Traces by Vivian L., 711
If you would like to publish your own short story on The Swerve, please email it to publishme [at] theswerve187.com-Mr. Savarese
I walked through the door and waved goodbye to Anika, my best friend. The sun was beaming on me as I tried to walk through the gate. I glanced over at the houses and the other students walking through. After I had arrived at my house, I opened the door to my house. It was silent and vast. I took my bag off and threw it on the couch. Mom was always at work. Whenever Mom came home, I would give her the best welcome back home I could think of. She was exhausted and she would just lay down on her bed in a deep sleep. I decided to stop the welcome back home thing and get on with my life. When I was 5, my father died. I couldn’t even remember his face, his name. Mom wouldn’t say a word about him.
I took off my shoes and threw them in the corner of the room. I slowly glanced at our house. The kitchen table was in a mess with plates and dishes. The ceiling was covered with stains and the chairs were all rusty. I walked over to the fridge and took out milk and drank it. I went to my room and watched myself in the mirror.
I was a mess, my hair was all scrambled, my eyes were blurry and my clothes were oversized. I sat down in my bed and looked at the newspaper sitting on my table. “Car Crash Accident: A nineteen-year-old died watching her phone while driving” I read.
Creaakk, the wind blew as I glanced at the door.
I turned back to the newspaper and sighed. Mom was in my room again looking at the newspaper. I laid down on my bed and closed my eyes.
I woke up to the sound of a slamming door.
“Mom? Hello??” I called. It was dark outside and nobody was there. I stood up and opened the lights. The lights were a bit dim, but I could see my watch. ‘12:30 PM’ I read. I then walked out of my room looking for Mom.
“Mom?? Are you there?” I yelled. I stood there in silence waiting for a response. The lights suddenly turned off and I scurried back into my bedroom, locking the door. I squinted my eyes trying to figure out what had just happened. This wasn’t the comfy beautiful house I was in, I thought. I took a deep breath and glanced around. Suddenly, I felt as if something was touching me. I jumped to my feet and stared back. There wasn’t anything.
“Maybe my long hair was moving around and it was just a coincidence”, I mumbled to myself. I couldn’t sleep and tried to take my mind off of the blackout and the slamming door. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and panicked. I looked around and around and listened to everything. In the far distance, I heard an angelic girl singing in the background. I listened and it calmed me down. The angelic voice was getting so warm and comforting. Suddenly, the voice stopped singing and I heard kids talking to each other, whispering. I couldn’t hear what they were saying. The voices got fainter and fainter until I couldn’t hear it anymore. Suddenly, there was a banging on the door.
“WHO’S THERE?” I shrieked. There was no answer and the banging had stopped. I was soaked in sweat as I stared at the door. I always wanted someone to hang out with at home. It was always boring and I was always alone. I looked at the bed and then at the mirror. I walked over to the mirror and looked at my reflection. I was fine and I sighed in relief. When will mom come home? I wondered.
“Sandra? Hello? Are you there?” I heard in the distance.
“Yes, Mom, is that you?” I responded.
“Yes…” I looked under the door and the lights were open. I opened the lights to my bedroom and unlocked the door. Mom was there and I hugged her. Mom was puzzled and just hugged me back. I smiled at her and she slowly hurried to her bedroom for rest. I helped her to her bed and she fell into a deep sleep. I slept next to her staring at the ceiling wondering about the incident. It shook off of my head and I fell asleep.
The next morning, I woke up to see Mom next to me still sleeping. I sat up and went to brush my teeth. I looked at myself in the mirror, terrified. I quickly grabbed some water and splashed it on my face. I brushed it off and it came down. The strange red mark was gone. Then, I walked into the kitchen, my stomach growling. I opened the fridge and there wasn’t anything. I didn’t want to wake up Mom just because I was hungry. I decided to go outside to the grocery and buy something with pocket change.
I walked outside of the house and looked around me. It was the same and the usual neighborhood. I skipped around the block until I reached the grocery store. After I had gone inside, I walked by every aisle. I picked out my things and walked to the checkout. I walked over to the cashier and placed my things. I watched the cashier scan my things as I paid him. I looked at his face and he had the strange red mark as I did. I ran out of the store scurrying away from him. He was the only cashier there and I hadn’t noticed till now. I felt as if everyone and I had been cursed. Does Mom have these red marks too? I worried as I hurried home.
After I had hurried home, I took off my shoes and went straight to Mom’s bedroom. Mom was long gone by then. I stood there silent and looked around mom’s bedroom. I was afraid and petrified as I scurried around the room. As I panicked, I ran out of the house and went straight to the park. I looked straight at the kid’s faces and they scurried away from me. Finally, I saw a kid’s face and there was no red mark. The kid screamed and yelled for his mom. The mom came over and looked at my face. She gave me a disgusted look and ran away from me along with her kid. I touched my face and it was the same red mark, except it was all over me. I needed a doctor. I needed to get out of here. I quickly ran away from the park and covered my face, not my eyes. I arrived home and I was panting for air. I splash water on my face and it didn’t come off this time. I wanted to scream and wondered what would mom think of me? Would she recognize me? I sat down on my bed crying.
At night, I couldn’t stop thinking about the incident and the red mark. I then realized that there was another paper on my table. Did mom come to my room when I went to the groceries? I wondered and stared at the ceiling. I grabbed the paper and it showed a random person with his entire face red just like mine. There wasn’t anything else on the paper and I quietly stood there frozen. I was skeptical about the image, but if someone else had it. Does this mean I have a condition? Where did this come from? Why me? I continuously asked questions to myself and never knew the answer. I watched the clock tick as I continued to wait till mom was home. It was 8:00 pm. I decided that looking at the clock all day would be boring. I walked out of my house and took a walk. I decided that nobody would see my face when the lights were dim. I then realized something was wrong. I ran to the grocery store and walked in. I looked at the checkout area. The person with the strange red mark was gone. I covered my face and got out of the grocery store before anyone saw me.
I went home and went to my bedroom. I felt tired and wanted to fall asleep. Suddenly, Mom came home. I took a glance at her face, but couldn’t see. I walked closer to her.
“Mom? Is that you?”
“Huh? Who are you?” Mom screamed
“Mom?” I asked again. I felt like I could cry my eyes out.
“What happened to your face?”
“I don’t know”
I looked at her face, shocked. She had the same red mark. She looked at me confused. Suddenly, I watched as she faded away. The lights flicked and I ran back to my bed. My mind was out of control and I couldn’t stop it. I then saw footprints on the floor. I grabbed a blanket and covered myself. I then heard the children’s laughter and cheers and the same girl from yesterday.
“Charlotte, Wake up!” Mom was sitting on my bed next to me. I yawned and stretched my body. I got up and I sighed in relief. It was just a dream, I thought. I looked at our house. It was spotless.
“Mom, did you clean the house?” I asked as I continuously looked at the room. Mom nodded her head as I followed her to the kitchen. I sat down at the table, ate my delicious pancakes. I was enjoying my food and watched mom eat her food too.
“Mom, don’t you have work?”
“Oh dear, you’re so forgetful. Don’t you remember that today was Saturday? Mom looked at me, chuckling. I smiled back at her. I finished my food and stood up and sat on the couch. My stomach feeling fine and good. Mom walked into her bedroom, I walked to my room. I looked around my room, hopped onto my bed, and looked at the table. All of a sudden, I grabbed the piece of paper and opened it slowly. It was a picture of mom and a stranger. The same stranger as the other paper. I walked into mom’s room and asked her who this man was.
“Your father,” She said coldly and quietly. I watched her smile faint and I walked out of the room, feeling worried. The same stranger with the red face. I hurried to mom’s room and told her I was going to take a walk. I quickly put on my shoes and I scurried through the door. When I arrived, I walked inside to look for the checkout. The cashier guy was there. I went to his line to see his face. I gazed up at him. There was a red mark. I ran home, scared and terrified. As I got home, Mom was still laying on her bed watching her phone. I went to my room, I looked at the image of mom and dad. I then realized there was another paper under it. I opened it and I fainted. It was dad with a red face.