But I couldn't grieve. I had to stay strong for my brother, who was a mere eleven years old. He was attached to our mother at the hip, so he took the news hard. He's slept in my room every night since. He can't even walk passed Mom's room without breaking down.
Luckily, our mother left us a will. The deed to the house is ours along with an inheritance. I don't want this money. I don't want this house. I want my mom back.
Isaac, my little brother, wants to move out of the house. He says it's not the same without her and it kills him to stay in it. Of course, being his older sister, I don't want to act irrationally. We need to sell the house first. Then, and only then, can we move out of the tomb that captured our mother.
So, we planned her funeral. I wanted Isaac to be as much apart of it as I was. Mom would've wanted it that way. My dad, that joke of a father, didn't even flinch at the news. He said it was bound to happen... in front of Isaac. He has no soul. He is a true sociopath indeed.
I had a feeling after the funeral he would file for legal guardianship of Isaac. Sure, in the justice system he had all the right to do so, but if you knew the monster eating away at his conscience, you would comprehend why he is no fit parent. He shouldn't even be allowed to own a hamster.
The entire time I stared at my mother's body inside of the coffin, I thought about how her pride and joy would be given off to that monster. The one I was forced to call Dad. Isaac clutched at my dress as he cried uncontrollably. Poor little guy. This isn't even half of the battle ahead of him.
My father didn't even come to the funeral. Why bother? It's just my ex-wife and mother of my children who died of cancer, right? No big deal. It almost clenches at my heart strings but... I don't allow it. I can't allow myself to break down. Not in front of Isaac.
After the funeral, we went back to the tomb. Isaac hurried off toward my bedroom, and I made my way down to the basement. Once I closed the door behind me, I fell to the ground. Everything I held back at the funeral, everything I kept locked up for years came spewing out of my tear ducts, down my cheeks, and onto my dress. The mascara burned my eyes as I cried so intensely I forgot to breathe.
Suddenly, my sadness became anger. I punched at the wall, not caring that I was hurting myself. I couldn't stop. Until... I heard laughing. I quickly looked around the room. Silence. Darkness. Nothing. Then, I heard heavy footsteps. They were coming from upstairs. Being that Isaac only weighed about 80-90 pounds, I knew it couldn't have been him.
So I ran up the stairs only to find the alarm still set and the front and back doors locked. I exhaled deeply, wiping away the mascara stained into my cheeks. Still, those footsteps couldn't have been in my imagination.
The following weeks passed by easier than expected. Besides getting a letter from the court, I had been dealing with my new role as guardian, easily. Isaac had begun sleeping in his own bed and seemed to be recovering from Mom's death. He seemed happy and even asked if we could postpone moving out of our mother's house. He had this idea that it would look better for us in court, sensing that I owned the house and had plenty of money to care for Isaac opposed to my alcoholic father living in a roach infested apartment.
His idea was a good one, so I removed the for-sale sign from the front yard and hid it away in the basement.
Though everything seemed to be looking positive, I begun to notice Isaac become more and more of an introvert. He spent most of his days in his room with the door closed. I could hear him talking whenever I stood outside of the door, invading his privacy. I know kids his age have imaginary friends, but whenever I listened in on his conversations, I deemed it strange. Eerie. He talks about the court situation often, asking for advice from his 'friend.' I often, at times, catch whispers of a voice that was not Isaac's. One that sounds a lot like our mother's. But that's silly. Mother is dead. Isaac more than likely talks in a high pitched voice as a coping mechanism to deal with Mom's loss.
I'm beginning to notice that days could go by without Isaac even showering or eating. He is so fixated on his room. It's to the point I sometimes have to burst into his room to find him sitting, cross-legged in front of the closet door. The door is always cracked open as if something had crawled back inside before I invaded the room. Isaac always throws a tantrum, yelling at the top of his lungs that I shouldn't have ruined it. What is it?
Lately, whenever I prepare dinner, he no longer wants to eat at the table. He says he has important stuff to do before he kisses me on the cheek, rushing up the stairs like a bat out of hell. I just find it odd that he's changed his mind about the house. He had always been frightened of the basement, but somehow he's overcome his fear. I wake up in the middle of the night and catch him walking down into the basement. He seems to be arguing with his 'friend.' Isaac didn't want to go into the basement, but the voice kept insisting he come. Because I couldn't be caught spying on him, I followed from a distance in the darkness as I listened to his small footsteps climb down the stairs of the basement. As usual, he conversed with the voice that, without a doubt, was my mother's. I knew it was, though all logic would suggest it wasn't. I suppose Isaac could have been recording mother at some point... I mean, that's a bit of a stretch but what other explanation would be plausible? I didn't want to believe there was something else speaking in my mother's voice.
I could go on paranormal sites, looking up things that crawl in the darkness and coax little children into becoming antisocial, but that would mean I have lost my sanity. Sure, ghosts could be real, but until I see it, it doesn't exist. To be honest, if I were to go to court and say Isaac has been talking to aliens, ghosts, etc they would look at me and throw me into an asylum. And, most importantly, Isaac would be in the custody of a sociopathic drunk. So, though I'm curious about what's going on, it's completely logical to believe he is simply withdrawing from me because of our mother's death. Children grieve differently.
Something within me told me to check up on Isaac as I finished washing the dishes. As usual, he hadn't been downstairs for hours. I just-I just wanted to know what was going on with him. If he had an imaginary friend... fine. But, what if something else was going on. I know something else is going on. I could feel it in my gut. That voice... our mother's voice. It was impossible. And, with the custody hearing so close, I couldn't risk Isaac being antisocial and stoic. So I mustered up the courage to turn the knob on the door to his room. As I creaked it open, I realized how quiet it was. No laughter. No talking. Strange.
But, it all made sense once I walked into the room. Empty. No Isaac. No imaginary friend. Just... the closet. It was cracked open just as it was the countless times I caught Isaac sitting cross legged in front of it... I went into a panic, shouting his name at the top of my lungs. Frantically, I looked in every closet in the house, under every bed, and inside of every cabinet. Nothing. He wasn't here.
Finally, I had to call the police. The operator informed me I had to wait 48 hours to file a missing person's report. Because Isaac was at the age of 'runaways,' they didn't deem it necessary to panic. But, I knew Isaac better than anyone else, including my mother. He would never run away. Never.
So I reluctantly called my father, believing maybe he coaxed Isaac out of the house. But, once he answered the phone, I knew he wasn't the culprit. He was piss drunk. Too drunk to plan out anything but his next visit to the bathroom.
I didn't know what to do. I did everything a parent would do if their child went missing, and, having to wait for a response, only made my anxiety peak. Where did he go? Who took him? I couldn't help but think back to the footsteps. The laughter. The conversations. The opened closet door. Perhaps some sick fuck preyed on Isaac. Though he's a smart boy, he is still a boy. Naive. Indecisive. Easy to manipulate. But, no one could get into our house unless invited. Isaac didn't know the alarm code; therefore, he couldn't have disabled it. No one could get in without the alarm sounding. No one.
So...they had to have been in the house. In the shadows perhaps... hiding in his closet. No. It's not - possible.
With my thoughts scrambling to find an answer, I ended up falling asleep in Isaac's bed. When I awoke the next morning, I heard laughter. Instinctively, I jumped up, rushing towards the noise in hopes it would be Isaac. But the laughter was coming from a place Isaac was terrified of. The basement. It was unlikely he would be down there, but I had to look. For God's sake he is my responsibility.
So I hurried down into the basement, flicking the light switch which barely lit a quarter of the room.
"Isaac," I called.
"Over here," he said.
I rushed towards the direction of the voice, realizing if I took a single step forward I would be engulfed in darkness.
"Isaac, why are you in the dark?" I questioned.
An unrecognizable laugh threatened my ears. I stepped away, walking towards the stairs.
"Come get me, sister," he said, innocently.
I continued up the stairs slowly. I knew that was Isaac's voice, but I couldn't help but feel I was in danger. The atmosphere was so thick I could barely breathe. It was as if the air was on fire.
"You better not leave me, you bitch!"
The voice... it wasn't Isaac's. It was deep, threatening, and it startled me so much that urine trickled down my legs. I was so frightened that I stood still in shock, staring into the darkness a few feet ahead of me.
"I love you, sister," Isaac said.
"I- I love you too, Isaac. Just... I need to see your face, little man," I stuttered.
I closed my eyes as I listened to the heavy footsteps approach me. My body shook intensely... mostly because I knew. I knew it wasn't him walking towards me. Isaac was always light on his feet...
"You're right, I'm not Isaac," it said.
Slowly, I began to open my eyes.
Written by GreyOwl