An Excerpt: DJTH
Beyond Her Comprehension
Through her attic window, Malia watched a tornado-like formation of leaves on the roof. The sun winked behind the mid-afternoons spectacularly lit orange and yellow sky. The sky turned to a dark-charcoal with a lightning streak, in moment’s time, as if someone turns off a light switch.
This was not her first time watching the day turn to night in a matter of minutes, and she did not have a clue as to why. She’d realized a while ago that the weather turned its worst every time her grandfather called to her. Technically, she was not sure it was his voice because he was dead. Right? But something or someone was calling her.
“Malia, I need to talk to you,” the voice echoed over and over in her mind.
“Who are you? What do you want? Why won’t you answer me?” She wanted to have a conversation with the voice, but it only responded by calling her name.
This voice terrified her. It had haunted her for months. Or had it just been a few weeks? Malia shook her head. She was more confused about what was real and what was not since Papa’s passing.
“Malia, listen up, child. It is me, your Papa. I need to talk to you now.”
“If you are Papa, tell me where you are,” she said in a barely audible voice.
Last Saturday she’d made up her mind to find Papa, wherever he was hiding. The next time she heard his voice she would hunt him down. And tonight she’d wait for him. Her father was working late tonight, and her brother Micah was at Grandone’s house eating dinner. She’d waited for the voice and was ready to capture him.
Malia crouched down on her knees, hidden behind the living room sofa, and waited and waited. Suddenly, she heard his voice calling again, and she sprang to her feet.
“Malia, stop. Please, listen to me. Maliaaaa.”
She ran toward the voice, jumped over the coffee table, both feet clearing it. She sidestepped a floor-to-ceiling lamp, her socks skidding on the wooden floor as she passed the dining room entrance. She grabbed the doorknob to stop from sliding further.
“Stop talking to me, especially since you won’t tell me who you are,” she begged. She heard the voice calling from upstairs. She headed towards the third-floor stairs, two at a time--and then stopped. She stood precisely in front of the closet door in the hallway. Her right hand jerked the door open as the other grasped the doorframe.
The tiny room was empty. She could have sworn the voice was coming from inside the closet. Silently Malia waited to hear it again. As an athlete, she knew how to breathe quietly. Breathing in and out, swallowing slowly so she could hear every creak in the house.
“Malia, I’m in here. Come through the door. Hurry up. You don’t have much time.”
The voice grew louder and reverberated off the ceiling. She could not pinpoint its direction. She was determined to find the voice, so she jumped on the stair’s handrail and slid down like a fireman sliding down a fire pole. She tiptoed through the house to the back porch and looked around. She tiptoed down to the basement and peered into the darkness, and then she quietly walked back to the third floor. She saw nothing. She heard nothing. Now she found herself back by the same empty closet.
Malia waited. Standing on her tippy-toes, her feet began to shake out of pure exhaustion. Her body slid down the wall to the floor. The only sound she heard in the dead silence was the swishing of her blouse against the wall. Her legs met the floor. The coolness of the wooden floor rose up to meet her slumping body. She used her hands to drag each leg up as her house slippers scattered off her feet. She buried her head between her knees and rocked back and forth. Her heart burst with pain from grief and loss and she wept. Malia believed her Papa was torturing her because she had somehow let him down.
She knew Papa was dead, but then she thought, what if he is alive? Her next thought was that he was playing a joke, but that would be a cruel joke to play and her body shuddered from the thought. Even though she was scared she kept asking the voice what it wanted, but it never responded. Slowly she stood and returned to her bedroom. Under her breath, she whispered, “Help me to help you. Tell me how to find you.”
She wondered if Micah, her twin, had heard the voice, too. She would ask him. Too tired, too scared to search anymore, Malia resigned herself to remembering the question her grandfather asked her entire life: Do you remember your gift?