There’s Someone In My House (Part 2)
12th August, 2010.
“Why don’t you move to another country, Miss Banks?” offered her teacher.
“Because I can’t, sir. I have my entire education set here, in California. I can’t just change over because people think I’m crazy,” countered Kiara.
He shrugged in defeat. “I suggested what I thought was right. You need to get out of this place before…”
“Before people come from the asylum to get custody of me?” she asked, expecting the exact response.
It was after she heard herself say those harsh words that she understood the meaning behind it.
She had been tailed around at high school and senior year because the doctors suspected she was mad and because anti-psychotics wouldn’t ‘work’ on her. When would they realize she wasn’t mad?
“Actually, you know what? I shall do just that. Run away. Even if it makes me feel like a wimp, I’d rather live in a place where nobody knew me and didn’t send animal catchers after me,” she said.
He just looked at her.
“All right then. I guess this is good bye,” he said.
“Thank you for everything,” Kiara replied, a little coldly.
And he left.
These people would never realize what ordeal she’d been through for the past month. The girls in her school had ruined everything. Why had they taken her into this? What would they get? When Kiara had so firmly shown she didn’t want to be involved in the trance games that they played, why did they mess with her?
“Aunt Grace?” she called.
“What is it? You saw another banshee?” her aunt yelled down the stairs.
“No,” replied Kiara, a little too roughly. “I’m leaving.”
“Leaving for where?” Grace asked, coming into view.
“Someplace else,” Kiara answered. “I can’t live here. I’ve caused too much trouble for you with all those people after me. I don’t want any more favors from you. I’ve got enough cash on me from my job. I’ll survive.”
“Survive? No, Kiara, you’re not going anywhere. You’ll stay with me. You’re not going, you get that?” her aunt began to raise her voice.
“I can’t live here! I’m going crazy by the minute! I can’t keep up with this anymore, Aunt Grace. Please, don’t stop me,” Kiara begged.
“We’ll talk about this tomorrow, Kiara,” she replied.
“No, Aunt Grace, I want to finish with this right now,” Kiara said. “I’m packing and will leave tomorrow. I can only hope there’s no overnight problem.”
Grace looked at her niece pleadingly. She’d be all alone if Kiara were gone. Kiara’s state of mind, though unusual and sometimes problematic, was a way Grace could endure each day without a routine that made her life slow. And, somehow, she felt more alive to have the teenager in her house.
“What would your mother feel about this, Kiara?” Grace asked, knowing these words would bring her niece back to her senses.
“She’d tell me to go, Aunt Grace. Because she believes in not imposing one’s ailments on another,” answered Kiara.
Grace knew she was right. And especially the way she had said it, Grace was sure that she could do nothing to stop her.
She went to her room, brought out a box and handed it to her niece.
“You’re mother left this for you,” she said.
Kiara looked at the box closely, finding that she remembered the box from her childhood when her mother was alive. Mom had kept her treasured materials in the little box.
She opened it and found a single silver ribbon that sparkled so bright it sent off reflections on the walls. A pot of turquoise blue paint and a paint brush of squirrel hair were the next items that Kiara found. There was a tiny finger puppet: a singer doll with hair as golden and as long as Rapunzel. The last thing that Kiara found was a mound of gold, worth a minimum of a thousand dollars.
“She… All this is for me?” she stammered.
“Thank you so much!” her niece said, and hugged her aunt.
That night, Kiara dreamed of sunlight pouring into her room, and the trees shining in the resplendent light. She smiled in her sleep, but then it changed. Wherever the sun rays touched, it caught fire, and her room burnt down, along with her house. She stood gaping at the house that was the only place she could call home, and wept. That’s when the shadows came and crept over the road to her feet. The hands grasped her ankles and pulled her down with such force that she screamed out of terror and fell to the ground. She writhed on the floor as the hands scalded her shins, getting a stronger grip on her and dragging her along the sidewalk. They paid no heed to the streetlamps and Kiara crashed into every pole that lined the footpaths, screaming all the while.
Then, she woke up, to see that the hands were at her window, banging at the glass panes. She shrieked, and Grace ran into her room to see Kiara digging her nails into the blanket so hard that it began to tear.
“Kiara!” Grace yelled, shaking her niece out of her dream.
“They’re right here!” Kiara hollered in response.
“Who? There’s nobody here! Wake up!”
“I am awake!”
By then, the hands had slipped down and didn’t threaten Kiara any longer. But tears had stained her face and made her eyes bloodshot.
“It’s all right, Aunt Grace. You can go,” she whispered. “Leave the lights on.”
“You’re sure, dear?”
“All right then. I’m right here if you need me, but preferably, don’t scream,” advised Aunt Grace, and she closed the door behind her.
Kiara immersed herself into reluctant sleep, waking up every few minutes to check if the hands were back. She woke up at 6:15 in the morning, staring at her window all the time.
When Aunt Grace found Kiara missing during breakfast, she thought her niece might have overslept. But when she was missing even during lunch, Grace went to see what the matter was. She found her glaring at the window the way a chicken would keep watch on a preying fox. Trepidation had got hold of her and Kiara’s arms shivered in fear, sweat had beaded on her temples and worry and anticipation had made her eyes strained and red.
“Dear, what’s wrong?” she asked her dead sister’s daughter.
But Kiara remained silent. She had her eyes glued to the window panes, yet looking at nothing in particular.
Grace offered Kiara the French toast she’d prepared for her. When Kiara didn’t even notice it, Grace kept it on the desk in the room. “You’re food’s here in case you feel like eating. And, please, Kiara, please do eat.”
But Kiara didn’t respond at all. Grace gave up, and just before leaving, she said, “I’ll be going to the boutique. Call me there if you need anything.”
After two hours, Kiara snapped back to consciousness, gasping hard. She squirmed on her bed, feeling a whip lashing at her back and her head throbbing so hard she thought her forehead would split open.
The pain subsided and Kiara trembled. All that she saw had killed her senses and even when the doorbell rang twice she couldn’t get up. Later when she went down, she saw a parcel to her name and wondered what it could be. She took it to her room and sat at her desk, eyeing the package all the time as she ate her toast.
When she tore open the brown paper cover, she saw a snow globe with a girl stretching her arms out and feeling the sparkle fall over her. What was this? Who’d given it to her? But she found no address, apart from hers.
She brought out a large trunk and pulled open her wardrobe. She pulled down her clothes and dresses, throwing them into the bag. She took a pair of shoes and stilettos and dumped them into the trunk, too, along with the mysterious snow globe. Her cosmetics and her photographs she packed and took along a few pills she thought might help. She flushed down her anti-psychotic meds and exhaled dramatically. How it felt to see those disappear forever was absolutely relieving.
“Aunt Grace?” she said into the phone.
“Yes, dear,” she replied.
“What? Now? Kiara, please, at least wait for me to be back,” her aunt pleaded.
“No, Aunt Grace, I need to leave now. I won’t be able to say good bye if I see you here. I have to go,” Kiara said firmly.
“But,” said Grace, wanting to contradict. Then it dawned on her that Kiara had been through a terrible time for a month and that she probably needed a break from this place. “All right, Kiara. Keep in touch when you’re settled in your new home.”
“Thanks a lot, Aunt Grace,” said Kiara. Her aunt had understood what she felt.
Now for the cab to the station, she thought.