Story: The Flask of Paterfamilias
By: Paulo Lorenzo L Garcia
IT was a dark and dreary midnight, tenebrous rain clouds hovered pensively up in the sky, swirling back and forth to conceal the moon. The silver rays of moonlight had once again unveiled itself upon the parting of the clouds. Everyone lay asleep at this hour, this is the time to rejuvenate, to recharge one’s batteries in preparation for the next day. As it turns out, not everyone lay asleep.
“Get down!” Alexander yelled as he, Anne, and the mediator frantically broke the circle they have made by joining their hands together. They flung themselves on their faces, clasping the back of their heads with their hands for protection as the lampshade was hurled towards them by their unseen foe. Alex barely ducked in time when the lampshade went flying across the other side of the room, shattering upon impact on the wall. “It almost hit me…” thought Alexander as he gnashed his teeth, his eyes shuttered, still lying flat on the ground. The hair on their arms, except the mediator’s, erected, standing on their very ends as they braced themselves for what was to come next. The temperature in the room had dropped considerably, causing Alexander and Anne to clutch their elbows with their palms, hugging themselves to try and get some warmth. Alexander crawled and squirmed towards Anne, clasping her beside him, she is his world. If all else perished and she remained, he will get through, but if everything else remained and she perished, he would choose to perish with her, without giving it a thought. They were now huddled in the corner, that is, Alex and Anne, their livid countenances dimly lit by the flicking flames of the candles. Some of the candles had already been blown out and knocked over by the sudden whipping of the wild wind that accompanied the deleterious entrance of their unwelcomed visitor. The mediator had crawled to the nearest table that was flipped over and groped for the box of matches that slid somewhere under it. He grabbed it with his right hand and slipped the box open, taking one match and twirling it between his fingers, just as he was about to strike the match against the box, terror had suddenly flashed across their faces.
All of the events that lead up to this point can be unraveled by transitioning to the events that occurred earlier that night.
Alexander, A man of great stature and muscular figure scuttled into the bedroom, where his wife had rushed into just a few minutes before he had stormed in and shut the door loudly behind him. The wife gasped upon the entrance of the husband, silver beams of moonlight partially illuminated his livid face. The woman had clasped her hand over her chest, while her other arm held aloft a lit candle, in its copper holder, she held it aloft defensively, as if ready to hurtle it if ever she was facing a malicious entity. The tiny flame on its wick saltated as she tried to compose herself, her chest heaved as she took deep breaths. They remained in perturbed silence for a few agonizing seconds that seemed like years. Then the wife began to speak in cautious whispers.
“Alex… I’m telling you it’s her!” she ventured.
“How can it be? That’s impossible!”
“Well, it sure doesn’t seem that way now, does it? Think about it!”
“I don’t have to think about anything! It has been ten years Anne!” He turned from his wife, leaning his head against the great oak door.
“But that doesn’t mean…” Before Anne could finish her sentence, Alex irascibly cut her off in mid response.
“That’s exactly what it means, Anne!” He paced nervously around the room, mumbling something to himself while Anne creased her eyebrows at the prodigious silhouetted form of her perplexed husband. He resumed speaking, albeit in a voice that was interrupted by heavy breathing, his chest expanding and contracting, as a result. “She is gone. And she will not come back.” He tried to say the last words as flatly as possible, as if stating a fact, but his intonation rose a bit higher in the end, indicating a note of uncertainty, and perhaps, imminent submission.
“Yes, but we don’t know that. Just like we don’t know how everything in this world came into existence, we can only surmise.” Anne said this with the somber sagacity of a woman with copious experience. She let out a deep sigh, looking at her husband through her long lashes. Her husband slumped his shoulders and cast a sideway glance at her.
“What exactly are you suggesting here, Anne?” The husband had adamantly crossed his arms over his broad chest, straightening his back.
“I think you know exactly what I’m suggesting…” Her voice trailed off at the end.” Alex stood there averting his gaze and his head from her in incredulity, to further emphasize his renunciation of her ludicrous assertion, he stood there with his arms akimbo. “This is preposterous!”
“Then how do you explain why her things seem to either be misplaced or go missing when all of these started? I never move her things, neither do you, so why was her photo album suddenly laid on the dinner table with the photos spread out for us to see?”
“It’s probably been done as a prank!..” He said.
“Now why don’t I believe that? It is a sign Alex! A message!” Anne insisted.
“You know Ed likes to come in every now and then, looking through our old stuff, anything that serves as a fond remembrance, he has a key! Besides, It’s a more logical explanation than what you’re insinuating.” Deep down Alex knew that he was only seeking comfort in over thinking things, he had heard it. That spectral shade that haunted him in the shadows, he could hear its call jerking him out of his deepest sleep. He could have sworn he heard footsteps, he felt an icy stare that almost bore holes at his back lately. Something lurked in the dark, stalking him, the feeling of being watched has not ceased since last week. But who’s to say that this isn’t all just paranoia? It might be just a result of stress, overworking.
“Fond remembrance? That’s odd; I thought that you wouldn’t think those photos bore fond memories.” She elevated her disputatious eyebrows, waiting for a response. When he did not respond in the next few seconds, she took it upon herself to continue the conversation. “Just try to pay her a visit, and let’s see if all of this stops.” That was the best thing she could advise him. He hadn’t visited her for seven years, and she thought that she might be getting lonely. Perhaps it was all she wanted, an annual visit. Most of all, she wanted to be remembered. Alexander jerked his head up, his defiant eyes looking into Anne’s soft hazel-hued optics. “It’s not like you have anything to lose… besides you owe her that much. Don’t you miss her?” It was a rhetorical question, of course.
Anne shuffled her feet towards Alex and put a consoling hand on his shoulder, she watched as his tensed body slowly relaxed. Finally, after a week of being jittery, they had calmed down, at least for the moment. He had not responded, though it was evident that he is starting to give it a thought, he was lost in silent reverie when Anne twirled on her heel and went into the bathroom. Alex walked mechanically, dragging his feet and flinging himself on the bed, a cloud of brooding darkness swirling over his head. He was lying face down on the bed, his eyelids were heavy with sleep, which dulled his thoughts. His vision had become blurry, followed by the rebellious fluttering of his eyelids. The sweet caress of sleep held him under its thrall, and he could do nothing but succumb.
Alex trod on blades of green grass; the sun greeted him with the warm embrace of the sun’s rays. A bouquet of daisies in hand, he strode through the memorial park, his eyes flitting around the headstones of countless people that he never even knew. He scanned the headstones for his mother’s name, he had a bit of trouble finding it, but he found her resting place beside a Mr. Martin’s grave. He bended on one knee, lowering his head as a sign of respect as he slowly placed the bouquet of daisies in front of her headstone. He clasped the silver cross hanging on a pendulum around his neck, brought the cross to his lips and pressed his soft brims against the icon. As he did this, he shuttered his eyes, receptive to what was going on in his surroundings. He took in the placidity of repose and respected it; he squeezed the silver cross in his hand for a few seconds, then he uncurled his prodigious digits and allowed the cross to dangle , it fell awry on his neckline. Alex slowly lifted his eyelids, his gaze directed at the head stone. He scanned the epitaph with his eyes, it bore the message: “An extraordinary mother who firmly believed that dusk is followed by the dawning of a new existence.”
He blinked, the words etched themselves into his brain, he still stared intently at the epitaph when a sudden flickering caught his eyes. The sun had flickered somehow. He rose, gazing into the azure sky that flicked intermittently at him. He cast wary glances over his broad shoulders, baffled at the uncanny occurrence that had just unraveled before him. He checked if there were other people, but he was alone in the graveyard. He turned his head back to the headstone, and to his surprise she was there! Perched on top of the headstone was his mother, who had long departed. Her legs were crossed at the ankles, fingers folded across her lap. Her languid gaze disclosed a melancholic mood which flashed before her eyes. She was shaking her head at him. She was muttering something, something indiscernible to Alex. He just stood there, trying to make out what she was muttering with creased eyebrows. The sun was flickering sporadically again into darkness. The sun never shone again, it had suddenly become a dark and dreary night, the clouds were heavy and the thunder crackled ominously. Alex was gazing up at the sky again, then he flitted his eyes towards his mother. She was gone. In her place was a figure of reprehensible grotesqueness, how ineffable it was! In place of his mother sat a corpse! A torrential rain cascaded on the corpse. It was nothing but a skeleton enshrouded by the clothes of man, its hair was white and long, but they were washed out by the rain. Worms and maggots had crawled out of its eye’s sockets, its teeth were rotten and the bones were brittle. The skeleton swayed and flailed its arms frantically, tying to balance itself before toppling over, falling flat on its face and shattering into pieces on impact with the ground.
Alex’s eyes fell open; he leapt out of bed and nimbly scuttled to the bathroom. He grabbed the door knob and swiftly swung the door open. He didn’t know whether it was the nightmare that jerked him out of his sleep or the bloodcurdling scream of Anne, he didn’t know how long he had slept. But he knew that a chilling wind had suddenly enveloped him and that he was now hastening to her. He took Anne into his arms, tremors ran through her body, she was frightened to the point that she was ghastly pale. She buried her face into Alex’s broad chest, tears streamed down her face. Alex instinctively ran his hands through her hair, consoling her, trying to calm her down. “Anne, dear I’m here! Shhh shh… what is it? Did you hear something?” He asked as he wrapped his arms around Anne’s body, which squirmed frenetically in his arms. She had dropped to her knees, her hair was disheveled and her eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets, Alex dropped to his knees deliberately to console her, keeping his arms wrapped around her.
Anne tried to speak, but her voice was interrupted by sobs. “I..i.. I saw it!”
“Who? Is it..?” Alex paused, unable to complete his question. Anne had slowly lifted her head, she looked at him with her eyes enlarged.
“It wasn’t her.. I didn’t recognize it.”
“Where did she come from?” With trembling hands, Anne pointed her index finger at the bathroom mirror. Alex’s eyes followed her motions, looking intently at the mirror. He unwound his arms from Anne and proceeded into looking at his own reflection in the mirror. Apart from his own image, nothing else was there. He stood there for a while, waiting. But what was he really waiting for? What was he looking to find? The absurdity of his actions had caused him to think again, and the first thought that came to his mind is to dismiss everything. She saw things out of exhaustion, that’s all. He comforted himself with this thought, as it seemed logical.
“There is nothing here…” He said laconically.
“There was something there! I saw it!” Anne had said defensively.
“You thought you saw it, that which you could not name, but it isn’t here, I assure you.
“I..It was!” Anne insisted.
“No one is here, apart from you and me that is, no one can get in, except Ed, unless we invite them in. And if there was something near that deviates from normalcy, I hardly think that they’d dare enter our humble abode, dear.” Alexander held out his hand to Anne, who was still kneeling on the bathroom floor. She reluctantly took his hand and rose to her feet slowly. He slid his hand around her slender waist and led her out of the bathroom, back to their room. He gestured towards the religious articles in their room. On the wall, was a picture of “The Laughing Christ,” Another was a picture of the mighty Archangel Michael, in all his glory in battle. He was clad in a flowing white knee-length garment underneath his armor, which had been forged by the fervency of the Seraphim. Michael’s wings were unfurled He held his flaming sword aloft jubilantly, his shield on his other arm, was held in front of him while his foot had trodden on a pile of powerless demons. The bedside table had a cross in it, as well as some prayer books piled up. Anne’s eyes swept the religious articles, she had become amenable again, after her worries had been assuaged by what her husband had done for her. Alexander led her to the kitchen, where he poured her a glass of water to calm her nerves.
Meanwhile, a man whose eyes gleamed of precocity sat on his chair in an inconspicuous house. The man usually kept to himself, rarely do visitors come to his home, and he never seems to extend his invitation to anyone. He lived in quiet solitude and, as it seems contentment. He sat by the candle-lit table, rubbing his chin with his fingers, lost in his own thoughts. He glanced at the sky through his window, a scowl crept on his rugged countenance. He began speaking to himself.
“Why have the stars taken such a perilous arrangement? Why does the Moon weep its silvery bitter tears as if it has been neglected? Why do the clouds hover, as if they spy on someone? These surely are portents! I must determine quickly what destiny has written in the stars tonight!” He quickly grabbed a bottle of water, and set it in the middle of the table. He took a box of matches and slid it open. He opened the bottle of water, peering into the bottle, which was full to the brim. He struck the match against the box, and a small fire had formed at the tip of the match. He observed the flame momentarily, and when naught but a faint image was seen into it, he dropped the lit match into the bottle of water sealing it with a bottle cap and shaking it in his hands as he recited:
“Water, fire show to me
Him whose turmoil
This might be
Water fire show to me
Her whose sorrow paints the sky”
He had continued shaking the bottle until tremors had seized his hand and the bottle; he quickly set the bottle in the middle of the table once he felt this. The water in the bottle had swirled up into forceful and copious amounts, flinging the bottle cap off. The water floated in the air, forming itself into various shapes and flashing a vivid image in front of the man.
The water had flown out of the glass and went down Anne’s throat, she drank the glass all the way down. Alexander watched her closely as she was drinking; he patiently waited for her as she filled another glass and drank it. Everything was peaceful now, the arguments have ceased, the tension has gone out, and everything seemed as clear as day. It seemed that all their troubles had gone away. Anne had finished drinking her third glass of water and clinked her glass in an inverted manner among the other glasses. She glanced over her shoulder to look at Alex, they shared a smile, then she turned to him and they began to walk out of the kitchen together. The wind suddenly blew in again, forcing the windows open, the panels slammed against the walls. The wind chilled both of them, and the sudden impact of the panels against the wall caused them to jerk their heads up and glance over their shoulders.
“It’s okay dear, it’s just the wind.” Said Alex as he shuffled his feet towards the windows peered outside of it and closed it shut. He twirled on his heel and started towards Anne. But, to his surprise, the window had been forced open by the wind again, this time more forcefully. Glasses had begun clinking. Alex and Anne shot wary glances at the glasses, which seemed to vibrate out of its own volition! The vibration had caused the glasses to inch closer to one another; a glass finally slid off of the edge and fell to the ground, shattering to pieces. Tremors seemed to seize the house, and their first instinct was to run, so they clasped each other by the hand and began to run. Anne had tried to let out a feeble gasp, instead she choked on it. Alex had pulled her into the living room; they had just passed by the great mirror in the hall when something flicked on the mirror. Seized by curiosity, Alex had turned to glance at the mirror, and found a direful apparition! Behind him, he did not even notice that Anne had been peering over his shoulder. He was rapt on the vaguely familiar apparition on the mirror when Anne started to interject in stutters.
“T..t..that’s I..i..it! That’s the uh… thing that I saw! It’s here, it’s real!” Alex grabbed her by the arm and pulled her out of the door to their hose, they were greeted by a man whose eyes gleamed of precocity at the threshold, a sense of urgency was written all over his face as he raised his head slightly at them, looking at them through his lashes.
The ground shook, the secluded house of the mediator was seized by rebellious tremors. All three of them had widened their eyes, their fazed optics nearly bulging out of their sockets as Alex and Anne’s disquieted countenances frantically turned around searchingly in paranoia. They knew what was coming, they already noticed the pattern. Every time the temperature plummets into frigidity, it simply indicated the phantasmal presence had re-entered again. The tremors have begun, and that is because they’re here. It’s not one, but a multitude of phantoms now hovering about, flickering as they float their way into the secluded house of the mediator. “You’ve attracted troubled spirits, Alex!” He yelled so that Alex could here him amidst the commotion of the hysterical spirits that loomed above them.
“I didn’t intend to!” Alex told the mediator, placing himself protectively in front of Anne, poised to lash out at the apparition of people that he never knew, of people that have long since died, though they don’t seem dead at the moment.
“You’re distressed, that’s why I told you not to participate in the Séance until you’ve completely calmed yourself! The mediator berated him, he had stressed the importance of having calm sitters many times before they begun, yet Alex could not maintain his composure, and now troubled, and possibly malignant spirits had entered his house.
“What can we do to stop it? Inquired Alex.
“Well, these apparitions are like scavengers. They feed off of negative energy, they’re reading your inner tumult as a signal and their attracted to it. If you’re able to calm down, it’s possible that they might leave us be.” The mediator explained briefly. As the mediator was explaining, the phantoms flew towards Alex, who began to try and hit them directly with his fists, but to no avail. His blows merely passed through the incorporeal entities as if he had struck the air. “Hey! Get back!” He had said as he impetuously attempted to hit the phantoms.
“Alex, don’t! You’re only making them angrier!” Anne said from behind him.
“They’re trying to attack us! I can’t just stand here! Mediator? Isn’t there anything you can do?” Alex asked. His eyes swept the room searchingly, but anywhere he turned he could not find the mediator. Had he abandoned them? Were there too many phantoms that all hope is gone? And have they finally fallen prey to these ravenous phantoms whose only consolation is the negative energy that emanates from Alex? There is no doubt that, to be able to repel these phantasms, he must be able to release , let go of all of his troubles, but how can he do so in such an environment where ghosts flutter around you and feed off of your presence. And how can one simply just expel his negative feelings without the luxury of time. Perhaps enough time has been given, and this is the ultimatum of Fate. Fate has decreed for Alex to let go of what shackles his heart or to perish in the phantasmal presence of these wayworn spirits, how ironic for the dead to touch the living.
Because of Alex’s violent gesticulations, the phantasms recoiled, and regrouped in a corner. They slowly ascended, their eldritch bodies fluttered in the air again, showing their wrath. The spirits uttered a simultaneous shrill cry that nearly shattered Alex and Anne’s eardrums. It brought them to their knees as they were covering up their ears. Just as the spirits have closed in on tem, sudden explosions could be heard from the back of the house. The bellowing of the phantoms had ceased as the fireworks explosion became more frequent. The ghosts began to cower, backing down as if in docility and imminent submission. It was now, they who dropped to their knees and clutched their ears as the firework explosion became louder and louder. A final explosion was heard, and at that last explosion, the phantoms had vanished into thin air. The fireworks have ceased, Alex and Anne stood their wide-eyed, dazed at what they have just witnessed. The mediator came rushing back in through the back door, he swiftly passed his hand over his forehead to wipe off the beads of sweat that were trickling down. He set the candles again on the floor, the candles forming a circle. He lit them one by one, as he did this Alex and Anne began to breathe evenly again. The mediator beckoned to them and said:
“Quickly! While it is still midnight! While the veil between worlds is at its thinnest! The connection might be disrupted if we are delayed!”
“Of course.” Alex gave an imperceptible nod and was about to sit with the mediator when Anne grabbed him by the hand to stop him.
“Let me be the medium this time.” She said to him.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to, I’m the one being contacted by this spirit.” Alex said.
“Yes, but I can feel that the skepticism and the troubles still haven’t left your heart. My calmness will ensure that our first mistake shan’t be repeated, what do you think, mediator?” she turned her head towards the mediator who sat by the candles, waiting.
”I believe that she makes a valid point, our chances of completing the Séance is better if she is the medium.” Replied the mediator.
“Alex?” Anne called to him.
Alex dropped his head and thought for a moment, he pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index fingers as he thought about it. After a few seconds, he raised his head again and said “Fine, do it.” Anne seated herself in front of the mediator and took his hands into hers as they began the Séance. The mediator felt it ironic how far Alex had gone now. He remembered his incredulity and adamance when he had first taken them to his house for safety to do the invocation. Upon revealing who he was to them, Alex had readily proclaimed him a worshipper of Satan and renounced anything that harnesses the black arts. Alex also claimed that he did not believe that spirits could roam free on this Earth, as when they leave their bodies, they either go to heaven or burn in hell. The mediator, of course, in his defense refuted his assertions that he was a worshipper of Satan. He explained that Satan was never a deity of the Old Religion that he was unjustly attached to their practices, which were exaggerated and distorted, and misinterpreted, and he told Alex how they worship the Earth, they worship nature and all of its glory. He denied practicing black arts, stating that he only harnesses nature’s gifts. “How can ghosts and all this magic, along with your paraphernalia be nature’s gifts? Why they’re abominations and so are you for succumbing to the seduction of black magic! Once I solve my little problem, I ought to have to authorities seize you for these inhuman practices! What is my problem exactly? Right, I saw a ghost! Which exist only in the delusional! They are merely tall-tales used to scare children! I find it suspicious how you were conveniently waiting at the threshold of our house just after I had seen this so-called apparition, how do I know that wasn’t one of your parlor tricks?”
“If I had caused you your problems, then why would I solve them for you? Besides, We haven’t met before, hence Why would I want to inflict harm on a stranger? Those tremors that you felt cannot be faked, think real hard about whom you accuse, for no one has ever come to any harm from me, and there are no evidences that prove otherwise. I sense your peril through the portent of the stars!” He also told him, irritably how ludicrous it is to have faith in his God and not believe that spirits roam this Earth, when Jesus himself drove out spirits and performed exorcisms. He said it was inconsistent with his beliefs and he had told him that the Old Religion had every right to exist and be free from condemnation just as Alex’s religion is.
The séance had begun, the mediator called for the spirit and asked it what it was seeking. A cold wind entered through the window again, the candle lights flickered and the channel, who was now Anne, placed one hand on the Ouija board so that they could begin. The spirit took the liberty of willing the board away from them; instead the unseen spirit leapt into Anne’s being, possessing and taking over her completely, as she was an open link. The mediator, feeling that the spirit was now inside of Anne, still clutched her one hand, leaving one hand free, though he was slightly alarmed at this occurrence. Spirits choose to communicate through a body sometimes, though this was a bit rare. They rose at the same time, and as they stood up, the spirit glanced over to a dumbfounded Alex and with one wave of her hand, she had allowed a shift of scenery, painting a tableau of a happy family, a father with a prominent mustache, black and devious, and a mother whose eyes gleamed of affection as they both leaned over the crib of their little baby boy, who was sleeping soundly. Alex recognized the boy quite well. He walked closer, only for the scene to suddenly shift again, it was now when Alex was three years old, he had been holding the hands of both his parents as they took a stroll to the part on a Sunday. He had watched as the younger version of himself greedily licked on his lollipop as the family disappeared. Suddenly, a seven year old Alex was playing with his toy soldiers when he heard a commotion in the living room; he had peered to see that his parents were having an altercation. The mother was berating her husband for something, as he was drinking from a hip flask during the day. He was putting his feet up while watching Television, ignoring the mother. He lifted the remote and increased the volume of the TV to drown out the voice of his nagging wife. But the wife obstinately proceeded in her complaint, and the husband eventually rose from his seat angrily and began to yell at her. The wife forcibly took out the Husband’s wallet, opening it and taking something that seemed like a photograph and she began to wave it at his face. The confrontation had escalated to the point that the husband struck the wife in the face, causing her to stumble and fall to the ground weeping. “No!” Alex, the adult Alex yelled and lunged at the father to try to stop them but, again the scene had shifted, moving forward to a later point in his life. The next scene that played out was of his father, a suit case in hand and carrying a couple of packed bags hastening to the door while his mother was tearfully trying to convince him to come back in, tears freely streaming down her face as she ran after him and nearly stumbled and fell many times. He shut the door behind him and left her there, dropped to her knees and covering her face with her hands, stifled sobs escaped her lips. Alex could remember this day vividly. He had been at school when his father left and never came back. He inquired to his mother many times when his father was going to return, all she could say was that she doesn’t know when he will be back, but he surely will. Days went by and Alex had not seen his father since that day. He started cuddling the only thing he had left behind, the hip-flask of his father. The hip-flask was empty, yet so many memories were attached to it. He always snuck it under his pillow and he would not be able to sleep without it. What a fool he had been to ever show such affections to him, he thought as the scene unraveled in front of him, he pitied his mother for what she had to go through. Alex had shut his eyes for a moment, and when he opened them again, he saw himself when he was seventeen years old, kneeling at his mother’s bedside. Dark circles were under her eyes, her hair was disheveled and her movements were slow and languid. He held her hand into his with a firm grip. He remembered what his mother had told him that he couldn’t imagine what life would have been like if he weren’t her child. Tears began to well-up in his red-rimmed eyes as he recalled this. A deeply troubled seventeen year old Alex left the room to see the doctor; the doctor dropped his head and pensively shook his head at Alex. The scene that Alex had been watching became smaller and smaller in frame, gradually dissipating. “Don’t go… I… I…”A sheet of white light engulfed the room, and once it cleared up Alex was in the cemetery again, just like in his nightmare. They were tossing the flowers at the ditch as parting gifts to his mother who was now in repose. Her casket was slowly descending into her final resting place in this world. He saw himself, weeping tears of bitter anger, not bereavement. The consoling hand if his uncle on his shoulder had not been effective. He reached into the pocket of his trousers and took out the hip-flask, taking one final scornful glance at it and the casket, then tossing it into the ditch nonchalantly. Everyone in the funeral, whose glances were cast downward as they wept, began to slowly disappear, not by walking away, but they just vanished out of sight, as if they had never been there. The real Alex was the only one who was left, even the shades of who he had been had departed. He looked around him, and all of the graves had flowers in them, all except one… Anne had been perched on the headstone, legs crossed at the ankles with her hands folded across her lap. Alex could see her vivid image from afar and he hastened to her, as he came nearer the face had metamorphosed into the hideous apparition that he saw in the mirror. He looked down at the grave and saw that the grass was tall and worn, no flowers embellished the sacred resting place of his mother, nor did anyone grieve for her. Upon sweeping his gaze up at the apparition, the face had undergone another transformation, this time; it was the face of her beloved mother. “I miss you…” Alex blurted out.
Suddenly, Alex was pulled back into reality; he was back in the secluded house of the mediator who was looking on. The vivid image of his mother did not depart still, from the face of Anne. Alex’s knees thumped against the floor boards, he buried his face in his hands, breaking down and weeping.