“Please tell me that’s the last of the candy!” I begged my husband as I sank into the soft butter-cream leather cushions of the sofa. His smooth cognac colored eyes shined brightly at me as his face lit into a smile. This was his element. Ghouls and goblins, scary carved jack-o-lanterns; handing out candy to eagerly anticipating children. Halloween was his happy place; I just tried my best to participate, though I’d never really been a fan.
“Yeah babe. We’re tapped out. Let me turn the lights off in the front and lock up. You headed upstairs?” Dre licked his thick, brown lips and smirked at me as I nodded my yes, lifting from my resting place to head towards our bedroom. The mischief in his smirk had me knowingly clenching my thighs. Turning my head to face him once more, we locked orbs and butterflies fluttered through my stomach. There was no getting used to that feeling, that tingle knowing he was mine. No matter how long we’d been together, one look from him would ignite a fire that only he could extinguish.
Upstairs, I laid out one of his t-shirts for me, and a pair of boxers for him after I grabbed our towels from the linen closet in the hall while he locked up the house. Setting our things down I stood before the full length mirror on the door of the bathroom. Slowly I peeled myself from my clothes. Admiring the varying hues of warm brown that stretched across my curves.
“I want you to stop lying. I can’t keep hiding. What about my feelings?”
The soft whimpering of a woman speaking through heartache shifted my eyes quickly to the opened window in the bathroom, ears on alert as the silence of the night elevated the hushed voices. I couldn’t help the tug on my heart as she pleaded for her feelings to be considered. For a moment, her pleas were my own.
“You have to give me a little more time. I can’t just do what you’re asking without thinking about everything that’s going to change.”
The gruff bass of the man’s reply was met only with tears.
“What you doing bae?”
My left hand shot to cover my rapidly beating heart in a subtle attempt to return to calm. “Shit Dre you scared me.” I rolled my eyes and released a small laugh, knowing the only way he’d had a chance to scare me was because I was too busy minding someone else’s business.
“Prolly only startled yo scary ass ‘cause you was being nosey,” he snickered and walked across the hall into our bedroom. My eyes watching each footfall until he disappeared behind the door.
“You right. Did you hear anything outside while you were downstairs? Sounded like a woman was crying and a fuckboy was lying.” Dre laughed.
“One of these days you gon learn to mind your damn business Rai.”
“Today obviously ain’t that day Dre.”
He shook his head and release a light chuckle. “What I’m gon do with you Rai?” Walking up behind me, Dre pressed his lips to my ear and his front into my back, trapping me between his warm body and the cold granite of the sink.
A shiver ran down my spine as my nipples perked for his attention. “I can think of quite a few things. Let’s start with making a baby.” I replied as he ran his tongue around the lobe of my ear before grazing it with his teeth.
Dre’s hand slid down the soft slopes and dips of my body as he pulled my need for him to the surface.
“JUST TELL HER THE TRUTH ANDRE!” The high pitched shrill sent silent shock through my body as I snatched away from Andre.
“What truth is she talking about Dre?” I questioned, my patience worn completely thin.
“Rai what are you talking about?” His eyebrows furrowed in confusion as his embrace slacked around my waist. Pulling myself from his arms with a hard roll of my eyes, I stood face to face with him; throwing nothing but attitude.
“Andre you really about to sit here acting like you don’t hear that woman yelling your name?” arms folded across my breast, I refused to let him play with me like I couldn’t hear.
“Sarai, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.” Dre threw his hands up and stepped into the shower not giving me the chance to respond.
I walked to the window and stuck my head out, certain I’d be able to put a face to the woman screaming for my husband to tell me some secret truth. I blinked a few times when I noticed our normally quiet block had settled right back down after the trick-or-treaters had tapped all the neighborhood sources of candy. There were a few stragglers walking briskly to their destinations. I shook my head and blinked a few times more, before shutting the window and joining Andre in the shower.
“I’m tripping babe. I’m sorry. I could have sworn there was some random outside screaming for you to tell me the truth.” I lifted my head to gaze at my husband as he stood under the cascade of the shower. The steam swirled above him as the hot water pounded into his muscles and suds dripped from his cherrywood brown skin. He stood stoic, back firm and straight, pretending he didn’t hear me talking, but the throb from my middle had me ignoring his annoyance.
“Always jumping so damn high for a conclusion you ain’t reach yet.” The anger in his tone threw me off balance. My gut twisted as alarms blared in my head.
“Dre, you deadass? I heard a woman’s voice screaming your name and it seemed like you were going to act like you didn’t hear it too. I’m trying to apologize to your ass.” My own attitude now rushing to the forefront.
“Sarai you always doing too fucking much. I’m going to bed.” He shook his head, rinsed the rest of the suds from his body and stepped out of the shower. I went through the motions of showering in a daze, trying to understand how quickly we went from hot and heavy to as cold as December in Chicago. Something was off with Dre and I couldn’t just lay down without getting to the root of it. That however, was exactly Dre’s plan. When I made it back into our bedroom he was under the comforter with the lights off and his back facing my side of the bed.
“She always killing my damn vibe. That’s why I’m in this bullshit now.” Dre mumbled almost imperceptibly as he drifted off to sleep.
His semi-conscious confession rocked me to my core as I tried to figure out how sleep would come now that these boulders had been placed on my chest. I laid on my side, back facing Dre’s back, questioning when we didn’t pray together before we sent one another into our dreams.
Two hours. I had been laying in bed for two hours, wishing for sleep. He was hiding something. I hadn’t seen anyone outside when I looked, but surely he had to have heard her too. Why else could he be so mad? Maybe she was a little girlfriend he called himself having on the side, and now that she couldn’t just play her position he was going on the defensive. I couldn’t stop hearing that woman’s pleas for Dre to reveal himself to me. Replaying the way his demeanor shifted off of what could have been brushed off with a simple explanation for the past two hours, had my curiosity and my anxiety at an all time high. Sliding out of bed quietly, I walked the halls of my home, stopping only to glance at the clock. It was only eleven-thirty.
Grabbing a bottle of water from the refrigerator, I settled comfortably onto the sofa, content. If I was going to let my thoughts drive me crazy it would at least be where I was comfortable enough to answer the questions I posed to myself. Lifting the water to my lips to sip, a loud crash coming from the inside of my house sent me jumping up from my rested position and spilling the water all over myself. I took off running, not forgetting to grab the aluminum bat from near the front door.
A second crash echoed loudly coming from the guest bedroom down the hall. I didn’t stop to grab Dre, assuming that he’d be coming behind me soon enough with the strap. If someone was breaking in, their best hope was the neighbor calling the cops so they could make it out with their life.
I kicked the door to the guest bedroom open, bat in position ready for whatever. Only to find the room empty. Completely empty. The guest bed, dresser, and night stand were all missing from the room as well. The light was dimmed and flickered inconsistently as I stood there stuck, goosebumps rising on my skin as fear attached to the base of my spine; beginning it’s slow ascent. I wasn’t sure how long I stood there, scared to go into the room, blinking rapidly scared of walking away from the door. Where was Dre? Why hadn’t he come barging down the hall, pistol in hand, ready to save me?
“You may as well come in. You’ll never know what you want to know standing on that side.” That same sultry voice beckoned to my natural inclination to explore. Almost trance-like, I slowly pushed into the room with the quick passing thought of this being exactly how bitches die in movies, nearly turning me around. In the center of the room where the bed previously occupied space, stood a tall woman. Taller than any woman I had ever seen. Her deep onxy skin sparkled, matching the sparkle of her beautiful gray orbs. Her hair fell in torrents of thick black coiled tendrils around her naked body adorned in gold jewels. Her full heart shaped lips painted red, cracked into a bold smile. I stood in awe of this woman. She was beautiful. Almost too beautiful, and though I felt propelled to smile, my gut filled with dread. My eyes roamed her from head to toe, soaking in her energy before taking in that her feet were not touching the ground.
Maybe she’s no woman at all. I told Dre all this Halloween shit was an invitation for shit that don’t need to be invited in.
“You don’t have to be afraid, there are things you must know now.” Her voice resounded in my head, but her lips hadn’t moved once. I looked behind me once more, wondering again what was keeping Dre from coming to see about me. I know he’d heard those loud ass bangs like I had.
“I can answer all of your questions about Andre. You only have to take my hand.”
Her outstretched hand levitated patiently in the air, almost knowing I was going to put my small hand into the palm of hers. I hesitated. Maybe this was all a hallucination from the lack of sleep I’d been getting lately. The pull to connect myself to her was overwhelming. The harder she smiled at me, the more I found myself filled with fear.
“Come on Sarai. You don’t have to be afraid.”
How did she know my name? “Wh-who are you?” I asked, my voice trembling. She said nothing. Just smiled, and jutted her hand out to me once more, slowly nodding for me to join her. For me to satisfy my curiosity. Throwing caution, common sense, and everything else to the wind, I placed my hand in hers. Her flesh was cold, almost numbing to the touch, and chills shot through my bones as we connected. The room fell from beneath my feet as I yelped in surprise.
Immediately I was enveloped in a cold, damp darkness listening to the shrill of feminine laughter mingling with my husband’s baritone. A strong gust of wind swirled around me, before I felt the ground beneath my feet again. “Where am I?” I wondered out loud as a small light began to illuminate the room. I wasn’t certain of my whereabouts, though the room held the familiar energy of my house.
“Welcome Sarai. I am Aru. Please do not be afraid. Your fear is very painful for me to experience.” Aru spoke quietly as my eyes made out her form in the darkness.
“If I could not be afraid I would, but sis I don’t just go teleporting around my house on a Thursday night all the time. I don’t understand what’s happening, and honestly I feel like it was a mistake to follow you.” I wanted to backpedal my ass out of the guest bedroom, but as I turned looking for the doorway, there was none.
“Sarai, there is no exit from this room. You have spent much time building walls for this house, now it is time to face your truth.” Before she could fully finish her sentence, two large skeletons fell from a closet that hadn’t been there a moment ago. Dust particles floated through the air as the dried out bones clanged against one another on the floor. Loud. These bones were old and loud, and I was fighting a losing battle with the dust as it settled on my lungs. After a brief coughing fit, I stepped back to watch the bones clang and rattle their way in my direction. The more steps I took backwards, the faster they came closer.
“These are yours Sarai.” Aru floated quietly between my thoughts. “You’re closets here are full of them. You and Dre haven’t been very good to one another now have you?” Her voice held a hint of accusation, a sobering fact when I thought about how jumping to conclusions about Dre had even led me to this moment.
The bones of the fallen skeletons rattled louder as they circled around me, piecing back together. The calcified hands wrapped tightly around my ankles, pulled me to the floor and began to drag me towards the closet. “Ahhh!!! Let me go. Let me go!!!” my screams were loud as I tried to shake free. I kicked my legs as hard as possible, and still there was no reprieve.
“Tell yourself the truth Sarai. These are yours Sarai.” Aru’s chilling whispers sent shivers through my body. What did she mean these were my bones?
Tears slipped from my eyes as the possibility of breaking free diminished. The skeleton was dragging me through the door of the closet, as I grasped for anything I could hold onto. “We never stay under the rug for long when you try to sweep us up,” the bones whispered as they pulled me further into the closet.
“If you get dragged into the closet, you will be trapped there forever Sarai. Please! Tell me where you are hiding your truth.” Aru begged as the skeletons increased their force.
“I never wanted to marry Andre.” I yelled out, surrendering to the weight of the skeletons. “I never wanted to marry Andre, but the man I wanted to marry didn’t want me.” I sobbed into my shirt. The tugging at my ankles stopped. The skeletons fell away. Aru’s voice was gone. There was just me, in the fully illuminated guest bedroom, halfway beneath the bed, staring up into the hypnotizing, pain-filled brown eyes of my husband.
This room felt cold. A shell of what once was, wrapped in delusion that I seemed to cater to. Sleep wasn’t coming. Would not come to me anytime soon so, I went in search for the thing that left me feeling voided; Sarai. That shit she came at me with before our shared shower had shook me to the core but I refused to allow it too much room to roam in my head. It was clear we needed to talk so I pushed the covers back, looking behind me in the bed at the spot that she occupied. Her breast rising and falling slowly reminded me that she had allowed me to go to sleep with a dry dick and beard. I didnt know what the fuck had her flipping out, especially when it seemed we were on the track to some good loving. Standing from the bed, I stretched before adjusting my pants on my waist. When she pulled in a slow breath that caused a soft moan to flow from her lips, my dick hardened while my anger heightened.
“Aye.” I yelled, slapping the side of the bed to rattle her. “We need to talk!”
“And what will you say Andre?”
I leaned forward, trying to determine if that voice – that was five octaves deeper than Sarai’s – had actually came from her lips. I hit the bed again. “We need to…”
“Lie to each other?”
My eyes shifted around the room before landing on a door that seemed to hoover in the middle of the room, nothing supporting it on either side. I blinked to clear my vision before looking back at the bed. My eyes rounded, spread wide as the walls turned black before my eyes. Fear clogged my throat as I blinked again, shaking my head to clear it. My mind rushed with escape routes to get us out of the house yet my feet remained cemented to the floor that was now covered in ash and smoke. “Sarai!”
In the instance that I yelled her name, the floor came from under me sending me falling. I released a muted screen as I continued falling for what seemed like forever. My heart was beating out of my chest, sweat flying from my brow as my body was thrown into a never-ending downward spiral. I tried calling for Sarai but nothing came from my lips. Suddenly the fall seemed to slow until I landed in a chair, chains trapping my ankles and wrists in place.
“What the fuck is this?”
“Be patient. Be honest. Those are the things that you promised.”
It was that voice again but I wasn’t able to see anything. I bucked against the chains, trying to free myself. The chains were not budging and my desire to be freed wouldn’t allow me to give up. “What is this place?”
The voice that had no image came to me again, louder and closer this time when it spoke, “What do you desire to know about Sarai?”
My never ending attempt to break free from the chains were the only sound that filled the room once those words hit me. “Who are you?”
Suddenly a figure occupied the space before me causing me to jump in fear. The hair all over my body elevated as my eyes moved around the man that now sat in a chair across from me. He looked like… me, just older with grey hair covering his face. His eyes were grey, his skin wrinkled and folding, he was dressed in an all white suit that almost made him look transparent, ghostly.
My mental state had shifted from confusion to fear in a matter of minutes. I worried about Sarai who was still sleeping in our bedroom.
“She finds peace in slumber.” The figure spoke slowly. “Those hours are the only time her mind does not wonder.”
I hadn’t verbalized my concern regarding Sarai, therefore I knew that my thoughts were not safe. The door that was in my bedroom appeared beside the man that hadn’t given me his name. “Who are you and why you got me chained to this chair?” I could hear my heart beating in my ears. “Where am I?”
“Ahhh!’ A dry chuckle followed his words as he stood, walking closer to the luminating door. “You now ask the questions that matter. Where are you? We are simply within ourselves.”
My rage boiled over. I pushed forward, grunting before I screamed trying to break free. “WHERE THE FUCK IS MY WIFE?!”
“Your wife?” He spat in disgust before laughing again. “Wife?” he tittered in a childlike manner before looking over at me.
He reached for the knob of the door as the flaps of his rusted suit jacket blew back from a sudden wind that rushed into the room. Small particles flew from him, hitting me in the face and chest. I closed my eyes, turning my head in time for the residue to land on my face and not in my eyes. It was then that I noticed that he was indeed a ghost. My ghost? “Please?” I began to plea, terrified. “Just let me get back to my wife.”
“I never wanted to marry Andre.” That scream came from Sarai, it had me shifting, searching for her. “I never wanted to marry Andre, but the man I wanted to marry didn’t want me.”
“What?” I questioned as air rushed through my lungs. “Where is she? Take me to her!” I demanded.
“Listen to her words.”
The door inched open some more as Sarai’s voice got louder. “I never wanted to marry Andre.”
Her words felt like slaps to my face in repetition. My heart slowed in my chest as her words became clear. “What is she… what does she mean?”
“Words speak truths lips hide.”
“She…she didn’t say that.” I denied with a firm shake of my head.
“Now it is time for your truths to spill. Time wagers against us. Death is near. Life near its end depending on these lips.”
“Stop fucking talking in riddles!”
The walls began to crack loudly as the floor began to give way. “I just need to wake up.” I cried in a panic. “I just need to wake the fuck up!”
“Noooo…waking leads to nothing until the things we hide inside come from where they reside.” His hands lifted in the air at the same time that more ghostly figures began to crawl from the walls. “Come on and confess your truths. Death before dishonor…it’s what you told her.”
“Stop!” I squeezed my eyes closed tight. “I don’t know what you want me to say!”
“Speak your truths or we shall die within these walls on this night. You don’t want this time to lapse, keep hiding truths and it’ll be your last.”
The figments grew closer, red eyes with blood running from their lips. They seeked to devour me. I just didn’t know what he wanted to know. “What? What do you want me to say?”
“Your truth!” His voice boomed as the low growling nose of the people from the walls sounded at my feet. They were closer. Too close. “Creepy crawlers at your feet, yes it is your soul they seek.”
I thought hard trying to determine what it was he wanted me to say. I felt something touch me, then more hands, pulling at me. Suddenly the chains were broken giving me a false sense of escape. It was short lived as one of the figures from the floor stood tall, face to face with me. The room grew quiet again before it- whatever it was- yelled at me before the chains at my feet were broken. It charged at me, pushing me backwards. I hit the floor with a hard thump, backing up until my back was against the wall.
“You are so stubborn that you would rather die?”
His question snapped something within me. My hands flew up to block my face as the figure from the wall charged me again.
“She was pregnant!” I yelled, feeling the levee of my deep desire to bury that lie that had haunted me, break. “She was fucking pregnant and I still married Sarai.” My heart ached. “She killed my baby because I chose Sarai. I- I never told her.”
The room began to spin, the people from the wall and the man that looked like an older version of me began to float into the air, wailing cries that rattled me still. I stayed in my position on the floor, eyes wide with moisture coating my entire body as I tried standing. Suddenly, I was falling again, this time when I landed, I was standing in front of a weeping Sarai, fully clothed.
“Yoooooooooooooooo!” Terrance, my best friend yelled. “What the fuck is happening?”
I blinked before staring at Sarai who lifted her hand to wipe tears from her eyes.
“I told you they shit ain’t perfect.” I heard Tasha, Sarai’s homegirl speak from the side of me.
“I told y’all that shit was for real but yall ain’t wanna listen to me.” Terrance yelled. “Now look at y’all stressed the fuck out. Got ghost revealing shit to you like we in a Paranormal movie or some shit. You ain’t gotta prove shit to my black ass more than once. I’m heading the fuck out. You gone need to hit the couch my G?”
I ran a hand down my face, still fuming. “Chill Terrance.”
“Chill?” He questioned. “You telling me to chill when you was just in there crying a little bit?”
I huffed before mugging him.
“All I’m saying is that I seen it with my own eyes so don’t say nothing to me when I get emotional.”
“You didn’t want to marry Dre?” Kim questioned with wide eyes, pulling at Sarai’s arm.
“Of course, I did!” Sarai cried. “I don’t know what’s going on.”
“That’s not what you said in there.” Kim stated firmly. “Girl, what the fuck is wrong with you?”
Sarai ran her hands through her hair as I looked up at the house that our friends had dared us to go into during our visit to the Fall Festival. There were tales about this particular Haunted House scaring you to the point of revealing your deepest darkest secrets. I could now vouch for that being the truth.
“Who is the nigga you wanted to marry? Who is he?” I demanded.
She pushed me. “You don’t get to fucking question me when you lied about Tara being pregnant by you. I knew you fucking lied and I believed you. I trusted you!”
“You knew that I was fucking you and Tara at the same time!”
“What?!” Tasha yelled. “Oh, this tea is hot honey!”
“You shut the fuck up!” I gritted while mugging her. “Yo ass just mad that I didn’t bless you.”
When her mouth dropped, I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about her saying anything else.
“You told me that you stopped when we got serious.”
“I’ve never lied to you.” I stated firmly. “I did stop. I stopped the moment I fell in love with you but you lied about loving me.”
She exhaled. “I didn’t lie to you. Tara was pregnant.”
“She didn’t keep it.”
“But still, she was…”
“You lied about loving me! What the fuck do you think is worse?”
“I never said that I didn’t love you! I never once said that!” She yelled in my face.
“You loved someone else.”
“You had a woman pregnant by you!”
“AND I STILL CHOOSE YOU!”
“Fuck you!” I spat! I waved a hand behind me. “Fuck you and this stupid ass haunted house.”
Sarai followed me the moment I stormed off. “Are we going to talk about this?” She questioned after we got a small distance away.
“I think we’ve talked enough.”
“This issue is that we haven’t talked enough!” Sarai pleaded. “Dre, please?!”
“I don’t know what to say to you! You didn’t want to marry me!”
“Let’s just go home so we can talk, please?”
I stared into the eyes of the love of my life, completely confused about how to feel. “Tell me and we can.”
She opened her mouth to speak at the same moment a man stepped into my vision. “Who the fuck are you?”
Sarai turned, her eyes big as hell. “Don’t matter who the fuck I am. Just know that I came to get Sarai.”