I had this overwhelming urge to touch you in places that you’ve never been touched before, but I wasn’t sure whether to do it. Of course I hadn‘t, but it still makes me wonder what you would’ve done. Would you have yielded to my touch, or would you have fallen away into some kind of dark darkness that I couldn't see?
You were known for doing that, Marilyn; I knew it because I'd spoken with a few of my friends about you that night.
When you were gone for good, it made me feel like I was somehow responsible, because I was the last one who had thought about touching you.
I had just lifted the coffee to my lips when I looked up at the television set. What I saw on the television set was no different than usual…
She was all over the news. No sign of a break in, no sign of her being murdered or kidnapped; there was no sign of anything.
I still wondered where she was, though. I watched the news every day to see if there were any new leads. I watched because I knew that
--if something were to come up -- I would latch
onto it, just like I latched onto the picture of you that I had found on the
internet. I had printed it out and put it up on the refrigerator so I could see
if you were somebody passing by my window. I knew that if something did come
up--something like searching the nearby the woods or the nearby river--I would
jump at the chance to help.
Was it something you said, Marilyn?
It probably was, but I couldn’t remember. It had been a month since she had gone missing, and God, I missed her so bad. We hadn’t been dating, no, but… I wanted to love her, to feel a love that I wanted to feel so badly.
I reached up and felt beard stubble. That was something else about being worried;
it made me forget things. I had also
forgotten to eat yesterday, and when I woke up this morning my stomach was
I also had quit my job.
It sucked, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It wasn’t like I could just go out and find Marilyn. I could try, but it wouldn’t be any use because I had no idea where she was. I thought about a few places she might be, but I wasn’t sure if she would actually be there.
Her car was still in the apartment’s parking lot, and she wouldn’t walk all the way to California; it was too far away from Washington D.C.
I’m fairly sure she didn’t rent a car or borrow somebody else’s, because nobody would’ve just let this go on in that case.
Where was I going to find her?
I had the urge to get up and go to the bathroom. I got out of bed and walked down the hall.
As I let my bladder drain, I heard something.
It scared me so bad that I jumped, sending a line of urine trailing up across the wall.
Unnerved, I looked over my shoulder. What was that? It sounded like fingernails dragging across a wall.
I quickly cleaned the mess from the wall, walked out of the bathroom and back down to my room, closing the door behind me.
I swore I had heard Marilyn's ghost.
When I awoke the next morning, my thoughts were of Marilyn. I thought about her, not when I had seen her last night, but the last time I had seen her close-up.
I was sure my mind was just playing tricks with me last night. I had probably just heard a tree branch scraping up against the side of the house.
I scratched the stubble that now covered my face. I knew I wouldn’t be shaving today either.
You’re starting to let her drag you away, I thought as I rolled over and looked at the clock. You’re going to go crazy.
I probably would end up being crazy. I hoped that she would either come back and say it was just a joke or have her just disappear from my mind.
I knew that neither was possible.
I crawled out of the bed and walked into the bathroom and got into the shower. I ran my fingers through my short hair and sighed, shivering as the cold water hit my body.
A cold shower was an easy way to shock yourself awake, make yourself ready for almost anything; there were a few things that cold water on warm, hot, sweaty skin couldn’t prepare you for, though. Like when the authorities came to my house to ask anything I knew about Marilyn's disappearance. I wasn't a suspect, but they needed all the information they could get.
I leaned back against the wall of the shower.
I thought I heard the scraping of fingernails again.
This set me off; it made the hairs on my arms and neck stand up. I peered through the see-through curtain.
Nothing there. The bathroom door was still closed.
I calmed myself down. I was more than sure that I was just imagining all of this; some people did see and even hear things when they were under a great deal of stress, but still… It was better to be safe than sorry.
I was half-expecting the door to open for the rest of the time I was in the shower, but it never did. I didn't hear the fingernails scraping either, so maybe I was just hearing things. I got out, dried off and wrapped a towel around my waist before I walked out into the kitchen and poured myself a cup of coffee
I sat down at the kitchen table and took a sip, sighing as I felt the warmth spread out in my chest. It was good to have coffee in the morning, very good.
I looked up and saw fingernail marks on the wall.
I had probably freaked out a bit too much when I had first seen the fingernail marks, but it didn’t matter. I was at Louis’ apartment now, watching him drink whiskey.
“You sure you’re ok, Drake?”
I gave a small nod.
“Fine,” I muttered. “Sorry to dump this on you, Louis. I saw those scratches and…”
“I don’t know,” I sighed. “You know, it’s just hard for me to…”
The silence that ensued made me wonder if Louis had been listening to me.
“You’re thinking about Marilyn, aren’t you?”
“You need to give it up, Drake. Marilyn’s gone, dead by now.”
I jumped to my feet. “How
would you know?”
“She’s been gone for a month, nobody gets found after that.”
“But what about the girl that was missing for half a year and was found?”
“This is different. This isn’t a runaway, it's a kidnapping.”
“How do you know she was kidnapped?
“Do you honestly think that she just ran off?”
“Think realistically, Drake; no woman just runs off when she’s come into a load of money.”
The lottery was a wicked thing; it made people think differently. It made you think you're invincible.
It made you wonder.
Louis was right. Before, I hadn’t thought that she had been kidnapped because of the money; but now it seemed to make sense. Somebody could’ve easily broken into her small apartment and taken her away, her and her money.
“Lou, do you think she’s alive?”
“I don’t think so, Drake.”
It made me wonder.
Since I left Lou’s house three days ago, I have forgotten about Marilyn. She had been beautiful, intelligent, talented… But she was gone.
I didn’t think about her much anymore. I didn’t think about her because there was nothing to think about.
Marilyn was gone and there was nothing I could do about it.
They found her… Not her, but they found something about her. They knew where she was, and when they found her, she was dead. Marilyn was dead, but they still don’t know who killed her. We still don’t know who buried her alive in that garbage bag.
They did find something though…
They found the check.
And an odd thing noted on television--one very odd thing--was that her fingernails had been broken down.
Broken down as if she had been scratching at walls.
The man who had called in said he had found something on the ground, and when he had picked it up, he had gaped in surprise right before calling the police.
He had found the check, the check worth one-hundred-thousand dollars.
The night that they found her, I laid in bed with the door opened slightly. The scratching sound had started up not too long ago, and now--with the door opened--I was more than sure I would see her.
Just when my hopes were just about to fade, the door opened.
Marilyn stood there.
“I love you,” I told her.
The pasty-white creature with raven-black hair that had once been Marilyn smiled at me.
Marilyn and I, together forever.
I pushed the gun into my mouth and smiled.
When the gunshot went off, the ghostly figure gave a childish laugh, one that sent the crows into the air and the dogs barking into the night.
When the landlord went up to see what had happened, he gasped in surprise as he saw the man who had been tending to his apartment.
Carved into his forearm was a single name…
A woman’s name.