House of Mourning: Ollie

Two paces up the hall Ollie stopped. He felt so cold. A crippling cold. And it was a hot fucking August day.

When he spun around in the hallway, whoever the fuck she was? Gone.

Good fucking riddance.

He went straight back to the same prop room, deciding to tear it the fuck up until he found that picture. A few people walked by, and he didn’t care. He didn’t get far until he finally found it tucked into a corner of the room’s closet, like someone – Mourning probably – put it there to protect it.

His heart raced, his hands shook as he lifted the framed picture, holding it up in the light from the cracked windows behind him. The sun lit up the dusty surface of the glass.

Annette.

Ollie didn’t know a damn thing about ballet, but the way she held herself was beautiful. She balanced on the leg she’d lost in the accident according to Robbie. Her limbs were long and slim. The graceful lines resembled the limbs of the spirit he saw In the isolation hallway, only there they were covered in the shadows of rags.

It was her.

Ollie’s chest ached as he took in the hope in her dark eyes, the way the lights shined off her dark hair, the crown of feathers on top of her head.

His mind spun. The accident had happened early in her career. He’d searched the internet, hoping to find a video of her dancing, pictures, but he found nothing. Nothing but an obituary announcing her death and few other details. They didn’t have fucking social media back in the seventies so there were no selfies of her on sunny days or pictures of her with her friends making silly faces.

She died May 28, 1980 at the age of twenty-six.

Slumping against the wall, he slid down to the floor, not taking his eyes off her. Not realizing they were filling with tears. It broke him a little to think of what fate had ripped from her. When she lost her leg, she’d lost her ability to dance. She’d been like a butterfly that had a wing ripped off, unable to fly.

Ollie could only imagine the despair she’d been lost to. And they’d fucking brought her here. How did her family feel when she died only months later? Killed by a crazy man in a place where they put her? Her family was supposed to love her.

Had she been alone like him in life? Had someone loved her?

Two other groups told Robbie they saw her dance, described her as a shadow. But if she was telling the truth, and he believed her, Mourning saw more than shadows. She knew Ruby’s dress was pink while he never knew that. She could make out details unlike him.

Could Mourning see her?

Ollie pushed the thought to the back of his mind. Blowing out an exhale, wishing he’d drank a little more before he left the house, he slowly traced a finger down the long crack that ran along the center of the glass.

I don’t want to look at it!

The scream rang through his brain, jarring him out of his thoughts.

Swiping at his tears with the back of his hand, Ollie grabbed the hem of his t-shirt and used it to wipe some of the dust off the glass. He pulled himself out of the floor, pulling his phone from his jeans pocket and using it to get a picture of her.

It occurred to him that a new frame would be a good idea. Deciding he could probably use the money the old man gave him for cigarettes, he headed for the discount store next door. It was in walking distance, and he’d see what he could find. He could bum smokes off people.

Since he was shit at measuring anything, he tucked the picture under his arm and took it with him.