Holly shit! How did I not think of that? How could I be so clueless?
“Your little sister makes a new invisible friend and it never crosses your mind that he’s your bushwhacker?” We seem to be on the same page.
“She’s had an imaginary friend since before we moved here. It just never occurred to me that George was more than imaginary.” That means she was telling the truth! It was George who had pushed me off the couch. Poor Sunshine, I never believed her. Poor me; all of a sudden I’m wishing it was her who had pushed me.
“I’m not crazy,” I laugh. A wave of relief washes over me. Oh, I’m dead. The thought makes me laugh a little too wildly. Tears are streaming down my face. I’m going to die, I whimper inwardly, more tears are flowing. Now I’m both laughing and crying hysterically.
“You could’ve fooled me,” Sage jokes before pensively pacing back and forth. Even he thinks that I’m marked for death. “Hold on a second, if the ghost is after you then why did it make friends with Marisol?” His question brings me up short, snapping me back to reality. The tears stop streaming down my face and I stop laughing.
Why is he friends with her? If he wants her then why does he want me? What does he want her for, to drive me nuts? Why hasn’t he ever done her any harm? Why me? How could I be so conceited? While I was having my “pity party” I hadn’t even considered the danger Marisol is in. Sage had to point it out to me. I’m pathetic. She’s my flesh and blood.
“I don’t know,” I gasp, “but it can’t be for something good.”
I hear Mama’s footsteps in the hall and my Sunshine’s light footsteps trailing from behind. I quickly wipe my tears away with the back of my hand and I compose myself. We both sit down quickly and we pretend that we are talking about something.
“I hope you like lasagna,” Mama says as she comes over towards us. Sage stands up in respect. She hands him a large container full of food. “I’m going to need that container back.”
“All right, ma’am. Thank you so much.”
“I hope your parents don’t mind you being late.”
“Oh, I don’t think that they’ll mind seeing as I brought supper home.”
“Oh, um, thank you again, ma’am,” Sage says with a nod. “Mar, Marisol.”
“I’ll walk you out,” I say. Mama and Marisol don’t follow.
“Thanks for the help, Sage. I really appreciate it.”
“No problem. I’m just sorry that we couldn’t find anything more useful. Call me if something happens, all right? I’ll be over to help.”
“Good luck.” He reaches down and brushes my cheek with his lips as he rushes to escape. I close the door before he turns back, in fear that he’ll notice me blushing. I lock the door and before I can head up to my room, Mama stops me in my tracks.
“He kissed you,” Mama exclaims ecstatically. Nothing gets by Mama.
“Eww,” Marisol says, wrinkling up her nose in disgust.
“It was only on the cheek.”
“Still, it won’t be long now until you get a real kiss.”
“Yeah, okay Mama.”
Mama’s comment about Sage kissing me pulls me back to today’s earlier conversation when Sage asked me if I was his girlfriend, girlfriend. My heart sinks. I can’t deal with that, not right now. My only priority right now is to get rid of George, and how can that work if I’m trying to balance a boyfriend as well? What would happen if we did become a couple and it doesn’t work out? He’s the only one who believes me. What would I do then? I send the thought into a locked drawer, put away for another day, deep into my unconscious. I have more important things to worry about than a boy; for instance, now that I know that it’s George what am I going to do about it? I got it!
I walk into my bedroom, a shiver shimmies down my spine. He’s in here all right. For once I’m glad. I want to put everything on the table and settle this once and for all. I block the door so that it’s forced to stay open; even though I am consciously aware that it wouldn’t stop him from closing it if he wanted to. Cautiously, I creep over to Marisol who is sitting on the bed, her feet dangling from the edge — this unnerves me, because if it were my feet dangling from the bed I’d most definitely be dragged under by my ankles — her dolls encircle her.
“Want to play?” Marisol asks, taking note of my presence.
“Actually, I was wondering where George is?” I ask, as I hop onto the bed and I press myself against the wall. I settle down on my side since it’s closest to the door. If this gets too intense, I’ll grab Marisol and bail. I wrap my arms around my legs, I interlock my fingers — this position might slightly increase my chances of not being dragged off the bed by my feet, theoretically. I’m hoping that theory won’t be put to the test.
“Sitting ovew thewe,” she states, as she points to the rocking horse. Sitting on the rocking horse is George’s sock monkey. The horse begins swaying back and forth on its own.
That’s not creepy at all.
“Geowge wants to know why.”
The horse gains a little more momentum. I resist the urge to grab my sister and run screaming from the room.
I clear my throat. “I want to talk to you. Alone.”
“Geowge says, ‘the giwl stays.’” With all my heart I wish she didn’t have to be present for this, if things turn ugly. But I have no choice. I need an interpreter.
I nod my head. “I have a few questions for him.”
The rocking horse is swaying a little harder. The doll still sticks to the seat like it’s glued to it.
“He has a question fow you.”
I try to clear my throat to hide the fear and panic settling inside of me. “Really?” I ask sheepishly, stunned.
The chair suddenly starts rocking slowly.
“Sunshine, what’s he saying?”
“Geowge asks, ‘whewe did you go with that boy?”’
I really have a sudden urge to pee.
“To the library,” I half lie.
The rocking chair starts going like crazy, supernaturally almost a blur, but the monkey stays put.
“I can’t wepeat what he’s saying. I’ll get in twouble.”
“Just this once, Sunshine, repeat everything he says and I won’t let you get in trouble. Say everything,” I repeat for emphasis.
“He says, ‘you awe a f**king liaw. Ya’ll wewe digging into shit that oughta be left alone.’”
“How did you —?”
“Mmm-hmm, I’ll tell hew. Geowge says, ‘I’m dead not blind, ya stupid bitch! I told ya I don’t like liaws. Yew awe gonna pay for this!”
“What do you want with me?”
“No, Geowge! Leave hew alone! Don’t huwt hew!”
The rocking chair suddenly stops.
“Marisol, run, go and get Mama,” I whisper. George is stomping right towards us.
“No, Maw,” she whimpers; clinging to my arm.
A Barbie doll lain on the floor has its head crushed in. I can’t help but imagine that being mine.
“Marisol, go get Mama, now!” I manage to shove her away from me with one arm. “Run!”
Marisol runs for the door, she’s about to reach it when the door block I created flies across the room and the door slams shut. Marisol jiggles the doorknob, but it doesn’t budge. She bangs on the door while wailing. The footsteps change direction. He’s heading right towards her. “No, Geowge! Geowge no!” Marisol pleads, her back pressed against the door.
Shit, shit, shit. I leap off the bed and land a foot away from Marisol, blocking his path. Over my dead body; I stand in place, my body tense. I grit my teeth in an attempt to keep them from chattering.
“Aaahhh!” I screech. I’m hit with such tremendous force on my legs that I’m knocked off my feet and fall forward onto my stomach. I land, palms first, preventing my face from suffering damage from the hardwood floor. I cry out in pain causing Marisol to let out a high pitched shriek like I’ve never heard before. I am rolled over. I try to get up but I am forced back down. My legs are being crushed under George’s weight.
“I said the girl stays. I want her to see this,” says a disembodied voice which sounds like an angry little boy throwing a tantrum.
I try to scream. I feel a hand clamp down hard on my mouth. “Shhh. Ya wouldn’t want yer Mommy to hear. That’s a good girl. Be nice and quiet. Don’t try and resist, you’ll only make this worse on yerself.”
I hear Trevor come bounding up the stairs, stopping at our door. He scratches at the door, barking like crazy.
“Trevor move!” I hear Mama yell.
“Mama, hel — Aaahhh!” I howl in pain. My arm is on fire, blood trickles down it. A bite mark is visible.
“Marimar?” Mama throws open the door and at once all traces of George is gone. “What happened?” Mama gets down on her knees beside me and examines my arm. She gasps. “Marisol, did you bite your sister?”
“No, Mama —,” I try to say.
“Don’t you dare cover for her. Marisol, why did you bite your sister?”
“Damn it, Mama, look.” I show her that the bite mark, although a child’s, has front teeth marks. “See, Marisol is missing her front teeth. It was George.”
“It’s like I’ve been trying to tell you, he’s out to get me. Look what he did to my arm.”
“Let’s go downstairs, and you can tell me what happened while I disinfect your wound,” Mama mumbles, lost in thought.
I run my arm under the faucet. The cold water soothes the sting, almost to numbing. As I wash away the blood, Mama is getting the peroxide to disinfect my bite mark. She’s rummaging through the medicine cabinet. Marisol is sitting on the toilet seat, still crying softly. We’re in the downstairs bathroom.
I grab a towel from the rack located by the sink and I cautiously dry my arm; making sure that I don’t apply too much pressure. With a cotton ball, Mama applies the peroxide. I wince as the peroxide makes contact with my wound — foam forms on my flesh as it disinfects it.
“Okay, now calmly explain what happened,” Mama says, visibly disturbed. Her face is drained of all color. Her hand is shaking as she applies more peroxide. If I’m going to tell her then I’m going to have to tell her everything, even the part where Sage and I were sneaking off all over town for the so needed proof. It doesn’t matter now, I was right and it is basically their fault I had to lie. They didn’t believe me in the first place. Still, I’m willing to risk getting into trouble. What’s worse, getting grounded or getting attacked by George?
“So, there is no possible way that you can dismiss what happened. No way. There is no coincidence,” I say after relaying my story.
“Ow!” I yelp as Mama pours betadine.
“I’m sorry, Mamí, but we have to completely disinfect it.” I grit my teeth and I wait until the pain eases before I go on.
“Believe me now?” I say exasperated from my tale.
“Yes, but it’s not me you’re going to have worry about, it’s Papa. He will be home in a few minutes and we will have to explain this to him together.”
“I’m sure he can’t brush this aside.”