I had a wife and a kid once, and then one day they flew away, flew away to a place that they wouldn't return from. After I thought they had gone, they decided to pay me a visit.
The call came in early morning; it must have been sometime around 2:00am. As usual, I had woken with a start. I always tend to do this when I wake. In fact, Cameron used to get exasperated at me whenever he would attempt to rouse me from my slumber only to have me practically jump at him from fright.
That’s my kid’s name… Cameron… He was around seven when this all happened, and had taken a sudden interest in dinosaurs just a couple months before. From that point on, those were the only books he’d read, the ones about dinosaurs. His room was practically blanketed with them.
Cameron was an energetic child, and never could seem to sit still. For that reason, we were going to have him tested for ADHD. Whenever I’d become aggravated at him when he wouldn't pay attention when I would be speaking to him, he would always flash an apologetic smile that would melt my heart.
Coming to the realization that the phone kept on my nightstand was ringing, I shifted my weight to the left of me to answer it, immediately noticing the unusual absence in the bed beside me. It was where my wife would normally preside. She and Cameron had taken a trip to Nevada to visit my wife’s parents. She had referred to the outing as a “mom trip”.
The phone had a picture of Cameron playing in the snow beside it. It depicted him building a snowman with his mother. I can still remember his semi- short, blonde hair, and those piercing green eyes like two polished emeralds. Those eyes always seemed to be special, like they could stare right into my soul. If angels had a physical form, they would look like Cameron. I digress…
I had tentatively picked up the receiver after a moments debate of whether or not to answer at all. I figured it could just be a solicitor. Then I glanced at the digital clock on my nightstand and the green numbers it rhythmically flashed and was reminded that solicitors don’t call at close to three in the morning.
As I held the grey, cold piece of plastic to my ear, I instantly could tell that this was no solicitor. The voice was female and had a somewhat authoritative tone. The woman spoke in a kind manner, yet possessing a tinge of awkwardness to it, as if delivering bad news. She spoke in what seemed to be a sympathetic manner asking me my name. I asked the woman for what reason it would be needed.
A prolonged pause took place, an uncomfortable, lengthy pause. It was the kind of silence that makes you feel as though you’ll scream if something doesn't end it soon. I finally heard her considerate voice on the other end. “There’s… There’s been a grave accident.”
Dead. Both of them, Cameron and my wife, they had both died. The two people I had cared for most in the world had died. I recall that before the flight out to Nevada, my wife had told me that she would call when the plane had landed safely. I never expected that instead I would receive a call of the exact opposite.
The 7-47 had crashed completely and utterly unexpectedly. It was as if one moment the plane was flying smoothly and even ahead of schedule on their flight to Nevada and then the next… nothing. Nothing but charred rubble spread amidst the green grass of the farm pasture they had crashed on.
Despite all of this, what had angered me most was that I never gave them a proper goodbye. A day or two before the flight my wife and I had been in an argument over whether or not the trip should be taken at all. Cameron was already struggling in school, and I didn't think that it would be a wise choice for him to miss a full week to go and see his grandparents.
It wasn't that Cameron wasn't smart. No, he was plenty smart. Rather, it was more that Cameron felt as though what he was learning had no applicable relevance to his time and as I mentioned earlier, he would have rather been reading about dinosaurs. Anyway, my wife felt that the trip would be important for Cameron to bond with her parents, as we aren't able to visit them very often. The argument ended with us both angry, and that anger was present even as I drove them to the airport. I had given them a farewell hug and kiss, but it was evident that my wife and I were not exactly pleased with each other. What I am principally trying to get at is that the final goodbye I had spoken to my wife had been one said in mutual frustration towards the other. In other words, my wife died angry at me.
Around thirty people had arrived at the funeral, all of them dressed in black. They all took their seats in the coffee brown pews which lined the two perpendicular aisles of the cozy church. Two caskets adorned with flowers of red, pink, and violet had been positioned at the very front of aisle which led up to a plain white altar above which was an undersized cross.
The caskets remained empty, since their bodies had been incinerated from the explosion that occurred when the plane met the ground. Instead, placed inside were some possessions that had been dear to the two. For Cameron, it was a supple, bright blue, linen blanket given to him as a baby and a black and red toy train, given to him for his fifth birthday.
As for my wife, a miniature, light brown music box engraved with roses on the side given to her as a child and a gold necklace with an amulet attached to it containing two pictures from our wedding day had been encased in her casket. I can still picture her in her dress on our wedding day, pure white, as if it had been spun from clouds.
I honestly paid no attention to the service. My eyes were instead fixated upon the casket belonging to Cameron. No matter how many times I would attempt to focus my attentions on the low, monotonous drone of the minister performing the service, I would always be called back to the casket. Something about it was almost hypnotic. When the service ended I was the last out… I had just stood in the back, my eyes stuck on the casket. People passed by me muttering phrases of how they were sorry for my loss and how Cameron and my wife were in a better place.
As terrible as it sounds, I didn't want them to be in a better place. I wanted them here with me. Call me selfish, but those were the kind of thoughts always pulsing through my mind. I would think of what I would give to get them back.
Sometimes, I hear him giggle. Cameron, that is. I had always reassured myself that the chuckle had been nothing more than a product of my grief. It had occurred most often when I would check to make sure Cameron’s door is shut tightly before lying in bed, a habit I developed shortly after his funeral.
I was never quite sure why I went through the nightly ritual of checking Cameron’s bedroom door. Perhaps it was because I felt that by closing the door to his room, I could also shut out all the memories we had shared together which had long since turned painful.
Either way I always felt a presence when I checked his door. The presence hadn't ever seemed malevolent. It was always just… there, waiting for me as I made my evening rounds.
The next couple of weeks there had also been a few strange occurrences. I remember one night while checking Cameron’s door, I thought I heard something inside comparable to the ruffling of a page in a novel when turned.
As I opened the door, it produced a shrill whine which was the result of the door’s hinges needing to be oiled. When I peered inside the room, I spotted one of Cameron’s dinosaur books lying in the middle of the floor. It had been one of his favorites and had pictures that would spring up when you turned the page.
He would often ask me to read it to him before bed. I would frequently narrate the story to Cameron until his eyes became heavy and he drifted off into a deep slumber induced from his countless make believe escapades of the day. The book had even been opened to Cameron’s favorite page, the one where an over-sized T-Rex head would leap out of the paper at the reader, never failing to give Cameron and me a good fright. I placed the book back on the shelf amidst the tidy array of the other dinosaur story books. The day after Cameron’s death I had cleaned up his room including all of his books which had been scattered amongst the floor.
As I exited the room, I also noticed that Cameron’s beloved rocking horse appeared to have been tampered with as it gently swayed back and forth, back and forth, producing an audible “creak” each time it tilted.
He had gotten the rocking horse from his grandfather. Handmade. My father in law was always crafty when it came to wood-work.
The night after, I was lying in bed nearing sleep when I heard a soft, melodic tune which I quickly identified as the music from my wife’s music box. I slowly crept over to the hallway; the wooden floorboards beneath me creaking as I cautiously placed one foot in front of the other. When I had finally made it to the frame of my bedroom door, the music ceased.
Taking slow tedious steps, I warily slid my eyes up and down the hallway. It was then that I abruptly noticed that the door to Cameron’s bedrooms lied ajar. I was positive I had checked the door like every other night. But this time it was open… and inside I saw his wooden rocking horse, swaying back and forth, back and forth as though someone was riding it.
“Creak, creak, Creak, creak.”
Soon after I had called a priest to bless the house in order to achieve peace of mind, but the occurrences never ceased. I have no idea why, but every night since… they have paid me a visit.