Resurrection Diaries Entry 34: Martin and Shaedra

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Entry 34: Martin & Shaedra: Tuesday Aug.9

The police didn’t come today either. But someone did. I was still in bed when there came a knocking at the front door. Penny jumped up from her place beside me and began to bark. She certainly is a good security system, I’ll give her that. I hastily dressed and when I got to the door I discovered Mr. Martin was standing on the porch, fidgeting and shuffling from foot to foot. I have to admit I was surprised to see him.

“I didn’t call the police,” he stated matter-of-factly.

“Okay,” I replied, feeling a little more relaxed.

“Maybe it’s because of something you said,” he reasoned. “Maybe I’ve been fooling myself and I just needed someone to point it out.” He looked me square in the eye. “Yesterday when I found you in my house, in her room, I wanted to kill you. I felt like you were violating my world. My little world where Mischa is okay and coming home soon.” He looked down at his shoes, “But she’s not, is she?”

“No sir, I don’t think so.”

He nodded. “What of her letters then?”

I stepped outside and Penny followed me. She went down the steps to go out in the yard, while I motioned Mr. Martin to sit on the porch. I sat down next to him. “Do you really get them every year?” I asked him.

“Yes. They are typed, printed off a computer. She says she doesn’t have time to sit down and write a real letter.”

“Does she sign them?”

“Yes”.

“Maybe it’s not her,” I suggested warily.

He didn’t say anything, only nodding to let me know he understood what I was saying. Finally after a moment, he spoke. “I want to know. I have to know what happened to my her. I know she’s just my stepdaughter, but I raised her as my own. When her momma ran off and abandoned us, we were all we had left. I love her just as much as if she was my own blood. Can you understand that?”

I said that I could.

“I’ve gone nearly twenty years believing she was still out there, and then you come along telling me you believe she’s dead.”

It was more of a question than a statement, so I answered it. “Yes, I believe she is.”

He nodded. “If you have guesses or theories, I don’t want to know. I only want proof. I want to help if I can, but I don’t want to hear a thing about it until it’s the positive truth. I can’t deal with just wondering if that’s the way things really happened. That would drive me crazy. That’s why it’s been easier for me to believe she’s alive.”

I understood that, too.

“But when you have the truth, please come to me and tell me. Promise you’ll tell me first. I don’t want to hear it from the papers or the police.”

“Okay, I promise.”

He smiled slightly and I saw a different man from the one who had once punched me on his front lawn. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a bundle of envelopes with a rubber band around them. “Her letters,” he said, handing them to me.

I looked at the envelopes. His address was typed across the face of them. I wanted to look at the letters right away, but I didn’t.

“Thank you,” I said. “I’ll give them back to you.”

“If they aren’t really hers, I don’t want them back.”

“Do you believe they are from her, Mr. Martin?”

He weighed the answer in his head. “I’m starting to see things differently. Things I thought sounded like her, I’m not so sure about now. Maybe someone else will see what I have refused to.” He got up and stepped down off the porch. “Come see me,” he said. “Just don’t break in next time.”

I grinned a little until I realized he was serious. “Thanks for not calling the police.”

“Don’t make me regret it,” he said, and then went to his car, driving away as fast as he could. Something told me he didn’t like it here so close to the church his daughter loved.

I looked at the envelopes in my hand. “Okay Mischa, let’s see what you grew up to be…”

The typed letters painted a pretty picture of a runaway girl who became a successful dress designer. So successful she didn’t have time for a husband or a visit with the man she knew as her father. But the promise to visit was always there, “if I can find the time.” There was the mention throughout the yearly missives of personal things. She asked about Tommy Blaine, but not of Eric. Only once did she mention him in her letters. “I miss Eric too, but I know no one liked him. He was still a nice boy.” She never mentioned her mother either, as if the woman was dead to her, if she had even existed at all. She talked of Mr. Martin as if he were the only family she had. For all intents and purposes, to her he was her real dad. Her discourses to him were long ramblings that at times seemed to me to be a case of a daughter buttering her father up before asking for something. But she never asked him for a cent. Maybe these ramblings were to keep him from wondering about where she’d gone.

The one thing I had noticed right away was she never included a return address. Yes, there was a New York postmark, but never a way to write her back. I found myself wondering why Mr. Martin never tried to find her. After that many years a concerned father would have hired a detective, or tried to discover her whereabouts somehow. But I guess he was blinded by what he wanted to believe. I’m the one who had to stir things up.

I had every intention of going over to the church and asking the secretary to view the old church records, to try and find out something about the Shifletts, and their strange nephew Eric, but I was sidetracked by yet another visitor. Shaedra.

She came by shortly after Mr. Martin had left, and the suspicious part of me wondered if maybe she had been waiting for him to leave before she paid me a visit. There was something different about her today though. No longer did she wear alluring clothing and walk in the sexually confident manner she had once displayed. Now she wore a long black dress, the top nearly buttoned up to her neck. No leg, no cleavage. Now she was asexual as possible.

“Morning Shaedra,” I said standing in the doorway. “Would you like to come in?”

She looked over at the repaired picture window and shook her head. “No, I just came over to tell you goodbye.”

“Goodbye?”

“Yes, I quit my job as Mrs. Shifflett’s assistant. I’m leaving.”

I was kind of surprised at the news. “Why?” I asked.

She didn’t give me an answer, and I assumed what she did have to say had been rehearsed on the way over.

“I wanted to apologize for the other day. Trying to seduce you like that. And you being a married man. I am truly sorry.”

“It’s okay,” I replied, wondering where she was going with all this.

“I know you are a good man, and that you love your wife. She will come back to you; of this I’m sure.” She hesitated as if gauging what she was going to say next. “But you have forces swirling around you and this place.”

“Forces?”

“Paul, I have always had an insight into things. I feel things that others don’t. I’m empathetic, for lack of a better word. And I feel there is something going on here that I do not want to be a part of. Not even as a bystander.”

“What do you mean?”

“There is an evil at work in this town. And there’s an evil somewhere over there.” She pointed at the church. “I don’t know if it’s this Mischa you talked about, but there’s something dark and evil here. I feel it was here when she was a child, and it’s still here preying on the innocent.”

“What kind of evil are we talking about?”

“I do not know, but it frightens me, Paul. It frightens me enough to want to change every aspect of my life and get as far away from here as possible. I do not want to be its next victim.”

“You’re not making much sense,” I said, trying to be respectful. “If there’s an evil here, why doesn’t it come forth? I can’t imagine it’s Mischa. So what is it?”

“Maybe she is connected to it. Hopelessly tied here until it’s gone. But it’s not without form. Sometimes evil walks in the hearts of men. Please remember that.”

She turned to go, but I grabbed her arm. She spun and tried to pull away, before seeing I wasn’t going to harm her. “Please Shaedra, tell me what you are thinking.”

She placed her hand over mine. “I am thinking you are a good man, but not all men are good. I have seen his face and I fear what lies in his eyes.”

“What do you mean you’ve seen his face?”

She removed her hand from mine and gently pulled away. “Listen to everything that Mischa has to tell you. Follow her signs.” She stepped off the porch and looked up at me. “In my Bible reading this morning, it said there shall be a resurrection of the dead.”

I got ready to ask her what she thought that means, but then Penny came around the house. Seeing Shaedra she barked in alarm. The woman looked at the dog and smiled. “Keep an eye on your master, would you?”

Then she was walking to her car. I came off the porch in a trot and caught up to her just as she’d opened her door and got in. “I can’t do this alone. Please help me find out what happened.”

She looked up at me sadly. “I can’t help you, Paul. Once, I was very attracted to you, and I thought the allure was physical, sexual, but I know now what drew me to you was her. She’s all around you. She’s around all of us. She draws us all into her sorrow. I thought it was you who was so sad and lonely, but it’s her. I don’t want to feel that anymore.”

She tried to close the door but my hand was on it. Still I knew I couldn’t talk her into staying. Escape was in her eyes. She wanted distance between herself and this whole town. “I wish you the best of things, Shaedra. I wish I could leave just like you, but I can’t.”

“I know. You are connected to her now. And for that you must be wary. Don’t let the evil that took her take you, too.”

She got out of the car suddenly, and flung her arms around me. She kissed me on the cheek and whispered, “for luck.” Then without another word she was back in the car, closing the door, and speeding away.

I stood there on the lawn, watching her go, and a thought occurred to me. Maybe this is what they mean by the one that got away. If that’s the case, I wish her Godspeed and safety, for I have a dread feeling something bad is about to happen…

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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Resurrection Diaries Entry 33: Headache And A Bible

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Entry 33: Headache And A Bible: Monday Aug. 8

I woke up with an excruciating headache. I was still on the floor. I struggled to my feet, my head swimming in dizziness. After some initial disorientation, I felt the back of my head with my hand. I could feel the rawness where I’d been hit and I winced for a second. I looked at my hand to see if I was bleeding. Then I heard his familiar voice.

“You’re not bleeding. I didn’t hit you that hard.”

I looked over at Mr. Martin. He was sitting at the writing desk, flipping through his daughter’s diary as if it were the Sunday newspaper. He pushed the diary to the side and looked hard at me.

“Do you want to give me a good reason why I shouldn’t call the law and have you arrested?” he asked.

I shook my head, I had no excuse. I knew I’d done wrong. I had broken into his house and went through his daughter’s private things.

“The only reason I haven’t called them yet is because of Mischa,” he said. “I think you know something I don’t.”

I looked up, almost wishing he’d call the police instead. Then I could tell them what I know. But I imagine they would find me crazy without any hard evidence. I’d be locked up and unable to help anyone.

“Why are you so interested in my daughter?”

I hesitated. What should I tell him? I tried the truth. “I think she was murdered.”

He seemed to think on this a minute, and then he shook his head, unbelieving. “No, she left home. She’s fine. I get letters from her every Christmas. She’s a designer in New York.”

I couldn’t believe this. It couldn’t be. She couldn’t be alive. I knew she was dead, and he was just in denial. “Then why do you keep her room like a shrine?” I asked, casting a look around us both.

“It’s not a shrine,” he protested, and I detected a hint of anger rising in his voice. I decided it was best to let that go. I was in enough trouble. “I keep her room for her,” he explained.

“What for?” I asked. “Has she been home to visit since she left?”

“No, she’s too busy.”

“And yet you still wash her clothes,” I said, glancing over at the bureau.

He looked at me sharply.

I kept going. “Clothes that she would have outgrown after being away for twenty years.”

There was something hurt and dangerous in his eyes. I really needed to watch myself here.

“You should go home now,” he said, a dejected look on his face.

“You’re not going to call the police?”

He gave me a shrug. “I guess you’ll just have to wait and see. Now get out of here.”

He didn’t move. He just sat there at the writing desk, as if he wanted to be left alone with his stepdaughter’s memories. As for myself, I didn’t waste much time heading for the door. Still I turned back.

“I’m sorry for breaking in and invading your privacy, Mr. Martin. I just wanted to know the truth.”

He looked up at me with tears in his eyes. “The truth is she’s coming home.”

I felt like telling him she already had. Instead I left, the pain in my head starting to fade a little. I went home to wait on the police.

The police didn’t come. But the guys came to fix the window that had broken the other day. While Penny and I watched them work, I got to thinking of Mischa’s dress. The one in her closet at home had been labeled, “MB”. I got up and went to my own closet. I had put the duffel in there after Donna left me. I opened the bag and pulled the dress right off the top. Yes, it was the same dress. Same color, same design, same manufacturer. But looking at the label I saw it wasn’t the same dress at all. This one was labeled “MM”. What was going on here? Before I could dwell on it, the workers finished with the window. I put the dress back and paid them.

I went out to sit on the front porch. Penny lay at my feel and let me scratch her behind the ears. She was starting to get used to that. I looked over at the church and saw the pastor’s car in the lot. I got up and walked over there.

I found Chiles in his office, and he was very cordial. “Hi Paul,” he greeted me with a smile. “How are you?”

My head still had a dull ache, but I told him I was doing fine.

“Is there something I can help you with?”

“Well, it’s not a spiritual matter, but I did want to ask you something.”

“Okay,” he nodded, clasping his hands in front of him on the desk.

“Did you know Pastor Shiflett when he was here?”

He seemed to think for a moment. “The name’s familiar, but he wasn’t here when I came on board. I replaced a Pastor Denton. I think Shiflett was here years before that.”

I nodded. “Yes, he was here in the seventies. His wife was a Sunday school teacher here, too.”

“Well, if it were the seventies, that was way before my time here. You’ll have to ask one of the church elders.”

“Do you know if there would be church records from that time? I’d like to get in touch with him if he’s still living.”

“The office keeps records for about thirty years if I’m not mistaken,” he replied.

“Do you think I could get a look at them?”

“Well, the secretary keeps them locked in the file cabinet, Paul. She’s gone for the day, I’m afraid. But you could see her tomorrow about it. I really don’t see where it would be a problem.”

I nodded, just a little disappointed I couldn’t get a look at them today. I might be locked up myself later.

“Why do you want to get in touch with this old pastor? Are my sermons too boring?” He laughed.

“Oh no sir,” I laughed back. “Your sermons are fine.” I thought for a minute, trying to think of a believable excuse, but nothing would come. He waited for me to answer. Instead, I just said, “I enjoyed your last sermon.”

He smiled. “Maybe you should join the church.”

“I’ve been thinking about it.”

“Good. Well, you just turn those thoughts into conviction,” he replied with a little smile. “We’d love to have you as a permanent member.”

I thought of another permanent member, Mischa. She was really permanent. Even after death, she couldn’t leave.

“In fact,” Pastor Chiles said, oblivious to my thoughts, “I’ve been meaning to give you a Bible. Can’t have you working here and you not owning one,” he grinned. He reached behind him on a bookshelf and took a black leatherbound volume down. He handed it to me. “There you go. We usually wait until someone is baptized, but maybe you’ll do that too before long.” He winked.

“I shouldn’t take your bible,” I lightly protested. I didn’t like people just giving me things. I always feel like I owe them something in return.

“Oh no, you go right ahead. These bibles are donated by church members just for this purpose.”

“Oh okay, well in that case,” I finally reasoned. I put the book under my arm. “Well Pastor, I better go. I’m expecting company soon.”

“Alright,” he said. “I’ll be seeing you Sunday?”

“Yes,” I replied, hoping I was still around Sunday.

“You are doing a fine job here at Resurrection, Paul.”

“Thank you sir,” I replied. I then begged my leave and turned to go. But I stopped, thinking of something else I wanted to discuss. “Pastor, I do have a biblical question maybe you could help with me.”

He leaned back in his chair. “Sure, fire away.”

“Does the phrase ‘cover not thou my blood’ mean anything to you?”

He raised an eyebrow. I could tell he was curious, but I wasn’t about to tell him it had been scrawled across my office wall in crayon. “I saw it in a novel I was reading the other night and just wondered if it was from the Bible.”

He put his elbows up on his desk and laced his fingers together. “O Earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.”

A chill went through me. Clearly the message on my wall had been a plea for help from Mischa.

“It’s from the Old Testament book of Job.”

“What does it mean?”

“Well, Job was a very pious and patient man. God set all kinds of troubles and trials upon him in order to test his faith. Here Job was speaking about the wrong he felt had been done to him.”

“Cover not thou my blood sounds like it was serious.”

“Well, to him it was. He used the word blood to compare his suffering with that of someone who had been murdered. He calls on the earth not to conceal the crime but to reveal it, so that his injuries or affliction may not be hidden but be avenged. You must have been reading a crime novel.”

“Excuse me?”

“You said you saw this in a book you were reading. Sounds like it’s a good mystery yarn.”

“Yes, it is. Thank you Pastor for your help.”

He smiled and spread his arms wide. “That’s what I’m here for, to guide the flock. You can find the verse in that Bible I just gave you,” he winked. “Job chapter 16, verse 18, I think.”

 

When I went home the police still weren’t there. I sat down and waited on the front porch until dark. Either Mr. Martin hadn’t called them yet or they were waiting until morning to get the arrest papers in order. I looked down at Penny resting at my feet.

“Well girl, guess ole Paul has gotten himself in a mess.”

She barked twice in response. “Yeah I know. I should have left things alone.”

I looked at the Bible Chiles had given me. “Maybe I should turn to the Word, huh,” I grinned.

She barked twice again, and I opened the book to the front page. Inscribed just inside the cover in a familiar feminine hand were the words “Mischa was here…”

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 32: In The Martin Household

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Entry 32: In The Martin House: Monday August 8

Restless dreams. I didn’t get much sleep last night; maybe I can use that as an excuse for my unlawful actions today. I kept dreaming of classrooms and all the things “I” had written on the chalkboard in them. Not my baby, Not me. I’m alive…

Could it be? Could Mischa be alive? No, that’s not possible. How could I be seeing her ghost and all these strange things happening if she’s out there alive somewhere? No, I think she’s trying to tell me something else. I just don’t know what. But maybe some more answers can be found in her bedroom. Maybe there she can speak to me in her own words.

So that is why I went to the Martin house this morning. I parked just down the street, far enough away so Mr. Martin wouldn’t see and become suspicious of a parked car so close to his house.

Before too long, I watched him leave, obviously on his way out to work. He got in his car and drove off, not even so much as glancing my way. I waited a few minutes and then I got out of my car and walked towards his house. I looked around to see if anyone was watching. I didn’t see anybody, so I went around back and tested the door. It was locked. The door had a small window. I pulled a handkerchief from my pocket and wrapped it around my fist. The window made a small breaking sound when I hit it. The handkerchief not only protected my hand, but muffled the sound of breaking glass as well. I reached my hand through the shattered window and unlocked the door from the inside.

I hesitated just a minute in the doorway. I didn’t know if Mr. Martin had a dog, but I didn’t want to find out the hard way. So I waited just over the threshold. Nothing stirred in the house. I was alone. No dogs.

I moved through the first floor of the house. The only light was that of the sun coming through the half open curtains. On this floor it appeared to look like the typical family home. Kitchen, dining room, den, bathroom, and a small study off to the side. Briefly I looked through the study, but I could tell this was Mr. Martin’s place to work. A computer terminal and work station dominated the room. I wondered just what he did for a living and whom he worked for. There were some pages on the workstation, but they looked like invoices and business documents, so I passed them over quickly. I left the room in search of other things.

Even though I knew no one was home, I crept upstairs quiet as if I thought I was going to wake someone. The second floor contained two bedrooms, a full bath, and what appeared to be a small walk-in pantry. One bedroom door was open. It was easy to see this was his room from all the “guy things” that dominated his living space.

The other bedroom door was closed, and when I put my hand on the knob, I knew somehow I was getting ready to walk back in time. I opened the door and peered in.

The first thing that struck me were the colors. Pink and violet, clearly a girl’s room. The canopied bed was draped with a spread upon which cute cartoon characters worked in gardens and among flowers. A large bureau sat in the corner, a huge mirror sitting atop it. On the mirror were taped dozens of photographs and I went over to take a closer look.

The pictures were of a cheery blonde haired girl. Always smiling, her blue eyes sparkled with life and vitality. I knew she hadn’t put these pictures of herself here. Her stepfather had. This wasn’t just Mischa’s room anymore. It was a shrine.

I opened the drawers of the bureau. Clean, neatly folded clothes were inside, dozens of mothballs in each drawer. Had these clothes been sitting here untouched for over twenty years? Then a thought hit me, something strange and maybe not my own. Had Mr. Martin been washing her clothes regularly in these years of her absence? To be sitting in a drawer for years, these clothes, mostly undergarments, pajamas, and pull over tanks and shirts just looked too well kept. Was he lovingly washing her clothes as if she were still here to wear them?

I looked around the rest of the room. There was a walk-in closet. I opened it and looked inside. Every hanger was full. Dresses, slacks, and coats. I flipped through the rack. Then I saw it. The dress. The yellow dress. The one her ghost had worn on many occasions. I pulled it out and held it up to the light. How could this be? I had found this same dress in the duffel bag Penny had dug up. How could it be here? Or were there two of the same dress? I checked the inside label. A pair of initials was written in permanent ink on the label. “MB”. I tried to remember what the label said on the one I’d found. Didn’t it say “MM”? I made a mental note to check the duffel when I got home to make sure the dress was still there. If it wasn’t, then that meant somehow it had found its way back home, and I don’t even want to think of the further implications that suggests. It’s bad enough she kept having me find her anklet, even worse to think of her returning her own clothes across town to her room.

The only thing in the room I hadn’t looked at yet was a writing desk by the window. It was an old roll top desk, and it lay open, the sunlight coming through the window to light its walnut top. There was something etched in the wood, scrawled by a sharp instrument. “Mischa” it read. I smiled, imagining this pretty young girl carving her name in her desk, letting everyone know this was her domain then and forever.

I ignored most of what was on the desktop, little cups holding straight pins, rubber bands and barrettes, pencils and erasers. Instead, I went straight to the desk drawers. Inside the first drawer was a stack of magazines with titles like Teen Beat, Circus, even Highlights For Kids. I smiled to myself remembering some of these from my own youth. I picked up the Teen Beat magazine. On the cover The Bay City Rollers grinned as if they would be teen idols forever. I laughed to myself thinking of the one song of theirs I could remember, “Saturday Night”. I wonder if Mischa had liked that song. Underneath the magazines were some old vinyl 45’s. I looked at the titles. Song titles like “Seasons In The Sun”, “Shannon”, and “Billy, Don’t Be A Hero”gave me the idea she was typically tragic. But it was the last record that made me stop in my tracks. Donny Osmond. “Go Away Little Girl”. Wasn’t that what had been on my office wall? Had she written it? Or had someone haunted by her ghost penned that message?

I put the magazines back, covering the records up, and checked another drawer. In this one were drawings. Made by a meticulous, but feminine hand, they were designs for dresses and other outfits. They were quite good considering they were drawn so long ago in the “have a sunshine day” era. Could Mischa’s dream had been to be a clothes designer? Did Mr. Martin believe his stepdaughter had run away to the big city to follow her dream? I looked through the stack of drawings, and then I spied just what I was looking for underneath them all.

It was a book with a small lock on its front, clasped shut. On its face in flowing script she’d written in bright purple: “Private stuff! Keep out!” I tried to pop the clasp, but it wouldn’t open. It was locked. I looked in the bottom of the drawer for the key, but it wasn’t there. Who knows where it was after all these years? If he knew her diary existed, it might even be on her stepfather’s key ring. I tried prying the lock open with my fingers, but it wouldn’t budge.

I went over to the bureau and grabbed one of the hairpins out of its cup. Returning to her desk, I used it to try and pick the lock on her diary. The lock was from a simpler time so it took only a minute or two before I got the clasp to spring open. I opened the book and began to flip through its pages, not really knowing what it was I was looking for. The diary contained mostly events of her day. People she knew in school. Things she did. “Got up, went to school, met so-and-so at the playground.” No revelations there. Every now and then, there would be an arrow-skewered heart with some boy’s name in its center. Sometimes it was Tommy. Sometimes Eric. One even said Sam. Whoever he was. Maybe one of the high school football players all the girls drool over. And then I came to an entry that caught my roving eye.

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about Tommy,” she had written. “I know he loves me, and wants to marry me someday, but I’m not sure I love him that way. I like him a lot, he’s my best friend, but is that reason to want other things with him? I’m really confused. When I stand next to him I get butterflies in my stomach and sometimes I feel a warmth in my body just thinking about him. But I don’t know what to do. I want to save myself, but for whom?”

I flipped several pages over.

“Oh my God, Eric kissed me today. Not just any kiss either, but with his mouth open and everything. I can’t say I didn’t like it, because I did. I don’t know if I want him to kiss me again though. Why diary? Because when he was kissing me all I could think of was Tommy and if he kissed like that.”

It felt very voyeuristic to be reading her romantic thoughts like this. I felt like I was intruding, that these were things she didn’t want anyone to know. But another part of me said she wanted me to see this diary. There was something in here she wanted me to find. I skipped half the book and began to read again.

“I can’t begin to tell you my joy, dearest diary! I do love Tommy Blaine!! When he kisses me I nearly jump out of my skin in excitement. His touch sends chills through my body. Oh God, I have never felt like this. Can you keep a secret? I know you can. We spent the day at his house after school the other day. I know Nat and Lynn are mad I didn’t meet them at the park like I was supposed to, but I wanted to be alone with Tommy so bad. No one was home at his house. We were kissing on the couch and then it happened. Oh God, I can’t even say it without it sending chills up my spine. It hurt a little at first. But the second time, Oh God!!!!! I love Tommy Blaine!!!”

This was followed by hearts and x’s and o’s, all the things she could think of to describe her exploding passion for Tommy. I felt almost embarrassed reading about her first sexual experience, but again something told me she wanted me to know her joy and happiness, and how things were with her and the Blaine boy. I had feeling all this was short lived though, as I turned to the next page.

“Eric still thinks I like him. I let him kiss me that one time, and now he’s in love with me. I guess it was my fault responding to his kiss the way I did, but it was my first French kiss. Since then Tommy and I have gotten closer, and my feelings for Eric have changed. I want to be nice to Eric, I really do. He’s my friend, and not many others like him because of the rumors, but how do I tell him about Tommy and me without hurting his feelings? Is there even a way?”

I continued to flip through the book. I didn’t look at every page but skipped through them haphazardly, my eyes seeking out whatever it was she wanted me to see.

“Diary, I am sick today. I haven’t felt so well in the mornings.”

“I almost told Eric today, but then Amy came around, so I kept my mouth shut. He’s still sending me love notes, and now Tommy knows. He wants me to tell Eric to get lost. Says if I love him, I’ll do it.”

“I don’t know how to tell mom & dad but I think I’m pregnant.”

“We’re having baptism Sunday. Eric and I are volunteers to help prepare the baptismal pool on Saturday afternoon. Tommy isn’t happy about me being alone with Eric like that, but maybe this is a good time to finally tell Eric about Tommy and I. I love Tommy. I don’t love Eric.”

“I thought I felt something stir inside me today. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but I don’t know, what if I do have a life growing inside me? Maybe I could get Mrs. Shiflett to take me to the doctor. I trust her not to tell my folks.”

“I feel like I’m dying. It’s not just being sick in the morning, but I have this feeling of dread, like something bad is going to happen.”

“I chose some baby names in case I’m pregnant. If it’s a girl I think I will name her Penny. I always liked that name. And if it’s a boy I’d like to name him after Paul Stanley (dreamy sigh), but I should name him Tommy Jr, I guess.”

“I told Tommy I might be pregnant. He’s freaked out a little. Mrs. Shiflett told me she’d take me to the doc on Monday. She made me tell her why. I think she’s so willing to help because she thinks it’s her nephew’s baby. I couldn’t tell her the baby had nothing to do with Eric at all.”

“I have no time to talk today, diary. I’m late getting to the church, and I was supposed to help Eric fill up the baptismal pool this afternoon. Instead I’ve been with Tommy 🙂 If I hurry though, Eric may still be there and I can break the news to him gently. Talk to you soon…”

And that was the last entry in her diary. There were still blank pages left, but she never got the chance to fill them with her thoughts. Something told me she never came back that Saturday. She never returned from helping Eric. He killed her. She told him about her and Tommy and in a jealous rage he killed her. And the child she was pregnant with too. Jesus, it’s true. Mischa was murdered…

This thought was interrupted by a noise behind me. I had been reading her diary and was oblivious to anything else until it was too late. I just barely heard the creak of the door, the heavy step on the floor behind me. Before I could turn around, there was a blinding pain in the back of my head. Someone has killed me too, I thought, and then my vision left me. I felt my own body hit the floor, and a voice hovering over me, “Guess you thought I was stupid, huh?”

Then I lost all consciousness…

+ + + + + + + + +

“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition. 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 31: Mischa’s Trinity

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Entry 31: Mischa’s Trinity: Sunday August 7

Dreams, dreams, everything is dreams. I tossed and turned last night. Images of Mischa in the water, the blood spreading out from around her. The child she would never have. The child she herself had been, with no chance of adulthood thanks to a killer’s murderous actions. And I dreamed of the killer, too. But he was faceless, and no one could tell me who he was. No one except Mischa. Please girl, tell me where I can find him. Tell me where I can find you. So that we can finally end this, and I can have my own life back.

After all the happenings yesterday, I found myself thinking of Donna and how I would feel if I lost her forever. Tommy Blaine had lost his Mischa. She wasn’t coming back. I couldn’t bear the thought of being without Donna like that. So I called her early this morning.

After the initial cold shoulder from her mother, I got to talk to her. I remembered the last time we’d spoken it hadn’t gone too well, and so I tried my best to avoid that. Instead, I started off with the smallest of talk, telling her work was okay and that Penny was no longer the stray but becoming quite domesticated.

“We can keep her outside when you come home though,” I added.

There was a brief silence and then, “Do you want me to come home?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

I could hear her sigh on the other end. “Paul, I can’t deal with you having another woman in your life. I am your wife, and the focus needs to be on us, not some younger girl. Just you and me. Can you understand that?”

“Donna, I love you. You are the most important part of my life.”

“It hasn’t seemed that way lately.”

“I know, I’m sorry. My head has been elsewhere. My heart has always been with you, but my head has been so wrapped up in…” I didn’t want to say the name, but before I knew it it came out. “…Mischa. And I have had a hard time concentrating on other things. I am truly sorry.”

“Will you be able to concentrate on us now?” she asked. “Or is she going to be a problem?”

“Donna, I…” I really wanted to tell her everything I learned about the dead girl. The miscarriage. The murder. The murderer. But I couldn’t. I don’t want to hide things from my wife, but a little voice was nagging at me, saying she wouldn’t understand.

“Tell me Paul,” she pressed. “Is she going to be a problem? Because I can’t share you with someone else. I mean it.”

“It’s not like that, Donna.”

“Oh that’s right,” she said, a trace of sarcasm in her voice. “You told me she’s dead.” She let it sink in and I didn’t say anything in defense. “Well if that is true,” she added, “then you need to start focusing on the living.”

Exactly what Mrs. Shiflett had said. Maybe they were both right. But how can you focus on the living when the dead are ‘speaking’ to you every day?

She sighed again, an almost resignation. “If you really want me to, maybe I could come home next Monday and we can give our marriage a try again.”

“I would like that,” I agreed.

“I would too. But I swear to you, if you can’t give me the attention and devotion deserving of a wife, I’m out of there. I won’t think twice. I’ll give you a second chance, but not a third. Is that understood?”

“Yes,” I said, almost in tears. “I love you, Donna.”

“I love you too, Paul. I just want us to be like we used to be.”

“I do too,” I agreed.

Soon afterward, we got around to saying goodbye. “I’ll have mom and dad bring me back next Monday,” she promised before hanging up. I marked the happy date on the kitchen calendar.

“Did you hear that, Penny?” I said to my furry friend, scratching her behind the ears. “Donna’s coming home in a little over a week. Isn’t that great?”

She wagged her tail and barked once. Then she looked up at me, and I could swear there was a question in her canine eyes. What about Mischa? That was a good question. I had a week to get this over and done with. Donna would not tolerate all this mystery and mayhem once she came back home. I had to get with it.

I looked at the clock on the wall. It was almost eleven AM. I decided to get dressed and go to the morning church service.

Church attendance was high, but I have to admit, I had trouble concentrating on the service. Luckily, there were so many people there no one seemed to notice my ill attention.

One of the hymns the congregation sang was “There’s Power In The Blood”. God forgive me, but while we were singing, I wasn’t thinking of the blood of Christ, but of the blood in the water. Mischa’s blood, her baby’s blood. And I realized this was the same song from my dream of drowned kittens. An eerie coincidence? Or another message from the unknown?

I have never been one for long church sermons. In fact, I can usually only take fifteen minutes of sitting there listening to someone talk. Today’s sermon was longer than that, and as Pastor Chiles preached on forgiveness of sins, I found my eyes growing heavy.

I must have slept for a brief time, for an image played into my head like a dream. I was in a room in the church. The rec room upstairs, where the running teenage ghosts always went; the place I’d found Mischa’s anklet. Except it wasn’t a rec room anymore. It was a Sunday school classroom, and I was one of many kids sitting in wooden chairs facing the front of the class.

A matronly looking woman was writing on a chalkboard as I and the other kids looked on. But I wasn’t myself. I looked at my body, and saw that it was the figure and form of a young girl. This wasn’t my dream. It was someone else’s. I was Mischa.

The teacher turned to the class. “Can anyone tell me what the trinity is?” she asked.

I felt my hand raise.

“Mischa,” the woman said, pointing to this body I was in.

I felt myself rise and walk to the chalkboard. The teacher handed me the chalk.

“Okay, what is point one?”

I scrawled an answer on the chalkboard: NOT MY BABY.

“Not my baby, that is correct”. She smiled and the whole class clapped politely. “Point two?”

My fingers wrote of their own accord: NOT ME.

“Not me, yes that’s good.” Again the class applauded. “And the final point?”

I wrote again on the board and stepped back. The words glared out at me: I’M ALIVE.

“She’s alive!” exclaimed the teacher, and all the kids jumped to their feet.

I sprang awake with a jolt, and jumped to my feet, too. But then I realized where I was. I wasn’t in a classroom. I wasn’t Mischa. I was Paul and I was in church. I looked around me embarrassed, but not many people seemed to notice my disruption. Then I realized why. Everyone’s head was bowed. The Pastor was leading the invocation prayer.

I slipped out of the pew and quiet as I could went to the back door. No one noticed my leaving, except for Larter, who sat in the first pew in the back. A little unnerved by the dream, I didn’t notice he had followed me out until I was at the foot of the church steps.

“Hey Paul, you okay?” he asked from behind.

I turned to him and flashed him the best smile I could without giving away my uneasiness over my dream. “Yes, I’m fine,” I replied.

“I saw you jump up out of your seat like something bit you. Thought I should see if everything was alright.”

“Oh that,” I chuckled. “Yeah, I realized I left the stove on.” I pointed to the house, amazed the lie came so quick and easy.

He grinned and nodded as if he understood, but something in his eyes told me he wasn’t quite buying it. We stood there facing each other for a moment in an awkward silence.

“How are things at home?” he finally asked, a bit cautiously. “I know you asked for a day off a little while ago to work things out. How did it go?”

“It’s good now, I think. Things are getting worked out. Thanks for asking.”

“No problem. I know you’re not technically a member of our congregation, but I still have concern for all my brothers, church or no church.”

“I appreciate that.”

He nodded and started to turn back to the church steps, but he stopped, holding up a finger as if he had just thought of something. “Did you ever find out who that lost anklet belonged to?”

I hesitated for a second, kind of thrown off by the question. “No, not really,” I finally answered. “I turned it into the church office. I figure the owner will come looking for it eventually.” Another lie.

He nodded, and had a look on his face as if he wanted to say something more about it, but he didn’t. He let it go, whatever it was. “Well, I better get back in,” he said. “And you better go turn that stove off. Can’t have you burning down the place.” He laughed to show me he was being lighthearted about it. I couldn’t help but laugh with him.

I went home and Penny was waiting for me on the porch. I patted her head as I reached the top of the steps. “You’re not going to believe the dream I had in church, Pen.”

She looked up at me with a look in her big brown eyes that almost seemed to say, ‘Try me.’

I didn’t go back to church this evening. I know they had the baptism service tonight, but to be honest, I was scared to go. I was afraid that in the middle of things, as Pastor Chiles was dunking candidates beneath the water, I’d see the restless soul of Mischa emerging again, dripping water, blood, and sorrow.

Instead, I stayed home and plotted how I was going to get into the Martin household…

+ + + + + + + + +

“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 30: The Baptismal Pool

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Entry 30: The Baptismal Pool: Saturday August 6 continued

After Shaedra left, I cleaned up the glass. Putting the shards in the trash, I thanked my lucky stars (and Mischa) that things turned out like they did. I am glad things didn’t go further with her. I know if they had, I would feel much too guilty and would never be able to look into Donna’s eyes again without being overcome with shame. A man’s desire for physical contact is sometimes hard to contain, even harder when such temptations are placed before him on a platter in the way Shaedra offered herself to me. Thankfully, Mischa wasn’t about to let that happen. She wasn’t going to let me get deterred from the task at hand. But what task was that? Remaining faithful to my wife? Or delving further into the mystery that has taken over a large part of my life?

I had some lunch, just a dry sandwich and some chips. Trying to take my mind off all the questions that swirled in my head, I sat in front of the TV and watched a game show. It’s funny how people on those shows seem so stupid. A question is asked, and no matter how simple it is, they stand there dumbfounded, not knowing the answer. Maybe under normal conditions they’d probably know, but with the stress and pressure they just go brain dead. I feel the same way about the Mischa mystery. I know the answer is right in front of me. I should be able to see it, but for whatever reason, I am missing something vital. But what is it?

I went back to work at two-thirty to check on the baptismal, to make sure I hadn’t overfilled it or anything. As I walked over, I thought of the apparition I’d seen earlier after my encounter with Shaedra. I am certain it was Mischa’s spirit breaking that window, brushing past me, and returning to her “home” in the church.

When I got to the church, the baptismal pool was almost filled. Another thirty minutes and it would be at the right depth for tomorrow night’s service. I went upstairs, then down the back steps to the pool. I knelt down and put my hand in the water. It was starting to warm up. By Sunday night it should be at the right temperature.

I briefly wondered about all the people who’d been baptized here over the years. The former lost souls who had stepped into these waters, and come back out feeling refreshed and new. I know baptism is considered by some as just a symbol, a Christian practice that represents how the saved are washed clean by the love of Christ, but still I wonder how many people really felt different after being immersed in the water. Did Mischa feel changed when she was baptized? And what was it about this place that held her here, even after death?

I stood up and started back up the steps. Then I heard a sound behind me. Something disturbing the water. A splash, followed by a gasp of breath. I spun around and almost fell backwards from the scene in front of me.

She was in the baptismal pool. Mischa. Her Easter dress floated around her in the water, spread out like a bridal train. Though she was only a few feet in front of me, I could not see her clearly. Her hair, wet and matted, hung down in her face, partially hiding her features. I could see her eyes though, displaying a look of terror and fear. A line of blood ran from her blonde scalp and down her obscured face. Through the blood and damp hair, I could see her mouth was moving, as if she were saying something, but no sound came forth. Still I could read her lips, as they mouthed the words “Help me…”

I backed away, not knowing what to make of this. She didn’t look like a ghostly wraith. She looked real. Solid. With form. I could even smell the blood. But It wasn’t the blood coming from her forehead. No, it was from somewhere else. Blood surrounded her in the water, as if coming from some other injury. And as I looked more closely, there was something else mingled with it. Something like flesh. The crimson flow appeared to be coming from beneath her billowing dress and that’s when I realized the horrifying truth. Miscarriage. She had been pregnant and she lost the child. She had lost it right here in this baptismal.

Again she opened her mouth in sorrowful plea: “help me…” But this time she had voice, her lilting southern accent pronouncing it as “help may.” She held her arms out towards me. I wanted so badly to take her in my own arms and hold her. Let her cry on my shoulder and carry her out of here. I started towards her. Her eyes grew wide and her feet seemed to slip from beneath her. No, not slipped. It was as if an unseen assailant had pushed her, forced her backwards in the water, in a violent caricature of being baptized. She sank beneath the water and I could see her struggling on the bottom of the pool, trying to get back to her feet, but unable to. Her hands tried to grab purchase, and I saw her fingers scrape against the metal wall, trying to find something to grab hold to. She was drowning, I had to do something.

Without thinking, I yelled and dove into the pool to save her. I went under the water in search of her, but there was nothing there. She was gone. My eyes opened under the water. It was as if she were never there. No girl in the baptismal. No blood in the water.

I came to the surface and wiped my eyes. The only disturbance in the pool was me. I was a bit shaken, but not afraid. I looked around me, trying to find some trace of the girl I’d seen struggling in the waters. But she wasn’t there. I was alone.

I climbed out of the pool, my clothes drenched. I looked back, wondering what it was I had just seen. A mini movie from the past? A remembrance captured in the fabric of time and space? A message from Mischa? Maybe it was all these. What I had just seen must have a bearing of truth. I believe now she lost her child somehow in this place, and she herself may have died here, too, I don’t know. But at least now things seem to be coming clearer. The truth was clamoring to the surface, just like her ghost rising from beneath the baptismal waters.

Looking down at my wet clothes, I knew I needed to get back to the house and into something dry. I started up the stairs, my soaked shoes squeaking with each step. I looked up and stopped. There was a shadow at the top of the stairs. I froze and tried to blend in with the surroundings. With my back against the wall, I stared up to the landing. Mischa was at the top of the stairs. She stood in the doorway, her back to me. She seemed animated in conversation, and though I could hear her, her voice was garbled like an old audio tape playing in reverse. But who was she talking to? I couldn’t see anyone else up there, unless they were out of my line of sight, somewhere on the other side of that doorway. She tried to walk forward over the threshold, but something or someone was stopping her. An unseen antagonist, an invisible barrier. And then, instead of moving forward, she fell backwards. No, it was just like it had been in the pool moments ago; She didn’t fall, she was pushed. She tumbled backwards down the stairs towards me, trying to catch hold of the railing, but to no avail. Her momentum was carrying her right towards me and instinct made me come out from my hiding place to attempt to catch her. But her falling body, ethereal and no longer solid, passed right through me and continued on its mad tumble down the stairs, ending with a splash in the baptismal pool. Then she was gone, vanished beneath the waters before dissipating into nothingness.

My heart was racing fast, and I realized what I had just been shown. I had been a witness to the past, though slightly out of sequence. And so I put the pieces together in my head. Someone had been talking, maybe arguing, with Mischa at the top of the stairs. She tried to get around them and leave. They pushed her down the stairs and she tumbled into the shallow depths of the baptismal pool. In the fall, she lost the child she’d been carrying, and the blood I’d seen in the pool was the result of her violent miscarriage.

But what happened after that? Did her assailant come into the pool and hold her under? Right before I’d dived in to “save” her, she’d been on the bottom trying unsuccessfully to rise to the surface. I turned and looked at the baptismal pool. Did Mischa die right here? Drowned and in helpless anguish over her lost child? Who had killed her? Why? And was he still out there, having escaped justice?

I don’t want to consider it, but I have a feeling I will need to talk to someone about all this, in order to truly piece it all together. But Tommy Blaine is out. I can’t get back into the state hospital to see him. Mrs. Shiflett is out of the question, too. She wouldn’t tell me the truth even if she knew it, especially if her nephew is involved. But if someone had died in the church, wouldn’t the church elders at the time have known it? Not if it was kept from them. Not if the killer covered his tracks. It had to be someone who had access to the church. The Pastor’s nephew, with his alleged violent background, makes him the prime suspect. But what if it had been the former Pastor Shiflett himself? What if it was the custodian at the time? What if this nephew was just a case of me barking up the wrong tree? No, I don’t think so. It was him, I know it. But I have to find him first. Then it occurred to me; certainly the church had old membership records somewhere. In there, maybe there was a full name and last known address for the nephew. If I could find it, I could give it to police and have them go and question him. But where were those records? Maybe locked up in the secretary’s office. I’ll ask her Monday morning if I could have a look.

But until then, there were other questions to consider. If only Mischa could talk to me, tell me what had led to all this and why. Only she can tell me. Then it occurred to me. Her father, Mr. Martin. He doesn’t believe she’s dead. Doesn’t that stand to reason he would keep her room the same way, waiting for her return? If I could get in her room, maybe her voice could be found there. Maybe there was a diary, letters, something to put the missing pieces in place. But her father won’t let me in there. Last time I saw him, he had punched me out, I can’t go talk to him again. But I could wait for him to leave, then sneak in and take a look around for myself.

I can’t believe what I’m thinking. Breaking the law. I saw something weird today and now I’m ready to be a criminal. I know it’s wrong, but this is never going to be resolved in conventional ways. I am going to have to get my hands dirty to see the truth come clean…

+ + + + + + + + +

“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 29: Encounter With Shaedra

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Entry 29:Encounter With Shaedra: Saturday August 6

I dreamed about Eric, Mischa’s mystery friend, last night. At least now, seeing his picture, I know what he looks like, or at least what he looked like as a kid. Not that it helps much. He has one of those common faces, one that you are almost sure you have seen somewhere before, the kind of person to whom you would say in greeting, “have we met?” I wonder if maybe I have seen him in another picture somewhere. I’ll have to check in the library again later, but I can’t worry about that right now, I have work to do today.

It’s Saturday, so I had to fill the baptismal pool with water. Larter had informed me earlier in the week that they were having baptism services Sunday night. But I didn’t realize filling it up would be such a revelation, and answer a question that had plagued me for a while.

I went over to the church around ten AM. I figured it would probably take at least five hours for the pool to fill, depending on the water pressure. There’s a little room right off the sanctuary where the water valves are. The valve for the baptismal is close to the floor, so I knelt down and put my hand on the knob. It wouldn’t turn at first. It almost felt like it was rusted shut, or maybe it was just stuck, not having being used in some time. I put both hands around it and tried to get it to budge. It gave just the smallest fraction, and then finally turned, opening the valve. There was a loud hiss, like that of air or something clearing the pipe, before the sound of water came down the line. Quickly, I shut the valve off. I knew that sound. I’d heard it before. It was the same sound I’d heard over the phone lines, the sound that had led me to the industrial park in search of its source. But THIS was the source. It was the noise of trapped air issuing from the pipe in the baptismal pool when you first turned the valve on.

I twisted the knob again. Once more the hiss came, shorter this time, before the water began to fill the pool. I smiled to myself. The baptismal had something to do with the mystery of the church ghost. I felt like a door had just opened and I was allowed to peek inside. The phone mystery was solved, and though it was just one small piece of a puzzle, I felt it was an important one. Mischa had been trying to tell me something about the baptismal.

I decided to check the pool itself. Get in and have a look before it filled up with water. I went upstairs and right across the top landing was a door that led down into the baptismal. I descended a set of wooden stairs that ended at the hard metal surface of the pool. I sat on the last step and took my shoes and socks off. The water was slowly filling up the pool and when I put my feet on the steel floor it was cold, as was the water, which had slowly run across its surface. Standing in the middle of the baptismal I didn’t really know what I was supposed to be looking for. The floor and walls were rusted by the years of untreated water, and there were some scratches upon the metal surface, most particularly along the wall just below the fill-up line, where a pane of glass gives the congregation a view of the water and upper bodies of those being immersed. Running my fingers along these scratches, I saw they were not very deep, and most likely were from wear and tear of the years.

Finding nothing I could attribute to Mischa, I got out of the pool, which had barely managed to fill to the top of my foot. I put my socks and shoes back on and decided to get some work done while it filled up more. By lunchtime it had risen enough to cover the heating element that would make the water comfortable enough for those being baptized. So I went back to the room where the water valves were and switched on the heat.

Then I went home to get some lunch…

…But when I went home, Shaedra was sitting on my front porch. She was wearing a white summer dress, and in the midday sun I could nearly see through it. When she stood up and came towards me across the grass, the sun was directly behind her and shone through the thin fabric. I could see the outline of her undergarments, most particularly the fact that she was wearing a black bra and thong. The man in me found this sight to be arousing, but the husband in me tried to ignore it.

“Hello Paul,” she said, steam nearly rising from her voice.

“Shaedra,” I replied sort of coldly, as she came face to face with me.

“I wanted to apologize for yesterday,” she told me, batting an eyelash. “I know my hint for a dinner date was a bit too much.”

I nodded and waited for her to continue.

“I know you are married, and I know your wife has left. I just thought maybe you could do with some company. You know, have someone to…talk to.” She lightly touched my arm, and I looked down. I was trying to avert my eyes, but they were drawn to her shapely form. “I know it must get lonely,” she added.

I didn’t know what to say. Part of me didn’t want to trust her, but another part of me wanted desperately some form of companionship. Her sheer summer dress and what surely lay beneath it wasn’t helping much either.

“Maybe we could just start over,” she suggested. “You know be friends”.

I gave her a half smile and looked towards the house. “I was getting ready to have me some lunch. It’s not candlelight, but maybe you’d care to join me? I make a mean ham sandwich.”

She laughed. “Well, I don’t eat meat, but I could do with something to drink.”

“Lemonade?” I asked.

“Sounds good,” she said, and we both walked onto the front porch. Penny had been lying underneath a chair, but now her ears pricked up. She raised her head and gave a little growl to our visitor.

“Quiet, Penny,” I scolded her. She barked twice as if to say “dum-my” while Shaedra and I went inside.

The house was cool despite the summer heat outside. I told Shaedra to make herself at home as I went into the kitchen to fix us some lemonade. Pouring the glasses, I briefly asked myself if I knew what I was doing inviting her in here. If Donna decided to suddenly come home, it wouldn’t look good at all. I needed to get her out of here quickly. Let her drink her lemonade and then tell her she needed to go.

I finished pouring our drink and carried the tall glasses into the living room. “Here you go…”, I started to say, but both the glasses slipped from my hand and fell to the floor. Shaedra stood there in the living room, her dress and underclothes lying on the floor at her feet.

She started towards me, her dark naked skin glistening. “No one will know,” she whispered lightly.

“I will know,” I replied, holding my hand out in a stop motion as if that would somehow keep her away. I cleared my throat. “You are a beautiful woman, Shaedra. If I were single, I know I’d feel differently about this moment. But I am married and I love my wife.”

“But she’s not here now, is she?”

“She loves me.”

“Then why isn’t she here?”

I hung my head and tried not to meet her eyes, or any other part of her body. “She thinks I’ve been unfaithful.”

Shaedra smiled. “Then maybe you should be. If a man is accused of infidelity, shouldn’t he taste those fruits? What more harm could it do?”

“It isn’t right, Shaedra. If Donna were here…”

“She isn’t,” she quickly reminded me. “But I am.”

I was still holding her physically at bay, my hand commanding stop like a crossing guard. But now she ignored it.

“Don’t you want me?” she asked, feigning a hurt look on her face, as she came closer. Now she was close enough to touch. If I’d wanted to, I could have reached out and touched her bare skin. “I want you,” she breathed.

I was speechless, and a lump had formed in my throat. A desire for a female touch was arising within me, and I tried to hide it, but I think she could see it in my eyes, the loneliness and craving for another’s intimate attention.

“I want you,” she repeated. “I want you to touch me.”

She took my hand and put it palm first against her bare stomach. Her olive skin was taut and soft, and I could feel the fine hair just below her naval, as she slowly eased my hand down her lithe form. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I knew this was wrong. I didn’t want this to be happening, and yet I did. I forgot everything with my hand on her flesh. I was a helpless prisoner. Shaedra was my seductive captor. And Mischa was highly pissed.

The front window exploded in a shower of glass, as if someone had just thrown a rock through it. Shaedra screamed in alarm, and I pulled away from her, jerking my hand back . The hypnotic moment was broken.

I ran to the window and looked outside. No one was there. “Penny!” I called. The dog was sitting on the front porch as if nothing had happened. I looked at the glass on the floor. There was no rock, nothing to explain the explosion, and then I felt it, something brushing by me unseen. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end, and for a moment, I thought I saw something, a quick flash of fabric as it glided across the room and passed through the front door into the day.

I looked at Shaedra, who had picked up her clothes and held them against her body. She hadn’t seen it. But something in her eyes told me she had felt the presence of something else in the room. The desire that had once been there was now replaced with fear.

“I have to go,” she said, slipping the summer dress over her head. There was a trembling in her voice. But I wasn’t paying attention; I was looking out the doorway, watching something that faded in and out as it moved across the yard towards the church. Even in the bright afternoon daylight, I could see what it was: a young girl in an Easter dress skipping along the walk and passing into the walls of the church building.

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Resurrection Diaries Entry 28: The Nephew

Resurrection Diaries: 10th Anniversary Edition Main Page

Entry 28: The Nephew: Friday August 5

I thought about Wednesday’s night dream all morning. It wasn’t really the images of the dead kittens floating in the pool that bothered me, but the question of who had done the drowning. Did Mischa’s mystery friend really do such a thing? And if so, did that automatically classify him as a murder suspect? And just who was he anyway? Tommy Blaine said he was the Pastor’s nephew, but even he couldn’t remember his name. But was Tommy even telling the truth? I find it hard to believe he would forget the name of the boy who may have been competing with him for Mischa’s affections. I really wanted to know who this guy was, and if he was any way responsible for the girl’s disappearance.

So after doing a little cleaning this morning at the church, I thought I’d check its library and see if I could find anything on the Pastor’s elusive nephew. I went through all the photo albums from the seventies I could find. I tried to keep it to seventy-five and seventy-six, where I had once located the picture of Mischa herself. There were a lot of pics of the Pastor by himself, and I glazed these over, not even paying attention, until I finally came across the nephew’s picture by accident.

I had flipped a page and the photo came loose from the paper, falling to the floor by my chair. I leaned over and picked it up. Looking upon the picture at first, it meant nothing to me, but as I was putting it back in its place on the page, I saw the writing in the empty spot it had come from: “Pastor Shiflett, wife, daughter, and nephew. Easter portrait 1975.”

In the picture, the preacher was smiling, as his wife held a newborn baby in her arms. Beside them, a gangly teenage boy with pimples grinned at the camera. The boy had kind eyes and was a good-looking kid. But who was he? What was his name? And then something struck me about the caption. Pastor Shiflett? Could that be right? I looked closely at the woman in the photo. She was standing in the picture, but sure enough, it was the wheelchair bound woman who had told me to never come back to visit her.

So that’s why she has been lying all this time. Her own nephew was connected to Mischa. I found myself wanting to get in the car and go back over there to confront her. Instead, I flipped through the photo album some more, hoping for something else. Within a dozen or so pages, I found it. A picture of a Sunday school picnic. The pastor stood smiling, his arm around his nephew: “Pastor Shiflett and nephew Eric.”

Bingo! His name was Eric, his uncle was the preacher at the time of Mischa’s disappearance, and his aunt was the Mrs. Shiflett I knew. Now all I needed to do was find him. I knew the only way of locating him was by going back and confronting Mrs. Shiflett again. I didn’t look forward to such a thing, after my last visit there, but it seemed to be my only option. Either that or forget it. But something told me that Mischa would find a way to not let me forget it. I have learned she is a very persistent girl.

I sat in the car outside the Shiflett home for ten minutes before I could work up the nerve to go up the porch and knock on the door. As one could imagine, when Shaedra opened the door she looked pretty surprised to see me.

“Mrs. Shiflett is not receiving visitors,” she said.

“You mean she’s not receiving me,” I mildly corrected her, remembering the outcome of our last visit.

“She’s not receiving visitors,” she stressed.

I stood there for a moment, the silence stretching between us, as if one were daring the other to say something else. “Tell her I need to ask her about her husband,” I finally said. “And her nephew.”

Shaedra seemed taken aback for just a moment, but she told me, “Wait here.” Then she closed the door and was gone.

I had to wait there a little while. I think they both did that on purpose, but finally the door opened again. Shaedra had a smirk on her face, as if she were privileged to a private joke, most likely concerning me. “Come on in,” she said, and led me to the parlor where her mistress waited in her wheel chair.

“So what is it now?” the old woman asked. “Come here to blame my husband or nephew for that girl running away?”

“No ma’m, I’m just wondering where they fit in.”

“Fit in? Well, that’s easy. One was her Pastor, the other her friend. And like everyone else that cared about her, she let them down.”

“You had told me your late husband had worked in the barbershop. Why didn’t you tell me he was the Preacher at Resurrection, too?”

“You didn’t ask,” she grinned. “And what would that have mattered anyway?”

“It would have helped fill in the picture a little.”

She leaned forward in her chair. “I’m afraid your picture is made of conjecture and opinion, not facts nor the truth.”

I ignored her snide comment. “What of your nephew?”

“What of him? He’s a nice boy. He’d been friends with Mischa. Then when she ran off, his school studies slipped and he didn’t handle her leaving every well.”

“Why not?”

“Because she was his only friend. He never fit in with the rest of the children. Being the new kid isn’t easy, and teenagers can be cruel to each other at that delicate age.”

“Why were they cruel to Eric?”

She looked hard at me. I think she knew I was fishing around, trying to get her to admit something to me. “I think you already know,” she said.

“Because of the kittens?”

She nodded. “Rumors can follow you all your days.”

“So it was just a rumor then,” I prodded. “He didn’t really drown a bunch of kittens in a kiddy pool back home?”

She looked disgusted. “What does it matter now if he did or not? That was before he came here and stayed with us. That was before Jesus came into his life. It was a child’s prank that went too far, nothing more.”

“So it did happen?”

I could see her temper trying to flare behind her eyes, but she held it in check and smiled. “Have you ever done anything you regret?” she asked. “Something you knew was wrong, but you did it anyway?”

“Yes, I suppose.”

“What happened with my nephew and the kittens was just like that. He felt bad about it, but he got over it and went on with his life.”

“And when Mischa disappeared?”

“He didn’t want to stay here anymore. We sent him back home.”

“Is there some way I can reach him, maybe talk to him? A phone number or an address?”

She looked at me incredulously, as if I had just asked her the dumbest question in the world. “Are you trying to bait me again?” she asked.

“No ma’m, I’d just like to talk to…”

She held up her hand. “Stop,” she said. “My nephew adored that girl, and she broke his heart along with everyone else’s. He has done his best to forget her and live an exemplary life. If she is dead, as you seem to think she is, then let the dead rest and the living live.”

There was a hard look in her eye as if her pent up anger would spill over any minute.

“Sometimes the dead can’t rest until the truth is known.”

That did it. Her face turned beet red. “And you know the truth! Mischa was a bad girl. She got pregnant, she ran away, and that was that.”

“She didn’t run away.”

“So YOU say.”

“I doubt she was pregnant either.”

“Whatever.”

“And I’m having a hard time believing she was a bad girl.”

“Well you didn’t know her, now did you,” she spat.

“No, not then. But I know her now.”

“As I said before, your picture is guesswork and your own opinion. But the truth is, she wasn’t the good little girl you have placed on your pedestal.”

“Why do you dislike her so much, Mrs. Shiflett?”

She hesitated for a moment, and then answered. “She broke our hearts.”

I reached into my pants pocket and pulled something out. It was a Kleenex. “Here’s a tissue,” I said and dropped it in her lap. “Sounds like you’re the one who needs to get over it and move on.”

I turned around and left. I kept expecting to hear words of rage aimed at my back on the way out, but it was silent. Even Shaedra was quiet as she followed me to the door. As I stepped out on the porch, I thought of something. I turned around and Shaedra was standing in the doorway, leaning against the doorjamb, one hand on her hip.

“You don’t know her nephew, do you?” I asked.

“Not very well,” she replied. “Over the years he has come to visit on occasion, but I don’t know much about him.”

I nodded and turned to go.

“…But I may remember more over a candlelight dinner,” she suggested.

I stopped and looked at her. She was smiling quite seductively.

“It’s amazing what candlelight can do,” I replied.

She continued to smile and raised an eyebrow.

“But most of all, it reminds me how much I miss my wife,” I said. Her smile vanished and I went down the walk.

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“Resurrection Diaries” by Paul D Aronson.

Original text copyright 2007.

10th Anniversary Edition 2017. All Rights Reserved.