In the spirit of the day, a week into Monkey year, these words pour out of my finger tips.
Visibility reached to dangerous levels as the rain pelted down the windshield of the van in which Henrietta was riding as a front passenger. It was a last minute decision to hail a ride through an app that was still in beta testing. Her cousin assured her that it was safe and operational, the user interface just hadn’t been finalized yet because the creative team was awaiting approvals from their director, Marshall, who was recuperating in the hospital after nearly drowning in an effort to save his eight year-old Saint Bernard, Augusto.
Henrietta tapped the dashboard hard. The driver turned to her and shouted over the rain, “What? What’s going on?”
“I need to get out of this car!”
“Rain?!” the driver waved his left arm out in front of him, pointing to the onslaught of precipitation.
“I know, I just gotta get out of this car now!”
The driver shrugged and brought the car to a stop by the front entrance of a high school just down the road. Henrietta thanked the man for his time, re-positioned her jacket so that it covered her head and dashed out of the van. She tried three doors before finding a fourth one unlocked. After removing her jacket and wringing out water from her long, black hair, Henrietta realized she had escaped into the school’s gym.
Most of the lights above the bleachers and the basketball hoops were out, but the ceiling lights above the stage were still operational. Henrietta walked towards the center of the court when she noticed a human figure hunched over on the bottom bleacher nearest the painting of the school mascot, an armadillo or a mutant rat. Henrietta slowed her breathing, tried to tremble less from feeling cold, and debated retreating back outside.
There was not time enough to decide since the figure lifted its head and fixed its gaze on her. She couldn’t see its face, of course, nor could she move. Curiosity and fear interlaced, keeping her standing at the three-point line. The figure stood up and stepped in her direction.
“Hey,” it called out in a low hum. “Do you know where Neal went?”
Henrietta cleared her throat. “Who?”
“Neal,” the figure answered as his features became clearer.
Henrietta sucked in a breath of disbelief. The man who stood before her looked just like the basketball player who had been missing for two weeks. His disappearance was among the top five news stories across newspapers, blogs, social media, and TV. Henrietta blinked several times and shook her head.
“I don’t know any Neal; there’s nobody else here. It’s been raining so hard out there — how did you get here?”
The man didn’t know. All he could remember was going to a hockey game with his best friend Neal.
“It was his birthday, and I wanted to give him a special gift.”
Henrietta’s hair had dried mostly but the more this man spoke, the colder she felt. She’d always believed in ghosts, but she didn’t think they were visible and as real as certain popular TV shows imagine.
Resting at the tip of her tongue were the words, “Where did you see this hockey game?”
Would she speak them or would she turn around, vacate the premises and pretend this day didn’t happen?