, and I do not want him to go away. Particularly if by some chance it is indeed Bing. What fun!
“I don’t remember much of course, as I too was just a baby. But every time I saw you, it was as if through the fog of my deepest memory. In some ways I felt as though I was seeing you then, while at the same time as a distant thought. Which is silly, because of course babies don’t have deep memories and distant thoughts. But the constant was the dim fog separating us from existing at the same time, in the same room, or together in the same dream. So I call you Smoke! If you prefer I could call you Fog? Cloud, perhaps? Gas Boy?”
“No, gosh no, don’t call me that. No. Fine. Smoke it is. I…well actually I like it. Well, what shall we talk about today?”
“Oh, Smoke, you’re silly, I have to go to school now. I wish you could go with but that never works. I’d love to talk more, but, I’m quite sure it’s time to wake up now.”
And, it is. As every morning, I awake, alone, in daze and haze. Unlike a dream, though, it isn’t just a vivid memory I have of speaking with Smoke. It is as though it just occurred, while I was awake. As though it were real. I’m sure Smoke is some kind of spirit, perhaps of a child that died during war, or of pneumonia like Bing, or simply another child spared of another day as the child of somebody like Bing’s mother. Thankfully this ghost or whatever doesn’t seem to mean any harm to me. So, like most mornings I awake, very refreshed despite having spent much of my night in otherworldly conversation, and prepare for school.
I love school. I love to read, and learn about things of the world. At the beginning of class each day we pledge allegiance to our flag. “One Nation. Indivisible.” Teacher calls attendance in order, finally getting to my name. “Mira Mirras!” I say “present”.
That’s me. I’m Mira.
So you see my confusion when I was young. Mira. Mira Mirras. That’s my name. Mira was both my first and last name. What a stupid thing for my parents to do. And I had to go to school to figure that out. My first year out of nursery school I thought all of the adults had a drunken stutter! It explains the big book in our library adorned with two “M’s”, though. The first M has worn ever more each year at its farthest right leg, but it’s mine. It’s my book of photos and snapshots from my life.
In school, we study mathematics philosophies for a little while each day, along with reading, and handwriting. In Social Studies, we are learning about World War II and the split of Germany. This is probably my favorite class! I remember Mother telling me we had some distant relatives in Germany. At one point, there were a number of people that needed food and such airlifted to them. What an adventure! I’m sure it was very difficult for them though. The German people are not always seen in a very favorable light, often considered gruff and harsh, and people do not speak well of them these days. Many people do not like Germany. I think I’m too young to understand.
I’m still friends with both Andrew and Ellie. Andrew (I will never call him ‘Andy’ though he prefers it), is still my closest friend. He was before, even when Bing was being so nice. But let’s face it, Bing was nice, Andrew stole my toys, and I liked the attention from both of them. Andrew didn’t seem to like Bing very much at the time, but now we both remember him. Fondly. Sadly.
You may remember the twins from my days in nursery school. They confused me horribly! They grew up, and became a little less confusing. There is a boy and a girl, named Frank and Kelly. They are still funny, as they seem to know what the other is thinking and feeling all the time. Strange. I understand that it’s normal for twins to be very sensitive to each other’s feelings and experiences. They have a lot of jokes and the like that only they laugh at. It’s a little annoying, but I see why they enjoy having that understanding with each other. I might enjoy that, having a sister that knew everything I was feeling! It would be nice if Andrew would occasionally guess what I’m thinking too.
Sorry, that’s another topic.
Kelly and Frank are good friends to us, but they aren’t always good people.
Kelly is very energetic, perhaps a little hyper. She is pretty in the way that you could make a boy pretty, since she still looks like Frank. He is also pretty, though I would never say that to him. Kelly is very social and will be the one to invite others into a conversation. She works hard to get everyone to like her, but is easily wounded. She likes a lot of attention, but only when it’s positive attention. Her grand personality sometimes makes others feel small, and they let her know it. When that happens, she won’t talk to you for weeks. And when Kelly doesn’t talk to you, Frank does not talk to you either.
When not acting as though wounded, Kelly is very sweet, however. It is hard for her to be away from Frank, her twin. She tries very hard to act with us as though she is just a girl, one of us. But it’s a struggle, I can tell, and it makes me want to try to like her more. She sits with Ellie and me beneath large, majestic trees, and shares secrets, and plays silly games. She wants so desperately to be a girlfriend, and with us is very kind. She seems to only be able to share that side of herself with Ellie and me, though. The rest of the world simply keeps her from her friends, or more importantly from Frank. For that, she often seems to hate the world. Mostly she seems lonely and scared. That makes me sad, because I like Kelly.
Frank is a bully. I’m not saying that it’s entirely unprovoked, but he is. Outside of Kelly’s influence, he is quiet, helpful, and very kind. He is in many ways Kelly’s opposite. Yet they’re twins. And because of that sensitivity, Frank disappears whenever she is upset, and “Angry Boy version of Kelly” appears. Suddenly the kind, quiet Frank becomes as the direct mouthpiece to Kelly’s emotions, and he will lash out on her behalf. He cannot help but to be her protector, whether warranted or not. One of the younger boys in school pulled his sister’s hair earlier in the year. I think the young guy actually liked Kelly, and just didn’t know how to talk to her. So he pulled her hair, then ran away. Boys do that. Except Andrew. I’d kill him. He knows it.
I’m sorry. I did it again. I seem to be dwelling on Andrew.
About a week later, Frank starts beating the younger boy up, every day before school. He punches him in the head, sometimes his ears, mouth and nose, and twist his hands. The adults seemed not to notice. He shakes the little boy and threatens him. Some days he doesn’t even hurt him, but will gaze at him with such menace that the little boy wets his pants. One day he bloodied the poor kid’s nose and I thought for sure Frank would get in trouble. But the smaller kid told a story protecting Frank. Because he was scared, and because he liked Kelly and wanted her to like him too. Only he is afraid of Frank the bully.
That part makes me angry, because otherwise Frank is a mild, friendly guy. I don’t like that Kelly puts him up to that sort of behavior. Frank is very kind to Ellie and me. He likes Andrew a lot. I think he would also be good friends with Bing, if Bing were still alive. I think we all would. Frank is kind and helpful to our entire group, and we are immune to any bullying, even when we are angry with Kelly. He is often kind to children outside of our group as well, unless they make Kelly upset. That is Frank’s main fault. He forgets himself and his humanity when it comes to Kelly. I’m concerned that she will get him into real trouble someday.
You may remember Ellie. I saved her for last. She is absolutely my best girlfriend, every day since nursery. She has grown to be very smart, and pretty. She still has a large appetite, and she no longer chases boys. They chase her! I love Ellie, and frankly so does everyone else. She took Bing’s kindness to her, and shares it regularly with everyone else in her world. But Ellie, every day since Bing was taken from her, is sad. She doesn’t look sad, but I can see the missing piece of her soul, that only a friend can see. She shares the very best of herself with others. She saves her tears for me. In many ways I’m grateful to be that person for her. Almost like a twin.
Each day, Andrew walks me home. He doesn’t carry my books or anything. We just walk together because he lives so close. We are very good friends, though, and we talk about everything. He talks about a lot of things I could care less about, but I listen. It’s the least I can do, since he seems to sincerely care about everything I have to say.
Sometimes we talk about Frank, and whether we should make him stop beating up the smaller boy. We both agree that it’s probably Kelly putting him up to it. We both like the twins, especially Frank, when he isn’t wasting time being a bully. It’s very difficult to keep associating with him when he is harming a smaller boy though. Sometimes I’m even embarrassed to admit that I know him. Every day Andrew and I agree that the very next day we will make him stop. And every next day comes and we are too cowardly to do actually do anything or say anything, to Frank. That fact shames me.
On most days after school, I make soup, wait for Mother to get home from work, and watch TV. It’s a little set showing the programs of the day in black and white. Not impressive. I think we will be able to get one in color someday though! Mom and I enjoy the quiz shows. The one where the host tugs his ear and the contestants play charades is our favorite! Mom and I act out the charades and try to guess along with the show. We both stink at it and laugh at each other a lot. These moments let me know that I have a very good life, for which I’m grateful.
Mother and I are very close. I’m all she has. I’m told my father is dead. I used to look at the photo on the bookshelf next to my photo album, the photo with Mother and the handsome man, and dream. It turns out though, that man in that photo is not my father. Mother doesn’t have a photo of Father. She feels bad about that.
The man in the photo is the man she married after she found out my father had died. Mother says that she loved him almost as much as Father, and that he was very good to her and me for a while. She says he loved me almost as much as Father did. Yet, despite that, he left. He’s gone. What’s funny is that I never met either Father, or my step-father, and have only a photo of the latter. Mother assures me that they both loved me very much. Something must have gone terribly wrong for him to leave the wonderful woman that is Mother. I have a hard time loving either of them back.
On a particular day, Andrew and I finally resolve to end Frank’s bullying of the little boy by the next morning. For good. His terrorizing of the poor kid is just too much to bear. The child sits for hours, under a tree, just shaking and shaking, afraid to enter the school that day. Today, his teacher finally went out and collected him before lunch. He said he fell asleep under that tree, to protect Frank. His fresh wound behind his ear barely noticeable. As nervous as I am to confront Frank, I think it’s just too much to witness day after day. And for once, Andrew was angry enough to fight Frank himself if needed. We’ll talk to Frank first, of course, but if that doesn’t work…
It turns out we never had to. The very next morning, out of nowhere, Frank went up to the little boy, and apologized to him. Profusely, and with emotion. Strange. He was truly ashamed of his actions. Not only that, but he promised to protect him from anyone else that would ever try to hurt him the rest of the school year. And, he apologized on behalf of Kelly. The three all became very good friends. In fact, the younger boy has struck an especially close friendship with Kelly, who he likes. She, in turn, started being very nice to him, walking home with him from school every day. Just like Andrew and me, though I think she, um, likes the kid. And he carries her books for her every day now. Not like Andrew and me…lucky girl!
I’m sorry. I really need to stay on track…
I have always found Kelly to be a little unforgiving, so this was a surprise. She wasn’t a bully like Frank, but without her influence, Frank was more likely to be a close friend to someone than she. She is less likely to forgive a past slight, thought that doesn’t seem to be the case now. Frank, quietly, continues to be the young boy’s protector, as well as a good friend to everyone else. She is the same ebullient girl she always was, but without the easy wounding and vengeful tactics. They are a strange pair, each with two different sides, not quite complementary. Now, they are both showing their very best sides, great students and even better people. This has gone on for nearly a month. This feels familiar somehow…
Andrew and I have decided to ask Frank what is responsible for the big change. Something has definitely happened, but what? We asked him to walk with us after school. Since his sister spends so much time with the other boy, he is happy for the company, and agrees. We walk a few blocks, keeping the conversation very casual. Then, at the right time, I ask Frank directly what has made him decide to stop bullying the little boy, and to befriend him. What is responsible for this wonderful change that makes us all love him, and Kelly? Frank stops, and looks at his feet, as if deciding between two different answers. He finally does decide, and his mouth begins to form what appears to be the word “Kelly”.
But before he can utter that or any other word, he suddenly sinks to his knees. Tears began to well, slowly at first. Then, with a sudden frightening twist to his features, the tears fall freely, and he weeps. He has gone completely mad, crying and whimpering out of control, his face a mixture of torment and fear. We try to comfort him, but he can’t stop and he shudders and pushes us away. Any approach brings ever louder screams. The his eyes glaze and he appears to forget we are even there with him at all.
After nearly ten minutes of persistent unexplained despair, Frank slowly lifts his head and howls. It is a miserable cry, as though an animal were caught in a trap, breathing its last. We are afraid that Frank will certainly die before our very eyes. But, Frank does not die. Immediately following the horrible scream, he is finally able to mouth the word, “Kelly” as he intended before, but this time with strength and certainty. Then, he stands, and runs, as if from a fire.
We follow him. Frank is not a sure runner, but he seems to have conjured the speed of a puma, knowing precisely where he is going. He turns quick corners, making it diffifult to keep up with him, and runs back toward school. Just before reaching the storehouse of education we all share, he rapidly bends his path, choosing a quiet block, with only a few houses to boast. It was the block that the little boy lived on, the poor kid that he used to brutalize on a daily basis. And there, in the middle of the street is that boy, beneath a badly damaged old tree, huddled down over a body, himself a mess of tears.
It is Kelly’s body. She is dead.
Frank freezes, viewing Kelly’s broken body. After empty moments pass, the boy is able to ramble a few words. Kelly has apparently been crushed by an automobile, caught between it and the old tree. She never had a chance, dead even before falling to the ground. She must have thrown up her hands in protection, as they are badly damaged. The vehicle caused damage to her head as she flew forward, separating a part of her ear at the lobe. The missing piece is never found among the splinters of the old dead tree. No small boy could cause this kind of damage to another human, or a tree for that matter. Only a machine could have broken her in this way.
Neighbors finally notice the commotion and start to pour out to help and bring order to the situation. No one, including the boy had seen any car speeding down that road. In fact, very few cars ever travel this road. It isn’t unheard of, but it is rare. One must have travelled this street on this day at great speed. And at the very moment of the accident, and each second leading up to it, Frank had felt Kelly, his twin’s, fear, her pain and her death. And despite the confusion and bedlam, the many voices and the many questions, I hear the subtle cry of the chalky child. And it is not in my head.
The little boy went into shock. He didn’t speak the rest of the school year, until eventually his parents just keep him home. He will be absent from school entirely until many years later. That night, in my bed, I didn’t cry. I couldn’t cry for Kelly. I could feel sad for Frank, and for the little boy, I suppose. It was true, Kelly had turned around, becoming a good friend, and a good person. But, as you know, fate and fairness and all. Kelly, I’m sure, received her ultimate reward for her behavior the many months prior.
Yet, even as I say that, and truly believe it, it rings a little more hollow than with Bing. I decide to talk with Smoke about it when next we speak.
“Smoke, why do bad things happen to good people?”
A pause. A loud one.
“Like Kelly?” he asks.
Another pause. Even louder…
“They don’t. Kelly was not a good person. She was not good for Frank. She made him hurt people.”
I didn’t know how he could possibly know that. That’s uncomfortable.
“Smoke, how do you know that?” I ask.
“Bing,” responds the ghost, “wasn’t a good person either. He hurt people. He hurt you.”
I now know for sure that Smoke is not Bing, but was suddenly afraid to know any more. I want to wake up. Wake up!
“Mira, I want to know my name. My real name. You must help me. Then people will call me by my name.”
“Smoke?” I plead.
This silence actually makes no noise. It is very uncomfortable.
“Yes?” he says without any emotion.
“Do you know how Kelly died?”
And I think he is gone. It is time to wake again. I suddenly shiver before deciding to open my eyes to the new day. But I cannot. My eyes are not closed. I am already awake, and morning has not yet come. My eyes had never closed, and I had never slept. I have the whole night yet before me. And in the darkness, I hear his voice, quiet, calm, yet determined.
“I want to know my name.”
And Mira, Part 3: Andrew Lost
I decide today to look through my photo album. It’s been a while. Every time I open the book, the “M” on the cover, the first one, wears down more of its dangling right leg. There are two large “M’s” on the cover, signifying my name, Mira Mirras.
Yes, that’s my name. Yes, it’s redundant.
I don’t want to damage the cover any further, so I rarely pull it from the bookshelf where it sits next to a photo of Mother and my former step-father. When I do take down the album, I’m quite careful. For twelve years I’ve managed to fill this book with brief glimpses of my life’s endeavors, keeping careful to protect my nameplate. Today, I am as cautious as ever, but intent on viewing each photo in detail for clues to the ghost that haunts me.
My ghost is “Smoke”, or so I call him as he doesn’t know (or won’t tell me) his real name. He started as a foggy memory from my infancy, so initially when he began speaking to me at age nine, I simply called him Smoke. It sounded better than “Smog”. I didn’t realize at the time that he was a ghost, as truthfully I could very well have been mad, hearing voices, attributing them to lost friends long gone. But, I am quite certain that the unhappy chalky child from my early memories is now grown, and speaking to me as a grown boy. He no longer demonstrates the agony of his difficult young childhood, and at one time presented as a secret friend.
Now, I’m not so sure. True, there haven’t been any further deaths, and Smoke has been nothing but kind, even funny on occasion. But I cannot forget the night that Kelly died, and how much he seemed to know about her, inferring that her death was justified. He seems to know more about how she died than he lets on, but is unwilling to share those details with me. That gives me chills!
Two children I have known have died in the time that I’ve known Smoke, or at least known of him. There is little to prove that Smoke was responsible, really. The one child, Bing, died of pneumonia – quite common in our day. And Kelly was an unfortunate victim of an automobile accident. Both deaths were very sad and untimely, but not at all unusual or unheard of.
But here’s the thing. Bing showed no symptoms of pneumonia of any kind. He simply died in his crib after a life of total health, so it seemed. And Kelly’s accident was even more bizarre, since there was only evidence of an automobile accident, but no evidence of an automobile. No automobile! The one witness to the accident, Kelly’s young boyfriend, went into shock and is now completely mute, at home, removed from society. Both were completely normal deaths as deaths go in this day, yet under entirely abnormal circumstances.
Adding to the mystery of it, both Bing and Kelly had had a complete personality change, for the better, for nearly a month up until their deaths. And Smoke…he seemed to know all about it. Enough at least to make me very nervous. He told me they were not good people, which he should not know. And why would he even say that?
“I want to know my name, Mira,” he says now. This has become a bit of an obsession for Smoke. I understand, of course. If I didn’t know my own name, at this age, I would be more than curious as well. It dominates our conversations however, and along with everything else about him, I’m beginning to feel a little afraid of what the answer to his name may hold for me. So I’m looking through my own history, my photo album, to see if I can find a clue about myself, about Smoke, and why he would choose me to talk to, or haunt, or whatever it is that he’s doing.
My baby pictures are wonderful. Of course I have the bearskin cheesecake shot. Thanks, Mother. That of course will never be shown outside of this house to anyone not related by blood! There are photos of me eating, I think cake, on my first birthday. I giggle, because it’s all over my face, and because the sad fact is that I still eat cake this way. I see a more recent photo of myself with one of the young children in the neighborhood. He and I are playing with a potato-like toy, and I’m making him laugh with the funny faces I create. I like caring for children very much, like the adults from my nursery school cared for me. Like Mother.
There is a beautiful photo of me sleeping, covered in a homemade blanket, dark with lighter cross-stitches on it. I am sleeping on my stomach with my bottom up in the air and my cheek scrunched up against the bed. It’s funny because I see children sleeping that way now and it makes me smile. It must be how children sleep. But what makes the photo beautiful is the peaceful look on my face above all the scrunching. Whenever I am feeling depressed or down-trodden, I think about how calm and happy I am in this photo, and I feel immediately better.
There are a number of other photos of me at various ages and stages, playing with toys, swimming, running, chasing a ball or a dog, or a dog chasing a ball, and generally enjoying a wonderful life. My careful inspection of each photo brings warmth to my cheeks as I smile and remember happy times. None, however, offers a single clue to my ghost. In many ways, that’s a relief. At this point, Mother enters the room and turns on the television in order to watch “Today”.
Mother and I watch television together a lot. We laugh at the characters, play the game shows with the contestants, eating supper or occasionally fast food while watching. Mother hates that she allows me to do that, but we both enjoy this wonderful time together. We are very close. Since I’ve begun digging up my past, I decide to push a little further.
“Mother, what can you tell me about Father?”
“What would you like to know?” she asks.
“Well, everything, of course. What did he look like? Was he handsome? What was your favorite thing about him? How long were you married?”
“Mira, my goodness, slow down! Of course your father was very handsome. He wasn’t terribly tall, but had light hair, dark eyes, and a hopelessly infectious laugh. He and I laughed together a lot, like you and I do. We weren’t married for very long…he died shortly after you were born. Spending time with you reminds me of the fun he and I had, which is such a joy. It also is very sad. What I miss most about him is how much he loved you…”
It sounds as though she has more to say, so I press.
“How did he die? I’ve heard people say he was a hero. But what does that mean?”
“Well. Your father was a soldier in the war. He killed a lot of enemy soldiers, and died protecting some of his own men. I don’t know all of the details, but yes he was very brave. His death allowed others to live, which is why you will hear our family often call him a hero.”
OK. One more.
“What was his name?”
“Nathaniel. It was Nathaniel. I’m surprised I’ve never told you that…”
“Nathaniel the Brave!” I dream out loud.
“Yes”, said Mother, “Nathaniel the Brave, who loved me, and loved you, and his fellow soldiers and countrymen and…loved his family.”
Mother gets a very sad, quiet expression at this, as though she were losing Father yet again. Hearing those things about the father I never met gave me the warm, flushed, happy feeling that I felt looking at my sleeping photo with the dark cross-stitched blanket. I turn to it again to complete the feeling, but what I find leaves me cold. When I turn to it, the photo shows instead, in full color, a cherry-red box with a gold cross.
A coffin! I quickly skim through all of the other photos to find that in each I am no longer visible. It is as if my whole life has in fact happened without me! My absence is repeated through each photo on every page, all the way until the very first photo. There, on the bearskin rug, where previously I had had my very first picture, is instead a pasty white baby looking forward. If you could call it a human baby. This child is an abomination! At the realization that my baby picture had been mystically replaced by the true visage, the disgusting features and mangled body of the chalky child, I scream and lose consciousness. That is all I remember.
I wake up later that evening, the album still lying next to me, open, and apparently back to normal. Mother is quite concerned, but I can’t let her know what I saw. I can’t let her know that my photographs are being haunted by a creature from my earliest memory, or that this creature even exists. Even I would think I was mad if I heard my own story! Thinking quickly, I tell her I must simply have been famished, and passed out from near-starvation. I ask if she would be willing to get me the Colonel’s chicken for dinner? Yes, yes I feel fine. Of course I will be just fine to go to school tomorrow!
I am now twelve years of age, and in Junior High. I don’t love school quite as much as I did when I was younger. I don’t mind my classes, and I love learning, of course. But I’m afraid. You see, I make friends easily, which isn’t as good as it sounds. Because I have a ghost. And ever since I’ve had a ghost, my friends seem to have unexplainable, deadly illnesses and accidents. So while I enjoy school, math, reading Anne Frank’s Diary, and pledging “one nation, indivisible” each day, it is always in the back of my mind that one of my friends may simply die!
It is always in my mind that it will be, somehow, my fault.
I am most concerned for Andrew. I will say that the best part of Junior High is the boys! They are many, and they enjoy talking fo me. But my favorite boy, my favorite friend, is Andrew. He continues to walk me home every day, and while he’s never kissed me, he’s begun carrying my books for me. I can certainly carry my books myself, but I sure do enjoy when he does it for me! We talk every day about important things, like television, schoolwork, our friends, the President, Queen Elizabeth, the bomb, and the world such as it is. I enjoy our conversations, but I have to admit that it is Andrew’s presence, his words and his eyes, that make them the highlight of my day.
And then there is Frank. Frank is handsome in his own right. He also has never kissed me, but I doubt he will ever kiss anyone. Frank lost his sister, Kelly, the girl that I referenced earlier. They were twins, and I have to believe that type of loss is different than losing a sibling in any other way. Frank is very cordial at school, and even smiles at me sometimes. But Frank, unlike Andrew, doesn’t give me the time of day when classes are out.
That isn’t fair, perhaps, as he doesn’t give anyone the time of day. He spends all of his afternoon hours, after school, standing outside of the little boy’s house that he used to bully. The one that was there when his sister was…when she died. Cooper.
Just before Kelly’s accident, Frank had befriended Cooper. He protected him at school, which was ironic considering that Frank was the one that had been bullying Cooper. Cooper and Kelly became very close friends largely due to Frank’s change of heart on the matter. Or, so it seemed. Our group of friends always felt that it was Kelly’s influence that made her brother bully the smaller boy. Then, suddenly, Frank apologized for having terrorized him, and pledged his friendship. After that Cooper began to spend a lot of time with Kelly, and they became close. Until she died.
Now, Frank spends every moment after school, until suppertime, standing outside of Cooper’s home, just staring. Two young men on opposite sides of a glass, feeling the same inconsolable loss, unable to create any positive momentum toward healing.
Both rushing toward death by standing still.
I follow him on occasion, with Andrew, mostly out of concern. Most often, we observe Frank staring at the home of the now mute child, with a very strange look on his face. I still don’t know if it was anger, or something else. Part of me believed that Frank needed to continue to protect Cooper, even more so now that his sister was gone. The more rational part of me knew that he was waiting for the chance to exact revenge on Cooper. For what? Surviving, I think, while his sister did not.
Andrew and I speak of this often. He feels we should leave it be. It isn’t our concern. I feel that we need to reach out and help Frank, at the very least, and possibly even Cooper. Andrew became increasingly irritated with me, which frankly I did not like. He was acting almost jealous of Frank! I wasn’t terribly impressed that he would leave our friend to such misery, and it wasn’t like Frank was carrying my books home every day.
Andrew, you idiot. Just kiss me!
But he does not. And our arguments continue to the point that he is becoming impossible to deal with, and I am not willing to let poor Frank go on like this. Eventually Andrew throws up his hands and tells me to just go my own way. This makes me sad, because Andrew is my friend, no, my partner, and I am disappointed that he isn’t willing to help another friend with me. He stops walking me home. He stops carrying my books. He just stops. And he…well, never mind that.
Lucky for me, there is Eleanor. Ellie. She continues to be my best friend to this day, and she loves, more than anything else, to talk about boys! True, she still loves to eat, and is maybe a little bigger than she should be, but she is the most loving, wonderful human being that walks the planet. She is very beautiful in her own way, and often captivates the boys herself with her wit and her sweetness. Actually, she has already been kissed! She knows that I love Andrew, and is disappointed every time he disappoints me. But she’ll never tell him. Because, Ellie is loyal first to me, then to the boys, then to the world. My Ellie.
We talk about how cute they are , how they make us laugh, and the many ways they infuiate us! Andrew and Frank are so very different. Andrew is not a stout fellow at all, very slim, but with beautiful eyes and very light hair. He’s also had my heart since nursery school. Frank, on the other hand, is a very impactful fellow, big and dark, with even darker eyes. I wouldn’t call them beautiful, like Andrew’s eyes, but they are certainly mysterious and exciting! His stare is both terrifying, and captivating.
Ellie agrees that Andrew is being a fool, and that it is right for us to help our old friend Frank, despite his history. I think Ellie may have liked him at some point. Perhaps she likes Frank even now. The loss of Bing hit her so hard so many years ago. Bing had been her true friend in nursery school, attending to her when no one else would. She lost a lot of joy when Bing died. How wonderful it would be to bring Frank back from his malaise, as the solution to Ellie’s broken heart. Now, we will work together to bring him back!
The strategy is simple. For one week we will follow him from school, and simply stand with him. The next week, we would talk with him. This all worked great, except that Frank never acknowledges that he has been spoken to by Ellie. Only me. It is as though Ellie isn’t even there, and she does not like that. It hurts her that he will only listen, and speak, to me. I am sure now my Ellie loves Frank, enough to let me get through to him if I can. Even without her.
So, by the third week, it is just Frank and me, standing outside quiet Cooper’s silent home. Standing and staring. Over time, his stare becomes softer, and he would gaze around, or down at his feet. I would ask him his thoughts about things, like school and the world, and slowly he would answer. I ask him many times about Ellie, but he refuses to talk about her. I never share that with Ellie, since I know it would hurt her. Sometimes I lie, and say he asks about her, which makes her blush.
By the fourth week, Frank is a different kid. He talks and laughs as though nothing else matters, and more importantly he seems to forget about Cooper, and standing outside of the house, gazing his death-gaze at the unseen boy. Andrew is still upset with me, and I at him, so Frank begins walking me home, carrying my books. We laugh and talk every day, until reaching my home each day after school. Then, believe it or not, Frank hands me my books, says a cordial goodbye, and goes home. He never even goes back by Cooper’s neighborhood. It is as though he has forgotten his mania altogether.
At the end of the fourth week, Frank is holding my hand as we walk home. Damn. Damn. This is no good. I do care deeply about Frank, but I love Andrew, and Ellie will kill me, and this is very very bad!
At the beginning of the fifth week, Monday, Frank notices Mother isn’t home, and wants to extend his visit. She works quite a bit, so it isn’t unusual for the house to be empty. Fool that I am, I let him in. We enter my home, into the living area which is beginning to get dim from the darkness outside. My intent is to light the room immediately, but Frank stops me, wanting instead to play a new game. I’d not heard of it before, but like everything else about Frank, it is dark and exciting! While standing by my photo album, and the photo of Mother and my step-father, he explains the rules.
“Mira, take a candle, and walk upstairs backward. I will be waiting for you at the top, by the giant mirror.” Frank has a look on his face that is both innocent and sly. ”When you get to the top of the stairs, turn, and quickly look in the mirror. You will then catch a glimpse of your future husband standing next to you in the mirror. But here’s the thing, if you see a skeleton or a phantom, well, that means that you will die before you marry!”
I should have my head examined for even considering this exercise. I know. Given my history of the past few years it was certain that I would see the ghost, chalky white in the mirror, and die on the spot. Perhaps the ghost would come through the mirror and take my life in front of Frank’s unbelieving eyes! But, here I am, with dark and exciting Frank, in a dark room, excited, with a wonderful new game and a role to play. So, as only a fool would do, I light a candle, wait for Frank to take his place upstairs, and begin my ascent. Only a fool…
There is nothing to this game, the candle, or climbing the stairs. I stumble briefly on the way up, nervous and not able to see where I am going, but quickly catch myself, and go on as though nothing happened. Boys seem to like when girls are embarrassed, so I allow him that privilege. Frank, no exception, giggles slightly, but keeps encouraging me all the way up the stairs. I slowly approach the large mirror where he is waiting. I take the last few steps, backward, into the hall, where he stands, and wait for my doom to occur. At the precise moment that I look into the mirror, I am certain that I catch a brief glimpse of Andrew, looking down and sad, as my candle blows out, leaving Frank and me in total darkness.
And at the moment the candle blows out, I feel something grab at me. I am certain that this is the moment of my demise, and the chalky child has come, ready to take me to my well-deserved fate. I think of all of the children I have known. Bing, sweet Bing the biter, with the wicked mother. I relished her pain! And Kelly, of course. I wasn’t pleased at her death, but she was wicked as well. And her death is what brought Frank and me together! Certainly, it was my turn to receive my reward for all of the horrid thoughts I had had for those poor souls!
Hate, fate and fairness. I deserve this. I lean back and wait for my final breath. And justice immediately stops my lungs, and my airways, covering my mouth fully. And death feels like warm, wet lips on mine. What a curious way to die!
I finally do realize that Frank, in the darkness, has decided in this moment to procure his first kiss and mine, in lieu of the visit of a spector and the reaper’s scythe. It is a short moment that lasts forever, and I almost laugh at myself for thinking Andrew would have been the one.
But, I had seen Andrew’s face in the mirror, hadn’t I?
I swore that Andrew should have been my first and only, evidenced by his appearance, on cue, in the mirror, and by the guilt now tugging at my heart. Guilt for Andrew. And guilt for Ellie. The kiss ends, naturally, on its own. Frank has performed the perfect first kiss and made me dizzy. There are no good choices to be made at this point. I pull back to look upon Frank, who has me in his arms and in his control, his dark eyes evident more in the blackness. I relight the candle, coveting the darkness, but anxious to look into the dark eyes of this boy that has stirred first romantic feelings in me. My heart beating, I steal a second glance in the mirror, to see if the reflection of my true love has evolved.
As if in a nightmare, the boy holding me close, holding me tight, is not Frank. Frank somehow has disappeared, replaced by a pale monstrosity, recognizable only from my early memories, now grown! Looking in the mirror, I see my infatuation to be not Frank, and not Andrew, but a chalky, unclothed beast, hunched over, eyes closed, breathing short, heavy, foul breaths.
The creature is bald, gaunt, with one ear barely protruding from the side of his head, and the other missing. He has no hair, no nose, no teeth, and his leathery face seems to continue into his pain-writhing mouth, as though sewn from a sack cloth. His fingers appear attached to each other, stumpy and thick, almost webbed, but strong. The body, skeletal at best, gives no evidence as to its true gender, but I know. This is the chalky child from my earliest memories. This is Smoke! And he is an absolute nightmare!
Smoke has somehow replaced Frank as the object of my first romantic encounter. As much as I need to, I can’t scream. Instead, I lurch. I close my eyes and fall forward, heaving, filling all before me with bile. I cry. I shake. I throw off the last of my sickness and bear up to face Smoke, to scold him, and to accept the fate I have expected all along. Fate. Fairness.
But Smoke, the chalk-monster, as well as Frank, is now gone. I turn toward the large mirror for a clue.
Peering in the mirror, I see Andrew again, but not as a reflection. I have been transported, now standing in a field, with Andrew facing me, sad and with his head down. I put my hands up, to try to touch him, to bring him to me, but they are held as though by the glass of the large mirror. I had no idea until this moment how badly I need Andrew. He briefly looks up, shakes his head, then turns away. I take a deep breath, desperate to scream for Andrew to come to me, to save me from this horror. And then I see the approaching light. I look down. Railroad tracks!
I want to scream for Andrew to jump out of the way, but no sound escapes my lips. Harder and harder I cry, with no result. Andrew keeps looking down, sad, shaking his head. I am sure that the ugly chalky child, my Smoke, is going to kill the true love of my life, and I can do nothing to change that, as the lights behind me get brighter and brighter.
I look down. The tracks, illuminated ever more by the increasing beam make it certain that there will be death tonight, where only moments before had been sweet romance. And as the tracks shine brighter in the glowing beam, I realize that it is not Andrew facing the power of the oncoming locomotive. It is me! I am stuck to the tracks, the glass of the mirror trapping me on all sides, while Andrew simply looks on, sad and shaking. I quickly whirl around to face my fate, staring deep into the spot of the oncoming locomotive. Faintly, I hear again the cry of the chalky child as I brace for death and scream.
The light overtakes me. Then my eyes open to a new light, that of the morning. I awake, in tears and in the sweat of having stared down the certain death of myself and the other most important to me. And then, I know. I know that I am not dead, nor had I witnessed the death of Andrew.
It was Frank. Frank is dead. Somehow Frank had been tranported into the path of a large steam engine, and I had been forced to be his eyes and emotions as he died. Smoke, my ghost, had somehow placed Frank in the very center of harm’s way, miles from my home. I had just witnessed, and experienced, Frank’s death, with all the fear and hopelessness that Frank must have felt in his final moments.
I know. He is gone.
The next day’s newspapers and the gossiping community would prove that to be true. Parts of his body would be found for weeks. Both of his hands, separated from his body by the charging wheels of the locomotive, are never recovered. No one ever speaks of the condition the rest of him is found in. It is a horrible loss to the community, to our school, and to our group of friends. To me. To Ellie. Oh dear Ellie! She will be crushed.
“How…how could you?” I demand, when I realize what has been done.
“Mira. I want to thank you,” coos the calm voice of my ghost.
“Don’t you dare thank me you chalky bastard. How. Could. You. Kill. Frank? Tell me why!”
“Mira you have shown me my true name. I now know who I am. You searched and you questioned, and you found the answers to all of our questions, and you found my name.”
Silence. He is too calm. This is not good. I’m suddenly frightened of my secret friend, more than ever. What did he mean ‘our questions’?
“Yes. I am the so-called ‘chalky child’ of your memory. I am also Smoke your secret friend of the past few years. But I have a name, a true name. I was once called…Nathaniel. That is my name.”
That was my father’s name. He was a hero, wasn’t he? He saved lives. This chalky bastard, this monster, could not be the ghost of my father. He just cannot be! My father killed only in war, and was first a protector. How can this ghoul be Nathaniel Mirras? How? I need to calm down quickly. It will not do to anger this ghost, so much more connected to me than I first realized. I walk downstairs. I am clearly awake, and able to speak with him while conscious. How did he kill Frank? Did he possess him? Teleport him? Did he kill Kelly too? Bing?
I need answers. The rest of my life may depend on them.
“Smoke. Nathaniel…tell me why you killed Frank. Tell me why. Why?” But even as I demand, through tears, his account of himself, I already know the answer, and the consequence to me, to Frank, and to anyone I might ever love. I understand. I know.
“Mira. Be patient. There is plenty of time for all of your friends. Plenty, and I’ll help them all. They are so much nicer when I am in them. You don’t even realize how close you came to taking a different path altogether. You were supposed to play the game with Andrew, after all. You were supposed to kiss Andrew.” Though no longer visible, I can sense an evil smile spread over his toothless eyeless face. I sense him hunched over and fetal as though still the infant he once was, but now grown, triumphant, and in control.
I understand that all of my friends are in danger. Everyone I love is in danger. I understand that I can never be with my partner, my best friend, and my true love since childhood. I can never be with Andrew. Ever. And as I look over to my album I see now that the damaged right leg of the first “M” is completely gone, now forming, in fact, the letter “N”. Nathaniel, not Mira. I understand that my life and the lives of those around me are now in the hands of Nathaniel Mirras.
And he is a killer.
Credit To – MeGoMike/MeGoMirras