Shilah’s hair swirled around her in the non-existent wind. The front door slammed open before her. She glided over the threshold, an imaginary storm whipping her face.
The entrance was just as she remembered it—open and welcoming, leading off into the living room. Shilah followed the hall down to the family room and paused, taking in the familiar leather couch and oak table. A wooden TV stand sat pushed up against one wall, an old-fashioned box TV centered on it. It was the picture frame on the far wall, however, that caught Shilah’s eye. The photo depicted a girl, no more than seventeen. Her golden hair curled around her smiling face. A boy stood behind her, his hands resting on her shoulders. His grinning face stared out at Shilah.
She blinked back the wetness in her eyes and forced a scowl onto her face. She would not feel regret. Shilah twirled a strand of her straggly dirty blonde hair between her fingers as she gazed at the girl in the photo. That used to be my hair. That used to be my face. Shilah’s heart ached for that girl—for the sweet innocent person that carried that face. And Jeremy… Shilah touched the boy’s face in the picture. I miss that boy. What happened to him? What changed?
Uneven footsteps sounded on the stairs down the hall. Shilah stilled, listening. Jeremy’s light breathing preceded him down the stairs. Shilah inhaled and turned just as Jeremy rounded the corner.
He froze. His eyes glazed over as he stared at her. “S-Shilah? But—I mean—what—?”
“I know, I’m dead,” Shilah whispered. She swallowed, her mouth dry. Wiping her sweaty palms on her jeans, she raised her hand to flash her wedding ring. “But I haven’t forgotten.”
Jeremy’s eyes widened. He reached out as if to touch but shuddered to a stop. He clenched his fist. “I can’t believe…I mean…Shilah, I’ve missed you so much. Why—how—are you here?”
Shilah’s fingers curled into a ball and she turned her arm so the inside of her wrist was visible to him. “I haven’t forgotten, Jeremy. I know what you did to me.” A pink scar stood out in sharp relief against her pale skin. It looked as if someone had dragged a knife from elbow to wrist and the cut had just begun to heal.
“What are you talking about?” Jeremy squinted at her arm. “I didn’t do that. Those were—“
“Stop.” Shilah held up a finger. The imaginary wind intensified and her straggly hair whipped around her face. A faint blue glow emanated from her skin.
Jeremy took a step back. “Look, I—“
“Stop.” Her eyes glowed red. She made as if to backhand him and a gust of air rocked the room. The couch slammed into the wall. The box TV shuddered and fell from its stand with a crash.
Jeremy held his hands up as if in surrender. “Shilah, you need to stop this—this—whatever you’re doing!”
A crack rang through the room. They both turned to see the glass of the frame split right through Jeremy’s face. Blood drained out of the real Jeremy’s cheeks. He took another step back but tripped over a bump in the rug and fell. “Shilah, it wasn’t me…you—“
“You killed me, Jeremy. And now it’s your turn to see what it feels like.” Shilah glided forwards hand out as if to grab him. She curled her fingers into a fist. Jeremy clutched at his throat but there was nothing to pull away. He writhed on the floor, limbs flailing.
Finally, he fell limp, but Shilah didn’t move. Her hand remained curled around an imaginary throat. As the gale around her died down, an article floated down by her feet. Shilah gazed down her nose at it.
The headline read: Suicide Strikes Again. Shilah knelt next to it, eyes skimming it. Girl found dead in her bathtub….Signs point to suicide…Funeral next week…Parents and Husband grief-stricken…
But it was the name—the name that started the paragraph—that Shilah couldn’t take her eyes off. Shilah Peterson. Signs point to suicide.
“Oh, God…” Shilah swallowed past the lump in her throat. “Oh, God…Jeremy, you were innocent—you didn’t—but I remember—“
You remember nothing except what the ghosts tell you, a voice echoed in the room around her. And now you pay the price for the sin you have committed. Say goodbye, Shilah.
- - - My first flash fiction piece, the Devil's Ambassador, was published with Linguistic Erosion in July 2012. I am currently in the process of querying for my first novel.