There are triggers. Talks about suicide and self harm. Teresa is an atheist and anti-religious character. It does change throughout the novel, but if anti-religion makes you angry... then I'm sorry.
She is an atheist. Her parents are heads of their own church, which is built into their house. She's always felt off, like she wasn't allowed into a church. Everyone does believe her to be the devil..
Her brother, Tommy, believed in her, but even he left her. She didn't even notice signs of depression... but then she finds his dead body hanging from the ceiling, an obvious suicide. Her parents are quick to dismiss him, his suicide being an obvious disgrace to their beliefs. Oh and did I mention that she can also see ghosts? His ghostly figure brings her messages from the grave.


1. Chapter One

        I had no desire to get out of bed. It was often like this, but this time was different. This wasn’t a “I didn’t sleep well” kind of tired. It was life, reality, punching me in the face. Filling my lungs. Suffocating me. Stealing away my breath, but sadly, not my life. I know that once I get up, it’ll all be over. No more pretending. No more kidding myself that things were still as they were. Things can never be as they were.

        My brother, my twin, literally my second half, he wasn’t off on some adventure, or gone visiting a friend. He wasn’t anywhere. He was gone. Dead. I fought for the longest time to grasp the facts, wrap my head around them, to believe them. I’d refused to, and now I was trapped.

        The thing about losing someone, is the guilt. Wishing you’d had more time with them. That you could have done something to help them, to change the outcome, to change everything. That you could have said goodbye. But isn’t that what the funeral’s for? Not when it’s a closed casket burial.

        If I could just see him…

       Maybe then, I could believe. But that was also what I feared. Because it was very probable that I would see him. But not inside the casket. Not his body, now an empty shell. Because when you die, your soul gets released. Where to, I don’t know. Heaven, I guess-if you believe in that; I don’t. Ghosts, I do believe in, ghosts being souls that are trapped here. I don’t know what keeps them here; I try not to find out. I learned long ago, not to stare. Yeah, that’s right, I’m lucky enough to be the unlucky one who can see spirits. They look as real as anyone, except for one major detail that sets them apart from the living and makes their deadness all the more real. Their deaths. More gruesome the death, more gruesome the ghost. How they die is how they stay.

        I’ve seen some heavy duty stuff, but nothing beats the panic that follows the thought of witnessing someone I once knew. And loved…

        My brother, Thomas, hung himself.

        I get to say that I didn't know about his depression. If I had to choose which one of us would have offed ourselves, I would have said me, without any hesitation. I never saw the cuts- he hid them so well. He was so happy, loving, and social, which directly clashed with my quiet nature and deep desire to be alone. I never realized before, how I’d counted on him always being here. He made me wish I could believe in Heaven, so I could imagine him there. Anywhere but stuck here. With me…

        Those who believe in Heaven and all that stuff, they say that sinning-suicide being a sin- gets you sent to Hell. Thinking about that, about him and Hell, was a thought that was just as unbearable as seeing him today.

        I let out a shaky sigh, guess I should get up. I needed to. I’m surprised my mother hasn’t dragged my ass out of the bed yet. It’s not like I’m hurting or anything... She sure as Hell isn’t. Her and my father both make peace with death. It’s never hit me directly, but it’s always been there. Relatives I barely knew. Townspeople. Even plants. Everyone dies. When you die, it’s “your time,” as my parents would say. But you think they would have some sympathy. For themselves. For their daughter. For their son. Their son’s dead, and all they can think about is how his suicide has disgraced them. I can’t believe that, I mean, how could they say that? How could the woman who’d carried him in her womb for nine or whatever months, popped him out, and created him, say that?

        “Maybe because it wasn’t just him in that womb. You were there, too. ‘The Devil’s Daughter’ as his other half. Perhaps my atheism has blinded them, and I’d somehow tainted him. Maybe there was something wrong with both of us…” My mind trails off. I hated when those thoughts took my brain over, they just fill my head with the worse possible things in that moment. Like the possibility of seeing him. Of what he might look like. Dead, of course. Because he’s dead. I’m alive, and he’s dead. He’d stranded me here, alone. I wasn’t mad at him for it, but I also couldn’t help but pity myself for it. “Stupid spirits,” I mutter, cursing them for this. It was all their fault, it had to be. It’s not my fault I have these abilities, I’d be just as quick to get rid of them, if I had any idea how. I don’t even know how, or why, I have them in the first place!

        My throat feels like sandpaper, and it’s swollen. From all the crying. All the cursing. All the screaming and asking -no one- “why?” Why they took him. Why him, why not me, why now, just why! There was no one to answer- not knowing was the worst, I think. But better than hearing voices who tell me everything I want to hear. Or everything I don’t. Either one; I’m not that crazy - yet. I’m just a teenager who, for as long as she can remember, has been able to see, feel,  and communicate with, spirits. With dead people.

        No, not crazy. I stopped feeling crazy long ago, just isolated. Misunderstood. Not crazy, just different- and society hates different.

        I sit up in bed, emerging from the bubble of blankets I’d been submerged in for days. I don’t know how long, really. I don’t know when my parents gave up trying to persuade me to eat and do other things human beings were supposed to do on a daily basis. I was grieving; they should be, too. We can’t all come fully computed with the inability to feel. There were a lot of emotions I lacked -name them- but when it came to my brother, I felt them all. He was my best friend, and my only reason for living. Now, I felt nothing. I only felt hollow, because, when he left me, so did they. I don’t think I’ve felt anything but sickness well up inside of me and life crawl into a hole and die since the very instant I found him.

        Yes, I found my brother, and I knew that no matter what happened to me from that moment on, that I would remember that scene for the rest of my soul’s existence. I’ll probably go to Hell. If there is one. Who knows? Who cares? Nothing would ever be the same…


        It was a usual day- that’s how every story is recalled, isn’t it? But it was, or as normal as it gets, for my family. My parents lived and breathed religion. “Everyday calls for prayer- you woke up today!” My father is head of the town church, as was his father, his before him, and blah blah blah… In my house, God was everything. The house was even a church, which was here before the house was. It’s over a hundred years old, and was remodeled to build the house into its back. The house is three stories tall, too big for my taste. Too tall, with way too many rooms that were “off limits,” although I’m nineteen. Tommy and I both were.

        Of the many rooms I’d never go in, the attic and the basement were the most fortified, to prevent entry. We were never allowed in either of those two areas. Never; there was an old superstition that basements were akin to gateways that allow entry to Hellion spirits. I never believed in superstition, most of all. God’s an understandable concept, but cursed basements? No way; but as it turns out, the curse is real.


        Something felt off that day. I couldn’t place it; the hair on the back of my neck stood up for no reason, it seemed, sending a shiver down my spine. It didn’t feel like a spirit was present.  As I walked, there were no cold spots or electrical surges. There were no signs of anything, and it was eerily calm. My next thought was that, perhaps Mom was in the kitchen when she shouldn’t have been. When they had clients, they usually ran over time, rather than on time. But, maybe she forgot to put on tea, or had ran out of sandwiches. So as I neared the stairs, I called down to her.

        “Mom, is that you?” I leaned on the side of the railing, peering down. I had a full view of the living room and would have seen shadows in the doorway of the kitchen, had someone been in there. There wasn’t anyone in sight. There were no shadows. No sounds. No movements.

        Still, that twitchy feeling egged me on. I wearily sauntered down the curvy stairs. As I passed the second floor, the church floor, I stopped, even though I seriously didn't want to. It always felt wrong to be there. As cliche as it sounds, my skin always tingled in an uncomfortable, burning way. Almost like the air were searing my skin, but I knew it was all in my head. My parents were in agreement that it wasn’t the place for me, and I was more than okay with that. But in this instant, I wished nothing more than to have Mom round the corner. Come out of the bathroom. Come up the remaining flight of stairs. Anything. But only silence greeted me. Silence, and the “not right” feeling that got stronger as I continued down the stairs. As I reached the ground floor, my whole body was buzzing with energy. There was definitely something down here. It was a physical entity that hung in the air, so thick that it was choking me. You’ll never guess where I followed it to.

        The basement door.


       When we were about five or six years old, Tommy was outside playing ball with Dad. Tommy had been the favorite, even then. I was just too different... I don't know, they were playing ball, or something.. Anyway, I sat on the floor in the living room, playing with my dollies. That's when I heard the scream- Mom's scream. I abandoned the dolls that were scattered across the floor and hugged the one I still held tightly to my chest. Her name was Teresa, and she was my favorite toy. Not that we had too many toys, but we were more fortunate than some. Tommy had given her to me one Christmas; our parents had to help him buy it, since we were so young. He picked Her out, because we had the same name. Little Tommy had called me Eesa. I'm not sure when that had stopped, or when my comfort had switched from the doll, to him. As kids, we really weren't all that close. He was taller, well liked, and never got into trouble. I was always the one who they blamed. So, when Mom found the usually locked basement door to be wide open and exposed, she was socked, and Father, angry. I couldn't even reach the handle! Tommy could; yet, I was the one they blamed. 

       I didn't think he had done it, but it wasn't me either. But he was their perfect little boy, an "angel," who wasn't capable of ever doing anything wrong. Right...

       Father was focused on her. I was the only one who noticed the humanoid figure waving at me from the bottom of the stairs. I shifted Teresa, so she was rucked under one arm, and I waved back. This is my earliest memory of ghostly occurrences. I think back now, and I wonder...

       But, that's all it it- suspicions.  I eventually pieced it all together, with the help of Google.

       Why do doors open themselves?

       Why are some rooms colder than others?

       Flickering lights

       Strange smells

       They all connected to one thing, and with the addition of gruesome images that only I could see, which came into play after I hit puberty, I no longer had any doubts.

       Dad boarded up the basement door with nails and a hammer.Every so often, we would wake up to discover that something had spit the nails out in the middle of the night. I say "spit," because there was no evidence of it having been tampered with. Still, I calked it up to one thing: a joke, and like every other time, I was given fault. Man, do I wish that were true now.

       "Forget what you thought you saw when you were a kid. You don't know what you saw. Ignore the door being open, despite the boards being put there to keep it shut." The door was open now, thirteen years later- only a crack, but open, nonetheless. And something was down there. Nervous and muscles beginning to shake, I take my phone from my back pocket, turn the flashlight on, and begin to descend down the old, creaking stairs. Once I was close enough to see what was down there, I am the one that screams.

       I'm on my knees when they rush down to me. I don't know what they think when they saw the door. I don't know if they questioned me, either about what had happened, or why I was down there. It was obvious what had happened. I couldn't hear anything- my ears were humming, taking me to another world. One full of despair upon seeing the rope, which was tied around my brother's neck, him hanging there, long dead. Puddles of blood pooled under him, drops rolling down from the slices in his arms, from elbows to wrists.

       I'll never get that picture out of my head.

      The last time I'd ever see my brother alive. My handsome, beautiful brother.

       I can't bear to look at my own reflection now.

      When we were younger, we looked exactly the same. As we grew older, the difference was more visible than just the shades of our eyes. Mine are bluer than the ocean; his were teal. My hair is raven black; his was a dark brown. My skin is incredibly pale- I shudder at that thought. I can only imagine how pale he must be now.

       With my black hair, pale skin, and lips red like an apple, without putting on lipstick, I'm like a real life Snow White. It always helped me to feel better about myself, knowing how similar we were in looks, even though they did work better on him, but now, it would haunt me for the rest of my life. I never minded being a twin, but I never once imagined losing him. Now, I'm stuck without him, and my parents are stuck with me.

       I slowly slip the shower curtain back and adjust the temperature of the water. Stripping from the clothes that felt like another layer of skin since I've worn them for so long, letting oil and dirt fester them. Once the water warms, I sit in the tub, hug my knees, and let the water fall over me from the shower head. I don't want to move. I don't want to think. I don't want to live.




       Mom glares at me when she sees me come down the stairs in white, instead of black. White was the original color for mourning. I had that fact in mind as I slipped into the long, white satin dress that matched the falling snow outside. It actually makes my skin look less death-like in contrast. At least, for once, I would look more human, than demon.

       My dad once tried to have me exercised, but my mom didn't believe in that. At least, she calls it hocus pocus. But Tommy, he was always by side. He didn't always speak up, but his eyes told me everything.

       I guess, not everything...

       I've never felt more alone.


       The car was silent as we drove. we didn't have to go far, just across town. We wouldn't do it in our church. The cemetery across the field was "too close to home." Bite me.

       The whole town had come to pay respects to my parents, saying what a "shame" it is. Nobody says anything to me. Some have somewhat sympathetic looks thrown my way, but most of them have disgraced looks. For my dress. For myself. My atheism. I don't believe in God. I don't go to church. I like black, and the history of the dark arts, witches, demons, it's all so interesting. It's always entranced me. Atheism itself is disgracing, but add that to being Gothic, and somehow, you've got a satanic, demon worshiping whore. 

       Tommy would tell them off. He would stay by my side, squeeze my hand, wrap his arm around my shoulders nurturingly.  He would want to go mingle, but he would offer to stay by my side, if that is what I wanted. I would tell him to go, that it was okay. But, it wouldn't be. I was self conscious, but he made me feel safe. Like nothing bad could happen, if he just stayed by my side. But the more Gothic I became, it seemed, and the older we got, the more different we got, and the more distant he became. He wouldn't come to me with things. He stopped talking to me. Maybe.. maybe that was how his depression manifested itself. He hadn't been there for me for at least four years... How had I not seen it? So wrapped up in myself... I just didn't care.

       This is all my fault.


       The director coughs, capturing everyone's attention. The ceremony starts. Usually, the direct family sits in the front row, however, I hung in the back. I couldn't get my legs to move. I couldn't hear the man talking. Everything was far off. 

       I didn't want to be here. So many spirits. My body is freezing, like I just jumped butt naked in the arctic ocean. I slam my eyes shut, so I won't look at them. They were everywhere. They were all crying, and screaming. Some sad, and some angry. Some old, some my age, some of them, even younger. I want to curl up in a bawl, cover my ears, and go, "la, la, la," like I was five years old again. 

       None of this should be happening! If only I'd paid more attention...

       "You say you cared about him? Then why the fuck didn't you know that he wanted to kill himself? You've thought about it before. More times than you care to admit. So why didn't you notice? Why didn't you help him? You really are despicable."

       "Stop it! Stop it!"

       Suddenly, all eyes were on me. I'd said it out loud, and now the whole cemetery, those who were living, were glaring at me. I open my mouth to say an excuse. My father comes stomping over to me, probably about to remove me. But, I'd looked up. I'd open my eyes. And my nightmares have become reality. 

       Right there, standing behind the casket, is Tommy. He is looking right at me. He looks different. His hair is more gray, than black. His eyes were more gray, than blue. His face paler than the snow, which makes his death mark even worse. That is what stares me dead in the face. His wrists were covered, but if I could see them, I know that they, too, would be splattered in blood. Just like his neck. There's a thick, red line around it. 

       My mind flashes to him standing on a latter, putting everything together. Tying the rope, slitting his wrists. Taking the jump. Did he regret it? I'll never know.

       That vision is the last thing I see, before feeling my stiff body hit the snow covered ground.

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