Phantom

“Boys, come upstairs for your bath!” I waited at the top of the stairs for the boys to arrive.”Did you pick up behind yourselves?”

“No,” they laughed in unison.

“Where’s your mom?”

“Downstairs on her phone, silly!” the boys giggled.

The twins, Michael and Mitchell, barrelled into the bathroom and tossed their clothes all over the floor. I checked the bath water to make sure that it was not too hot. It was just right, which is good because the boys tumbled in. The water splashed everywhere. Even Though the bathroom was humid, I felt a cold wind breeze on my neck. My mind went down a terrible path. I watch many apparition-based films, but I was not sure whether or not I believed in those things in real life. 

The boys finished up their baths and waddled away into their bedrooms to get dressed. I went into their rooms to retrieve their towels and tossed them back into the bathroom. I waited as they dressed, so I could read their bedtime story and say prayers. I had to fight my feelings of discouragement, as my wife never helps me put the boys to bed.

After reading to the boys and tucking them in, I walked across the hall to our bedroom. I dropped my clothes in the closet and walked to our walk-in shower. I lowered my head as the hot water washed over my body. I felt so alone. I placed my damp feet on the floor mat and grabbed my towel. I dried myself off and placed my towel back on the rack. I tossed my washcloth on the sink, so I could use it in the morning. I crawled in bed alone, again.

I woke up the next morning and left my wife sleeping in the bed. It was 5:45am and I did not want to disturb her. I slipped my feet into my slippers and wrapped my robe around my shoulders. It was a bit chilly in the house; chillier than usual. I felt the hairs standing up on my forearms before sliding them into my robe.

I walked into the bathroom and looked for my washcloth. I looked in the place I left it last night, on the sink, but it was not there. It was folded and placed on the towel rack, squarely on my towel. The bathroom counter was so clean. No hair shavings or dabs of toothpaste. I washed my face and placed my washcloth back on the bathroom counter. I picked up my sonicare toothbrush, dabbed it with charcoal toothpaste, and began to brush my teeth. Speckles of dark toothpaste scattered on the sink, counter and the mirror. I rinsed my mouth out and cleaned the bristles of my toothbrush, then placed it back on the counter.

Walking into my closet, I dropped my robe on the carpet and rummaged through my hanging clothes to select my outfit for the day. I picked a royal blue polo shirt and tan khakis. I unrolled my light brown socks and placed them on my feet, one by one. As I began to step in my shoes, I felt another chill and heard the house knocking. Ghosts aren’t real. Ghosts aren’t real.

As I turned to exit my closet and revisited the bathroom, I noticed my wife sitting on her phone on the toilet. She barely spoke as I walked past. My washcloth was gone off the counter and placed exactly where I found it this morning.  I re-entered my bedroom and bed was made, with the pillows neatly stacked and the corners turned down. My heart began to flutter. I quickly grabbed my phone and headed downstairs. 

Once I got downstairs, I was in shock. The living room floor was completely bare of toys, blankets, and papers. The pillows were neatly stacked on the sofa. I put my hands on my head in shock, so I canvased the remainder of downstairs. The kitchen table was completely wiped clean. There was no food or crumbs left on the counter or stove. There were clean dishes in the dishwasher. The air smelled fresh and clean.

I walked over to make my coffee and toast. I turned the Keurig on and listened to the water spouting out, sounding like ‘The Grudge’. I opened the fridge to find the bread for my toast. There were only 3 slices left. So, I untied the package and pulled two slices out, and placed the package back in the fridge. I closed the fridge door and turned to head back to the counter. I placed my toast in the toaster and proceeded to walk back to the Keurig. I took a paper towel off the rack to wipe up some of the dribble that sprung from my cup. It was the last one on the roll. After wiping it up, I sat the used paper towel on the counter.

I picked up my mug and grabbed my toast. I headed to the table to consume my breakfast. The kids were still asleep in bed. I was so grateful to have some quiet time. Then, all of a sudden, that’s when it happened. The Ghost! I heard a soft grumble turn into loud howling. I was so scared. I looked all around the room, but couldn’t find anything. That’s when I felt the wind. It had been subtle earlier this week, but this time the wind was strong. I began shaking from the chills. Where can I hide? What should I do? I began to cry inside.

Thumps began to pound the steps. The ghost was getting closer. I was perplexed and couldn’t move. As the thumps grew louder, I could visibly see myself shaking. I ran into the pantry and closed the door as much as I could. There was a gap in the door, so I peered out. Suddenly the growl grew louder and closer.

“Get out of the fucking pantry!” my wife screamed. “I’m sick and tired of you! Everyday I have to clean up behind you and these kids. You leave your crap all over the living room. You throw your washcloth all over the bathroom. Look at the paper towel roll. You’re already in the pantry. CHANGE IT!!!! I’m sick of this. I’m sick of you and these ungrateful kids. You complain that I’m on my phone. You know why? Because it’s the only form of peace that I have. I quit. I’m going on vacation for a few days. I’ll decide if I’m coming back.  You figure out how to run this house by yourself.”

I stood there in shock. As I stepped out of the pantry, a few things tumbled off of the bottom shelf. I looked over at my disheveled wife.

“So, we don’t have a ghost in the house?”

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