I see her hands first, twisted fingers pushing through the gap in my wardrobe doors. Then comes the creak of the hinges. No matter how I oil them, they always creak, but I am awake before the noise, eyes open, unable to move.
She pushes out into the room, walks to the end of my bed and stands there howling at me.
‘Dead for a dog, and the dog is you!’
I know, you’ll say it is only sleep paralysis and night terrors, but the thing is, I know this old woman. She is my Aunt Enid.
No, it is not the ghost of my aunt. She is alive, living in a nursing home five miles away. And no, it isn’t really her, hiding in my wardrobe, waiting to scream at me, night after night. That would be crazy.
She might do it if she could, but she is too frail these days, in her body, if not her mind. Yet she does come, holding on to her hatred, dishing it out to me night after night, ruining my sleep, poisoning my days.
It wasn’t my fault, not really, but she never saw it that way.
Once I tried to go to the nursing home to talk to her about it, but as soon as she saw me she started screaming and throwing things, and my cousins barred me from ever seeing her again. But I do see her, every night.
I moved house, but that made no difference. I burned my wardrobe in the back garden and got a new one from Ikea, but she did not stop coming, and the hinges make the same creaking noise.
Last night she came again. This time I forced some words from my near-paralysed mouth, croaking the truth at her.
‘He made me go too fast — the road was straight — he said I was a stupid pussy, driving like an old lady — no traffic at that time of night — I floored it just to show him — but then the dog — he yelled at me to kill it — I braked — the skid — I don’t remember much then — his fault not mine. His fault, not mine.’
The noise that came out of her mouth was awful, a scream that cut through my bones. She came and put her cold hands around my throat. I blacked out.
That is why I have to do something. There are only two choices. Either I kill myself or I kill her. This knife is very sharp.
Whichever I choose. I hope you will forgive me, but maybe no-one ever will.