Nine Letters Long

Free Nine Letters Long by J.C. Burke

Book: Nine Letters Long by J.C. Burke Read Free Book Online
Authors: J.C. Burke
hangs off the edge of the table. She puts the photo back and picks it up. Cubes, lots of them, stacked on top of each other and covered in dark vertical lines. Evie studies them, trying to work out what they remind her of. The cubes stare back, almost like they’re trying to speak.
    Cages – that’s it. The pictures of the circus bears locked in cages. That’s what her drawing reminds her of. Things that are kept for someone else’s pleasure. Trapped, scared, powerless with no voice. If they were freed, unlocked from their prison, think of the things they could tell you.
    Then another thought hits her. A more sobering one. Again, Evie looks at it. ‘No!’ She crumples the sketch in her hand. It couldn’t mean anything. It’s just a drawing. ‘No! No way!’
    A breeze drifts through Evie’s bedroom. It lifts the blind, then gently lets it go. With each fall, the wooden slats brush the ledge. Tap, tap, tap. The breeze carries a perfume, too. Clean and sweet, fresh like a florist’s in the morning. Evie’s nostrils start to twitch as the fragrance fills the room, stirring her from her slumber.
    With eyes wide open, she stares into the darkness. The breeze has settled, leaving only its perfume behind. She sniffs the air. There’s no mistaking it. Evie understands. Caz’s presence is imminent. That means it’s time.
    She turns on the lamp and carries her chair to the cupboard. Her hand digs around in the top shelf until it touches thewood, cold and smooth against her palm. Carefully, she slides it to the edge – her grandmother’s ouija board.
    The hinges moan as she lifts the board out of its box. The painted Egyptian figures stand poised upon the honey-coloured timber. They are ready, always. Evie rubs the planchette on her pyjama sleeve and places it in the centre of the board.
    On her desk, she searches for a pencil and some paper. It’s then she sees them sitting on the window ledge – two white candles. She swallows hard and her fingers tremble as she picks them up.
    There’s a lighter in the drawer, left over from one of Alex’s visits. The sulphur sizzles as the gas springs to life and the flame stands tall. Evie tries to steady her hand, as one by one she lights the candles. Then, turning off the lamp, she sits quietly on the floor, the paper and pencil resting in her lap.
    In – out, in – out, she focuses on her breath while, for the first time ever, she consciously calls to the self that makes her special.
    â€˜I … I ask for good will – for all at this calling.’ Her voice shakes as she chooses each word. ‘I ask for protection and guidance. Please … keep me safe.’
    Evie places her index finger on the planchette. ‘I request to speak to those in the … spirit world.’ She swallows. ‘Um, I make this request with the greatest respect.’
    â€˜Please, I ask Caz to join me. If she can. I will keep her messages safe. I promise.’ The window pane rattles as the breeze re-enters the room, this time lifting the blind to its full height. It bellows then falls, hitting the window ledge with a crack.
    â€˜Okay,’ Evie squeaks. ‘Um, um. Caz? Um, are –’ Evie takes a deep breath. ‘Caz, you’re here?’
    Under her finger, the planchette slides to the word ‘YES’.
    â€˜Thank you. Thank you.’ Evie’s other hand touches her throat. ‘Is there something you need to tell me? You can talk to me. You can trust me.’
    The pointer circumnavigates the letters as if searching for the right one.
    A to M sit along the top row of the board. For a second, it settles there before moving to the L, then O, O. Evie spells ‘L-O-O-K-T-H-E-D-O-O-R’.
    â€˜ Lock the door , you mean.’ Evie corrects.
    The planchette turns anti-clockwise, spinning over to the ‘NO’.
    It then moves downwards, circling

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