To reach the attic, they had to climb a narrow staircase. Rachel thought that was weird. Houses usually had a chord hanging from the ceiling and that was what you pulled to bring down the folding ladder to get to the attic. She'd only seen people take the stairs up to an attic in movies that were supposed to take place a long time ago, like A Little Princess. New houses didn't have stairs to the attic, but then Rachel remembered that this wasn't a new house. It was old and full of dust.
She posed a question to the backs of Helene and Tierney.
"Has anybody ever died in this house?"
There was hardly a pause.
"Yeah," Tierney said. "Actually, there are a couple of graves on the property. Back in the 17 and 1800s, people used to bury their dead family members on their own property. The land that came with this property used to be farmlands, but it's overgrown with trees now. I went out their with...well, he used to be my boyfriend..."
"Fucking dumped her when she had cancer!" Helene hissed under breath.
"Yeah," Tierney agreed, finally reaching the tops of the steps and shining her flashlight round. She stepped to the side, allowing enough room for Helene and Rachel to enter the space. Rachel looked around and all she could see was crowded darkness. There was a thick smell of dust, thicker than anywhere else in the structure. Boxes were stacked all around, but it was too dark to see more than amorphous shapes and flickering shadows. The two women had insisted on waiting until the hour of midnight to start setting up for the Ouija session. They said the spirits were most active between the hours of twelve and three.
"He dumped when I was going through chemo," Tierney continued. "I really loved him too. Anyway, it was back when I was still with him, we walked through the woods and found a couple of gravestones. We looked at the dates of birth and death-on the ones that we could actually read anyway-and one of them was for a baby. It only lived two days. Newborn deaths were really common back then. This was in 17...."
She trailed off.
"I think it was 1740-something," Helene offered.
"Something like that," Tierney agreed.
She set down the bag that she'd been carrying slung over her shoulder.
"Let's get this set up. I think we should move some of the stuff around...maybe get a big area in the middle of the attic cleared out.."
"Which way?" Helene asked. "You've never brought me up here, T. How big is this thing anyway?"
"Oh, the attic is huge," Tierney replied. "Follow me, everybody!"
She picked her bag up again and began making her way slowly through the attic. Rachel reached out with both hands, feeling for objects and boxes as she went. She could see the silhouettes of the two women ahead of her sliding through small breaks in the clutter, bending and twisting to fit through the mess. Rachel had to do the same, only to a lesser extent, as she was much smaller than they were.
They stopped under a huge arched window. Rachel looked up at and could tell, even with it being very high up-and how could an attic have such a tall ceiling anyway?-that it was much bigger than she was. Through the dusty glass, she could see the moon and it was full. She rolled her eye. Of course it was full. What else would the moon be tonight?
"Here is good," Tierney said. "We need enough room to cast a circle of protection and lay out all the candles."
Rachel's mouth flickered. She was glad the room was dark. The women couldn't see her smirk.
YOU ARE READING
***Long-listed for the Watty's 2018***Rachel lives in constant fear that she will burst into flames. She can feel the heat building in her gut. She keeps buckets of water under the bed. She keeps them to fend off the flames that her body may create...