I pulled up to the little house on Birchwood Lane feeling very pleased that I had found it so easily. A gigantic bouquet of flowers sat beside me. I took it into my hands and, with a bouncy pep in my step, made my way to the front door. After only a couple of knocks, the door opened to reveal a stunning brunette with dark eyes and a button nose. She shivered slightly in the fall air and said, "Can I help you?"
"Yes," I said, cheerily. "I have a delivery for Miss Caroline Lupinski. Is she home?"
The woman narrowed her eyes and cocked her head to the side. "I'm Caroline. Delivery?”
"Yes, ma'am," I said. "Your grandma's sent you some flowers for your birthday. Happy birthday, by the way."
Her eyes widened before welling up with tears. "Is this some kind of a joke?" she asked softly.
I frowned. "No, ma'am," I said. "A woman came into my shop and said she was your grandma. Adele, I think she said her name was." I held up the bouquet. "She chose all the flowers herself, told me exactly what to put in here, and asked me to hand deliver them to you on this date exactly."
The woman turned her eyes skyward, as if she were in prayer. A single tear broke loose and rand down her cheek. "I don't believe this," she said. "You have to be joking."
"I can promise you I'm not, Miss," I said. "I'm sorry if I've upset you. I can go, if you'd---"
"No, no, it's all right," she said. "Um.... Would you come in for a moment?"
I hesitated, but finally agreed with a "Sure."
She brought me into a charming, sunlit living room where a large fireplace adorned one wall. My eyes were drawn to the mantle where some pictures had been arranged with the greatest of care. "There she is," I said, pointing to one of the photos. "Your grandma. This is the lady that came into my shop."
"Oh, God!" Caroline spouted. She brought her hands together in front of her face. "Please, sit down... um...."
"Derek," I said. "Thank you." I took a seat on the sofa, holding the bouquet in front of me.
"You can put the flowers on the table. I'll grab a vase in a second," Caroline said, lowering herself into a nearby armchair. "But first," she continued, "I need you to tell me everything."
"What do you mean?" I asked, furrowing my brow.
"When that woman... my grandmother... came into your shop...." She paused for a moment. I could tell by the quiver of her lips that she was fighting a burst of emotion. At last, she regained her voice. "I need to you tell me exactly what happened."
I pursed my lips and rubbed my knees as the image of that day came to mind. "Well," I said, "I guess it was pretty straight forward. It was a slow day and this little old lady came in and said her granddaughter was turning twenty-four in a week and could she please pick out some flowers so I could make her a bouquet. And so I followed her around the store, she picked her flowers, told me to hand deliver them a week later, and then she paid and left."
Caroline leaned forward. "And it was definitely the woman from that picture over there?"
"As God is my witness," I said. "Why?"
Caroline was silent. She slowly rose from her seat and began to wander toward the picture. "I don't know how to tell you this," she said. She inhaled sharply and turned to face me. "My grandmother... the woman you saw... is dead."
I straightened up. "Oh, my God," I said. "I'm so sorry. I had no idea. It must have happened so recently...."
"Yes," she said. "But you said she came in a week ago?"
"Yes," I said. "I have it logged in my system that she came in and made her purchase exactly a week ago today."
Caroline was visibly shaking now. She stared intensely into my eyes. "The funeral was two weeks ago."
My jaw dropped. "I... I don't... I'm...."
She cut me off mid stammer. Her tears flowed freely now as she flopped down onto the sofa beside me. "I want so badly to believe what you're telling me." She buried her face in her hands and sobbed.
Gingerly, I inched closer and placed and arm around her. I gently rubbed her back as she continued to cry. "Shh," I said. "It's okay. You're okay." When at last her sobs began to lessen, I spoke again. "You know," I posited, "I think this might have happened for a reason."
She looked up at me, her eyes wide with confusion and her eyebrows knitting a darling little wrinkle in her forehead. "What do you mean?"
"Well," I continued. "What if... I mean, just what if... your grandma didn't want you to be alone on your birthday?"
"Alone?" she repeated.
"Yeah," I said. "What if she wanted to send you some company? Maybe, not just any company. Maybe the company of a nice young man about your age.”
She tilted her head to the side, keeping her eyes looked on mine.
“You know?” I continued. “Both of us being single.... Are you single?"
"Yes," she said. She had completely stopped crying by now, and I could see that, deep inside, the gears were turning. "She always did want me to be happy...."
I reached over and brushed a strand of hair out of her face with the lightest touch. "Do you think I could make you happy, Caroline?"
She answered by pressing her lips to mine in a violent show of sudden passion. From the living room, up the stairs, through the hallway, and into the bedroom, our kiss only broke to allow for gasps of air. There wasn't a single wall the whole way that one of us hadn't slammed the other against in a fit of carnal hunger. What ensued was the hottest, filthiest, most bestial fuck session I'd ever encountered since I'd first started playing this trick.
It was simple enough: I'd start by rifling through the obituaries section of the local newspaper. I'd look for the ones with pictures of the deceased and then Facebook stalk their list of family members, hoping to find a hot daughter, or niece, or granddaughter, in this case. Caroline was particularly convenient, what with her grandma dying just two weeks before her birthday. I wished they'd all work out that cleanly.
I lay basking in the afterglow of my latest conquest with Caroline resting her head on my chest. A far cry from the blubbering mess she'd been downstairs, she now hummed a blissful little tune as she absently traced circles on my skin with her finger. All in all, I'd say she was having a pretty good birthday. Possibly the best in recent memory. It was then that an old familiar feeling overtook me, as it always did in these situations.
"Hey," I said, "I've gotta piss like a racehorse. Where's your bathroom?"
She smiled sweetly, pointed out the way, and sent me off to my destination with a kiss.
I didn't realize that night had fallen during our little romp, and was momentarily startled by the darkness of the hallway. I stepped carefully through the shadows feeling around for a light switch. All the while, the floorboards creaked and groaned beneath me. In spite of myself, between the darkness and the creaking, a tingle of anxiety started working it's way up my spine. You're being an idiot, I scolded myself. There's nothing to be scared of.
To reach the bathroom, I had to pass the stairs that led back down to the first floor. As I neared them, I heard a sound. Someone was moving around down below. I stopped dead in my tracks. All the horrifying possibilities ran through my mind: ghost, intruder, etc. A full minute must have passed before I realized I was being silly. Caroline probably has roommates, I thought, or other family that lives here. Most people do. Encouraged by my thoughts, I straightened up and strolled past the top of the stairs. It was out of pure curiosity that I looked down as I went.
I stopped again. My heart leaped up into my throat. Standing at the bottom of the stairs was a figure, aged and bent. I'd seen that face before. It was the same woman from the picture on the mantle, Caroline's grandmother, the same one who had been dead for weeks. Waves of malicious intent radiated up from where she stood. For what felt like an eternity, we simply stood there, staring each other down. Then, with a motion that was surprisingly firm for such a feeble frame, she started up the stairs.
I ran. I could see the bathroom at the end of the hall: my salvation. Frantically, I reached inside for the light switch, but couldn't find the damn thing. I could hear the woman’s arhythmic steps getting nearer and nearer. There was no time. I threw myself into the darkness that filled the tiny room and slammed the door shut.
The darkness that surrounded me was heavy. I couldn't make out my hand an inch in front of my face. I felt up and down the nearby walls for any sign of a light switch, the sound of my heavy beating and beating heart pounding in my ears all the while. At last, I fingered that familiar plastic button and pushed it eagerly.
And there she was. She stood directly in front of me, her scowling face just inches from mine. I screamed louder than I've ever screamed in my entire life. Her hair was thin and hung messily about her shoulders. Her eyes, hateful black coals, burned fiercely out of a pallid and stretched face. A pair of thin lips twisted themselves into an expression of pure, destructive anger.
My eyes remained locked on the old woman's face as I fumbled with the door handle. At last, I felt it open, and only then would I allow myself to turn my back on her. I threw the door open and was met unexpectedly by a concerned-looking Caroline. I yelped in surprise, causing her to do the same.
"What's the matter?" she asked. "I heard you screaming. Did you hurt yourself?"
I didn't answer, but only stood there panting for a moment. I turned hesitantly to survey the rest of the room. It was empty. No sign of the old woman anywhere.
I pushed past Caroline and made a beeline for the bedroom. I moved so quickly that I had already put half of my clothes back on by the time she appeared in the doorway. "Are you leaving?" she asked with a pout.
"Yeah," I said, and continued to dress.
"Seriously?" she demanded. I could hear the emotion rising in her voice, but I didn't give anything even close to a damn. I was getting out of there, and fast.
I could hear Caroline spouting obscenities and declaring her birthday ruined as I bounded down the stairs and out the front door. Only when I was sitting behind the wheel of my car did I finally feel safe. I stayed there for a moment, rubbing my temples, trying to make sense of what had just happened.
In the middle of my thoughts, I turned my head to look at the house one more time. My blood ran cold. There, in the front window, staring me down was that same pale face with the same burning eyes.
Written by Jdeschene