Perfect… Not Anymore.
It was an average day for Beautiful Julia Taylor. Perfect hair. Perfect body. Perfect life.
Julia was getting on the bus. As usual, she was talking to her friends, waiting on the 30 minute bus ride home. She always brags about how many friends she has, how big her house is. I used to be her friend, now I’m not. I’m jealous of her. I need her life, I need everything she has, her hair, her body. Now, she just bullies me. This morning, in the third period, I was getting my books out of my locker and ‘perfect little Julia’ comes up behind me and says where everyone could hear her “Hey Bitch, why don’t you get some friends for a change! Huh?” They don’t care, they have no clue what I’m going through.
Julia is not going to be SO perfect, now. I told her boyfriend, Jake Wilson, that Julia cheated cheated on him with Austin Daniels. Those two absolutely hate each other. He went up to Julia and called her a cheating asshole. This was their conversation:
Jake: “What the hell, Julia?”
Julia: “Hey babe, whats wrong?”
Jake: “Don’t act like you don’t know! You know what you did.”
Julia: “What did I do, Jake? I really am so confused!”
Jake: “You cheated on me with Austin! Don’t act like you’re so
stupid. We’re done, Julia. I can’t believe you did this to me.
I loved you so much, and this is what how you repay me?”
Julia: “Jake, please! I didn’t do anything wrong…”
Julia ran off with tears in her eyes. I grinned, now she knows how it feels to be blamed for something you didn’t do, to be treated like shit.
One thing done. One more to go. Her life is less perfect now. The more I make her miserable, the happier it makes me. The more she bullies me, the more it amuses her. Next, I sneak out to Julia’s house. School is done, she walks out, she glares at me. I smile back. Hours pass, several boring hours. It’s about 10:00 p.m. I can see through her window, she is with her friend, recording a YouTube video on her channel “PerfectJulia457”. Of course, she has 30,000 subscribers. I sneak in, I hear loud snoring. “Must be her dad.” I whisper to myself. I have a sharp, gleaming Butchers knife in my jeans pocket. I creeped upstairs, and walked into Julia’s parent’s room. Yes, they are asleep. I tip-toed to their bed, the dad was snoring so loud. I took the knife out of my pocket, raised it up, and stabbed her dad, twice in the head, and three times in the chest. I walked over to her mom’s side of the bed. I really feel bad about doing this to her mom, though. She is so sweet. I hesitated. Julia’s mom woke up, startled. “I’m sorry, I have to do this. Goodbye, Mrs. Taylor, have a good time with Mr. Taylor in Heaven…” She screamed, I hesitated. I brought the knife up, closed my eyes, and stabbed her mom in the arm twice, and in the foot three times. Julia and her friend came running in her parents room. She saw me with the knife in my hand,
“Madison, what the hell did you do?! Why? Why did you do this to me?”
“I proved my point. Now you know how it feels to lose something you love so, very dearly, Julia.
You know how I feel, don’t you?” I dragged her by the hair out of the room. I told her friend to tag along. She obeyed me, she walked with a trembling body.
“Don’t worry, I won’t do anything to you. You didn’t do anything wrong.”
I told Julia’s friend to go home, quickly. I didn’t want her to suffer, she was so sweet. I pushed Julia against her bedroom wall. She tried to escape, I locked the door. I had the knife behind my back. “The most precious things in life, Julia, are the things you will eventually lose.” I took the knife behind my back and waved it at her stomach. “And one of those precious things, is your life, Julia. Don’t you remember, Julia?”
“Madison, please, I’m so sorry…”
“Remember, Julia? We used to be friends. Now, all that’s over.”
I raised the knife and stabbed her in the chest.
“Yes, Julia. Now you’re in the pain you put me in, for years, Julia. YEARS.”
Can you guess where Julia is?
(Please post this, I worked so hard on it. :])
This may sound like nothing, but I cannot tell you the uncanny monotony of its nightly repetitions. We refused to recognise it, of course, being sane, a family of atheists and, above all, British. One night, my furious doctor father, up book-writing in the early hours, bellowed: “Whoever’s charging up and down the stairs, will they stop?”
His wife and children rallied indignant: “Well, it’s not bloody us.”
One night, emboldened by drink, I roared: “Shut the ---- up” and it did, briefly, before recommencing with still more emphatic zeal. (There was a silver lining to this episode: my little sister, then nine, recently alluded to my big-sister bravery with the line: “Hannah shouts at ghosts.”)
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Back then, we didn’t use the G-word. In fact, we strove not to use any word at all – not to acknowledge our summer haunting, certainly not to discuss it. And so the house tried harder, with what, I imagine, would be referred to as classic poltergeist activity. We would return home to find the taps turned on full-force, requiring wrenching back into inaction. An oven, on the third floor, would have its rings switched to red hot, making the house’s already airless attics crackle dangerously with heat. After the second time it happened, we had it disconnected. It happened again. (And, believe me, as I write this, I too think it is mad.)
Matters became worse. One night, the boarded-over fireplace in my room ripped open with a clamour. I wrenched my pillow over my ears, telling myself it must be a trapped bird. In the daylight, I investigated. Behind the fireplace, crammed up the chimney, were Victorian newspapers recording the house’s murder. I couldn’t read them.
My mother started behaving oddly – pensive, distracted. We eldest and Nanny Williams, our beloved summer-holiday addition, interrogated her. Finally, she cracked. Waking in the night, she had seen a dead child. This is how she described it – not a ghost, but a dead child dressed in Victorian clothing, visible from the knees up. It had a certain logic: a child appearing to a mother. I became determined not to see any such thing. Sounds could be denied; but sights would be too appalling.
But my mother was not the only person to be so affected. The house’s most oppressive room, overlooking the garden, we still do not venture into. It is colder than the rest of the house, now a repository for our old toys, which adds a certain Gothic element.
Back then, however, my four-year-old brother occupied it. Like all youngest offspring, he was a golden child: charming, vivacious. That summer he changed: rendered quiet, hollow-eyed, with the air of a tiny old man. Asked why he was so exhausted as he sat yawning one morning, he answered: “Every night, it’s the same: the lady with the big bottom [a bustle? I wonder] and the two men fighting over my bed, then one man hurts the other and the lady screams.” From then on, he slept in my mother’s room.
My grandmother bedded down there next, innocent of that summer’s events, then refused to ever again. My mother braved it to prove her wrong. Next morning, the room was locked. When we quizzed her, she refused to divulge what had happened, saying only that it was “something to do with time”. Somehow this was – and remains – the most horrifying thing I had ever heard.
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Still, the part of the narrative that brings most fear to the few friends in whom I’ve confided it is this. One bright August day, drinking tea in the kitchen, we elders – me, my sister, Nanny and mother – finally admitted that something was happening. We laughed and teased each other but, my God, it was a relief.
Suddenly, a mirror sprang off the wall and shattered. On the back of its glass, in an old-fashioned script, the numbers 666 were repeatedly etched, along with the message: “I’m going to ------- kill you all.” I know you won’t believe this – I don’t believe it. But it happened.
Like you, I am wary of ghost stories: their linear march and relentless building to a crescendo. This is a story with no denouement. Over time, a year or two, events gradually petered out. Again, I am told that this is standard form: ghosts (I can barely type the word) act up with newcomers, then they – and you – adjust. Plus, I like to think that Bettses are far more terrifying.
Today, I love my parents’ house with its greenery and servants’ bells. It is our home. Yet still it has the capacity to act up. Our neighbour’s new cleaner recently informed him that she would not be returning, having seen a woman walk through a wall (our buildings were once joined). On another occasion, one brother’s girlfriend remarked that everything in her room had shaken at 4am. Was there some sort of quake?
“Some sort of quake,” we replied.
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