I was in the car with my boyfriend Steven Elms, barreling down the highway since we decided to take a trip to Weeping Island, Georgia the week after our high school graduation. It didn’t even matter that we were both going to Brown in the fall because this was our last opportunity for hedonistic fun before buckling down in college.
“This is going to be so epic Steven, “ I said.
I wiped a tear from my right eye. “I’ve always wanted to go back to Georgia because I have a lot of fond memories of vacations with my Grandparents.”
More tears came to my eyes at the thought of my Grandparents since they had been dead for several years now, and my memories could thus be compared to a house going up in flames since they were oddly familiar as opposed to being concrete.
Steven took his focus off the road, staring me down. “Do you want to talk about it Teddy?”
“No. I’m fine.”
Steven and I arrived in Weeping Island, Georgia three hours later while we drove across the bridge to get to the island.
The sky was naked in blue without any hint of cotton circles as the palm trees swayed in the warm wind while Steven and I continued traveling down the main roads.
My stomach twisted in ten different directions since there didn’t appear to be anyone else on the island so far. It was also weird the island had sepia splattered everywhere. Oh well! Other people would appear in time. There was no doubt about it.
I gazed out the window as the outline of a silver milky figure stood out at me before I blinked and it was gone.
“Something wrong?” Steven asked.
I shook my head. “No. Everything is great. I couldn’t be happier.”
Steven snickered. “Even I don’t believe that.”
“I just want this to be a memorable trip.”
“It will be. Just think of the trip like your first impression of me. You thought I was flaky and cold, but I proved you wrong.”
I exhaled a long breath. “I guess you have a point.”
I ended up spotting someone a few minutes later as the person happened to be plopped down on a bench on Main Street, and it was something at least even if I needed more convincing that Weeping Island remained a premium vacation spot.
Steven and I stood in an office sometime later as the two of us were in the process of checking into the bed and breakfast.
“It’s so great to have some life in this place again,” said the keeper of the bed and breakfast.
I opened the guest book to sign Steven and I in while my heart thumped inside my chest after realizing there were no signatures from the last year.
“How come there haven’t been any other visitors lately?” I asked after scribbling both of our names in the guest book.
The man shrugged his shoulders. “What can I say? I guess people are watching their finances.”
I bit my lip. “Yeah. That must be it.”
Steven placed his suitcase on the bed before turning to look at me a few minutes after we arrived at our room. “I’m going to take a shower. But when I’m done why don’t we grab a bite at Belle Isle? I hear they have the best Key Lime Pie in all of Georgia.”
My mouth watered at the mention of Key Lime Pie. “Sure. I’d love to go.”
Steven shut the door behind him after going into the bathroom, and it wasn’t long before the sound of shower water echoed through the room.
I finished unpacking a few minutes later while the sound of running water continued splashing in the bathroom as a blood written message formed on one of the mirrors: You better leave while you still can.
Steven shuffled out of the bathroom, donning a towel that covered him from the waist down. “Something wrong Teddy?”
I continued gasping and it didn’t take long for Steven to see what puzzled me.
“I didn’t write that Steven.”
The blood drained from his cheeks, turning them pale. “I didn’t say that you did.”
“I think we should go home.”
Steven rolled his eyes. “We can’t. My father will be annoyed if we leave early since he was the one that paid for the vacation.”
I scoffed. “Okay. Fine. But if anything happens, I’m going to sue your father.”
I fumbled around one of the drawers while Steven got dressed as a photograph that was dated 1898 popped out at me since the man had an uncanny resemblance to the keeper of the bed and breakfast. The person must have been a relative of the keeper of the bed and breakfast or something. It wasn’t a big deal though since people had doppelgangers all the time.
We sat down on the bed in our room at the bed and breakfast after returning from dinner hours later.
“Do you want to talk about what’s wrong?” he asked.
I averted my gaze, looking down at the carpet. “No. Not really.”
He patted my shoulder. “Come on. You’ll feel better if you let it out.”
I coughed, clearing my throat. “This is going to sound crazy, but I think I saw someone who was drenched in silver from head to toe when we arrived on the island.”
He furrowed an eyebrow. “Are you saying that you saw a ghost?”
I nodded at him. “Yeah. I am.”
My pulse increased, shooting blood through my veins as someone might as well have lit my blood on fire. “I hope you don’t think I’m crazy.”
“No. Of course not.”
Steven squeezed my hand.
I sighed. “Thanks. I appreciate your support.”
I stared into the bathroom mirror the following morning while brushing my teeth as I spotted the reflection of a ghost girl.
“Did you hear about the massacre in 1899?” The girl’s squeal lingered in the air for a moment. “The town went boom, and 25 people were shot at the Founders’ Day Party on Main Street.”
The toothbrush fell from my hand as I continued gazing at her before I grabbed my iPhone and snapped a photo of the girl before she disappeared.
Steven and I went to an outdoor café for breakfast later in the morning while the wind whistled in the background, causing the air to smack our faces.
I slid my iPhone across the table. “You have to see this.”
His eyelids widened. “What am I looking at?”
I forced a polite expression. “I took a photo of a ghost I saw this morning. But just so you know, this island seems pretty messed up.”
His jaw shook. “Oh God.”
“That’s not even the half of it. There was a shooting on Main Street during Weeping Island’s Founders’ Day Party 100 years ago.”
Sweat dripped down his face. “I guess we got more than we bargained for.”
“Yeah, we did.”
Steven and I rested in bed a couple of mornings later while something brushed up against my face. I opened my eyes, discovering the same ghost girl I’d seen before in the bathroom now hovered less than a foot away from me as my numerous possessions started floating in the air for a minute before they crashed to the ground.
I darted out of bed, chasing after the girl even though she ended up going through a wall in the hallway.
I let out a loud scream. “Damn!”
Someone tapped my back a moment later, and I whipped my body around to see who it was.
He folded his arms. “What’s going on? I thought we were going to take it easy this morning.”
“I saw the ghost again,” I said, attempting to ignore the burning sensation in my throat. “And I think we should give some serious thought to leaving Steven because I signed up for romance and fun, not a haunted house.”
“I already told you that isn’t an option Teddy.”
I woke up to the smell of smoke hitting my nostrils the next day as I then ran out of bed, opening the door to discover a fire spreading down the hallway.
The cracklings of red, orange, and yellow increased in size while zooming closer and closer.
The hairs on my back pricked up a moment later since I realized the keeper of the bed and breakfast never came to find Steven and I even though he said he needed to talk to us.
I continued standing there while it hit me. The keeper of the bed and breakfast didn’t have an uncanny resemblance to the man in the photograph from 1898. He was the man in the photograph.
I whirled around, resisting the urge to scream at the keeper of the bed and breakfast as he continued hovering in midair. Although this time he was drenched in a milky mixture of silver, revealing his true form.
“I know who you are.” I forced a gulp of air into my lungs. “You’re a ghost as I saw the photo of you from 1898. Did you die in the massacre in 1899?”
“You have to get out of here.” His eyes dilated to the point they almost oozed out of their sockets. “I wanted to warn you, but they wouldn’t let me.”
“Who wouldn’t let you?”
The ghost drifted through the wall in the hallway, leaving me to myself.
I scurried back to the room and shook Steven, causing him to open his eyes.
“There’s a fire and we have to get out of here. P.S. the keeper of the bed and breakfast is a ghost,” I said.
“What the hell?”
“Come on! Let’s go.” I pulled him out of bed while he got up and put his shoes on as I did the same. Steven grabbed his iPhone and car keys as I felt my iPhone in the pocket of my shorts.
He pouted. “What about our stuff.”
“We don’t have time because we have to leave NOW!”
We darted out of the room, racing towards the stairwell before descending the staircase while a blood written message formed on the wall: Secrets only stay hidden as long as people are dead.
The two of us had little time to react since Steven and I plowed down the rest of the stairs, making our way towards the front of the house.
The ignition made a clunky sound when Steven started the car a minute later while a sea of red, orange, and yellow flames swallowed the house that was formerly the bed and breakfast.
A blood message soon appeared in the sky, which read: Leave and never come back, causing me to scream.
“Start driving you fool,” I said.
Steven sped away as the property got smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror.
The ghost girl reappeared when we crossed the bridge, and I half expected her to snap her fingers and have us fall into the lake. But she didn’t because she was gone when I opened my eyes after blinking a few times.
As the next few years went by, Weeping Island still haunted me because there were times I swore I saw the ghost girl from the bed and breakfast. But not having proof didn’t matter because it was one of those things that remained true even if it was an enigma.
Although at least I didn’t have to go through it alone because Steven and I would be together forever, and that was all that mattered.
Chris Bedell's previous publishing credits include essays on the
online magazine Thought Catalog. He has also had 5 stories published
on online literary magazines, which include "Surface Tension" on Crab
Fat Literary Magazine, "A Little Accident" and "The House That Never
Was" on Quail Bell Magazines, and "The Wrong Murder" and "Game Over"
on Short-story.me. Furthermore, Pidgeonholes Magazine will publish one
of his stories in December.