*SPOILER ALERT* This story is a sequel to The Compact, and the subsequent character interview. Click here to read The Compact, and here to read the character interview if you haven’t read them already.
Most people can trust what their minds tell them. They know the monsters in their nightmares aren’t real. My name is Angela Miller, and I envy those people…
Closing my eyes, I rest my forehead against the chilled glass.
“When is Daddy coming?” Sophie’s innocent voice breaks into my thoughts.
“He’ll be here for the Halloween party tonight,” I say, eyeing her reflection in the window.
“Will Ronni be with him? I miss Ronni.” She pulls me to the floor and begins playing with the blocks Daddy gave her.
“Ronni isn’t part of us anymore, remember?”
The blocks fall to the ground.
A tear comes to my eye and I wipe it away.
“Why not?” Sophie demands, digging nails into my palm.
“Because,” I sigh, as she picks up another block, “he tried to hurt us, remember?”
I jump as the door to our room swings inward. “Hello, Angela.” Nurse Hatty, Mad Hatty as I call her, smiles. “How are you feeling today?”
I shrug, the block falling from my hand as Sophie retreats into the shadows.
“It’s time for your medication, and then a nice walk. You’ve been isolating yourself too much lately.”
I roll my eyes. “To isolate myself I’d have to be alone.”
“Angela,” Mad Hatty frowns, “remember, you have to address reality with your words.”
“That’s my reality!”
She takes a cup of pills from her cart. I snatch them from her and force them down my throat. “My daddy is still coming tonight, right?”
She nods. “You should eat something before we walk.”
As we leave my room, Sophie begins to giggle.
After lunch, I slip on a coat and sneak out while Mad Hatty isn’t looking. Around the south side of my ‘vacation home,’ I climb my favorite oak. I can see Daddy’s quarry from here.
“What are you doing up there?” Jason gazes at me, brushing away something from his shoulder.
“What’s after you today?”
“Spiders. I think they sprayed my room with them last night.”
I snort. “You mean they sprayed your room for spiders?”
“No!” He rips off his jacket and throws it on the ground, stomping on it. “They sprayed it with spiders! They’re all over me. I don’t know how they got past the traps I set.”
Sophie giggles as we watch him, but I shake my head and climb down. “Jason,” I touch his shoulder, “did you take your meds today?”
When he ignores me, I begin helping him stomp his jacket. “I think we got them—” My eyes widen as I see a black spider scurry away from the collar of his coat.
“See? I told you they sprayed my room.”
“Angela?” Mad Hatty says.
“I,” pausing, I shake my head, “wondered how long it would take her to notice I was gone.”
Nodding to him, I step out into the open.
Sophie begins to cry. “Did they really spray his room—”
“Angela!” Mad Hatty trots over to me. “Why are you crying?”
I whisk away the tears. “I’m fine.” I glance back and see Jason walking away. “I think someone was messing with Jason.”
She laughs, looping her arm through mine. “Has he sent you another letter? I think he had quite the crush on you.”
“Letter?” I frown.
“She was just talking to him!” Sophie squeals.
I clap a hand over my mouth.
“Me.” I clear my throat. “I was just talking to Jason…”
Mad Hatty frowns. “Dear, Jason went to live with his aunt. He hasn’t been here for months.” She pulls out a pad and pencil and begins to scribble something. “Did you really think you were talking to him?”
My stomach feels as if Sophie is clawing at it. I force a laugh. “Happy Halloween! I had you fooled, didn’t I?”
“Funny.” She stuffs the pad back into her pocket.
I clear my throat, shifting my weight. “I think I’ll go get ready for the party.”
As I close the door behind us, Sophie takes over. She giggles gleefully, pulling costumes from the trunk of things Daddy sent us.
“I’m his favorite!” She pulls us into a purple princess dress.
“I’m too old for this.”
“I’m not.” She smiles.
I don’t fight for control. Has Jason really been gone for months? As I catch my reflection in the window, I begin to cry. What new part of the outside world’s reality am I losing?
“Ronni is coming tonight.” Sophie says, spinning us around.
“No!” I shake my head, forcing us to stand still. “Ronni isn’t real. And neither are you. I’m real.” I pinch my arm and don’t let go. “I’m the one that feels this pain. This is my skin.”
“Ouch!” Sophie jerks our arm away. “You’re mean! Ronnie is real! I saw him!”
A freeze frame of memory darts through my mind. Over Jason’s shoulder is another young man setting on a bench, his brown eyes boring into me the same way they always had.
I shake my head. “No, Ronni was never real. I made him up, just like I made you up.”
Sophie begins to squeal. “Don’t you remember?” She pulls me up and dances me around the room.
As we spin, I close my eyes, my mother’s image coming into view. The memory crashes over me. She had been pregnant when she died. “With—”
“Me!” Sophie laughs.
A knock on my door stops our dancing. The room swims before my eyes.
“Hello?” A low voice calls.
“I don’t want any more medicine,” Sophie says, slipping into the shadows.
“Just a second.” I take a deep breath to steady myself and pull off the costume she had put on over my clothes.
As I open the door, Sophie cheers.
“Hi,” his black bangs fall over his eyes.
My heart races as memories blur with imagination.
“I’m new here.” He says. “They say my name is Ronald, but I’d rather you call me Ronni.”
Thank you so much for reading! I really hope you enjoyed this story. Have a question you’d like to ‘ask’ Angela? Leave it in a comment below and I’ll be sure to include it in next week’s character interview! This story was inspired by When Readers Write’s, Blah Buster prompt of Frightened. To read more Blah Busters click here.