A Secret Grave 98 – House with a Presence

 

In silent agreement, Ramona and I entered the house. It was dead quiet. And dark, with the curtains drawn. We peeked into the living room and saw wood floors, couches and chairs, my portrait of Caroline above the mantle. The TV had been left on, images of The Walking Dead rotating on the home screen, but no one was there to watch.

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Caroline (Nicole Jeffords, Oil on Canvas, 2016)

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No one was in the kitchen either, where the remnants of a meal lay on a long refectory table. Calling Mercer’s name, we rushed upstairs. I was expecting to find him in a tub of bloody water – that’s how weirded out I was feeling – but the bathroom was bright and sunny. In Caroline and Joe’s room, the bed was made and everything was in order. We found Mercer’s room, pounded on the door and charged in, but the room was empty. A fluffy orange cat lay sleeping on the bed. Beneath one of the windows an open suitcase bulged with clothes. A trail of discarded underwear, jeans, a pair of sneakers, several cans of Coke snaked across the carpet. We could feel Mercer’s presence in the room, but he was nowhere to be seen and the house was utterly silent. Ramona and I looked at one another, perplexed. What the hell was going on? Where was he?

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Bedroom Disaster 2, Matt Lemmon, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/

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I palmed my cell phone, ready to call Mercer’s dad… or the police. Ramona had her fingers on that beautiful gold cross again, her habitual gesture when she was worried and logic defied her. Then I had the brilliant idea of looking out the window. And there he was, sitting with his back to us, very still and tranquil, under a tree at the end of a yard planted with shrubs and flowers. I was about to shout at him but stopped myself. He looked as if he were in some sort of trance and I didn’t want to shock him. Ramona and I grabbed hands and ran back downstairs. We left the house through the front door and circled round to the back. It was a warm spring afternoon, the sunlight soft and yellow on plants that glistened in colorful ceramic pots, water from a fountain gurgling repetitively over an artfully fashioned pile of rocks and stones. Ten feet away, our young man sat in lotus position, unaware of our presence. “Mercer,” I said softly.

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When he didn’t turn around I called his name again, this time a little louder.

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To be continued…

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Cover photo ~ Neighborhood haunted house, Kathleen Conklin,

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