My best friend believes in spiritual mumbo jumbo like tarot cards and psychic readings and cleansing the house with sage. Despite our vastly differently beliefs, when she asked if she could stay at my place for a week, I immediately said yes.
“Are you sure?” she asked. “It’s okay if you say no. I still have a spirit attached to me. I know that makes some people uncomfortable.”
She had mentioned the spirit before in late night snapchats while she was drunk on wine. I assumed she didn’t even believe the bullshit she was spouting. But apparently she was serious about the ghost. She said it followed her wherever she went. She said it was friendly, but it could be scary for someone who wasn’t used to the paranormal.
I didn’t want to be too nasty about something she believed in so deeply, so I told her not to worry about it. I could fend for myself. The spirit wasn’t going to bother me.
She arrived at my doorstep exactly one week ago with a bright blue suitcase. When she first stepped foot into the house, there was a drop in temperature. I remember it clearly because I told her: “You came at the perfect time. We were going through a heat wave but today is the coolest it’s been.”
Of course, I was wrong. I realized that when I let the dog outside to pee an hour later. It was burning hot outside. The house was the only place where the temperature had dropped — and I hadn’t touched the thermostat.
I didn’t think too much of it at the time. I showed my friend to her room, instructed her to keep the bathroom door closed so the dog wouldn’t nose around in the trash, and reminded her where I stored the silverware and dishes.
We spent the whole night talking, catching up about our careers and relationships. In the morning, I woke up earlier than her. I went to the cabinet to fetch the dog food, but the cabinet was already opened. Every cabinet was opened. So were the drawers.
“Is there a reason why you left everything open?” I texted her in case she was awake in her guest room. “You can help yourself to whatever you want but just try to keep things shut tight. I don’t want the dog getting into bleach or rat poison. He’ll eat anything he finds.”
About an hour after pressing send, I heard the sound of the shower running. I assumed she was awake. I assumed she was getting ready to start her day. I walked toward the bathroom with the intention of reminding her where we kept our towels, but the door was swung wide open.
My blood boiled, but I didn’t peek inside because our shower was made of glass and I didn’t want to catch her undressing. I just swung the door closed and said, “I really can’t have the dog walking into the bathroom. He’ll eat whatever he finds. It’s the one rule of this house. Please don’t leave the door open again or the cabinets or the drawers because he–”
The door creaked open. Not the bathroom door. The one to her guest room.
“Why are you yelling?” my friend asked. She rubbed at her eyes, half asleep.
“You didn’t turn the shower on?”
“No. I wasn’t planning on getting up until at least eight. I’m on vacation.”
“Do you sleepwalk or something?”
She shook her head, walked into the bathroom, and turned off the water. “It must be the spirit. I told you how much trouble it causes. It doesn’t mean any harm, though. I’ll talk to it. I’ll let it know the dog could get hurt if anything stays open.”
“Thanks?” I said, unsure whether my friend was screwing with me. Later in the day, I heard her speaking to the spirit, requesting it to behave. I think I even heard her bark.
The rest of the week, the cabinets and drawers and doors stayed closed. The dog stayed safe. But some other strange things happened.
I heard footsteps above me, like someone had been crawling on the ceiling. I smelt something smoky coming from my bedroom, like a lit cigar. I saw strange dots of light everywhere — on the walls, across the television, in my mirrors. And my dreams… they were the strangest I’d ever had. They were never violent, but they were weird, like I had been tripping on acid.
When my friend finally left, I watched her descend down the steps and into her Uber. It took me a second to notice her suitcase wasn’t bright blue anymore. It was a deep, dark red. Like the color of old blood.
I didn’t even ask her about it. I was just glad she was gone — along with whatever came with her.