Donald hadn’t slept in a week. Tonight was no exception and he lay staring at the ceiling thinking about Cathy. He hadn’t known her name when he had killed her and, he had killed her just like he had done all the others. There had been at least fifteen of them over the last twelve months. But Cathy had been different. He believed that she held feelings for him, and it was with a true sense of remorse that he had set her body gently into the shallow trench in the redwoods. Her final resting place, a pit he had scooped from the earth about 150 yards west of Highway 17, at the summit.
He got over the loss and moved on.
But, he knew her name now. He had known her name since last weekend when he answered the door in reply to an urgent summons from the bell. It was her. It was Cathy. The murdered girl was alive and well and she had been leaning on his doorbell. She removed her finger and smiled when he pulled the door open, annoyed by the persistent ringing.
He froze and felt his mouth drop open.
“Hi Donald,” she said, “surprise. It’s me, Cathy. Did you miss me? Huh?”
He kept staring, speechless.
“Aren’t you going to invite me in?”
He stepped aside and she breezed into the house, smelling faintly of lavender and citrus. She hadn’t left for any length of time since that day.
Now, he lay next to her in the bed, sleepless while she slumbered to his right.
He couldn’t make sense of what was happening. Was she a ghost? Had she still been alive when he buried her? Had she somehow dug her way out and come back for revenge? Could it be Stockholm Syndrome?
He was worried. He was scared. She, on the other hand, had taken up the role of “live in girlfriend” cooking, cleaning, marketing, kissing him in the morning when he left for work, then again in the evening when he returned home. There had been no sex. She had tried but he would have nothing to do with it. Not until he figured out what she was, or who she was, and what she was doing there.
As he lay there, something changed and he knew that she was awake now. Maybe it was her breathing pattern, or her body temperature. He wasn’t sure what signaled it, but he was certain that she was awake.
“Are you sorry you killed me Donald?” she whispered as she nuzzled against his ear. His ears were burning. Her lips were cold, cold as ice.
“I didn’t kill you. You’re still here. Why are you here? What do you want from me?”
“The ligature marks took a long time to fade Donald. I waited though. I wanted to be beautiful when I saw you again. Do you think I’m beautiful, Donald?”
Several minutes passed in silence. Donald could think of nothing to say. He knew she was toying with him. Finally she broke the silence.
“How are you sleeping these days, Donald?” She laughed softly, turned on her side and put her head on his shoulder. “Sleep tight, baby.”