The next day, Martha and Peter are in the kitchen, rushing to get to work. Martha is pouring the last of her coffee in her mug and she takes a small sip. Stephanie is sitting on the island, pouring herself a glass of Diet Coke.
“Jesus, I can’t believe I’m running late again!” Peter said, trying to look for his folder filled with paperwork, “Stephanie have you seen my black folder?” he asked digging through the kitchen drawers.
“They should be in your office desk, Daddy” Stephanie said, chuckling a bit. Whenever Peter was running late for work, he used to make the dumbest mistakes at times, like forgetting to put on the right shoes, or forgetting to bring his suitcase. Small laughs like that had made Stephanie’s day better at times.
“No, they can’t be,” Peter replied back, “I already checked like, four times, I can’t find them anywhere!” He begins checking his suitcase again, “Ugh, they’re going to fire my a** because I don’t have that stupid folder.”
“You think it could be in your car?” Martha suggested, “I remember seeing something like that in there.”
“Well, it could be at work or in my car,” Peter said, “either way, I’m running extremely late and I need to go.”
Peter then gives Martha a small kiss on the lips. He goes to Stephanie, hugs her real fast.
“See you Daddy, love you.” Stephanie said, smiling.
“Love you more.” He then walks out the front door.
Martha adds two packs of splenda into her coffee and mixes it with a spoon. She then sits next to Stephanie.
“Did you hear the noise from last night?” Martha asked, “It sounded like it came from your room.”
Stephanie paused for a minute, then looks at her mother. “I just had a nightmare.” She replied. Stephanie turns away and rises to put the diet coke in the fridge. Martha takes another sip of her coffee and looks at her.
“So, did you keep the bible I gave you?” Martha asked, “Did you like it?”
Stephanie pauses again. She puts the bottle of diet coke in the fridge and sighs, “Yeah Mom, I like it. I kept it under my bed with the beads Brandon gave me.”
Martha studied Stephanie and could tell that she was hiding something. Martha was always good when it came to reading her daughter.
“Can you promise me something?” Martha asked. Stephanie turns around and looks at her mother.
“Sure mom. What is it?”
Martha sighs and says “Promise me you’ll start using that bible every night, it will help you.”
Stephanie turns the other way, “It didn’t help Brandon…”
“Honey, please,” Martha said, standing up, walking towards her, “Listen to me…”
Stephanie turns around and looks at Martha.
“All I’m saying is; try not to lose hope…you still have a fighting chance, ok?” Martha said, “Always remember that.”
Stephanie did believe she always had a fighting chance; she just didn’t want to believe that praying would raise her chances of winning. Every time Stephanie went against her religion, Martha would always have a look in her eyes; a sad look. Stephanie tries all the time to keep the bad comments to herself, that’s what Brandon used to always teach her.
Stephanie had no choice but to slowly nod her head, “Okay Mom,” she said.
Martha let off a smile and goes to grab her purse.
“I have to go to work now,” Martha said, “are you doing anything today?”
“Probably not,” Stephanie answered, “I might just stay home and watch TV or something.” Stephanie forces a smile.
“Alright that’s fine,” Martha said, “I’ll be home around seven or nine at the latest, and Daddy said he’s going to be in work late today.”
“That’s fine,” Stephanie said, “Don’t work too hard.”
Martha walks over to Stephanie and gives her a tight hug. “I love you.”
Stephanie hugs back and replies, “I love you too.”
Martha smiles and walks out the front door. Stephanie is usually left by herself in the house; she can’t go to school because of how many health problems she had. Stephanie would puke a lot of times during the day and there would be times she’ll have severe headache and pass out in the middle of class. Stephanie also takes seventeen different medications every day to help treat everything.
She goes into the medicine cabinet and gets four of her prescription drugs. She then puts the four pills in her mouth and uses the glass of diet coke to swallow them. Stephanie did have thoughts about over dosing on her pills because of what she was going through, but the only thing stopping her was remembering how strong Brandon was when he was in stage 3 of stomach cancer. He was always smiling every day, laughing, living life to the fullest. Stephanie was glad to have a brother like him. Stephanie always thought ‘There are some people who complain about the dumbest things and kill themselves for it.’ What ran in the family was how strong they could be and that’s what counted.
Two hours later, Stephanie is in the shower, turning the water off, just finishing. She grabs her towel from the counter near the sink and wraps it around her, covering her body. She goes and looks at herself in the mirror and suddenly sees a mark on her shoulder. She squints and turns more to her left side to look at the mark.
The mark on her shoulder looked like three deformed lower case b’s, forming a triangle. Stephanie touches it, and tries studying it. The mark looked like it could be a birth mark, but Stephanie never had this. She goes and puts soap on her and tries rinsing it out with water. The mark is still there, it wasn’t going anywhere. Could this have something to do with her cancer? She didn’t know.
“What is this…?” she asked herself. She didn’t want to make a big deal out of it. Stephanie adjusts the towel around her and walks out the bathroom, and goes into her room.
Around ten o’clock, Peter, Martha and Stephanie are downstairs, eating dinner in the dining room. It’s usually quiet when they eat, they really didn’t have much to talk about.
“I didn’t get a chance to buy that cake you were dying for, Peter, I forgot all about it.” Martha remembered.
Peter shrugged and said, “Don’t worry about it, I think we can do without the cake.” Peter laughed. Martha smiled and laughed with him as she took a sip of her red wine.
“How was work, Daddy?” Stephanie asked.
“Eh, it was okay. Nothing special,” Peter replied, “and how was your day?”
Stephanie shrugged, “Same thing every day.”
“Oh! That reminds me,” Martha remembered, “Andrea called and said if you wanted to go with her to the city. She feels bad because she’s been real busy and hasn’t really found time to spend with you. She decided to take off work tomorrow.”
“Yeah, of course I’ll go with her,” Stephanie said. Suddenly, she sees a black shadow zoom behind Peter which catches Stephanie’s attention. The look on Stephanie’s face had Peter stop and look at her.
“You ok, Steph?” Peter asked.
Stephanie snaps out of it. “Yeah, sorry I’m ok.” She replied. She had no idea what she saw. Maybe she was just hallucinating because of the pills she took before dinner? She suddenly sees the shadow zoom behind Martha. Stephanie jumps from her seat and jumps back, knocking the chair down.
“Stephanie what’s wrong?” Martha asked, getting up as Peter got up too.
“You ok, honey?” Peter asked, walking closer to her.
Stephanie looks all around the kitchen and living room and doesn’t see the shadow appear anywhere else. She breathes a bit heavy.
“What’s wrong Stephanie, what’s going on?” Martha asked, really worried.
Stephanie still doesn’t reply. She looks at the walls, the ceiling, and the floor, everything around the house. She looks at Martha, and then looks at Peter.
“What’s going on Stephanie?” Peter asked, “Are you alright?”
“Yeah…I’m fine, I’m sorry,” Stephanie said, calming down a bit, “It’s nothing.”
She collects herself, and goes for the stairs.
“Where are you going?” Martha asked, turning her head towards her.
“I’m going to sleep.” Stephanie called out, already running up the stairs.
Peter and Martha look at each other. Peter sits back down.
“I’ll check up on her later.” Peter said.
Martha sits down slowly, looking toward the stairs, wondering what was wrong with her.
Upstairs, Stephanie locks her bedroom door and changes into sweatpants and a tank top, and lies down on the bed. She couldn’t stop thinking what that shadow was. She refused to think she was seeing her brother, it couldn’t be. Or could it? She just didn’t want to think about too much for once, so just Stephanie lies on her stomach, with her cheek on the pillow. She stares at the door, and slowly starts to close her eyes.
She’s awakened by a loud thud from outside her bedroom door. Her eyes quickly open. She looks at her door, still in the same position she was when she fell asleep. She hears the thud again, but a little bit louder.
“Hello..?” Stephanie called out. She didn’t hear anything. She slowly gets up and sits on her bedside, still looking at the door. She looked at the clock and it was three in the morning. Maybe it was Peter or Martha walking around in the middle of the night?
“Daddy?” Stephanie called out, “Mom?”
She still didn’t get a reply. She slowly gets up and walks toward the door. She turns the doorknob very slowly and opens her door. No one was there.
‘What a relief’ Stephanie thought. As she was about to close her door, she hears running footsteps from downstairs which startles her.
“Mom?” Stephanie called out. She didn’t get a reply back. She looks back in her room then looks out in the hallway. She slowly leaves her room as a flash of lightning fills the whole house. Stephanie slowly starts walking down the stairs, as she starts hearing rain pour from outside. As she gets halfway downstairs, her bedroom door slams shut which makes Stephanie jumps. She turns around and sees no one by her bedroom door or anything. Could this really be Brandon? Was he trying to tell her something? A chill ran up Stephanie’s spine as she continues to walk down the stairs.
She tries turning on the light, but it doesn’t work. A thunder crackles from outside and makes a large boom sound.
“Damn power…” She said to herself. She goes to the kitchen and digs in the drawer to try and find a flashlight. After a few seconds she pulls out a small flashlight, tries to turn it on but it doesn’t work. Stephanie sighs and tosses the flashlight back in the drawer.
She turns around and suddenly sees a shadow zoom by the wall in the living room, right next to the basement door. Stephanie stares at the wall, breathing a bit faster. She started to wonder if she was the only person who could actually see the shadow. Peter or Martha didn’t notice it. She thought she was going crazy. Stephanie slowly starts for the basement door, very hesitant at first. She slowly approaches the door and stares at the door knob.
Should she open it? She had no idea what would be on the other side. As she goes to grab the door knob, the thunder crackles and booms again, startling her. She looks out the window and sees the rain. She goes and slowly opens the basement door, making a creaking sound. She slowly starts going down the steps, barley seeing anything in front of her, the basement was really dark, and there’s only one light in the basement Stephanie had to reach to. She starts feeling the handle on the wall to make sure she wasn’t going to fall. As she almost gets to the basement, the door suddenly closes shut. Stephanie turns back, couldn’t even tell where the door is because of how dark it was. She turns forward and walks down onto the basement.
The basement was cold and dark, like how it usually is. The only time Stephanie came into the basement was to do laundry. As she walked more deep into the basement, it got colder. Goosebumps formed on Stephanie’s arms and legs. She reaches up and tries searching for the light switch to tug. She reaches forward, tries reaching up more, to the side she still couldn’t find it. She bumps her foot lightly on the dryer and stumbles a bit. At least she had an idea on where she was in the basement now.
She starts walking towards the center of the basement more, still trying to reach for the string for the light. Her hand hits a string in the ceiling, she found the light. She pulls it and the small light fills the room.
Suddenly, a shadow appears on the wall behind Stephanie, on all fours, with wings is jumping up and down, making a laughing hyena noise. Stephanie’s eyes widen as her body stiffens. The light blinks out and she screams.
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