My mother died, and my boyfriend left me a week after because he wasn’t ready to deal with the mess I had become. I was really close to my mother. I had begun to fall for my boyfriend. He surprised me with a weekend trip. All things that start well don’t necessarily end well. Driving up to that camping site, I missed a call from my mother. I also missed a call from the police a few hours later. And then there was no reaching us for the next three days. Death; does not wait for camping trips to end. Once it takes a body, it eats it away. Two days later, when we came back, my mother had already been buried. 

I let her die alone: this thought never leaves my mind. I can’t blame my boyfriend for leaving. We had been dating for hardly three months. I can’t blame him, I understand, but I can’t forgive him either. He left me when I needed him the most. At night I cried myself to sleep, and during the day I suddenly broke down into sobs. 

We never had much of a family. She had a sister I rarely met, and I don’t know who my biological father is. We have lived in the same house since I was born. For a while, a very religious family lived beside us. They had a boy about my age who was really interested in the supernatural. He just knew a lot about possession and stuff, and he had a story almost every other day. He would point at people who appeared very normal to me and say they were possessed. It was not the people he pointed at but the boy himself who gave me the creeps. Now, when I think of it, they all had one thing in common; they all looked sad. The kind of sadness that lingers behind the eyes and passes unnoticed if not looked at closely. The kind I saw in the mirror every day.  Sadness makes you weak: the boy used to say. It makes your mind easy to control. I didn’t believe him one bit but  I have begun to now.

It started a week after my boyfriend left. One morning I woke up, and he was gone. I sat alone in my room, held my knees to my chest, sobbing as tears wetted my knees. I was alone in my house. There was nothing to be heard except my own sobs, and then I heard someone else sobbing. The sobs were feeble as if they were coming from a distance. Soft, exactly like mine and a second later than mine. Almost as if my shadow was sobbing with me. It was unsettling, but I knew better. I hadn’t left my house for a week. I barely ate anything. I almost expected my brain to play tricks on me. The sobs stopped as I stopped sobbing. I don’t remember when I passed out and woke up with no memory of it till it came back to me in the evening. I felt unbelievably hungry. It felt like I hadn’t eaten in months, and so I chose to prepare dinner for one to take my mind off the losses I suffered. The scent of spices had filled the kitchen, but my hand stopped at the raw meat. Soft, supple, soon to be ruined by all that heat. It had already been drained free of blood, cooking would ruin it altogether. I caught myself there. Despite how hungry I felt, I couldn’t eat raw meat.

As I diced garlic: an old memory knocked with the rapid tapping of the knife. My mother always hummed this song when she cooked. It went something like:

All my breaths have been taken away

All my breaths have been taken away

And my heart has been stolen

And my heart has been stolen

You have me under your spell…

You have me under your spell…

I sang as this memory replayed in my head. And then,  my shadow sang too. I heard a feeble version of my humming from somewhere near just a second late: like an echo. I stopped suddenly in the middle of the song, and so did the voice, a second later. I had never been more alone in my life, and yet this voice was a company I didn’t need.  Mustering all the courage I had, I turned to look around. There was no one. Whatever it was, it knew I was aware of its presence and thus left, not wanting to be noticed yet, not ready to be known yet.

Once it began, there was no escaping it. By the end of the month, I expected an echo of everything I did, every time I exhaled or inhaled, not wanting to hear it but knowing I would. I started taking caution in my steps, my breaths. Tiptoeing in my own house like a thief, but it always knew. Whatever it was, it knew my every move, every blink of my eye like a light sleeper who wakes up at the slightest sound a burglar in his house makes. It responded to my loudest cries when I broke down in frustration and my most desperate sighs. I didn’t want to stay awake because of fear of the echoes, and I couldn’t sleep because I kept imagining it sitting beside me when I slept: its chest heaving as he mimicked my breaths.

I was losing my mind, I was sure of it, but that is not why I was hearing sounds.  I was losing it because I was hearing sounds. Then, one day it stopped. Suddenly. In a second. The quiet was deafening.  And then I saw it standing there from the corner of my eye. The room was too dim to know anything else about this mimic. This time I wasn’t as afraid to look around. I had expected it. The echoes had to have a source. By the time I looked at it, it was gone. Just like that, in a second. I discovered it was quick and that it was always there. I caught glimpses of it when I didn’t expect to, and it startled me every time. There was no getting used to it.

The nights I was lucky enough to get some sleep, I had the same nightmare. I saw it standing in the corner of my room asking things about me. There, it didn’t mimic me. There it spoke in voices. Sometimes in a slithery, raspy whisper. Sometimes as the neighbour’s son. Sometimes as my mother, my ex-boyfriend, my teacher from school, the lady at the grocery store, all of them together. 

Where did you grow up? 

Do you miss mommy? 

Will you go back to him? 

Do you want to know who’s your father? 

Do you want your mother back? 

I can get her. If you give me what I want. 

I always woke up yelling “what do you want?” and a ghost of coldly hissed “You” lingered in the night air.

The day I gave in, I knew it was waiting for me to break. It drove me to a point of desperation so extreme that I broke. There were days I opened the door to my room and saw my mother standing there. Almost real; almost alive. Almost. Her eyes looked dead and her skin cold, and yet, I would run to her to feel her warmth once more and in that exact moment, she disappeared. Or worse, she bled till there was no blood left in her veins. I was left standing in my empty room ringing with a devilish snigger. Some nights my boyfriend snuggled up to me urging me to get my mother back so that we could get back together. His grip tightened around my arm when I resisted his embrace. 

The day I gave in was the day I heard it repeating my thoughts. Not complete sentences, just some words. It hadn’t gotten into my head yet but it was close. I was trying my hardest: scratching against the wall. I couldn’t take it anymore. I gave in, and all sound died: even the ticking of the clock. 

Every clock in my house is stuck at 3:13, and I haven’t felt much since then. I don’t feel pain or warmth or cold or anything. I can’t move my body though it moves alright. I am trapped inside my own body, and someone else runs it. I question about my mother, but I don’t get answers. There aren’t echoes anymore. I am just another voice in its head. I don’t feel a thing he does to my body. I can see the cuts, but they don’t burn or ache. I know the bone of my leg is broken into two, but it’s all right.

I rarely get to see the outside world, but whenever I do it’s mostly red. I see my hands ripping the neck of young boys. This thing likes to watch them bleed to death. When we aren’t doing that, it goes through my memories. I recognize emotions related to them, but I don’t feel any of them.

Today we suddenly left the house in the middle of the day and broke into my ex-boyfriend’s house. Today is Sunday. He is taking a shower. We walk in, and he cries in horror when he sees me. My leg is oddly twisted; I must reek of rot. There must be dried blood all over me.  

It doesn’t take much time to snap his neck. I felt the snap under my fingers. It has been months since I felt something, and I won’t lie: I liked how his bones cracked under my grip.

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