My 83 year old grandmother started living with me about three months ago. She'd suffered a broken hip during a traumatic car accident late in the fall, leaving her paralyzed. My mother was too busy with her job and life to take care of her, so instead, my mother passed her on to me: a 24 year old collage student, living in the heart of Toronto.
At first things were fine. During the day I'd take care of my grandmother, wheeling her around my small apartment, while I'd take my classes in the afternoon. Then I would come home late at night, sneaking my way into my own apartment just like a child sneaking home after curfew. Grandma usually fell asleep in her wheelchair, watching television; and I didn't like waking her up so late.
But one day when I came home I found out something that chilled me to the bone. I first noticed it when I entered my house, finding that the painting I'd hung on the wall next to my door had a dark mark next to it. Looking closer, it was as if a shadow of the painting was right beside it. It had been moved an inch to the left.
Quietly, I moved the painting back, trying to ignore the odd occurrence. But it wasn't just the painting. Every single thing in my apartment had a silhouette of dust on its right side; all of it being moved one inch to the left.
My gramma sat in the living room, sleeping in her chair, undisturbed as I moved everything back. Once the apartment was fixed I wheeled her to bed and decided to call my mother.
"Why do you think I don't let her stay here?" My mother cooed. "Just ignore her."
I listened to her melodic voice as she calmed me. If my gran had been doing this for years, and I'd only noticed just now, it's probably nothing to worry about.
"She doesn't do it often Neal, just put it back and forget about it. I've gotta go, my date's here" my mother squeaked, delighted as the door bell rang. Then the call ended.
The next day it happened again. Every single thing in my house was moved one inch to the left. Even the TV was moved! I was rather annoyed at this point, so I decided to talk to her the next morning.
"Hey Grandma?" I asked while preparing breakfast the next morning.
"Yes Neal?" she smiled, turning to look at me. Her body was stiff and she had to turn her wheels to see me.
"Why did you move everything?"
Grandma was silent for a few moments, smiling at me as if I hadn't even spoken. Then she replied, "it wasn't in the right spot" and then casually turned her chair back to the TV.
"What do you mean?" I was getting irritated now.
"Everything has to be perfect," she whispered, "for when he arrives."
I was stunned. Her response was so cryptic, and it made me uncomfortable. "For when who arrives, Grandma?"
I didn't get a response.
I was done playing games, she's been here for three months and this is how she treats me for taking care of her? That night after she'd gone to bed, I called my friend Dave. He agreed to install a secret security camera while we were away, taking my grandma to the doctors.
We left that morning, and I made sure to remember to leave the door unlocked for Dave. He hooked up the cameras and connected them to my laptop with Bluetooth. When we arrived home I checked and made sure everything was working right. Once I was sure it was I got ready, putting my laptop and books into my bag, and headed to school.
Part way through class I got a notification on my laptop. The security camera has been manually moved. Needless to say, I was confused. How had she moved it? She's a paralyzed old lady and the camera was certainly too high for her to reach, never mind see where it was hidden.
I decided to check the footage, unprepared for what I was about to see. My grandmother... stood. She rose from her wheelchair, arms lifted and hunched at her sides. It looked like she was being lifted like a puppet by some unseen string attached to her upper arms. But what chilled me the most, was that her usual, playful smile, still spread across her face.
Her unblinking eyes shifted with her body as she faced where the camera had been hidden. She knew exactly where it was and walked over on wobbling legs. Each step looked painful, her body shaking and swaying, held up by her arms and that invisible rope. In that moment her eyes looked deep into the camera and I could see its reflection in her grey orbs.
Finally she reached up, pulling on the camera and moving it...one inch to the left...
After that, I decided to sign grandma into a nursing home. It's better that way.