Part V of my short story New Beginnings. Part I is here, Part II here, Part III here, and finally, Part IV here. We left off with a roar of thunder and our narrator leaving home and everything she knew for Montreal.
Eric grabbed my arm, digging his nails into my jacket. I glanced down at his fingers and raised an eyebrow wordlessly. He chuckled. “Sorry. Storms make me a little leery, especially when I’m traveling.” I did not speak because I knew before it got better, it would get worse, but how could I tell a stranger that?
I chewed on my fingernail, scraping the black polish off with my teeth and trying my best to remain calm. Maybe it’s just a pop-up thunderstorm, I told myself, these things happen. That’s when the whispering began swirling around in my mind. The voices that haunted me every step of leaving home from pulling my duffle bag out of our closet to paying for the bus ticket. I couldn’t discern what they were saying, but from the way my heart was pounding in my chest, I could tell they were displeased.
“Do you believe in spirits?” I asked him.
“Like ghosts?” he asked, wrinkling his nose.
“Yeah, sure,” I muttered, “something like that.”
He looked around, then admitted, “Yeah, I do. Veronica swore up and down there was a ghost in the cellar of our old place. I never went down there, but she told me sometimes, when she was doing laundry… I don’t know how to explain it, but she said she didn’t feel alone.”
“Fool,” the voice hissed in my ear.
“You think you can run,” it continued, “but you are dumb, girl.”
I remembered what my psychologist had said about grounding myself. I took a deep breath, feeling the air whoosh through my lungs. It wasn’t a spirit, I tried telling myself, it was a shattered part of my psyche.
But that thought wasn’t reassuring.
As I boarded the bus to Montreal, I could sense that, as well as Eric, my ghosts would be my traveling companions, try as I might to escape them.