Forget Me Not, Part I

Prompt Day #86: Write about a haunted object that’s picked up at the nearest thrift store. Not into the supernatural? Make it a murder weapon.

Here is the first part of Wednesday’s prompt, that I’ve been working on. It’s got a bit to go yet, so, hang in there but this is a decent start.

 Forget Me Not

                “It’s a beautiful piece, isn’t it?” the cashier said as she wrapped the hairbrush up.

“Yeah, I mean, I feel almost like I’m stealing it. This is probably worth a lot more than you guys are selling it for.” Jules Meeny said with a guilty grin. The brush was exquisite. An obvious antique from the early 1900’s, porcelain back with hand painted forget-me-nots. Jules didn’t collect anything in particular, she just liked to buy pieces that spoke to her and this piece did.

“Well, as much as I might agree, we are a charitable organization so we sell our donations at reasonable prices even if we believe they might be worth a lot more.” She handed the bag to Jules and put the money in the register. “It’s yours now. I do hope you enjoy it.” The woman smiled as Jules thanked her.

Jules put the brush on her dresser. She liked the look of it sitting there on the crocheted dresser cover her great grandmother had made. The reflection of it in the mirror took her back to a time before she was born when life was simpler and all women in Jules’ opinion were beautiful. She saw the cat jump up on the bed just then which snapped her out of her deep thoughts.

“Hey there, Scooter, see what I bought today? Don’t tell Daddy, Ok? You know how he gets when I buy frivolous junk” She said the last two words in a mocking deep voice and laughed. “Let’s go get you some dinner.” She picked up the yellow tabby and carried him out to the kitchen.

Dinner was ready and waiting for Wes when he got home. He came out of the bedroom after changing carrying the hair brush Jules had bought that morning. She looked up surprised to see it in his hand. He never noticed things like that.

“This is an awful nice brush to have thrown on the floor so carelessly, Jules.” He said sitting it on the table. Jules stared at it. Only an hour ago, she’d left it sitting on the dresser. She’d staged it specifically to look as if it was still being used daily.

“The cat must have knocked it down. It was on the dresser when I was in there last.” Jules said remembering Scooter sitting on the bed when she’d put it there.

Lying in bed that night, Jules drifted off to the familiar sounds of Wes’s snoring. The snoring faded and was replaced with a soft female voice singing a song in a foreign language that was unfamiliar to Jules. She listened to it, unsure if she was awake or dreaming. The sweet song lulled her into dreams of her mother. She felt warm and comfortable and slept better than she had in months.

The following morning, Jules stood in front of the dresser examining her blemishes in the mirror. She leaned in and inadvertently laid her hand on the brush. She picked it up and without thinking began to run it through her hair. She watched in the mirror as her image faded as did the background of her room. She saw a young girl in her place. The girl’s hair was brown and long. It had just enough curl to give it waves. Jules watched fascinated as a woman came up behind the girl who wasn’t Jules and picked the brush up off the dresser. She began to brush the girl’s hair while humming the tune Jules had fallen asleep to the night before. The woman had dark brown hair and a prominent nose. She wasn’t unattractive but had a plainness about her. Both the girl and the woman’s dress suggested they were from a time when the brush would have been a usual sight in a bathroom and they were not well off. Jules recalled that the words to the song were foreign to her so she imagined the two were also not from this country.

Their image gradually faded away to Jules who was now very aware that she had just used an antique brush she’d purchased in a thrift shop to brush her own hair with.

“Ugh” Jules said and went back to the shower to re-wash her hair.

The rest of the day, Jules could not get the dream melody out of her head. She found herself humming it off and on throughout the day. A coworker at the bank where she worked inquired about the song she was humming. Jules told her she’d heard it on a TV show and now it was stuck in her head.

“It sounds kind of familiar to me, I just can’t place it” Joyce told her “Now it will be stuck in my head all day until I figure it out.” Jules laughed along with her but the idea that a song she had never heard before and had been part of a dream was familiar to someone else was a little scary.

The first thing she did that day when she got home from work was check on the brush. It was there on the dresser where she’d left it. She made a mental note to close the bedroom door so Scooter couldn’t get in and then to check on it once more before Wes arrived home.

The brush, like every other inanimate object in the house, managed to stay where it was the entire night. By bedtime, Jules had decided that she had indeed got spooked by a weird dream, and that somehow she must have heard the song before. She was making the situation much bigger than it really was.

Her dreams though, took her back to the girl with the lovely locks and a mother brushing them tenderly. The dream afforded Jules a better look at the girl and her mother who both appeared anxious and worried. Their mouths pinched tightly shut. The girl’s eyes reddened and puffy from recent tears. The room they were in was silent as dreams often are but somehow the silence itself was part of the room, a piece to be noted. Somehow important. The omniscient dream-Jules could feel the tension in the room, a scene which would not be considered nightmarish on a photograph, was by atmosphere that very thing. The sleeping Jules began to breathe heavier and her heart pounded. The room was suddenly invaded by others. Dark men with guns who shouted to the girl and her mother. The mother was hit and she fell, the brush skittering across the floor. She was grabbed and yanked back to her feet and the two were marched out of the room. Taken hostage by men shouting things that Jules could not understand.

She sat up with a scream. Sweating and panting. Wes turned to her.

“You ok? Have a bad dream?” he asked sleepily

“Yes, I…it was so real.” She said replaying the dream in her mind. It was the first time she’d ever dreamt like that. Usually she was part of her dreams, the bad things in nightmares happened to her. Dreams had never been like a theater, she just part of the audience; watching helplessly as the scene played out.

“You ok now? Need a glass of water or anything?” Wes asked now slightly more awake.

“No. No, I’m fine” she patted his leg “Go back to sleep, Love.” They both fell back asleep and the rest of the night was dark and dreamless.

The alarm jolted Jules awake. Her eyes opened and immediately found the dresser. The brush was not there. She jumped up, knocking the alarm clock off the night stand. It had to be there. It was there all day yesterday. She’d checked so many times. She looked around but it wasn’t on any other surface in the room. She fell to her knees and searched the floor. Reaching out blindly, she swept her arm beneath the bed. She felt the handle graze the tips of her fingers and wriggled herself further under the bed. Pulling it out, she examined it closer. The handle was a sturdy silver elegantly carved with floral vines that wrapped up and around the porcelain head to hold it in place. There was a hairline fracture running diagonally across the upper right hand corner that she hadn’t noticed before. The forget me nots were still just as bright and colorful though. Jules stared at her carpeted floor. There is no way that crack came from the fall off the dresser. Of course a fall off the dresser would not have resulted in the brush somehow being so far under the bed either, so there was that to think about as well. Wes was gone, he worked in the coal mines, he was often up and gone without Jules even waking up to say goodbye. Maybe he somehow bumped into the dresser and it fell off and rolled. This was by far the best explanation although she did not allow herself to think that the dresser had been in the same place since they’d moved in five years ago and Wes had been traversing the room in the dark every day of those five years.

In the shower, she found herself once again humming the haunting tune sung by the mother just before the dark men came. She closed her eyes and let the water hit her face washing away the fear and bringing her rational mind back to the surface. Turning around to grab the shampoo she opened her eyes and screamed. The girl stood in the shower with her. The girl’s long hair was gone, chopped to the skin. She was naked but shivered as if the water was ice cold. Her eyes now sunken and her cheek bones prominent, it was apparent that whoever had kidnapped her in Jules dream had been torturing and starving her. The apparition was so real, Jules backed away for fear she might touch the girl and lose her mind when she did. She closed her eyes tight and opened them. The girl was gone.

Shaken, she rushed through the rest of her morning routine and headed to work. She wanted to be around other people as soon as possible. She felt almost herself by lunchtime and decided that she was letting her imagination get the better of her. She decided she would get take out for dinner that night, take out always made her feel better and it would free up some time to just kick back and binge watch some TV, get her mind off all the creepiness. She made it all the way until 4:30 when she heard someone humming her melody. She turned to see Joyce, filing papers over at the drive thru mindlessly humming and then there were words. Joyce was mumbling and then

“Ani Ma’amin Be’emunah La la-la” she sang.

“Joyce! What did you just sing? What are those words?” Jules asked. She’d heard those words before, in her dream.

“Oh, yeah, that song, I said it sounded familiar. My gram used to sing it to me when I was a baby.” She said.

“What does it mean? What language is it?” Jules asked

“Oh geez, I don’t know. My grandma was Jewish, so maybe whatever language that is?” Joyce said, laughed and walked away.

Jules made a mental note to ask her sometime to write the words down, maybe she could look them up.

She picked up Chinese on her way home and put in a movie just like she’d planned. She was dosing a bit on the chair when a movement from the corner of her eye caught her attention. She turned and standing there in her living room was an old woman. She looked a bit like the mother she’d seen in her dreams, her hair was long and grey. She stood there in a nightgown, beckoning to Jules.

“But I don’t want to come over there” Jules said to the old woman. “I’m afraid” The woman stood there for a moment and then slowly faded away. Jules checked her watch. Wes would be home soon, thank God. She didn’t want to be alone here anymore. She sat glued to the chair and then couldn’t stand it anymore, she wanted to go check the dresser, to see if the brush was there. She called Scooter and picked him up when he came padding in the room.

“Come with me, buddy, I’m chicken shit.” She chuckled nervously.

The brush was right where she’d left it. On the dresser in front of the mirror. She picked it up and looked at it again, rolling it around in her hand. Scooter jumped out of her arms and onto the bed, curled up and went to sleep. Jules looked up at herself in the mirror. But the mirror was no longer there. It was a window, a window looking out a bus or a car. The scenery rolled along. There was snow on the ground wherever she was, and mostly trees and countryside. A hand grabbed her by the shoulder and shook her. She jumped and screamed.

“You falling in love?” Wes asked laughing “you were really looking deep into your eyes there for a few. You didn’t hear me calling when I came in?”

“Oh, Wes! Thank God you’re home. I have been so spooked since I had that bad dream the other night. I keep seeing things.” She said, not really wanting to get into details of a naked girl in her shower and an old woman in a nightgown in the living room.

“Must be all the MSG in the Chinese food.” He laughed again “Come on, Mulder, come sit with me while I eat dinner.”

Wes was a great distraction for the rest of the night, he opened some wine and they managed to finish the bottle before heading to bed. They made love and she fell asleep relaxed and content for the first time since bringing that damn brush home.

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