Glass House

My world is weirder than your world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


Well, sort of home. I never lived more than a few months in Asheville -- my mother and stepfather moved there when I was seventeen, but I quickly went stir crazy and moved back to Atlanta on my own. My circle in Georgia was at an all-time low -- Nick, of course, and the few friends of Lenore who'd still speak to me -- but I knew no one in North Carolina, and I was feeling too old and jaded to haunt another schoolyard looking for the one or two interesting peers out of six hundred. So I went back and shared Nick's apartment, which turned out to be far more educational.

So this place doesn't speak much to me; but to the rest of my family, Asheville is home. My stepfather, a kind and intelligent man with the rare gift of knowing when not to speak, died four years ago of prostate cancer. No conspiracy there, no mystery. So it's my mother, sixteen-year-old Davy, and fourteen-year-old Greta. We get along fabulously. That I'm a decade older probably helps. They've had an invisible older brother since they were born, and think nothing of it. The distance helps too -- by the time they were old enough to get on each other's nerves, I was long gone.

It's been an easy week. We had the huge turkey feast, I've had my ass kicked by Davy in chess but kicked his ass in Halo 2, and I've caught up on my reading. I'm going through King's Dark Tower series again before I read the seventh book. (It had better be worth it, to suffer through the sixth one a second time.) Greta's going through a Wiccan phase right now, and has invited me to witness a ritual her friends are doing tomorrow night. I pointed out that she missed the solstice by a few days, but she said too many of her friends were out of town, and anyway it was the full moon, so it'd work anyway. Actually, she sort of invited me to be the ritual, to mess with her friends' heads by moving candles around and such, but I told her I don't screw with magic. I don't believe in it, but I'd rather not give it a reason to start believing in me.

Besides, these woods are haunted. Or something. I went walking in the hills yesterday, and the sense of being watched was so strong it was palpable. It got to the point where I'd stop after every couple of footsteps to hear if anything else was crunching leaves. Nothing was, of course. And my breath was the only breath leaving fog in the cold air. I'm not a shy person, but it took me a few minutes to screw up my nerve to say, in a normal speaking voice, "Hello? My name is James. If I'm not alone, who are you?"

Nothing answered to my ears. Nothing answered in my head. But I had the absolute conviction that someone was standing behind me. I had a sharp mental picture of a child, a boy I think, watching me from maybe eight feet away. "Watching" makes no sense at all, but that was the impression that I had. I twisted at the waist, so I wouldn't make any noise turning to look. I saw the leaves rustle a bit, although there was no wind where I was standing, and then the feeling was gone.

I started whistling on the way back to the house. Stupid or not, it does make you feel better. I announced my return, my mom commented that I was home earlier than she'd expected and I might as well unload the dishwasher, and I pounded Davy again on his Xbox.

It does creep me out again a little, writing about it, but I'm not inclined to dwell on it. I'm quite certain I felt something real, but if it didn't want to communicate with me, I see no reason to make it my problem. I've dealt with weirder, and with things that wouldn't go away just by turning around. Curious spirits in the forest may be worth a cold shiver or two, but they're not worth losing sleep over. I'm cool with them. As long as they stay in the forest.


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