I Don't Miss Him (Ghostpasta Contest Entry)

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Knadire

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« on: 02:40:04 PM 09/20/17 »
When my great-grandfather passed, I didn’t really feel anything.

It’s not to say that I didn’t feel bad for the rest of my family. I did. It was just that I didn’t really know who he was enough to mourn his loss.

When he still lived at his own place, I was very young. I have a few random, unremarkable memories of visiting his house, but upon remembering them none of them give me any hints as to what sort of person he was. I remember sitting in his lap and getting dry, wrinkly kisses on my forehead as a goodbye. I remember sitting on the floor putting a puzzle together and drowning out the sound of my mother talking to him about how my father was doing and that I couldn’t care less about it as a child, though he didn’t seem too interested either. I remember milk and cheap digestive biscuits, the soft clicking of a tall clock’s pendulum, and cheap chocolates wrapped in yellowing paper in the late afternoon of Christmas Day.

My most distinctive memory is probably the least significant one: pulling myself up on the uncomfortably cushy raised toilet seat in the hot summer months and looking up at the ceiling to see hundreds of lazy, orange-red ladybugs crawl away from the corner of the window.

The only thing I knew for sure about him at that time was that he was old and traditional.

I can better recall his days after his fall. When another relative went to visit him, they found him collapsed on the floor. He had been there for nearly a full day and was too weak to pull himself up again. After his bumps and bruises were treated at a nearby hospital, he was quickly whisked off to a home.


Soon after he moved in, his roommate died. He had the realization then that he was going to be trapped there until he too expired, and his health began to deteriorate fast.

Visits eventually turned to my mother trying in vain to spark a conversation with him, but most of it went unheard or forgotten. I sat awkwardly by her side as he gripped her hand with his weak, boney fingers and whispered “God help me” under his breath. Out of the two of us it seemed like he remembered me the most, but even still he often only remembered the J that my name started with, replacing the rest with sound-alike names that I had never been called. That too stopped with time as he began to greet us with the casual, friendly hello of a stranger with no recognition in their eyes.

He wasted away for more than a decade. I don’t know what kept him clinging on to life when he had turned into such a frail and empty husk of whatever it was he had been before, but he existed long enough after his cake read “happy 100th” that the certificates he received that day had gathered a layer of dust as thick as dryer lint.

When he passed, I just couldn’t bring myself to feel upset over it. From the time I stepped into the hall for the visitation to when he was finally put into the ground, I saw many sorrowful faces. My mother gave a heartfelt speech about all the times they went fishing together, and the barbeques they had. But, no matter how many members of my mom’s family I saw broken up over the tragedy, I still felt like an outsider.

Though I don’t remember when it started exactly, I’m sure the night he was buried was when my evenings started to get stranger. Since Spring was slowly turning to Summer at the time, I didn’t notice at first. But as my sheets stuck to my skin like papier mâché of fabric and sweat, I realized my room was growing abnormally hot. Even with the window open and a high-power fan on the sill, I still could not get comfortable.

It wasn’t until I started hearing things later that season that I suspected something was seriously wrong. What began as quiet bumps and scrapes I could easily excuse as raccoons rummaging through trash outside, grew beyond logical explanation. I would jolt awake in the early hours to the sounds of aggressive thumping at the walls. Though everything seemed in place by daylight, I was almost convinced someone was tearing my house to pieces with how loud it would get.

I tried to find other answers. I looked for loose tiling on the roof, tracks of stray animals, branches close to the house, but there was nothing. And even if there was something, would it really have been enough to ignore the death that started all this? I couldn’t just bury this and ignore the glaring coincidences.

I kept quiet about all this. With my family already starting to move on from the loss of their relative, I couldn’t possibly bring this up and risk reopening healed wounds, or worse still, have them worry about my own wellbeing. For months I suffered in silence, running on less and less sleep.

Eventually I grew sure that the reason for this spectre invading my home was due to my lack of care, and perhaps by extension respect, in my great grand-dad’s passing. What other reason would it have to latch on to me? What else separated me from everyone else in attendance than my youth? I was just too young to know who this man was, and I couldn’t bring myself to mourn with everyone else.

The final straw was when I was pulled yet again from sleep by an angry banging that came from just outside my bedroom door. Almost used to it by now, I lay still on my bare mattress to wait it out. But, instead of silencing like I anticipated, I heard the door creak open softly. I held my breath fearfully as I listened for anything more, but the only thing audible was my heart racing at a thousand beats per minute in my chest. The seconds clicked by slowly, seeming like countless hours. I turned my head slowly towards the side, my eyes frantically searching in the empty darkness.

Just when they fell on the soft light pooling in from the hallway, I felt ember-hot fingers touch my neck.

As I leaped out of bed, clad in only my pajamas, I caught a glimpse of a transparent, bone-white figure out of the corner of my eye before I rushed outside.

I spent the night in my car, watching for the sunrise.

Once the stars faded into purple dawn, I cautiously re-entered my house to find it just as I had left it hours ago. Still feeling vulnerable, I quickly dressed, grabbed my keys, and left for my grandparents’ house.

After politely refusing grandma’s offer of baked goods, I asked if she still had some of my great grandfather’s things from when he was moved to the home. She thought for a moment, then told me she had boxed some things up in the back of a sewing closet years earlier. When I asked if I could look through them, she obliged.

She left me to my business as I opened box after box after box. A cigar tin, old ties, rusty metal signs for states and brands, a tackle box; all of these just seemed like things out of a do-it-yourself old man kit. Surely there was something in here that could give me the slightest hint at his personality.

That’s when I found it.

Deep down at the bottom of a cardboard box, covered by a pile of earthy-toned pants, was a white cloak topped with a pointed hood.

LionOhDay

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« Reply #1 on: 09:33:31 PM 09/20/17 »
" Help my Grandad's a ghost and he's racist! "

There we go got your No Sleep Title all fixed up nice for yah!