Before we get right into the chapter, let me preface this with a reminder. This was part of the latest draft I had started back in fall of 2017, but never finished – as that’s when work on my Untitled Horror Project began. I am presently working on a brand new outline for Vini’s Story and am unsure how much of this chapter will or won’t change in the end result. I just felt inspired to share this with all of you. I hope you enjoy.
— — —
Vini’s Story – Chapter One
Vini’s Story – Chapter One
Dead Nicole came into my life when I was just six years old. I guess you could say she was my one and only imaginary friend in life, but she was really more than that. She was my sister. My mom had first told me about her when I was just six years old. I was really ill and this was back when mom still cared for me. She was rocking me gently as my head rested upon her chest. I could hear her heartbeat, it was so rhythmically soothing. I had taken in the scent of her light floral perfume that she always wore back then. I listened to her humming and singing to me off and on as we rocked together. Mom always did have a beautiful voice. While rocking me that particular time of illness, she decided to tell me of the sister I never knew.
Her name was to be Nicole after mom’s only sister. In the story, she told me of how excited my father and she were for the news of baby Nicole. How thankful to God she was that she was being blessed with a little one of her own. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, mom had a miscarriage. Though in her words during story time that day she expressed it as God had other plans for Nicole and made her an angel in the Heavens. My dead sister would have been older than me. Mom said though it was just a matter of months from losing Nicole that she discovered she was pregnant with me. She told me at the time, that I was her miracle baby. That she felt even more blessed that God would give her a baby she could keep for herself. I received the middle name Nicole, after my aunt and dead sister. I never thought about it being a second hand name. I always felt it to be special to have. In my mind it only cemented Dead Nicole further into being a part of my very being. I had loved Dead Nicole from the moment I learned about her. I was also thoroughly fascinated by the concept of her.
She was always just a thought at first though. Nothing of her was visual during those first two years of knowing about her. I would often imagine what she would be like though. What games she would like to play. What her favorite color was. I would also compare her to my older twin sisters Jennifer and Jessica. I would often wonder if Dead Nicole and I would be as close as they were. I would quietly pretend to myself that Dead Nicole wasn’t my dead older sister, but she was in fact my twin sister. That was where my mind would take her and keep her. She was my twin as far as I was concerned.
Thoughts would often play in my head and it was mostly just curiosities of her. That is until I was eight years old. That’s when things would develop conversationally between Dead Nicole and me. It was a day when mom had brought me to the recording studio with her. I was placed in the hallway to play there. Normally mom would just let me go inside with her when I got to tag along, but that day was different. I remember it all felt different even just getting ready to go. Mom had packed my Lisa Frank backpack full of things to occupy my time with. She was stiff in her movements, as if she were tip-toeing around me as we got our things together. When we had arrived to the studio she instantly parked me out in the hallway. Making sure I had my backpack and instructing me to just play quietly.
From there mom had stepped into the studio and as soon as the door was closed, I heard the latch of the lock. That was strange. Mom never locked me out of a studio before. She always just let me go in, because I knew how to sit quietly and listen. I would always close my eyes and let her soulful voice fill my ears. She had always praised me for being so good about hanging out in the studio. So for her to lock me out, it was truly baffling. I stood in the long empty hallway unsure if I was being punished for something, or if there was another reason I wasn’t allowed in.
I had ignored my full backpack and stepped closer to the door. I raised my hand to knock. I wasn’t sure what I was going to say had they answered, but I was so confused I felt like I needed to just see mom to make sure everything was okay. I had a flutter of deep insecurity wash over me in that moment. That’s when I heard her. “Shhh…she’ll hear us.” It was mom. My hand moved down and I ended up not knocking.
“No she won’t. We will be quiet. It’ll be okay.” A man’s voice had spoken. It was Phil. A man I had always seemed to have known. He was a producer that my mom had worked with for years. I’m not sure why I didn’t just step away at that moment. I mean, I had a plethora of things to do just waiting for me in my backpack. Instead though, I found myself leaning closer to the door. My curiosity of the situation had only grown stronger as I could hear muffled movement on the other side.
“I can’t do this anymore Phil.” Mom’s voice had been so strong in that statement. It had felt so matter of fact when I heard those words through the door. I soon was quietly pressing my ear right up against door now. I didn’t want to be heard by them, I just wanted to hear them. I could hear further movement. “Really, Phil, stop…” her voice was a bit quivery in that instant. The pit of my stomach felt like it was twisting into a knot. I should have just stepped back and stopped listening. Allowed mom to do whatever she wanted in there and just quietly play like I was told to do. However, I found the need to understand what I was hearing. Of course standing there at eight years old I really couldn’t quiet grasp what was taking place inside that recording studio.
“Don’t talk like that please.” I heard Phil’s voice, as I heard a soft gasp come from my mom just after his words. “Let’s just be together.” He spoke almost eagerly as I couldn’t quite decipher the sounds I was hearing along with his words.
“She asked… she asked… about them, last night… About…” Mom had begun to speak, but her words were a bit breathy. It was like she was having a hard time concentrating on what she wanted to say. My little ear had pressed harder against the door as I had continued to listen.
“Just stop. Enjoy this…let me help you…” It was the last words he spoke. It was the words I would hear from either of them in that moment. I started to hear what could only be described as soft moaning. I quickly stepped away from the door. I felt like my chest was going to explode suddenly as my heart began to race. My breathing seemed to cease momentarily as I just stared at the locked door in dismay. What on earth had I just heard? The knot in my stomach twisted tighter and my own breathing seemed suddenly hard to accomplish normally. I found myself inching slowly backwards away from that door. I kept going until I was at the far end of the hallway with my back pressed against the wall.
That was the moment that my life with Dead Nicole took a deeper turn. As I had slid down onto my bottom bringing my knees close to my chest, while wrapping my arms around my legs I envisioned her for the first time. She was about the same size as me, sitting in the same position. We both stared ahead down the hall, down towards that damn studio door. At first we sat silently, and then slowly we turned our heads towards one another.
I pictured her having light brown hair like our father’s, while I was a natural blonde like our mother. Her hair was hanging down past her shoulders. Her body was slightly larger framed than mine. She had bright blue eyes and a narrow yet feminine soft chin like our mother. Her lips were slightly thinner than mind, but we both had the beauty mark just above the right side of our lip. Dead Nicole’s skin was fairer than mine. I held a tan most of the year pretty naturally with all of my time in the California sunshine. She stayed pretty pale.
“What do you think they are doing?” I asked as quietly as I could without officially going into a whisper. I saw her shoulders move up into an unsure shrug. “Do you think we should tell dad?” Our parents were after all still married. They just chose to live in separate cities.
“I think we should distract ourselves.” Dead Nicole’s voice was soft, but not weak. Her blue eyes gazed at me with an understanding unlike any other. It felt like she really was a piece of my very own soul. She had come to life right before me when I needed someone the most. I wasn’t sure what mom was doing in that studio, I just knew it was bad.
Using every ounce of my imagination, I focused further on breathing life into her as we began to talk to one another more. We started to talk about things we liked. For example, we both like Lisa Frank and Hello Kitty just as much. We talked about things we simply agreed upon, like how our older brother Nathan was funny, but could be gross at times. When you are eight, even your own brother can still be considered icky in general for being a boy. Naturally we discussed things we didn’t agree on as well, an example being mom’s spinach casserole. I absolutely hated it, but Dead Nicole savored every morsel of it.
I’m pretty confident that even at that young age in the moment I was in, I knew if I was going to use my imagination to create and bring my dead sister to life for my escapism, I had to keep it interesting for myself. So we talked about all sorts of things. We talked about pretty much anything that could come to mind, that didn’t involve the locked studio door or what on earth could possibly be taking place on the other side. I had gotten so focused on breathing life into my dead sister that I didn’t realize how much time was passing us by while we sat and talked at the end of that hallway. I had also so easily forgotten how far I had scooted away.
“Goodness. What on earth are you doing all the way down there?” Mom’s voice startled me. I hadn’t even heard the door unlock or open. I sat frozen for a moment wondering if she had heard me talking to Dead Nicole. She looked as if she was waiting for an answer and I almost opened my mouth to say ‘duh mom, I’m talking to Dead Nicole’. I knew even then though in an instant, my conversations between me and my sister should be kept private. Nobody needed to know I had my imaginary dead sister by my side.
“Just playing.” I remember I tried to make it sound all sweet and innocent. I tried to make it sound like I didn’t suspect she had been doing anything wrong. Mom looked confused for a moment however as she noticed the untouched backpack. I hadn’t even bothered to unzip it or even pretend to take something out as if I was using it.
“Well come gather your things, it’s time to go home.” she instructed. Me being the not to argue type at the time, I got up from the floor and made my way quickly towards her down the hall. I could feel the physical being of my sister fade away behind me as I made my way. Mom had waited until I had grabbed my bag from the floor and turned to head out without another word. Before I began to follow her, I couldn’t help noticing the smell. It was a strange smell that seemed to pour out of the room she was just in. I tried not to make a face as I slowly began to follow mom. As I passed the open doorway though I looked in to see the back of Phil’s head hanging low as he sat hunched forward. My shoe squeaked on the wood floor in a single step though and I saw his body begin to turn around. I quickly turned my head away from him. I didn’t want him to know that I saw anything. I just wanted to catch up with my mom and get away from that place.
Mom led the way quietly out to the parking lot. As I got into the backseat I already could visualize Dead Nicole sitting back there with me. I kept my mouth shut though and so did she. Our eyes met momentarily. If mom had glanced back at me, it would simply look like I was looking out a window. But to me, in that backseat I was only further cementing the bond between Dead Nicole and myself. We already knew what one another was thinking.
The car started and slowly backed out of the parking space we were in. I turned my head away from Dead Nicole to look straight ahead. I saw mom’s face in the rearview mirror. She was focused on the road ahead of her as she pulled out into the road. I could see a tear run down her cheek though as she sat silently and I knew everything had changed that day. I didn’t know why, but it just did.
Mom was never the same again after that day. From the second she had stepped out from that recording studio I could feel her start to even distance herself from me on an emotional level. To this day I don’t know if it was something I had done, or if it was just the guilt she had for doing what she had done in there. I remember closing my eyes and wishing that going home meant going to the San Francisco house where dad and my older siblings lived. Instead, home that day was going back to the condo in Los Angeles were mom and I had resided just the two of us most of the year.
%d bloggers like this: