Words Fall Like Rain Pt. II
There is a moment in life, or maybe two, where you decide your fate.
It happens when you least expect it, I think. Can be done in a blink of an eye, when you’re not expecting anything really of consequence to happen.
But it changes you. It binds you to a fate that maybe if you’d known more, been paying attention more, you would have chosen differently. You would have walked away, or said yes, or done the opposite of whatever it was you did to grant you a fate that you did not want.
Mine came when I was reading a book.
It wasn’t a rare book. It wasn’t a book in a language I couldn’t decipher. It wasn’t hidden in ruins or in a coffin, like the kind you see in movies. It wasn’t even locked away behind a gatekeeper.
It was a book I found in the college library.
I don’t know why I didn’t tell Naomi about this.
Well, that’s not exactly true. I didn’t think that it mattered. It was a book, another book on death rituals. It was for a school project. It wasn’t anything that she’d really be interested in.
She would have listened, sure. She’s my best friend. But she wouldn’t have understood.
I have the book now, here, in my hands. It’s not very old, from the 1970s. It’s got a red cover, leather binding — Naomi would hate that, she’s vegan — with fading gold leaf on the spine. It had a book flap, once, I think, but it was gone when I got my hands on it.
The History of Death Rituals in the Western Hemisphere by Dr Jane Rios Domingo, Ph.D.
It didn’t exactly scream “Don’t Read Me” from the title.
I read the whole book, cover to cover. It was for school, so I had to. It was a textbook on the various rituals that preceded and succeeded death, from the dawn of written history to now. It wasn’t a large book, smaller than a Harry Potter novel, but it took me at least a week to get through it the first time.
I took notes and everything — I’ve burned them all now. No one will ever see those notes, or this book, again. Not after I’m done writing this down.
I don’t know what it was that started everything. It was the book, for sure, but I can’t pinpoint a page or anything where everything changed. There weren’t any rituals, really, from what I could tell; at least, none written out like in a Book of Shadows. I didn’t chant anything out loud or try to summon anything.
I know the dangers of that. I’m well aware of what can happen.
So when everything started, I was confused.
— — — —
It started small, with the whispers waking me up. I always sleep with my windows open because like every other city girl, the sound of traffic puts me right out. The beeps of cars backing up and drunks singing their way home are like the chimes of a lullaby to me.
But over all of that, the sounds of the drunks caroling home and the trash pickup early Monday mornings, I could hear the whispers.
At first, it was just my name, low and sweet. It’d wake me up; that’s a feat in and of itself because as Naomi will say after I’m gone, I slept like a rock. But it was there.
It wasn’t at any specific time of night. I recorded all the times, and it ranged from as early as midnight to as late as 5:37 in the morning, before the dawn rose. It didn’t linger long after I woke, maybe a few seconds, but it was always just loud enough in a whisper for me to hear it.
I thought at the time that it was Josh, my brother, letting me know he was okay. I know now that doesn’t make sense, because the whisper came from a woman, but at the time I wasn’t paying attention.
It didn’t scare me. It probably should have.
— — — —
A week later, I started waking up in the morning to find blood in my sink. It started as a few droplets, but it’s been growing since then. This morning I woke up — not like I had a lot of sleep — and found the basin and counter painted in a crimson color. The smell of copper nearly kept me out of there, but I had to clean it up before Naomi woke up and came bounding into my room.
I know it’s my blood, and it’s real. I can prove it: I have cuts all over the inside of my mouth and the paper towels that look like a muddy orange as evidence. It’s been enough to keep me off food for a while — the cuts may be shallow, but there are a lot of them and trying to eat anything is painful.
I think Naomi thinks I’m going back to my old ways. She’s made enough comments about it now for me to know that.
It’s too late now, though.
— — — —
It’s been raining everyday for a month here. I guess that shouldn’t be surprising. This is New York, after all. But the weather reminds me of New Orleans a bit. It reminds me of home.
A home I probably should never have left.
It scares me, though, because it pounds so loud it sounds like someone, or something, is trying to get into my room at night. It assaults my windows, leaving weird marks on the panes that disappear with the next wave of rain. It goes on for a long time, so long that the pounding sounds like drumming and it puts me into a trance and then I fall asleep.
I used to think it was just some weird coincidence, you know, the rain and the whispers and the blood in the bathroom. Turns out that it’s not.
It’s gotten to the point now where I can see words in the rain that hits the window. That’s what the weird marks are: words. Simple words that turned into phrases that are now sentences and paragraphs written in a steady hand that wants me to know something:
It knows my secrets.
— — — —
There’s more. A lot more. Things that I’m sure Naomi noticed but didn’t say anything about. As much as she and I both have an approach to rituals and magic, it’s not the same approach — she probably doesn’t think I even know about it.
I wish I could tell her, let her know that the things that she’s seeing and hearing and feeling are my fault. I wish I could tell her I know how to stop it and that I’ll be fine. I wish I could tell her that it won’t come for her, that it’s not biding its time, clawing at my skin, moving through me to get to her. I wish I could say that no, that weird wailing she hears isn’t something growing within me, waiting for a chance to grab at her when she’s not looking.
But I can’t now.
I can’t even tell her that it’s not me it wants. I wish it was, because that’s how it happens in movies: the person who unveils the evil or dark “thing” is the one, and the only one, who deals with it; everyone else is just collateral damage.
Well, the movies lie — Naomi’s the real target.
How do I know? Because it wants me to know. It wants me to know that no matter what I do, it’ll get to her. It’ll rip her apart from the inside out, carving its intentions on her ribcage, her spine, her skin. It’ll filet her and let the world marvel at the disgusting masterpiece it made of her body while it looks around for another victim. It’ll loosen its chorus of tragedies on her and let ordinary people believe that extraordinary evil is among them.
And it wants me to be the one to deliver her.
Why Naomi? I don’t know. I’m not sure. I know her family were important in Ghana. I think her mother was a healer. But it seemed happy to bother me until Naomi showed up after a long break back home to see her grandparents. Then it all escalated. It even knew Naomi’s day name and Ashanti sur-name, which her family doesn’t use here. That’s when it got scary for me, because it knew so much about her. I even had to bring it up in casual conversation to make sure the name was right.
It wants her — with whatever burning passion-hatred-fear it has, it wants her. And it doesn’t want her dead: it wants her broken, weak, corrupted, denigrated, and then, finally, beaten and dead.
It wants her to suffer, and since I won’t let it have her, I suffer in her place.
I’ve fought it off twice already. I’m proud of that, because she doesn’t know. I ended up being able to hide it from her. It punished me for it, but I won in the end. I won. I won’t give this thing, the thing that hides in the shadows and whispers in the twilight and writes its lullabies on my window, the satisfaction of having me be the corrupting force on Naomi.
So. I know from the book, and from other research I’ve done, that I don’t have a lot of time. I don’t really know what I’m doing, because there is no answer (thanks, horror movies), only that time is running out. I’ve heard that this thing can be stopped when someone is in seclusion, because there’s no one to talk to, no one to manipulate. I’m going to try that. I won’t put my plan on paper. I’m not writing it down or committing it to memory. This thing may be inside me or outside of me, I don’t know, so I’m not taking any chances.
All I know is that I have to get far away from Naomi. I have to leave and not come back. I have to make sure she can’t find me.
And most important of all, I have to make sure that I do not die.
If I die, she’s dead too. I won’t be able to protect her. I’ll be gone, and she and this thing will still be here. It’ll take it a while to find a way to get to her, but it’ll be successful. I have no doubt of that.
My plan goes into action soon. Until then, I just have to avoid her. The best thing I can do to keep us both alive is to get away from her. It’s safer for all of us that way.
I just hope she hasn’t seen the words on the window yet.