He sat down on the steps of the stairs that did not lead to the second floor any more.
Silence and darkness felt so thick that it became difficult to breathe. Blind windows were looking out with their empty eyes, half-destroyed walls and heavily damaged floor. The stove was still where it used to be and it joined the big chimney which was connected to a large heating oven facing the other half of the half-ruined building.
It was easy to recall the wonderful times here. This place was booming with life just 3 decades ago. Such a short time, in fact.
He swiped from his eyelashes a spider net that had accidentally stuck to his hair and forehead. He felt taller than he could remember because his head had never been so close to the top of the door opening. Well, everything had as if shrunk in size. Or maybe his perception had gotten larger?
He could imagine hearing laughter from the former living room, and the memory of people dancing with soft dance music was very much alive. He could remember the delicious smell rising up from the cooking stove and spreading out like a tasty great treat promising cloud. He could remember fragrances of perfumes and polished people talking about nothing and everything.
They were never short of anything. That was a simple, but abundant life. They were diligently pursuing their shy and modest happiness. Life was easy and they were young. Everything was easy.
Then there was that terrible accident. Sudden, unexpected, interrupting and tragic. He blamed ambulance, doctors at the small hospital, lack of decent medications, lack of knowledge, his own stupidity and the entire planet. She had disappeared as if never being on the Earth.
He didn’t want to stay alone in the old house, so, it was wakening for quite a lot of years. Housing market was down, and nobody showed much interest in this place. The house just did not want to sell.
He left for another town, closer to his mother and he had pretty much forgotten about this old place until one day he received a call. The caller briefly described how somebody had set the place on fire and there were only outer walls left. Pretty much everything was burnt.
The same night he went to see the place. It was not that far after all, and some kind of decision had to be finally made.
It had started to get darker. Twilight was setting down and made the roofs and trees down the hill look like in a fog. Pale half-moon was visible above the big tree at the house gate. The gate amazingly looked as if nothing had happened. Ever.
He walked through the open door, and that was a really disastrous scene that opened to his eyes. He tried to set up the phone light, but the battery was getting really low, so, he decided just to have a quick look around. There was nothing much to do or see. That was all his beautiful past right here and it looked like ashes and debris. The light was fading swiftly and it was time to get going.
A bright moon beam showed up through the opening of the window that was in the former living room. The lowers steps of fallen down stairs were visible. He was aware there were no steps, but that certainly did not disturb her.
She was slowly stepping down, the very long light hair and the long foggy color dress was waving as if in the wind.
There was no wind. She came with her own breeze that seemed to be upholding her quite well.
He wanted to scream and take a deep breath, but his heart began beating so fast that he felt insanely dizzy all of a sudden. The dark burned out walls started to dance around him and the floor felt as if sinking under his feet. He realized that no sound had left his chest, so he started to grasp for air and tried to hold onto something to maintain his balance.
It didn’t seem something felt wrong to her. Majestically, as she always did, she came closer and closer one gracious step at a time. Sparklingly white in the dark room, the very long white hair dancing with some inaudible music. The dress appeared to be made of transparent airy fabric that lifted up every time she made another step.
She was incredibly beautiful, she was. That was the last thought he could remember when waking up at a hospital.
It appears he had gotten out on the street and then felt down because of abnormally fast heart rate. He had fainted because of a strong and sudden rise in blood pressure. People had found him unconscious and called the ambulance.
He came back to himself quite quickly. His mother was sitting next to his bed.
“Well, how are you feeling?” she asked.
His mouth was dry, and the answer came somewhat delayed: “Dizzy. Weak. Silly. I want to go home”
“Doctor said some tests were necessary, so they will be back with the results soon. Let’s just wait and I will call a cab and take you to my place.” Mother was so old, but she was very decisive and her voice was as strong as it used to be 30 years ago.
“Sure. What is this small stinky book over there on the night table? It smells like it has been burning or something. I’ve never seen this book before.” He had noticed the strangely looking book and the smell was somewhat very annoying.
“They brought it with you because when by-passers found you, you were holding this small book tightly in your hand.”
“I see” he only responded because it did not seem to have any importance at the moment.
He could not even remember later how this book got home with him.
The test results were satisfactory, but he was warned he could experience sudden episodes of fatigue for a while, so it was better not to leave the house alone. He promised to do so and they were free to leave the hospital.
He kept experiencing nightmares and bad scary dreams after this incident every night. He was at the brink of losing his mind when he woke up in the middle of the night in cold sweat and trembling. He had lost his sleep and started losing his weight rapidly.
He had seen numerous doctors since, and nobody could find a serious reason for his headache, nightmares, blood pressure swings and absurdly fast heart beats. This condition did not go away, although, it never bothered him during the day.
He got finally tired of spending so much time in doctors’ waiting rooms. He got the address of a spiritual healer, mind reader and a person who could understand ghosts.
After the women had carefully listened to what happened, burnt out a few candles from the holy place and used different manipulations and talked to someone invisible, she finally came up with the suggestion: “The cause of your troubles lies in the small book you received from the other world. You are not the person to keep this book because you do not understand what is says and you cannot read the ancient script either. The only way you can return to your normal is you take this book back where you got it from.”
He did not like the idea. He did not like even thinking about walking in the dark, burnt out place.
“I know you are not excited to return there, but you have to put yourself together and be brave and get this done. Prepare before you go. Ask somebody to wait outside. Whatever way you do it, you have to get this book back there. Unfortunately, you need to do this at night. I wish you strength, and remember: it is much better to move forward without carrying your past along,” she said putting out the candle lights with a special metal apparatus that looked like face of evil.
He had prepared. He did not want to bother any friends and he felt strong enough because he knew what to expect this time.
He had bought gasoline and poured it all around the corners and all across the place. He wanted to finish with this place for good. Get rid of it. Make it disappear. Forever. It had not given him anything good. She was the past. She was somewhere else. She was never to return to this place again.
So, he sat down on the steps of the stairs that did not lead to the second floor any more. He thought she might appear from above or somewhere behind him. It didn’t scare him this time.
Finally, it was dark enough and late enough. The pale half-moon was almost above the trees and weak light beam crossed the room from the window opening to the door in the distant wall. There she comes. The long white hair and the long airy dress waving in an invisible and inaudible breeze. Silence is thick and only his heart beat interrupts it. He glances one more last time at the white silhouette and ghostly creature and says loudly: I am leaving now and I advise you to go away, as well. Take back the book, here it is.”
The pale half-moon shines on the face that had eyes and life in it some 30 years ago. Dress and hair swirl around her. Her steps are majestic and she moves in a flying motion.
He places the book on the steps before she has gotten too close. Gets a lighter and throws it into the puddle of gasoline.
He is not weak. He gets out behind the gate just to see how the building flares up against the night sky.
He walks fast and a few shivery street lights show the way. He walks away. He is done with the past and it will not come after him ever again.
It is quite chilly and he walks rapidly towards the lights of the town, towards the future.