Mandy handed me a glass of wine, settling into the couch beside me. Steph sat on a fluffy white rug in front of the roaring fireplace; her feet tucked under her body. She looked lost in her own glass of thick red liquid.
“What do you mean it called your name?” Steph asked not taking her eyes off the wine.
“I told you” I started “I heard something say, ‘Tally you did this’”.
“That doesn’t even mean anything, even if this place is haunted, its not like you killed anyone in here” Mandy laughed.
“Not in here” Steph breathed taking her eyes finally off her glass to meet mine.
“What the f**k does that even mean?” Mandy grabbed the bottle of wine and began refilling her glass.
“This place is just creepy” Steph whined as she pushed her long dark hair behind her shoulders.
“Listen” Mandy set the bottle down “This cabin is old, there are going to be weird sounds and the old wood will swell and stick door frames” she gestured her hand toward Steph.
“We are fine!” She laughed nervously.
I cleared my throat and took a long drink of my cup. The thick wine was bitter and made my cheeks sting.
“Last summer when David and I…” I tried to say.
“No” Steph threw her hand on the carpet grabbing at the thing shag “David was not your fault!”.
“Who’s David?” Mandy looked puzzled.
“Before you moved here at the beginning of grade 12, David was my boyfriend. I didn’t tell you about him because we had just started hanging out and I didn’t want you to think Steph and I were weird” I squinted my eyes at Mandy who now looked very uncomfortable.
“We had gone upstate to interview colleges for post grad and when we were headed back home, I was driving and it was late… we got lost on a back road… we were fighting about something stupid, I don’t even remember now what it was about but…” A small hot tear ran down my cheek and Mandy grabbed my hand.
“Was there and accident?” she said softly.
Steph shook her head and got up to come sit on the other side of me.
I nodded and began sobbing, “he hit me, and I lost control of the car… when I came to on the stretcher, I heard the paramedics say he died on impact”.
Steph grabbed my shoulders to stop the shaking. I brought the wine glass back to my lips and downed it.
“Oh f**k” Mandy shook her head “He hit you, it wasn’t your fault”.
“I know that now, but I blamed myself for so long” I sat back in the couch.
“OK!” Mandy cried jumping up, scaring Steph and I “This is supposed to be a fun trip, lets open another bottle of wine and get this summer started!”. She ran into the kitchen.
I wiped my eyes and turned to Steph. She looked like a lost puppy.
“Im sorry I scared everyone, but Mandy is right. It probably was nothing” I gave her a small smile and squeezed her thigh.
“Lets do this!” Mandy came back with another bottle of wine and vodka in hand.
“f**k yeah!” I exclaimed.
The rest of the night was pretty much a blur a drunken, loud blur.
The generator humming in the distance woke Steph. She pushed herself onto her elbows and blinked into the blackness. The only light in the room came from a small candle lit in the kitchen. They had drunkenly decided that a pillow fort in the living room would make then all feel better, besides Mandys door was still stuck and there was broken glass in Tallys room. It was an issue for tomorrows hangover.
Steph scanned the room and her eyes found Mandy and Tally fast asleep. It looked like the makeshift bandage on Tallys hand had gave way to the amount of blood and the front of her shirt had a dark stain on it. Another problem for tomorrows hangover. She rubbed her eyes and groaned. The bathroom, however, was a tonight problem.
Steph tried her best to be quiet as she maneuvered around the sleeping bodies and empty bottles strewn across the floor. She crawled over Mandy bumping her legs. Mandy groaned and rolled over, throwing her arm over Tallys seemingly lifeless body.
She crawled to the doorframe and pulled herself up. Looking into the kitchen she could see the clock on the wall that read 3:05. Steph couldn’t tell if the hangover had kicked in or she was still drunk. She tripped over her feet exiting the kitchen and banged her shoulder on the wall.
“Still drunk” she mumbled to herself, giggling a little.
Her fingers found the light switch in the hall way and flicked it. The white light flooded the hallway. She squeezed her eyes shut and brought her hands up to her face.
“Ow, s**t” she groaned. Maybe the hangover after all.
She flushed the toilet and grabbed the faucet. The water felt good. Steph let it pool in her hands then splashed her face. The reflection in the mirror almost did not look like her. Her hair was a big dark mess around her face. She looked down at her clothes. She was not wearing the frilly white shorts and pink baby tee she fell asleep in. She looked again in the mirror; her lips looked fuller than usual. She was now wearing a baggy white t-shirt that looked dirty and smelled like wet dog. She pulled at the shirt and gasped.
Why was it wet?
“Hey, Steph” a voice startled her. She fell back against the towel rack, crashing to the floor.
The voice came from the mirror. Had she said that? What was happening?
“What’s the matter, bud?” The voice asked mockingly from the mirror “Don’t you recognize your old friend?”.
Steph began to shake violently as she grabbed the sink and began gently pulling herself up.
The image in the mirror was terrifying. The dark figures hair was soaked masking half her face. Peaking out from behind the mess was a big toothy grin…. She knew that smile… she knew that oversized shirt.
“Oh god” Steph threw her hands to her mouth “Brenda?”.
Brenda nodded from behind the glass and leaned closer to Steph.
“You never had time to see me, but yet here you are with your new friends, all the time in the world to spend with them” she growled.
“Brenda… you killed yourself” is all Steph could manage.
“Because of you Stephanie” The figure seemed to grow as her voice deepened.
“Am I dreaming?” Steph asked weakly.
“No, you are not” her smile widened revealing black gums. Small strands of dirty saliva fell from Brendas mouth hitting her shirt.
Steph felt her legs locking under her. She gripped the sink tighter to keep her balance. She stared into the ghost’s empty eyes and her vision started to cloud. Her fingers slipped off the sink and again she hit the towel rack then the floor. A low snarly laugh began from behind the mirror.
“Are… are you going to kill me?” Steph whispered letting her head fall to the cold floor, as the world disappeared around her.
“No, Stephanie, not yet” she hissed “We are going to watch you suffer first”.
“We?” Steph breathed and blacked out.