Fiction Short Story
by Lita Harris
The Woman’s CryI hear it again. Why won’t it stop? Her cries seep through my bedroom walls. Each night is worse than the last. No one else hears the sad cry of the woman I cannot see. The town legends warned of her presence but I ignored them all and bought it anyway. This house—now belongs to me. As I pull the patchwork quilt over my head, her moans continue to invade my mind. With excruciating agony, the moans heighten to a deafening scream. Louder—louder—her screams race through my being. I pull the quilt tighter to muffle the sound.
I can sense her pain but it is hers alone to bear. The crying will not stop. I roll over and gaze at my spouse who sleeps soundly. Many times I have told him of my torment, but he has never heard her cries. Why am I the chosen one? Am I insane? I am so cold. Chills surge through my body, each wave colder than the last. My body shivers. Smack! It is only a tree branch, flung against the window by the unsettled wind. I shiver uncontrollably, begging for the screaming to cease. It is only then that I will find peace.
She carries on with persistence this night. I cannot stand it. “Stop it! Stop screaming!” I yell out to her. Yet, no one hears me. This cannot continue another moment. I must stop her and put an end to this madness. I throw back the covers and glance over at my spouse who is still oblivious to the horror of the intruder lurking in our home. I trip in the darkness as I fumble for a blanket to wrap around my convulsing, chilled body. I can barely move.
Swaddled in wool, I find my way to the bedroom door. I quietly turn the bedroom doorknob and slither through the narrow opening. If I am to fight this alone, I must take action now. She has invaded my home for too long. I walk through the darkness of the vacant corridor.. The narrow cold walls seem to close upon me and brush against my shoulders as I approach the attic door. Can it be? Has the crying stopped? I hesitate for a moment to listen for her.
The abrupt silence makes me uneasy. I reach out and turned the doorknob to gain entrance to the attic then hesitate as I look up the staircase. A faint ray of light from a moonbeam forces its way through a dirty window and paves the way for me as I ascend the dilapidated wooden stairs. I nearly fall as a mouse runs over my bare feet. The air is icy. It is so cold that I can barely breathe. I clutch the blanket tighter against my body and proceed to the top of the staircase.
Shadows lurking about the room unnerve me. This room is unfamiliar to me. Dusty books fill one corner of the room. Broken furniture makes for an uncomfortable invitation. Old toys lay about, cast off by their former owner. Dolls with vacant eyes seem to watch my every movement. The floorboards creak beneath my weight with each step I take. Suddenly I sense something behind me. I whirl around. There is nothing there to see. As I turn to leave the attic, I hear her but she is not crying. Subtle laughter begins to fill the room. I spin around to find her. Louder the laughter peals. “Stop it now!” Tears run from my eyes and freeze onto my cheeks. “Leave my house!”
The laughter is deafening. I cannot see her yet I know she is here somewhere in the deep shadows of the cluttered room. I pace about the attic to confront her. “Stop it now!”
Silence. The laughter stops as abruptly as it began. I turn to leave. I stop at the top of the stairs and take one last look around. The room is quiet. As I reach out to the banister—the crying resumes—something rushes up behind me.
I awaken sitting in a chair in the attic to the sound of strange voices. I stand up as the voices come closer to the door. Light from the hallway fills the attic stairway. I do not recognize the voices. Slowly, I walk over to the top of the staircase. Two men in paramedic uniforms are standing at the foot of the stairs. They are bent over and I cannot see what is going on. I hear the familiar voice of a man. “That’s her,” he sobs.
“Move out of the way please,” I beg the paramedics. I try to descend the staircase but am unable to. I can see a policeman standing in the hallway and my spouse is sitting on the floor crying. I yell out but no one answers me. I attempt to leave the attic but cannot.
I watch the uniformed men stand, unaware of my presence. “Please help me,” I cry out to them. Why are they ignoring me? I watch them place a limp body on a stretcher and I begin to cry. “No, please do not leave me here. Help me. Help me.”
I watch as the policeman closes the attic door. “No! No!” I begin to cry. I race over to the window and watch them place the stretcher inside an ambulance. The sirens are silent as they drive away. I sit down in the chair as the sun breaches the horizon and her cries resume.