Girl Who Isn’t Talked About
When he was ten years old, Kyle discovered that the room
next to his had been emptied of anything that might trigger associations with
its mysteriously absent occupant. Gone were the dolls and stuffed animals that
might provide discrete clues as to their owner’s identity: the bed with the
princess covers, the dresser with shirts and shorts and socks and underwear,
any evidence of a living, breathing soul.
Where was she? was a question
Kyle put out to the world, but the world for the most part comprised his
parents, and their answer had been to not answer. Of course, the world also
comprised teachers and friends and friends’ parents and sundry authority
figures, but their faces exhibited a uniform blankness when asked questions of
Following procedures gleaned from TV crime dramas, Kyle in
full-on detective mode found evidence of her. Mostly this meant using
resealable sandwich bags to preserve the artifacts he found in the basement,
under the sofa, in the woods behind their home: a scrap of paper on which
someone had used colored pencils to (crudely) draw a pony and a rainbow, a comb
with strands of blonde hair between its teeth, a whistle (whose shrill note
Kyle could almost recall) half buried in the dirt.
Kyle had hidden all such evidence in a box in his closet
and had meant to log it all for analysis. Such categorization could result in
an accumulation of clues that might itself lead to a break in the case. But one
or both of his parents had (allegedly) found the box and (almost certainly)
destroyed its contents.
So Kyle was left with little to go on. He only had what
might be considered his own eyewitness account, but he didn’t write any of his
memories down, and, like all eyewitness accounts, his testimony would have been
subject to an inherent unreliability.
When Kyle was twenty, during his third year at university,
he saw a girl walking across the quad and experienced an unsettling
recognition. He had only seen the girl from behind, but something about her
(the color of her hair or the set of her shoulders, perhaps) had struck him as
familiar, and he’d had to sit on a bench and compose himself. He’d had to wait
for the shaking and shuddering to pass.
Was it she?
He thought of calling his parents, of reopening the case,
but didn’t have sufficient or in any way actionable cause, and his
parents would almost assuredly have refused to cooperate.
When Kyle was thirty, and in the fourth
year of a marriage, one day, on a day like any other, on exiting the shower, he
discovered a strand of blonde hair on the bathroom sink. (His wife was a
brunette.) In the shower-steamed mirror a finger had traced the words YOU
FORGOT, or a finger might have, because Kyle wiped the words away (or
maybe only imagined he did, and later debated whether the words had actually
been there). But still, Kyle sensed that she might be coming for him,
whoever she was.
At forty, his mother and father having died
three and two years before, respectively, Kyle had lived through nearly a
decade of what some might call a haunting. Even so, he and his wife had had a
daughter. (Inadvisable, Kyle knew, but to be fair, he imagined that the
appearances of the mystery female were all in his mind, and as such, were
something he would be able to master in time, or at least continue to hide from
Still, Kyle saw her on the street, at the
grocery store, in passing cars. Worse, she also appeared in reflective
surfaces: windows, pots and pans, puddles.
One morning, catching a glimpse of her in the bathroom
mirror, Kyle lost his composure and smashed his fist into the glass. She drew
away and was gone, but Kyle had a dark suspicion that the cracks in the mirror
might lure her back. He imagined her face pressed to the glass from the other
side so hard that her nose and eyes flattened, and her skin would be extruded
through the cracks, drops of blood perforating the splintered surface. Enough
pressure and the glass would break, explode outward, and she would be in the
On a day shortly after the day Kyle had punched
the mirror (for which no reason had been admitted, even under his wife’s
fervent and it must be said worried interrogation), Kyle had come home
to an empty house. This was very strange because his wife and daughter should
have beyond any reasonable doubt been at the residence.
Kyle performed a thorough search (though not,
however, shouting “Clear!” when ascertaining the absence of his wife and
daughter in a room). To be sure he went over all the rooms in the house again
and again, maintaining the same sequence. As he went from room to room he
could sense instead her presence and feel that she had left the
room at the very moment he’d entered. Then, abandoning the search, he simply
chased her, for he had found his person of interest, the prime suspect in his
wife and daughter’s disappearance, the only suspect, and vowed
to catch her.
As he raced from room to room his heart raced too, approaching,
perhaps, some catastrophic event. He knew that he would solve the case, close
the book on it once and for all, and swore that what was once forgotten
would forever be placed on record, at any cost.
James Gallagher, email@example.com, who wrote BP #82’s “The Girl Who Isn’t
Talked About,” is a horror writer and copy editor. James has been published in Theme
of Absence, Liquid Imagination, The GW Review, Horror
Garage, Horrorfind.com, and Cabal Asylum. James is also the
recipient of the Vivian Nellis Award for Creative Writing. Castle
Walls Editing LLC Web: castlewallsediting.com LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/james-gallagher-castle-walls/ Twitter: @CastleWallsEdit