Once upon a bumpy road, there was a van swallowed by darkness. For thirty miles, there was nothing but trees; old trees, big trees, and leaves falling on the windshield like rain. This drive home from work was not new to Tiffany. The excursion in the dead of night, in the middle of wherever, did not scare her. She’d even adapted to the haunting of her family; the faint cries from her child in the backseat, the heavy breathing of her husband next to her, even the huffing of their dog. It’d been two years since that car accident and she was just coming out of her shell, mentally.
This drive home seemed different to Tiffany. It was the dog. The huffing from the back sounded more normal than paranormal. So much that she checked the rearview mirror and turned to look in the backseat…nothing. She shook it off, turned her music up and continued down the black hole of the road. It took a lot to rattle her, traveling in a haunted car and living in a haunted house.
As she approached the driveway of her home, she parked in front and saw the second story bathroom light quickly flash on, then off. One of the more straight-forward paranormal activities in her house, but still normal to her.
When she walked through the front door, the lights turned on and a bunch of people jumped out and screamed “Surprise!”
Some of her co-workers (subordinates) and family were there to celebrate her thirtieth birthday, poor Tiffany forgot it was her birthday. It had no meaning to her without her family physically there to help celebrate, but she tried…she tried. The phony smile came out to celebrate with her mom, sister, a few cousins and over a dozen underlings. It was more than a party, it was an event. And the house provided more than enough room for everyone. It only took thirty minutes for that bogus smile to turn real. Dancing, drinking, laughing, joking…for the first time in two years, Tiffany was having a good time.
She was finished after dancing to three straight songs, felt the buzz coming on, and she collapsed on the sofa. JoAnn stopped to chat with her on the way out. “Happy Birthday, boss lady,” she said.
Tiffany smelled the booze jetting out of her mouth. “You’re not driving, are you?”
“No, no, no, no, no. I came with Jesse.”
Tiffany touched her heart and fell back into the couch. “You and Jesse, huh?”
“Oh, Lord no. He wishes.”
“Mhmm. Just be careful with him, okay? His choice in friends aren’t the greatest.”
“Oh…yeah…you mean Corbin.”
“For a minute, I thought he’d show up, but Jesse assured me,” JoAnn said, and still, looked around.
“Oh, I would’ve called the cops immediately.”
“Thank God you fired him.”
“Well, the sexual jokes were getting to be a bit much. And someone said he followed them home—it was just long overdue.”
“The man was toxic…and hairy.”
Tiffany nodded and laughed. “Yeah, he was hairy.”
When everyone left, her mom and sister stayed to help clean. It was a lot of house, even with the party restricted to the first floor. So, her mom took this time, again, to urge Tiffany to sell the house and move back to the city to be closer to her still living relatives. She didn’t say it in those words though. God, no. But it was clear, it was clear. Tiffany didn’t give her an answer right then. But it would be no. It would always be no.
Tiffany walked her mom and sister to their car in the back of the house, where everyone parked. She gave them a hug and kiss before they drove away.
When she walked to the front where her van was parked, her sister’s taillights reminded her that she was alone, again. It was a good night though. She needed it.
When she turned from the dark path to go inside, she saw the second story bathroom light cut on and off again. Maybe someone left behind.
She ran inside and slammed the front door. Creeping through the front room toward the back, she listened for any creaks in the sensitive wood flooring of the ancient house. Nothing.
“Hello!” she called from the bottom of the stairway. No answer. She started up the steps and her confidence faded. Her legs began to shake, she was cold. At the top of the steps, “Hello,” she called out once more. Not a peep.
She shuffled down the hallway toward the bathroom and the thought of a party guest still being here was no longer the case, this was another paranormal experience. She was sure of it.
Tears filled her eyes and dripped down her cheeks as she opened the bathroom door. The light flicked on…stayed on this time, and she walked in, looked around and stopped at the sink.
There was writing on the mirror, in color marker. It read: ‘The hairy man is in the van, mommy.’