Chapter 1

Eva Miles didn’t think life could get any worse than this. She was sitting in her parents’ bedroom, on their nicely made bed. The wardrobe was half open. It was still full of their clothes, mom’s summer dresses hanging neatly on the hangers, dad’s silly, colorful ties folded carefully on a little shelf. Mom’s perfume bottle was still open, sitting on the little vanity table in the corner. The smell lingered on in the air, evoking sweet memories. It was l

ike they had just gone for a short trip and they would be back shortly before anyone even realized they were gone.

“Are you coming downstairs, sweetie?”

Eva turned to the door, which was now slightly ajar and the strong but feminine silhouette of her maternal grandmother peered in.

“Do I have to?” Eva whispered.

She wasn’t crying. She felt horrible because of it, but her grandmother kept assuring her that it was perfectly understandable. It was a shock. It was a tragedy. People reacted differently to it and Eva should react as she herself saw fit. No one would think anything bad of her.

Eva herself, wasn’t so sure. So many people came to the funeral, dressed in their Sunday best. All of them seemed to eye her in a strange, almost suspicious way, and not like a teenager who had just lost both of her parents in a single night.

“Of course not,” her grandmother walked over to the bed and sat down next to her.

“I just want to wake up from this nightmare,” Eva whispered, closing her eyes.

There was no pain, only a big, black emptiness that was threatening to swallow her alive.

“I know,” her grandmother sighed sadly.

She didn’t know what to say. What was there to say to a child who'd lost it all? No words of comfort existed, only time could soften the blow, but it would never make it fully disappear.

“I know it might seem like you don’t have the strength to go on,” her grandmother continued, “I have the same feeling. I lost a child. You lost your parents. It’s something that should never happen to anyone.”

She gently caressed Eva’s cheek. It was cold, but not wet.

“I wish I could tell you that it’ll get easier with time, but I’m not sure of that myself.”

Eva looked at her grandmother. She could always count on her for anything: for comfort, for reassurance and for brutal honesty.

“I’ll be down in a second,” Eva lowered her gaze.

She wanted to bury her face in her mom’s pillow, before the smell disappeared.

“Take your time,” her grandmother kissed her on the forehead and slowly walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.

Eva remained where she was sitting. She wanted to stay in here forever, just close her eyes, and never wake up, but she knew that wasn’t possible. She couldn’t do that to grandma and grandpa. Upon finding out what had happened, they, immediately, had decided to take her in, without even thinking twice about it. To them, there was no other option. Eva felt the same way. Family was always there, no matter what.

However, when they told her that she would be changing schools, Eva didn’t know how to feel about that. Her grandparents lived in the country, while she lived in the city, with her parents. At least, that was true before. Now, she wasn’t sure what she could consider her home anymore. Her grandparents suggested they transfer her immediately, as the school year had just begun, so Eva wouldn’t be lagging too far behind. It would be easy for her to catch up.

Eva wondered how she would ever be able to focus on anything again. Everything reminded her of her parents. Every sound, every place, every image that would stretch out before her. A memory could have been triggered by anything. It was all familiar, all beautiful once, all painful now. However, she knew that her parents wouldn’t want her to lock herself up and close herself off from the world. They would want her to be happy again… somehow.

Eva didn’t know anything about this new school. All she could find out about it was the name: Oak Grove High School. When she had visited her grandparents, she hadn’t really made any friends there. Now, she regretted it. At least that way, she’d have had a familiar face or two to see there, but now, she would be a stranger to them, and they would all be strangers to her.

A part of her welcomed this change. She could start fresh, focus on something new, forget about the pain, even if it was for a short while. Staying here would keep bringing up too many painful memories. She had enough memories inside of her. No need to be reminded from outside sources, too.

Eva sighed. There was no point in dwelling too much on this, as the matter was already settled. She was all packed and as soon as everyone dispersed, she’d be going home with her grandparents. They had all decided to come back at a later point and put all the stuff in boxes. No one wanted to do it now. After all, there was no need for that. It would be Eva’s house in two years, once she was eighteen and she had no intentions of ever selling it.

She fixed her bun a little, straightening a few loose strands of hair which had escaped the tight scrunchie which was keeping her hair in line. She looked at herself in the elongated mirror. She was pale as a ghost. She hadn’t been sleeping at all ever since this happened. At night, her grandmother would kiss her on the forehead, then close the door to her bedroom, leaving with the assumption that Eva was asleep, but Eva would just stare at the ceiling, eyes wide open. She thought of counting sheep, but no sheep ever appeared. All she could see was the image of the crashed car, blood, and two bodies lying unconscious. Then, everything engulfed in fire.

She took a deep breath, and started walking towards the door. She shuddered a little, before reaching for the handle, then opened the door and walked back out into the real world.

Chapter 2

It was about three in the morning and Eva was tossing and turning in her room, at her grandparents’ place. Everything seemed different, even though she had slept here a thousand times before, she knew nothing would ever be the same. The pillow wasn’t as soft, the mattress not as comfortable, even the air she was breathing wasn’t the same air, somehow. Like it was some crazy, parallel universe and she had no idea how to go back home.

She tried closing her eyes. The same darkness spread out before her. It didn’t matter whether her eyes were open or closed. The same darkness, same coldness, same silence. She sighed, finally opening her eyes. She looked out the window. Branches from a nearby tree were swaying violently, tapping against the glass, like an unwanted visitor seeking entrance. It was raining outside. Little droplets of rain were sliding down the wet window.

Suddenly, lightning, followed by loud thunder, illuminated her entire room, shedding light on shadows which resembled monsters and goblins. Eva wasn’t afraid. The worst had already happened. She couldn’t imagine anything worse than the situation she had already found herself in.

She boldly watched the window, as if daring any monsters or ghosts to come at her, but no one came. Only rain continued to tap, barely audible, against her window, as the tree now swayed a little more gently in the wind.

The house was silent. It sounded like, apart from Eva, there was no one else there, but she knew her grandparents were soundly sleeping in the room just down the hall. When she was little, during a storm like this one, she would tiptoe into their room and snuggle with them under the covers. A part of her wanted to do that even now, when she felt so grown up and almost able to solve all of her problems. Instead, however, she opted for a glass of warm milk.

She quietly got out of bed, followed by another loud, thunderous explosion, taking place somewhere far, far away, or so she hoped. She slid her feet into her fluffy slippers and dragged her feet towards the door. The silence was oppressive. She felt like singing, just so there was some noise other than rain and thunder, but she didn’t want to wake up her grandparents. It’d been a long week for them, too, and Eva was glad that at least someone was able to get a good night’s rest.

She slowly walked down the stairs and went to the kitchen. She switched on the little light in the corner, then opened the fridge and got out the milk bottle. One of the perks of living in the countryside: plenty of fresh milk and you knew where it came from. She poured it into a little container and placed it in the microwave for a minute. Just as she reached for the cocoa from the cupboard, she was startled by a noise she didn’t recognize, making her almost drop the box of cocoa on the floor.

She quickly turned around, trying to figure out wha

t it was. She couldn’t identify the sound and that made her even more afraid. She could feel her heart beating like crazy, but a second later, she managed to calm herself down.

“Grandma?” she called out, as quietly as she could, but still audible enough, so that, if someone was there, they could hear her and say something, but there was no reply. There was only silence reigning inside the house and the storm which was getting worse outside.

She turned to the microwave and waited out the last three seconds, until her milk was ready. She poured in the cocoa and started stirring. Her fingers were shaking. She just couldn’t steady her hand and she had no idea why.

That sound was obviously nothing, probably just something outside, in the rain. It was the countryside, after all. There were lots of different sounds there, than the ones she was used to hearing back in the city. So, it wasn’t unusual that she was a little jittery, especially after everything that had happened. At least, that was what she was trying to convince herself of.

Tags: Lilly Wilder Paranormal
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