Serena Anagbe / Photo Editor
Trees in a forest.
My name is Erico and when I was 14, my doctor told me I had trouble with emotional regulation. I was given exercises and some mood stabilizers and eventually, I would say I have been living a life just like anyone else. That was until I saw my husband’s dead body.
We live near a forest and sometimes when going from home to our local grocery store, we would cut through the woods. When we moved in, we had been told that the forest was haunted and no locals ever used it, but at that point we had gone through the woods so many times it was natural for us. James, my husband, had said he wanted to race me home. He was holding most of the heavy bags; honestly, I could never say no to him. I decided to go along. I had just gotten ahead when I heard a thump behind me.
Bags were on the floor, spilling our groceries everywhere, and he had just fallen dead. His eyes were open and greying at a speed I couldn’t comprehend. I grabbed him and tried to call out to him and shake him, but it was as if, in an instant, he had become a part of the ground. At some point, I began to scream. I thought maybe he had a stroke, but I couldn’t comprehend anything. I tried to pull him up, but it was as if his body had turned to stone. I strained and dug until my nails were almost detached from their nailbeds. Nothing was working. My heart was racing wildly and I don’t know what happened, but at some point, I fainted.
When I gained consciousness, I was in my bed. A light was on in the washroom connected to our room and I could hear running water. Just for a second, I had the blissful thought that maybe it had all been a dream.
Then, I tried to move and noticed the pain all over my body. The blanket had covered my hands. I pulled my hand to face me, and my hands had been meticulously bandaged. I was staring at them, my mind racing, as the door to the washroom finally opened.
James came out looking as he always did. That night, I was quiet as he cared for me and reassured me that everything was okay.
He lay beside me and when I put my ear to his chest, I could hear two heartbeats.
He behaves just like James, but sometimes, it’s as if there’s someone else, no… something else there. It doesn’t understand normal human behaviour and knows that I know something is wrong.
Yet, it cares for me.
I have been having panic attacks remembering the night and most times, the one to comfort me is this creature. It tells me I’ll never be alone. It felt how I clung to my husband’s body, its body, when… He says he’s grateful and will never leave my side.
I never go into that forest, and it doesn’t let me either. My husband sometimes wants us to take the shortcut through, but if I even step close to the woods, it grabs me and holds me until I say I won’t go.
The worry in its eyes reminds me of the first time my husband and I fell in love. Sometimes, I can see it looking around our home, looking through our family pictures and trying to understand our bonds.
It furrows its brows, trying to understand what makes an older woman different from a child.
I can’t help myself be… endeared. But then I see my husband and I feel wrong.
I feel crazy. I don’t know what to do!
But at least my husband is still there… sometimes.
This story was originally published in print Volume 23, Issue 2 on Thursday, Oct. 5.