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I do not know if it’s just always been there or something I only noticed as I grew up. As of late, it’s become more present. I just call him the shadow. The shadow is nothing more than it sounds: a deep black figure with no distinguishing features. For awhile, I would just feel his presence.
I could tell by the pressure on my chest. Soon, I began to see him, just in fleeting glimpses. In the hall, through a window, or behind the tree at the edge of my drive, he would stand there motionless and suddenly vanish. I usually passed him off as something I imagined seeing when I was alone, unintentionally scaring myself.
However, the activity began growing. Whenever I was home alone watching television, something would pound the front window with such force that the wall shook. Shortly after that, large footsteps would traipse outside the porch. As more time went by, the footsteps would sound as if charging at where I was seated.
Another time, I was driving home at night from a friend's car and had my radio off. It was uncharacteristic of me, but I wanted silence as I drove. To get home however, I had to drive down a street with relatively no light or residential housing. I felt uneasy, so I stretched out my arm to the power button of my radio.
Just as I lifted my arm, I heard the three most distinct loud laughs into my ear. It was such a low register, I don’t think a human could possibly recreate the sound I heard. I shook nervously the whole way home.
One night, I turned groggily in my bed. Instead of a white wall, I found a black hand reaching for my face. My reactive scream caused my roommate to wake up. As soon as she stormed in demanding an answer, the hand was gone.
After this, the activity ceased for quite sometime. The shadow hadn’t made any appearances in months, and this was such a relief. I continued on my day to day life. Then one night, I had the most vivid dream of my life.
I had walked into my house when I noticed a strange woman in my kitchen. A little stocky in build and brunette curls, she appeared as no threat and her presence was surprisingly calming. She was moving around, opening cabinets, and pulled out two china plates. She chuckled and said, “I cannot believe Cheryl still has these.”
This struck me as odd, even in the dream, because Cheryl is my mother's name. The woman went to put them back when she turned and saw me. Her face was ecstatic. Then it was as if my dream froze and zoomed in on her eyes. They were the brightest green I had ever seen.
The dream resumed and she smiled and began handing me the china and asking how I was. Suddenly, she stopped and her eyebrow furrowed.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Oh, the darkness,” she said. “It’s back.”
I didn’t understand what she meant until a whirlwind appeared before us; a dark figure was slowly coming into shape. I woke up before I could see what it was.
The next day I was supposed to visit my cousin, who I'm very close with. Throughout the day, I couldn’t shake my dream off of my mind. I decided to tell her, hoping maybe it would ease my anxiety.
“What did she look like?” she asked. I described her in full detail; hair to outfit to the bright green eyes.
Her mouth dropped slightly. “Wait here.” I waited, confused at what spurned her immediate departure. She returned with a photo album. “Did she look like this?” she said, pointing to a picture. I nodded in shock. The woman from my dream was exactly as depicted in a photo album.
“Who is this?” I asked.
“That was Anita.”
Everything in my dream made sense. Anita was my mother’s mother who died 2 years before I was born. That china she pulled out? A wedding gift my mother refused to use but couldn’t part with because Anita had given it to them. But why the darkness?
My cousin explained that years ago, after Anita had a commonly practiced bypass surgery, she began acting oddly. She would speak to someone that no one could see. She would drop to the ground crying for someone to help her get away from "him". My mother and her siblings knew that something was up.
All of them pleaded with my grandfather, “Please tell us what’s happened to mom.” To this day, he still refuses to reveal what really happened to Anita. Most of the family still secretly holds a grudge against him for keeping this to himself. But no one talks about it. I probably wouldn’t have even heard the story if not for my dream.
Every family has its secrets. Some embarrassing, others more sinister. I only hope that our secret doesn’t cause me to live in fear of the unknown shadow until death.