The front door creaked and his mother’s keys jiggled against the door frame as he shook them free of the lock. Brian realized he was standing halfway up the stairs, broom and dustpan in hand.
“Right here, Mom.” He went down the stairs to greet her.
How could she always sense when he was afraid or upset? It was uncanny.
“I got me a scare on the way home. Went through the swamp and got to jumping at shadows. Fell smack in a puddle. I’m just cleaning up after myself.” He kissed her cheek.
Maribelle Casey smiled at her son. Her blue eyes reflected the light strangely, telling everyone who met her, that she was blind. Her palm touched his cheek and she put her forehead against his.
“It’s all right, Bri-guy. I’m home. You finish that up and come on in the kitchen.”
His mother sat at the kitchen table, a pot of tea in front of her. Brian pulled up a chair and she poured him a cup. He added sugar before taking a sip. His mother made the best tea, her own blend of herbs and tea leaves. She’d add a pinch of this or that to the pot depending on her mood. This time, he smelled peppermint and sassafras.
“Tell me what happened.”
“It’s silly. Nothing but a scare because it’s Halloween.”
“What about the nightmares?”
The chair squeaked when Brian shrugged, shaking his head. His mother patted his hand.
“Can’t see a shrug, son.”
He chuckled. “Nope, but apparently you can hear it. Nightmares are the same.”
Maribelle continued to pat his hand. He could tell his mother was deep in thought. She had something she wanted to say, but wasn’t sure how he’d take it. Or rather, she was sure he’d take it badly.
“I talked to Father Ramsey this evening. I told him about the dreams and the strange things you’ve been seeing.”
“Mom!” He started to get up.
Maribelle’s grip tightened. “He wants to talk to you.”
“The last thing I need to do is talk to the priest. He’s just gonna feed me some line of bull and quote scriptures.”
“You’ll show some respect, young man! I told him you’d stop by on your way home from school tomorrow.”
Brian knew there was no arguing with her. He could protest all he wanted and she would still have her way. If he dared to come home without reporting to the parish priest, she’d simply drag him down there once he got home. He finished his tea in silence. When he got up to leave, his mother took his hand.
“I’m worried, son. The test results haven’t shown up anything, for which I’m grateful. But something isn’t right.”
Brian hugged his mother, feeling her bones under her baggy clothing. She seemed so small and frail. Her health hadn’t been good since his father left, but her recent worry over her son seemed to have taken even more out of her.
“Don’t be. I’m okay, Mom.” Maybe if he said it often enough, he’d believe it too. “Good night.” He kissed her cheek.
“Sleep well.” She made the sign of the cross on his forehead before kissing his brow.
As he turned out the lamp by the bed, he glanced out the window. A silvery form flitted through the shadows. His eyes took a moment to adjust and by that time, the figure was gone. He wasn’t sure, but he thought it was the dog he’d seen earlier. Somehow, the thought that she was out there made him feel better. Snuggling under the covers, he soon fell asleep.
Brian woke in a panic. Something was terribly wrong. His skin crawled and the hairs on his neck stood at attention. The old house creaked and settled at night, but something else had woken him—a not so normal sound. Shivering in the night chill, he got out of bed. He felt vulnerable in his boxers, so he slipped on a T-shirt and pajama pants. That would keep knife wielding lunatics at bay. His Sponge Bob pants were sure to put the fear of god into them.
An avid fan of horror movies, he armed himself with a bo staff. He’d studied Aikido since he was little. It might not seem like much, but he could put the hurt on someone. Provided that someone was a living, breathing person and not a ghost.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes