Entry 12: Anklet Test: Friday July 22
Today was an interesting day. Donna and I woke up with the sun. She automatically began straightening up our little house since Matt and Susan will be here tomorrow. I got dressed for work and headed over to the church.
The information that Mrs. Shiflett had given me weighed heavy on my mind and I thought about all the things she’d said. As I’d left her last night, her final words echoed in my head. “I think we’d know if she came home.” Something inside told me she had come home. But not as a prodigal daughter who’d gone away to have an abortion or run off with an older man. No, this Mischa, I was beginning to think, had come home as a wraith. And though some of the elderly woman’s speculations made sense, there were some things that just didn’t add up.
For instance, if Mischa is in fact still alive, how can her teenage self be roaming the upper floors of the church? My bet is that she is dead, and it is her ghost I have seen and heard.
And then there’s Tommy Blaine. If the ghost is Mischa as I suspect, and if Tommy Blaine is still alive, then who is the boy pursuing her through the hall?
I really wanted to talk to Tommy, but there was another experiment I wanted to try first. I wanted to hide the anklet. Put it somewhere under lock and key where no one had access to it except me. And then if it showed up in the closet again, I’d feel certain the spirit of Mischa is trying to communicate.
So I went back over to the house to get it. Problem is I couldn’t find the thing. I checked my pants pocket from the night before and it wasn’t there. I searched the nightstand, the bathroom, even the car. There was no anklet. I asked Donna if she’d cleaned out my pants pocket and she said no. Then I thought maybe Mrs. Shiflett hadn’t given it back to me, but no, I distinctly remember her handing it over. I scrambled all around the house looking for it, but it was gone. There was only one place it could be.
I ran back over to the church, and went upstairs to the rec room. The hallways were empty, the rooms silent, and as I reached for the closet door, I momentarily hesitated. But when I opened it, the closet was empty. There was no anklet on the floor.
I shook my head, disappointed in myself for acting so weird. I’d apparently lost the anklet somewhere between Mrs. Shiflett’s and home last night. I wouldn’t see it again.
I thought I’d go home and eat some lunch with my wife, but when I walked over she was sitting on the front porch, her hands in her lap. I could tell by the look on her face something was wrong.
“I cleaned up the office today. Took all that ugly paper down.”.
“Did you make it angel blue?” I asked, thinking of the paint we’d bought in town.
“Not yet. I think you should see the room before I do anything with it.”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Go take a look.”
“Okay.” I noticed she wasn’t making a move to get up and show me, so I went inside to see for myself.
She had taken down the makeshift wallpaper that had been there. The biblical scenes torn from magazines now lay on the floor. A Bosch painting of hell stared back up at me and I wondered how they could put such a horrible image in today’s modern bible.
But it wasn’t what was on the floor that was bothering Donna. It was what the pictures had been covering up that had her out there sitting on the porch. It appeared someone had taken crayons and drew on the walls. Most of it was just scribbling, random letters thrown together in a shaky scrawl, as if the artist had been out of his mind and desperately trying to find words. I did find it a bit unsettling, because it reminded me of something I’d read about once called spirit writing, where a person channeled the thoughts and energy of the dead and wrote it on paper. A lot of that stuff was jibberish too. But here on these walls, it had an stranger effect, for someone obviously had gone out of their way to cover up the message that finally got scrawled in one corner. The message was eerie enough: COVER NOT THOU MY BLOOD. In big red crayon it was emblazoned in the corner, as if the artist had crawled there for comfort. And there in the smallest of letters beneath it was something else. Apparently written in a different hand, it read: go away little girl. Somehow I don’t think it was quoting the Donny Osmond song.
I stood there for a few minutes looking at the walls. What had happened here? Who wrote this stuff? And who had hastily covered it up? It makes more sense to me that they could have just painted over it. But instead they hastily covered it with magazine and bible pages. Maybe they did it so quickly because they couldn’t stand to be in this room long enough to paint.
When I returned to the front porch Donna was still sitting there. I sat down next to her and put my arm around her shoulder. “It’s okay. It’s nothing,” I tried to console her.
“What is it all about? What do you think happened in there?”
“I don’t know. I’ll ask Larter about it, okay.”
“If there’s something wrong with the cottage, we shouldn’t be here.”
“There’s nothing wrong, Donna. We got something good here. Maybe it was just kids or vandals. We don’t know how long this place has been empty.”
“It just freaked me out. I wasn’t expecting that when I took the paper down.”
I kissed her on her forehead. “It freaked me out too, sweety. I’ll tell Larter and he’ll get somebody out here to paint it. You won’t have to do it, okay? After it’s painted you won’t even know there was ever a thing wrong.”
She smiled weakly. I knew as well as she did, she wouldn’t forget what was on the walls.
After going home for lunch, I returned once again to the quiet church. Friday afternoons are silent there. No one on the staff comes in and I’m left with myself to do the cleaning. No secretaries, no pastors, just me.
I was cleaning the vestibule when I heard it. That familiar sound from upstairs. Footsteps running across the floor.
I dropped what I was doing and bounded up the stairs. Reaching the top I saw them, just as I thought I would. They were halfway down the hall, running playfully in the opposite direction. Her skirt flowed behind her, followed by her own giggles, and the boy’s Sunday suit almost rustled as he ran in happy pursuit of her.
“Hey!” I yelled.
They didn’t pay attention, so I took off after them. But like before, they went around the corner and were gone. I didn’t see them vanish or disappear in wisps of smoke for I was too far away. When I came around the corner, they were just gone.
I stopped and waited. I listened for it and soon there it was, the girlish giggle emanating from the rec room. I went in and walked straight to the closet. I jerked the door open and there it was on the floor. The anklet with “MM” emblazoned across it.
I reached down and picked it up, inspecting it. Yes, it was the same one. Taken from my possession somehow and placed here.
“Mischa,” I whispered. “Are you here?”
Normally I would feel stupid, but not anymore. This was beyond my comprehension, but otherworldly things were at work, and I’m thinking someone is trying to tell me something.
“Mischa,” I repeated, this time a little louder, but I was met with only silence. I looked at the anklet in my hand. “I’m going to find out what happened to you.”
Now as I write this entry, it is early evening. Donna is once again in the den watching TV, her escape from the world. I’m in the kitchen with the backdoor open. Our dog friend sits out there and I can see him through the screen.
“What do you know, boy?” I ask him.
He just stares back, but I’m nearly convinced this dog is tied somehow to the mystery of Mischa Martin. In fact I think everything about this place is probably connected, like parts of a huge interlocking puzzle. It’s just a matter of finding the missing pieces…
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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.
Original text copyright 2007.
10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.