Megan finds a box of her dead sister's possessions in the attic
|She'd been meaning to clean out the attic for years but had never got round to it. But today, finally, after months of excuses she was here, on her knees covered in dust and rooting through boxes. It was a stuffy room and as the afternoon dragged on Megan found herself becoming increasingly hot and irritable. |
Cardboard boxes were piled high against the wall filled with old photos, letters and toys and were surrounded by ancient, creaking furniture, forgotten long ago. Megan brushed her sweaty hair out of her eyes and sat back on her heels, sighing heavily. At first it had been fun looking at her old family photos, seeing if she looked more like her mother or father's side of the family, and laughing at old clothes she had found. She had even found an old diary that had belonged to her grandmother when she was a girl. It had been fascinating to examine the faded scrawls knowing this little girl's future was to be a mother of seven.
But now, she was bored and tired and sick to death of dusty relics which were of no use to anyone. She was just thinking of nipping down to the kitchen to get a glass of ice-cold lemonade when she found the box. She didn't know why it had caught her eye. It was an ordinary cardboard box which was sellotaped shut and shoved next to an old dresser. She leaned over and pulled it towards her, before sitting back and tearing it open. She stopped dead. Tears filled her eyes as she looked at the box's contents.
"Paige" she whispered. With trembling hands she lifted the first item out of the box. It was a gold necklace with the letter 'P' engraved into the heart-shaped locket. Megan ran her finger across the initial, remembering when she had bought it for her sister. She'd been thrilled with it and had hugged Megan so tightly she'd nearly choked to death.
"You're the best sister ever!"
Megan could almost hear the words echoing round the stuffy attic. She placed the locket carefully to one side and reached into the box again. It was a babygro. Laughing softly to herself, she tried to picture her sister being small enough to fit into this tiny outfit. Next was a blue leather photo album, with swirling gold letters on the cover spelling out 'Paige'.
She opened it slowly and bit back a sob. There she was. Paige. Her darling sister. Paige smiling in her school picture, Paige screaming joyfully on a rollercoaster, Paige laughing loudly at a party, Paige with her boyfriend, Paige and Megan...
She slammed the album shut. Shaking she held her head in her hands and took a few deep breaths. She'd never been able to have pictures of Paige all over the house after she'd died. Every time she'd looked at them it was a constant reminder of what she'd lost. In the end she had given them to her mother along with Paige's possessions and told her to just get rid of them. But it seemed sometime along the way, her mother had hidden some of Paige's more personal items here in the depressing dump of an attic.
"Come on Megan," she whispered. "You can do this." Trembling, she opened the photo album again. There she was. Paige, haunting her, mocking her with her smile, showing her what she didn't have now. As if in a trance she turned the pages getting lost in the past.
And then there it was. The one picture she really didn't want to see. Paige on the day she died. She was sitting in the back garden, beaming at the camera whilst sipping from a glass of wine. How sad to think that less than half an hour after this photo was taken, she'd be dead. If only she'd known.
"No," snapped Megan to herself. "Don't think like that."
She'd had one too many glasses of wine when she went into the house to go the bathroom. On her way back down she'd fallen down the stairs smashing her head against the hard floor at the bottom. Megan remembered the blood seeping from beneath her sister's hair. The panic she'd felt as she rushed in to help her. The anguish that threatened to consume her as Paige lost her life right there in Megan's arms.
A rustling behind her made Megan whip round. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up and she felt a cold chill creep up her spine. Scanning the attic with frightened eyes she could see nothing and put it down to an overactive imagination. She decided she'd had enough anyway. It was starting to get dark outside and the attic had become rapidly cooler. She'd been staring at the photo album for hours.
She made her way downstairs, still tormented by the images of her beloved sister who'd been dead for so long. 'Nearly 15 years' thought Megan. 'And I'm still mourning her as if it was yesterday.'
She spent the rest of the evening watching TV before going to bed early. She tossed and turned for hours before deciding on a glass of water to calm her nerves. Why she was nervous she didn't know. All she knew was that when she tried to close her eyes, Paige's face assaulted her mind and made them spring open again.
As she made her way to the top of the stairs a scratching in the attic made her start. She glanced slowly up at the ceiling, listening with all her might. She hardly dared to breathe as she listened intently, waiting for the sound to repeat itself. The silence became deafening and she decided to investigate in the morning. "Probably mice," she muttered.
She got her water from the kitchen and sipped it as she walked back towards the staircase.
Megan's nightdress was drenched by the water she'd spilled at the sound of the furious woman's voice. Horrifed she looked up at the staircase, shaking with fear.
There was no mistaking it....there was someone there. Someone in the shadows of the landing. Someone who was angry.
"Who..who's there?" croaked Megan. There was no answer. 'Burglars?' thought Megan. 'No how did they get up there? And why would they be drawing attention to themselves like that?'
And again that chill crept up her spine as she realised she'd heard that voice before.
"Don't you ever say anything like that again Paige!" the voice shrieked wildly.
It was her own voice! But how could she be down here and at the top of the stairs. She must be dreaming, she thought as she pinched herself on the arm hard. The shooting pain she felt ruined that theory.
Another voice spoke.
"He's mine! And you can't face it! He doesn't want you! He's told me how you've been coming onto him but I didn't say anything to keep the peace! But now anymore! I hate you Megan and I'm leaving this house and taking MY boyfriend with me!"
With a chilling understanding, Megan backed away slowly from the staircase until she felt the cold, hard wall come into contact with her back.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
There she was. The toppling figure screaming as she tumbled down the stairs, landing with a sickening crack at the bottom. Once again Megan saw the puddle of blood. It started to pool across the floor until it was nearly touching her bare feet but she couldn't move.
She'd told the police and herself that she'd been in the garden when it had happened. She'd heard a scream and come rushing in to find her sister dying of a head injury at the foot of the stairs. Over the weeks, as she repeated the story so often, she found even she believed it. Her mother had been in the garage at the time and had believed Megan to still be in the garden anyway, not knowing how she'd followed Paige when she stormed off to the bathroom to cool down after their argument.
But now... now she remembered. She'd viewed her sister's bleeding body from the TOP of the stairs. She'd stared down with a feeling of panic rising in her chest. She'd pushed her sister. She had wanted to hurt her and she'd succeeded. She had rushed down the stairs and knelt by Paige who had tears streaming down her face. She hadn't shouted for her mother. The police never asked her why she had waited so long to get help. Paige had died in her arms and Megan was distraught...but yet strangely satisfied. She'd killed her sister and been glad!
Megan screamed as the past relived itself in front of her tear-filled eyes and threw herself next to the phantom body of her sister.
"I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Paige, oh God!" she wailed over and over until she looked down and realised the body was gone.
Slowly she pulled herself up and without knowing why, she made her way up the stairs, up to the attic. It was freezing cold in there now and pitch black. Megan tried the light to find the bulb had been smashed. It hadn't been smashed before....
Slowly, with terror building up inside her she turned...
A face loomed out of the darkness at her. With long black hair dripping with blood which stained her white, summer dress and a malovolent smile stood Paige, looking just as she did the day she died.
It couldn't be! Paige was over in the cemetary rotting away where she had been for 15 years. Yet here she was.
"Hello Megan," she purred.
No one heard Megan's screams.