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  • Writer's pictureJulia Roscoe

A haunted neighborhood

The clock strikes twelve. It is time for me to rise.

The night air is chilly, my hair blows behind me and dry leaves dance around my bare feet. As I breath in, I feel my chest expand, but nothing more – there is no smell, no sense of fulfillment, no emotions. I am used to that, it is not that different underground. Except for the wind.

It takes me across the lawn, to the road and into the dark alleys downtown. The streets are almost as dead as I am, people are long locked up inside their houses by now. They are all so…traditional. Taking the small town life to the grave.

Long time ago, I was like them. Well-mannered, kept to myself, a good daughter. I look down at my once white dress, now stained with dirt. It was a gift. For what, I can no longer remember. There are tears and rips all over the soft fabric. It used to be pretty. Now it is ruined, like I am.

The wind continues to blow, and the clouds move away, letting the moon light my path. I should know it by heart by now, as it is the same one I walk every year, on the same night.

When I arrive at one particular dark alley, a cat jumps from behind a trashcan next to a bar’s exit. Loud music plays inside, despite the hour. This is the one place in town where people are allowed to be free, where humanity is put aside and men turn into beasts. After all, who can take the pressure of being good the whole time? Definitely not me. Unfortunately, we all end up in this bar, one way or another.

While I am lost in my memories, two drunk men step outside, laughing and fooling around.

“Hello”, the first one to notice me says, his eyes tired from the booze try to focus on my body covered with whatever is left of the white dress.

The other drunk, shorter and thinner than the first one now sees me. Though his body does not seem as strong as the other’s, it is him who scares me the most. Or he would if there were anything left in me to get scared.

His eyes narrow and a malicious smile finds its way into his peaked face.

“Hey, darling, don’t you wanna come closer? We don’t bite!” The tall man laughs at his own joke.

My eyes are focused on the shorter one, he is the one who looks as if he doesn’t agree with his friend. He does bite.

It is my turn to grin.

“Yes, come to papa, my darling”. The talkative drunk mistakes my smile for encouragement. He reaches out his fat arms, as if he is ready to greet me with the warmest of hugs.

My blood boils. That is, something inside me burns with rage. Huh, turns out I can feel something.

I get close to those animals, so close I can feel their warmth.

“I'm not your darling. Got it? I'm not yours!" I spit out the words, then I caress the man’s bloated face with my finger.

“Well, you are not so bad. You are only acting like this to impress him, aren’t you?”, I look from the tall man to the other, then back at the first. “That is exactly why Carina left you. You are so weak. Always falling behind others instead of stepping in for yourself”.

“How… how do you know?” he mumbles.

“Oh, Sean. I know everything about you”. My voice is calm, almost serene.

Then I grab his chin. My words are low and rushed: “You are going to promise me never to hurt a woman, never to talk to us like that again”.

“Yes. Yes, I promise”.

Sean stumbles away when I let him go, tripping over the trashcan.

I turn to face the second drunk. This one is going to be more difficult to convince.

He is staring at his fallen friend, disgust on his face.

“You are weak, Sean. Are you going to let a woman tell you what to do?”.

Sean isn’t listening, he is genuinely frightened because of me, more concerned about how I knew that much about him than what his friend can do to him.

“Sean is no longer of your concern, Robert”, I take one step towards him. “You should be worried about what I am going to do to you. After all, you have been a bad boy, haven’t you?”

He smirks. “I am not afraid of you, little girl. In fact, I eat girls like you for dinner”.

“Well, then this should be a feast”.

Robert reaches for a knife in his pocket at the same time I reach out for his neck.

He is quick, managing to place the blade on my throat before I can squeeze his breath away.

I pretend to be scared, stepping back and letting him push me to the bar’s brick wall. It has been a long year and I want to play.

“Not so tough now, are you?” His breath feels warm on my cold skin. Thankfully I can’t smell it – beer and liquor, I am sure.

“You are just like all the others: scared and weak when I break you”, he continues his monologue, so sure he has already won.

So I decide to take that grin out of his peaked face.

Smiling myself, I walk right against the blade. This makes Robert doubt himself for a moment. He puts pressure on the knife, but it does nothing to my already dead flesh.

His flesh, on the other hand, feels like butter when I take his own knife and stab his chest with it.

I turn to Sean, who is still on the floor of the alley. “Do not fail to fulfill your promise, Sean”.

Without waiting for his reply, I walk away. There are still a few more hours before sunrise and I want to enjoy it.

On the residential part of town, there are pumpkins and plastic skeletons on the house’s front yards. They make me think of the last time I sculpted a Jack Lantern, it was the night before I went to that same alley, the night before I was killed.

As I remember that night, I continue walking around the neighborhood. There is only one window where the light is still on. There is a boy sitting on the window bench, he is reading a comic book. I step closer, curious as to why anyone is awake at this late hour.

“The Case of the Haunted Neighborhood”, is the title of the comic. On its cover, there is a drawing of a young woman on a ripped white dress.

1 Comment

Catarina Roscoe
Catarina Roscoe
Feb 05, 2022

👏👏👏 Excellent!! I really enjoyed reading this. Well done, Júlia! 😘😘

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