It got quite boring after a while, hanging around all these mirrors, waiting for someone to call. This afterlife business wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, that was for sure. She sometimes wondered if death—the other side, Elysium, beyond the veil, heaven, hell, purgatory, the underworld, whatever—was like this for everyone. But that couldn’t be—after all, in all these years she’d spent running from mirror to mirror whenever she was summoned, she’d never run into anyone else.
The first time she heard her name, she’d thought it was him, the last voice she’d ever heard. She went running, hoping that it was, so that she could have her revenge. It wasn’t him, though—it was some total strangers, people she didn’t know and had never seen before.
So she waited.
In those early days after her death, whenever she heard her name, she thought that, if it wasn’t him, maybe it might at least be someone she knew, looking for her. But it never was. Only strangers, some hoping she would really appear, some praying she wouldn’t. They were all surprised when she did, though.
And really, why were they so surprised? They’d called, hadn’t they? And it wasn’t as though she had anything better to do.
Waiting, always waiting.
She didn’t always scratch their eyes out, of course. It depended who she saw on the other side of the mirror. More often than not it was just little girls at a sleepover, their tinny voices shaking with fright as they peered into the bathroom mirror by the light of a single plastic flashlight. In those instances, she would appear briefly—maybe moan convincingly, if they looked like they needed a sterner scare—and disappear, their shrieks echoing shrilly against the glass.
Sometimes, though, it was nasty, vicious kids, bullying a terrified victim to summon her in the bathroom of a school dance, in a basement Halloween party. Or every so often an adult, whose evil had long since hardened into stone behind their eyes, where she could see it more clearly than she’d ever been able to see it in life.
Then there was blood.
She hadn’t seen the evil that was coming for her then, when she was alive and little more than a child herself; that was why she was here. Why she was dead. But she could recognize it now. And so she waited.
She waited because she knew that, sooner or later, he would want to see if the stories were true, if the ghost story was real, if it was really her. He knew her name, even though she’d never told him. He had whispered it in her ear three times as her blood flowed.
She waited for him so that finally, finally, she could make him pay.
Alyssa Palombo is the author of the historical novels The Violinist of Venice and The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence, both from St. Martin’s Griffin. She is a graduate of Canisius college with degrees in English and creative writing, respectively, and lives and works in Buffalo, NY.