They pulled into the driveway just as the sun began to settle in the West. Janet got down from the Porsche to admire the now pink horizon and the lake beyond the rickety picket fence. As far as her eye could see there was nothing more than clear water and the occasional ripple. She turned to her fiancé. While Janet had been memorising the view, Jean had parked their vehicle and was now walking towards her.
Janet’s eyes sparkled. This would be their last trip as two single women. They had waited long enough, enduring more than enough. And if their parents couldn’t handle it, then so be it. Jean stopped next to her and smiling, slid her hand into Janet’s. They stood looking at the sun, as it sunk into the depths of November’s icy lake.
“Let’s go in.” Jean cajoled Janet into her ancestral wood house. They had decided to pay a pre-wedding visit to the place they’d make their home later. As she walked inside, a wave of warmth spread over Janet. The house wasn’t too big but it emitted an aura of comfort.
On her right was a window overlooking the now darkening sky and the silhouette of the lake. On the left was the kitchen and in front of her, leading away from the hall, was the master bedroom that opened up to life-size windows and views worth of a lifetime.
“Chill out, I’ll whip up some dinner.” Jean pecked Janet on the cheek and went into the kitchen to make, Janet knew, her speciality pasta with fresh cream and marinara sauce. While Jean rummaged in the kitchen, Janet went over to the window, looking out at the lake. It was almost dark now, the pink had morphed into a navy and the moon tried to walk out from behind the clouds.
Janet jumped before realising that it was just the telephone. She hadn’t noticed it earlier, but now she saw that the sound came from a small table that lay beside a giant radio. “I’ll get it, J” she called out to Jean and went over to answer. “Hello?” she spoke into the receiver.
search of skin,
color no matter,
brighter or darker,
tell no one,
I will take someone,
– ghost, me!”
And with that, the line died. Janet gulped and clenched the receiver harder. The voice — she couldn’t tell whether it was a man or a woman for it was a mere whisper— had sent bouts of shivers down her spine.
Sat down on the sofa hugging herself. All of a sudden, the room felt as much colder than it had been when they entered it. Jean’s rummaging in the kitchen had also stopped. “Jean?” She called out without leaving the sofa. She didn’t understand why her brow was sweating or why she shivered so much. And when Jean neither replied nor came out of the kitchen, Janet became scared. That’s when she identified the source of the cold: the front door stood ajar, letting in the chilly night air.
Frowning, Janet remembered shutting the door behind them. How did it open, then? In small cautious steps, she approached the doorway.
Janet screamed. And then breathed a sigh of relief. Jean stood in the doorway. “You scared me!” Janet reproached her. “Why did you go out in the cold?” She added a little concerned. Jean looked white and her smile looked strained.
Jean only shook her head in reply, walking right past Janet. Shrugging to herself, Janet shut the door with a snap. Jean jumped at the snap. “Are you all right?” Janet approached her extending a hand to her cheek. Jean stepped away from her nodding with a vigour that surprised Janet. She stood staring at Jean, her hand still stretched out.
“Jean?” Janet spoke with a firm voice that could convince no one. “Why were you outside?”
“In… search…” Jean started with a whisper and stopped.
“Of what?” Janet asked her voice reaching the near-shriek point.
“In… search…” Jean repeated in the same whispering tone. She sounded coarse. “of… milk.”
And then she smiled. Her warm smile was back, and the colour returned to her face. “Hey, J” she threw her head back and laughed at Janet. “Relax. I went to get some milk. That’s all.”
And then as if someone had flipped a switch, the room felt warm again, and Janet saw that Jean was back to her usual self. They had had a rough ride. Janet smiled too. Her mind must’ve been playing tricks on her. There’s no way Jean would cringe away from her. “I’m tired. Let’s go to bed?”
Jean nodded and hand-in-hand, they walked into the room. Jean smiled. The search had ended.
I’ve signed up for the Incredible Blogger Marathon Challenge. It’s a ten-task-challenge that can span up to fifteen days. This post is my response to the sixth day: The Mass Media Challenge. The challenge is to combine the image, the poem, and the word “telephone” in a single post.