Don’t Leave Me Alone

Don’t Leave Me Alone

By: James G. Boswell –

Tara screamed as her elevator plummeted 15 stories and then slammed to a halt with a thunderous metal clang. Her head thudded against the wall and she dropped her phone as she fell to the floor. The phone’s screen showed her unsent text message to her boyfriend she’d just typed that said, “I wish you didn’t have to work late tonight. It’s my birthday after all! I thought you told your boss you needed the night off? I’m leaving my office now, we can talk about it later.”

Stunned, she slowly stood up and approached the elevator control panel where she saw that the buttons for both the sixth and seventh floors were lit. “I must be stuck in between those floors,” she thought. Her hands shook as she repeatedly pressed the emergency button, but there was no response. Then, the elevator bell dinged, and its doors opened to reveal a dark room with a large bed in the center.

As she stared into the room incredulously, she began to hear the sound of a child crying. It quietly whimpered at first, but then began to sob louder and louder until it reached a deafening volume. Two glowing eyes that looked like burning embers appeared under the bed and pierced the darkness as they stared at her.

The eyes then began to move towards her and she jolted with fear. “Come on,” she said in a panicked voice as she madly slammed her hand against the control panel. The doors closed just as the eyes came within a few feet of her, and the elevator began to descend with the same slow, smooth, and steady motion as it always had before.

Tara pressed her body against the back of the elevator and shook with fright while she stared at the panel. The buttons for each subsequent floor lit up and then turned off one-by-one: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. The elevator bell dinged again, and the doors opened into her office’s first floor lobby.

She gingerly stepped out and looked around. The lobby appeared the same as it always did. A few businesspeople in suits walked towards the building’s revolving door as though nothing was amiss. Tara felt the pocket of her suit coat for her phone but realized she’d left it on the elevator. She quickly turned around and snapped it up before the doors closed once again. Then, as she sighed with relief and exasperation, she made her way to out of the building and towards her bus stop. She dismissed the experience in the elevator as her mind playing tricks on her due to stress. “I must be working too hard,” she thought.

Tara arrived at her neighborhood and quickly walked to the brownstone townhouse she shared with her boyfriend. She thought of him dejectedly as she let unlocked the door and let herself in. His job was deadline driven and he sometimes had to work extremely late hours for days at a time without any forewarning. All the same, she still felt miffed that he missed her birthday.

She turned on every single light in her house and then poured herself a generous glass of red wine. After a couple large gulps, she called the fancy restaurant where she’d made dinner reservations to celebrate her birthday that night and cancelled them.

Tara then began to boil some water to make spaghetti. She sipped her wine and stared into the pot as the first small bubbles began to form. A strange noise from the living room startled her. Hopeful that it was her boyfriend, she called out, “Baby?” but no one responded. Instead, she heard more strange noises that sounded like furniture moving around. Fear crawled down her spine, and she grabbed a butcher knife from the knife block on her countertop.

She slowly opened the door from the kitchen to the living room a crack and peaked through, but she didn’t see anything. She then pushed the door open completely and tiptoed into the room. There, she found that the sofa and coffee table had been pushed out of place. She also saw that a wooden chair which normally sat against the wall was now in the middle of the room.

A crashing sound came from the kitchen. Tara turned around and saw that an unseen force had thrown the pot of boiling water off the burner to the floor and smashed her glass of wine against the wall. Tara froze in panic and began to hyperventilate. Then, she heard it: the sound of a child crying, and all the lights turned off by themselves.

She heard the door from the living room to the bedroom fling itself open. Then, the glowing eyes appeared under the bed and stared at her. The sound of crying became louder, and the glowing eyes came out from under the bed and hovered a few feet off the ground as they moved towards her through the darkness. Tara feebly swiped the knife back and forth in the air and shrieked, “Stay back!” then ran outside through her front door to escape.

She called the police from her front yard and told them there was an intruder in her home. When they arrived, they searched the townhouse but found no one, nor any signs that someone had broken in. Tara’s boyfriend came home shortly after they left and found her waiting for him on the porch. When they went inside together, she saw that all the furniture was back where it was supposed to be. She also saw that the pot and wine glass were where she’d left them in the kitchen, and there was even a small amount of water still boiling in the pot.

Tara slouched forward on the edge of her chair in her psychologist’s office and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I keep having these disturbing visions like something is out to get me.”

“Out to get you?” asked Diane, her psychologist.

“Yes. It has these glowing eyes that stare at me and then start to come near me, but I always run away. Sometimes I find things have been moved or are out of place, but when I look again they’re right back where they’re supposed to be, as if I just imagined it.”

There was an urgent knock at the door, and Diane looked at it annoyedly and said, “I’m with a client.” The knocking continued, and she said more loudly, “I said I’m with a client!” Whoever it was knocked once more, and with a heavy sigh, Diane stood up and marched over to the door to open it.

Tara saw that it was Diane’s administrative assistant, Mike. He had a worried look on his face. “I am so sorry to interrupt, Ms. Diane,” he said as he glanced at Tara. “But your daughter is on the line. She said there’s been some sort of accident and she’s crying so hard I can barely understand what she’s saying. It sounds like a real emergency or else I wouldn’t have bothered you.”

“An accident?” Diane said with concern. She turned to look at Tara and said, “Please forgive me. I need to see what this is all about. We’ll stop the clock here and start it again when I return, ok?” Without waiting for a response, she rushed through the door.

Tara sat back in her chair and looked at the clock on the wall. It was 6 p.m. and it had already become dark outside. She tried to relax but was unable to find a comfortable position. Then, she began to hear the familiar sound of a child crying, and the lights in the office turned off by themselves. She gasped when she saw the glowing eyes appear under the couch across the room.

Tara screamed “No! Leave me alone!” and bolted for the door, but it refused to open. She slammed her fist on it repeatedly and shouted, “Hey, let me out! Open the door! Let me out!”

The sound of crying became louder. Tara looked over her shoulder and saw that an apparition of a little girl in a dress had appeared in the center of the room. The girl’s eyes glowed as tears rolled down her cheeks, and her face was scrunched up in misery. She approached Tara with her arms outstretched, the way a child would reach out for her mother. Tara screamed again and covered her face with her hands as she slumped against the wall.

Diane opened the door and said, “Tara, are you alright? What happened?”

Tara looked around and saw that the ghost girl had disappeared. The lights had turned back on as well, and the office appeared completely normal. She looked up at Diane with despair and said tearfully, “I must be crazy. I thought I was being attacked by a ghost.”

Diane helped Tara off the floor and said, “I see, well I’m sorry I left you by yourself. That emergency phone call was just a false alarm. My daughter got into her first fender bender and to her it was the end of the world. I apologize again for the interruption.”

She and Tara sat back down in their chairs as she continued, “Based on what I’ve seen here today, I’d say you have the most extreme case of autophobia, the fear of being alone, that I’ve ever witnessed. I believe it stems from the fact that you seem to reach a state of extreme emotional stress from being isolated even for just a little while.”

Tara looked at her with a puzzled expression, and Diane said, “When people go too long without human contact, it creates emotional stress that can cause them to hallucinate in ways that are quite frightening. However, it usually takes at least several hours if not days of total isolation to reach this point, sometimes longer. In your case, it happens in mere moments. Have you always had issues like this?”

Tara said, “No, it just started recently.”

“When exactly?”

“A few days ago, on my 25th birthday.”

“Does that age have any significance to you?”

Tara thought for a moment and said, “My mom was 25 when my dad murdered her and then killed himself. I was six years old at the time, but I don’t remember any of it. I was raised by my grandparents.”

Diane nodded gravely and said, “It’s likely that you have repressed traumatic memories in your subconsciousness related to your mother’s murder at the hands of your father. You need to recall and confront those memories so that you can overcome them. Otherwise, your condition will only get worse.”

Tara wore a grim expression as she asked, “But how can I do that, Diane?”

“You must find a way to return to your state of mind from when you were six years old and unlock the memories of your past.” Then, she added, “And, you must do it alone.”

The metal roll-up door to the storage space creaked mournfully as Tara lifted it open.The door’s groan echoed off the storage facility’s concrete floors and bare ceilings. Light spilled in from the hallway to reveal a small room filled with dust-covered cardboard boxes. She stepped nervously into the room and pulled the chain that hung from the ceiling to turn on a single bare lightbulb. The grimy air made the light hazy, and it cast eerie shadows everywhere.

Tara looked at the boxes and saw they were labeled with their contents. She whispered a quiet “Thank you,” to her deceased grandparents for their foresight in labeling the boxes when they put her things into storage after she moved out. She found one marked “Toys” and opened it to reveal some old dolls, a coloring book, and a toy microphone. As she looked at each item, memories from her early childhood flooded her mind. She was so lost in her recollections that she barely noticed the sound of crying when it began. Tara felt tears streaming down her face and realized that the sound came from her this time.

She looked around and saw that she was no longer in the storage space. Instead, she now lay on the floor surrounded by darkness. The only light came through the bottom of a closed door a few feet away. She heard the muffled sound of a man’s voice as he yelled, “Where’s my dinner? I told you to have dinner ready when I got home!”

A woman replied in a fearful voice, “I had it ready for you at 6 when you usually get home. It’s 11 o’clock now.”

“It doesn’t matter what time it is,” the man snarled, and then Tara heard a slapping noise and the woman cried out.

The woman said, “Please stop, you’re drunk! You’re always so drunk!”


The woman burst into tears as she begged, “Please stop hitting me.”

“I’ll give you something to cry about!”

Tara heard a pot crash against the floor and glass shatter in the kitchen, and the woman screamed. Then Tara heard heavy banging noises in the living room, and what sounded like furniture being pushed around. There was a loud thump followed by the sound of skin hitting skin, once, twice, and a third time with a sickening crack. The woman had been crying the whole time, but abruptly fell silent after the third strike.

After several minutes without any sound at all, Tara heard the man say in a woeful, trembling in his voice, “What have I done?” He shouted, “Carol!” but there was no answer. Tara recognized it as her mother’s name. The sound of his footsteps then creaked back and forth across the floor repeatedly.

After several minutes, the man flung the door open and said, “Tara?” Light entered from the living room, but Tara remained out of sight under the bed and didn’t respond. All she could do was stare through the doorway at the sight of her mother’s motionless body where it lay on the floor. She saw that her mother’s eyes were glazed over, and a trickle of blood ran from her mouth.

The man went back into the living room and shook her mother’s body as he shouted her name several more times, and Tara could see that it was her father. Then, he paced around nervously a few more minutes as he muttered to himself unintelligibly. Finally, he grabbed a wooden chair that sat against the wall and placed it underneath the ceiling fan in the middle of the room. He stepped up onto the chair, took off his belt, tied one end around the fan and the other around his neck, and hanged himself, all within Tara’s view.

Tara crawled out from under the bed and stared at the horrific scene before her. Her whimpers turned to shrieks as she cried uncontrollably. She felt an overwhelming desire to be comforted by her mother’s love, something she knew she’d never feel again. Her eyes burned from crying so much that she felt like they were on fire.

Tara rubbed her eyes and blinked several times, and she was once again in the storage unit. Her repressed memory was now fully recalled, and she knew what she had to do.

Tara walked purposefully into her townhouse. It was dark outside, and she was all alone. Rather than turn on the lights, she simply sat on the sofa and waited.

Five minutes later, she heard the sound of crying and saw the glowing eyes as they stared at her from under the bed in the bedroom. This time, instead of responding with fear, she kneeled down on the floor with her arms outstretched. The apparition of her six-year-old self crawled out from under the bed, ran into her arms, and cried into her shoulder. As Tara held her, she stroked her hair and whispered, “It’s going to be ok. You’re going to be fine. I love you and I always will.”

The little girl disappeared, and Tara felt a sense of joy and lightness she hadn’t felt since she was a child. She never saw the apparition again.

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