** Continuation of October 16th, 2010 post. Please click here for Chapter 2.
My name you already know. What you don’t know is that I was born dead at 3:46am on August 1st, 1984; and reborn at 3:50am. Four minutes isn’t much in the average life. In mine, they would prove to be the most important ones and would seal my fate forever.
I was born in a small town in Ontario, Canada shortly after a house fire nearly took my parent’s lives. It seemed only fitting to my parents that my name should reflect the circumstances that led to the event of my birth.
To say that I had a normal childhood would be a gross overstatement. Normal was never a word in my vocabulary. Ghost, spirit and evil however, were words I became very familiar with at a young age.
When my mother left me in my crib as a baby, the spirit of an old woman who had died down the hall would comfort me. Marthe was my ghostly nanny and she loved me more than my own parents ever did.
Their lack of feeling towards me puzzled the spirit. She would later tell me, when I was old enough to understand, that I was a quiet, peaceful baby for the most part; only crying when a nasty or angry specter startled or scared me. The fact that furniture rearranged itself, dishes crashed to the floor and other disturbing things started to happen soon after my birth might have been the cause of their feelings. Marthe refused to believe that anyone could hate their own child.
Maman had what Marthe told me were the Baby Blues. I didn’t understand what that meant but figured it had something to do with how my mother refused to come near me. She did the bare minimum for me according to my ghost nanny – feedings and diaper changes were as much as my mother could tolerate. Daddy refused to let her give me baths after he found her trying to drown me in the tub when I was two weeks old. It was no surprise that I learned to fend for myself at a very young age.
All too often I’d look up as a child and find my mother standing in the doorway of the room I was in while she muttered about evil under her breath.
As I grew older I played with the ghosts of the dead children down the street when I was locked in my room as punishment for an imagined slight.
By the time I was five years old it was clear to my parents and those around us that I was different from the other children. The number of supposed imaginary friends and the frequency with which they changed made it apparent that something else was going on besides an over active imagination. It was never as clear as it became the day I channeled my first spirit at the age of six.
My life was never the same after that one fateful day.
For once, the teacher had not been yelling at me but at another of the students in my class. Brody, the boy who sat behind and to the left of me, had been pulling on the long, wheat blond braids of Emilie Cross and he’d made her cry.
Miss Paul was busy berating the most adorable six year old boy I’d ever seen in my short, young life. He had the sweetest hazel brown eyes, and dimples that gave him a roguish look when he smiled. I know, roguish? A six year old? Yes. Even at six you could see the man that lurked behind Brody Callaghan and the promise of what he would be when he grew up.
I took the opportunity Miss Paul’s momentary distraction provided to glance out the window at the swings on the playground and the one swing that almost always swayed even on days when no wind blew. I knew why it moved; could see the greasy, dirty looking man who sat in it, watching my classroom and all the children inside.
My attention must have been caught for longer than I knew when Miss Paul slapped her ruler down on my desk to divert my attention from the swings and back to her.
“Ardeur, forget the swings and pay attention. Did you hear what I just told everyone to do?” Her red eyebrows shot up towards her hairline impatiently while she waited for me to answer the question she knew I didn’t have the answer to. “Well?”
Greasy swing man was at my side, whispering in my ear before I could answer Miss Paul. “Tell her to shut up. Tell her to shove that ruler up her prissy little ass.”
Hot, stale cigarette breath that none but myself could smell blew across my face causing me to scrunch my nose and screw up my face. I closed my eyes and shook my head only to have them fly open again with a second slap of the ruler across the width of my desk.
“Ardeur Blaise Lisle. I asked, did you hear me?”
Before I knew what was happening my tiny body snapped up out of the chair I’d been sitting in and a hand whipped out to pull the ruler from the teacher’s hand. The foul language that tripped off my tongue had Miss Paul gasping in surprise and the other children snickering behind their books until they realized the voice coming out of my mouth wasn’t mine.
The man from the swing had found a way in and taken control of me when I’d refused to tell the teacher off the way he’d wanted me to. Once he was satisfied that Miss Paul was sufficiently shut up and terrified he vacated my too small space and went back to his swing leaving me to deal with the fallout – and fallout there was. Loads of it.
It didn’t take Miss Paul very long to recover from her shock and haul me down to the office. Her long red nails dug into my skinny bicep as she pulled me along beside her and then flung me into a chair while she went in and recounted the ordeal to the principal. I sat and cowered in the outer office. My parents would be called and that terrified me more than anything greasy swing man could have said or done to me.
Miss Paul’s voice carried out through the office door in shrill bits that had me sinking down further in my chair while I waited for what was coming. I knew my parents wouldn’t come to the school to fetch me. Oh no, I would have to spend the rest of the afternoon in class, ride the bus home and walk up the five flights of stairs to our grubby apartment before I paid the piper.
As expected, the teacher exited the principal’s office twenty minutes later with an expression of anger and hatred on her face. She dragged me back down the hall to our classroom and ordered me back to my desk before resuming lessons.
I sat down in the hard plastic chair and turned my eyes down to the page in my notebook that had been opened before I was hauled out. Two words were scrawled across the page in the boyish lettering that I knew belonged to one person. Brody Callaghan. The words spelled out I’m sorry. It was the first and only time anyone had ever said those words to me and it won him a place in my heart forever.
The boy with the hazel eyes, dimples and roguish smile would live in my memory because I was never to see him again after that day. When I got home from school my parents punished me severely and informed me that I would no longer be going to school. I was to be homeschooled from now on and would not be allowed to see my classmates again.
Maman and Daddy were quick to realize the power their pretty little blonde haired, blue eyed baby doll possessed over the dead. Their cash crop had been sitting under their noses for years and I was made to earn my keep from that moment on.
Torment became the flavor of my days. I was ridiculed by the neighborhood children and forced to communicate with the dead at night. Freak, ghoul, monster and crazy were words that followed me everywhere. They were also my companions while I walked graveyards in the dark and my daytime tormentors dreamt of Barbie and GI Joe in their warm beds.
The story books other children read were replaced with books full of spells and rituals that I was expected to memorize, remember and put to use when I was sent out to work. By the age of ten I could read and speak half a dozen archaic languages thanks to those books and the ghostly tutors who followed me home on occasion. Marthe took care of the rest of my education.
I don’t remember how long it took before the nightmares, filled with the atrocities I witnessed, to end or even to subside. Each night brought something new into my world and my sleeping nightmares blended with my waking ones until nothing much fazed me anymore.
Kindness and generosity were things I’d become unaccustomed to with the passage of years. The bare minimum was the status quo for me. My clothes came from thrift stores and my toys, the few that I had hidden away in the back of my closet, were scavenged from dumpsters. I was allowed to eat while in public in order to keep up appearances. Meals consisting of more than bread, cheese and a glass of water were things that I was granted if my performance the night before warranted such a treat.
Understandably, it came as a shock when, for my twelfth birthday, Maman entered my barren room to tell me that we were going shopping in Toronto for my gift. The fact that she was taking me shopping at all should have clued me in that something was wrong. That we were making the four hour trip to the province’s capital should have been a dead giveaway but my attention starved heart didn’t care. I was being treated with kindness for the first time in six years and it was going to absorb and enjoy every last minute of it.
There weren’t many preteen girls who had the trust issued that I did. If I’d known what awaited me at the other end of the trip my parents had planned, I’d have done anything and everything I could to avoid getting in the car the next morning.
The trust issues I had then were nothing compared to what I would feel after the events that had followed.
Come back on October 22nd, 2010 for a look at Chapter 4 of Possession is Nine Tenths – Ardeur.
Copyright © 2010 Danielle Gavan
All rights reserved. This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or have been used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, locales, or events is entirely coincidental. No portion of this work may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without permission in writing from the author.