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The Silent Child
I have always been an extremely gentle person. I am patient with kids, kind to animals, and generous to all. But we all come to a point in which our world comes crashing down on us. We are no longer able to attain ourselves, and a devil is released. For me, you could say that my devil was more evil and more dark than those of others. My devil was buried deep inside of me, but when it came out, it was strong enough to ignite a forest fire. Little did I know how much trouble it would get me into.
One morning, my wife went out to buy groceries, and never came back. The next day, she was found in an alley, dead. The police searched for clues of what had happened for days -- even weeks! -- but nothing was found. And just like that, I was left to live and take care of my son all on my own.
I took great care of my son and grew him with great love and affection. My wife’s death had been a shock to me and I often found myself wishing I could follow her up to heaven, but as always, time healed me. My son, Bradley Jackson, was all I had left in my life and I truly wanted the best for him. At the time, Bradley was only six years old, and I felt the need to protect him from the depression and sorrow that trailed behind death. Never did I mention his mother -- simply told him that I had no idea what had happened to her.
I lived contently with Bradley for many years to come, and although I still thought of my wife often, I had other things to focus on that could cover up my misery. Meanwhile, Bradley grew up to be a kind, sweet boy like I had been when I was younger. By his ninth birthday, he was already mature and didn’t fool around like the other kids in the neighborhood. He was consistently doing well in school and came home everyday with compliments from the teacher.
But one day, Bradley came home from school with a question.
“Where is my mother?” Bradley asked.
I was in the kitchen making meatloaf. I did not look in Bradley’s direction and pretended I had not heard him. But in honesty, I had heard his question, and it had startled me.
“Dad, where is my mother?” Bradley repeated.
I continued to fiddle with the pan that was on the fire and ignored Bradley. Bradley walked up to me and tapped my arm.
“Dad, answer my question!” Bradley shouted.
“Don’t touch me!” I growled, jerking my arm away. I snarled at him as if making a ferocious gesture, but deep down, I was more frightened than angry. Bradley had never shouted at me like that, and he had never mentioned his mother.
“I want to know --”
“Well, I won’t tell you!”
“Dad, I’m old enough to know things like this! You can’t hide what happened to my mother from me forever!”
I sighed and struggled to remain calm. “Go to your room and do your homework, Bradley,” I demanded sternly.
“No, dad --”
Then, it happened. Bradley said something I had never even imagined he would say.
“I hate you,” he said. I couldn’t take it any longer. I didn’t know what was happening to Bradley. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing -- what I was hearing! I’d never imagined Bradley would do anything like this! The kind, wonderful Bradley I had once had was slipping through my fingers like sand.
Without thinking, I raised the pan I had been clutching off the fire. I took a firm grip of the handle.
I gritted my teeth.
I took a step forward.
I swung the pan a couple of times, as if getting ready to bat. I adjusted my arms little, squirming, and then it happened.
My muscles sprang out of my control. My fingers spazzed. Prior to my I knowing of what was happening, a loud bang rang out and Bradley crumbled to the floor before my eyes. I had whacked Bradley on the head.
What had I done?
It was clear to me that Bradley would never live again. His face was drained of color and blood was oozing and gushing out of his head by the minute -- sticky, slimy, and a more vivid red than the roses that were planted in my garden.
I remained in my place, frozen. I felt paralyzed. I didn’t know whether I should regret what I had done or not. I didn’t know what would happen next.
After standing still in my place for what seemed like hours, I hatched a plan. I would wait until nighttime. I would lock my door, close all of the shades, and shut off all the lights, like a normal household would do. Then, I would rip open one of the floorboards and dig a hollow area into it. There, I would place Bradley’s body and close up the floorboards again. Then, all I would have to do was mop up the blood that was seeping into the floors by the minute.
Soon, I realized that although simple, my plan was genius; no one would ever be able to tell that a boy was hidden under their very feet! The next day, I told Bradley’s school that I had transferred Bradley to a prestigious boarding school, so he would not be returning. The school believed me with zero suspicion, considering that Bradley had always been the smartest little boy. I was in luck!
The next few months of my life went by smoothly. I regretted what I had done to Bradley, but I couldn’t do anything about it. Each time I walked across the floorboard where Bradley was buried, however, a chill ran down my spine. It was always as if something bad were just around the corner…
At one point, I was walking home from work when I came across an orphanage. I decided to take a peek inside, only to entertain myself after a long day cooped inside my stuffy office. Thousands of kids were swarming all over the place playing, laughing, and having fun. Through the time that I sat and watched the little, innocent kids, I find my thoughts drifting and before I knew it, I was thinking about how much my wife would have loved seeing the kids with me.
After a few minutes, I spotted one kid in the corner, sitting by himself. He looked up at me with big, desperate eyes, and I immediately knew that he belonged with me.
I adopted the poor child instantly and took him to my home. The boy’s name was Raymond, and although he was eleven years old at the time, he was skinny and short for his age. He was so shy and reserved with me, but I was nurturing and cared about him anyways. I loved Raymond. I could tell that deep inside, he was sweet and kind-hearted.
But there was only one thing about him that always intrigued me -- he never spoke a word.
Every morning, I said, “Good morning, Raymond!”, but never did I get a reply from him. I never sent Raymond to school either, and I didn’t tell anyone about him.
For weeks, Raymond seemed like a harmless, innocent little boy. He was so naive about the world around him, and I felt that it was my job to help him. But exactly a month after I brought Raymond home, something happened -- I heard him say something.
I had gotten home from work and as always, Raymond was sitting at the kitchen table waiting for me. I got out the book -- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone -- that I was currently reading to Raymond and sat down next to Raymond to continue where we had left off. This book had always been one of Bradley’s favorites, so I hoped that although he would not speak, Raymond could enjoy the book as well.
“How are you, Raymond?” I asked pleasantly, although I did not expect any answer.
“Bra-- Bra--” Raymond whispered. It was as if he was trying to say something.
“What did you say, Raymond?” I asked. I was astonished! A kid that had never spoken a word to me before was finally speaking! How utterly wonderful!
“Bra-- You killed Bra--” Raymond whispered.
The smile that had been on my face disappeared. I dropped the book. I did not know what to do. How was it possible? How did Raymond know? That night, I locked Raymond in his room and decided to keep him there until I released him the next morning.
The next morning, I let Raymond out of his room. I did not speak to him during breakfast, and I did not speak to him as I left for work. He did nothing abnormal, however -- there was no weird talking or talking at all! -- and thus, I assumed that perhaps I had heard Raymond wrong or I had made a misconception, and I could forget about our little incident. Or so I thought…
I came home from work that day and everything was normal. Hours, days, and weeks passed like this; nothing odd happened, and Raymond became a silent little boy once more.
That is, until one day.
On a warm, sunny evening in summer, I was walking home from work when I realized that as the orphanage had informed me, today was Raymond’s twelfth birthday.
I decided to stop by at the local pastry shop and get a cake. I immediately spotted one that I knew Raymond would like. The borders of it were decorated with little balloons and party hats that had been made with ice cream.
After choosing the cake, I asked one of the workers -- Lilly -- to write the words ‘Happy Birthday, Raymond!’ on the middle of the cake. Lilly happily agreed, and took the cake to the back of the bakery to write out the words.
However, after a couple of minutes, Lilly came out with the cake, and I was shocked by what I saw. On the cake, Lilly had written ‘Happy Birthday, Bradley’ instead of ‘Happy Birthday, Raymond’. I was horrified! I tried to tell Lilly calmly about her mistake, but in all honesty, I was completely and utterly disturbed!
Then, I realized that what Lilly had written was correct. Today was indeed Bradley’s birthday, as well as Raymond’s! I didn’t know what to think! Was it a coincidence? Was it ironic? Was Bradley coming back to haunt me?
No, it can’t be! Spirits and souls don’t exist, you idiot! It’s an odd and creepy coincidence, that’s all, I told myself.
Lilly was extremely apologetic and promised to wipe off what she had written and re-write what I wanted on the cake. I agreed, but even as I walked home with the cake, I could still see the remains of what had originally been written on the cake.
When I got home, I opened the door and instantly dropped the cake.
My jaw dropped. There was Raymond, laying down on the floor with his ear pressed against the floorboard where Bradley was buried.
My eyes widened. “Dad,” Raymond whispered. “There is something here,”
My hands began to tremble. “Bradley is coming back to haunt you,” Raymond whispered.
I fell to my knees. Raymond sat up and began yanking at the floorboard.
I started sobbing in remorse.
Raymond continued to yank at the floorboard, digging his fingernails under it and using all his might.
The floorboard gave in. The nails that held it in place flew off, and the floorboard went flying straight into the window, shattering it into a thousand, tiny pieces.
Raymond grinned. He looked into the hole in the ground, where gallons of blood were flowing, so freely, like a rich, dark river of sorrow. I was frightened as I had never been before! Bradley had died nearly a year before, and yet, the blood seemed so fresh and new.
But Bradley’s body was no longer where I had buried it. Instead, there was something else. At first, I could not figure out what it was. It was the pan that I had used to kill Bradley.
Raymond smiled an evil grin. I reached inside and took the pan by its handle. I stood there, gawking, with my jaw open in terror and shock. Raymond took steps toward me and I backed away, until I reached the wall. I was cornered in, and there was no way to get out of it. Raymond raised the pan to my head.
“You have done things in your life like no other human. You took your own emotions as an excuse to torture others. You have messed with people’s lives and pretended to be innocent all along. Now, you shall receive the revenge that you have not gotten for too long,” he whispered.
“Who are you, really?” I asked in a murmur. “Tell me the truth. I must know that before my death, at the very least,”
“I am the ghost of Bradley Jackson,” he replied.
And then, my world went dark.