The Dancer Arc
It had become a normal experience for her. Some people play the violin, some can do ballroom dancing, others can paint…and Esha could feel spirits. No big deal, right?
When she walked down an ordinary road, at no particular time of day, or if she hopped on a train or a bus, it didn’t really matter when. She could just feel them. Especially at funerals, she’d always sense them there. And they didn’t feel nice. Do you know when something scary is about to happen in a horror movie, but it hasn’t happened just yet and you’ve got that feeling of impending doom? Well, it’s kind of like that.
Esha got off at her regular bus stop and started walking her usual route to college. A sudden gust blew past, and she held her long, wavy brown hair down. The city streets were full of people beginning their mad races against the clock. In fact, clocks seemed to be a recurring theme in anything related to the morning. A man in his late twenties walked past, briefly glanced over Esha, then at his watch, as if unconsciously. A businesswoman walked briskly down the street wearing a serious looking knee length skirt and a matching blue jacket. She too, flashed a look at Esha, before turning her wrist upwards and staring at her timepiece. Yes, clocks played a big part in mornings.
Maybe that was why Esha never wore a watch. It wasn’t that she didn’t like them. She’d been tempted by some wicked looking things in the stores. She just didn’t want to be like them. She didn’t want to be peering down at her watch every other second. She knew she was going to be late; she just didn’t need to constantly be reminded of it.
Clearing the last corner Esha’s blue eyes came into contact with that all too familiar white, symmetrical, recently painted, college building. She heard the sound of a bell and she knew what it meant. She was late for class…again. Pulling up her jeans that seemed to have enlarged instead of shrunk since buying them and adjusting her brand new T-shirt, she broke into a run to make an excusable entrance to her first class.
Esha saw that she’d failed. Everyone was seated, had their notes out and the teacher was even doing his regular coasting of the aisles, when she burst the door open. If it had been anyone else, the teacher might have queried her about her punctuality. If it had been anyone else, her classmates would have stared a bit longer and perhaps rolled their eyes a little. But because it was Esha, they all immediately poked their noses back in their books and the teacher continued doing the rounds.
Reaching her seat, Esha peeked at her neighbor, Kalem. He was quite attentive in class so she’d get a good idea where they were by looking at his notes. Kalem stared at the teacher, his pen in his mouth. His long blonde hair was tied back, but he hadn’t done a very thorough job as locks sprang out here and there, falling in his face. Esha peered in closer and saw which page they were on and quickly flipped through the book. All the time, Kalem’s green eyes didn’t look once in her direction. Esha was perfectly happy with that too.
After an hour long lecture that had been mercifully cut down due to her lateness, Esha put away her books and started to make her way out the classroom. It was about then that she noticed something wasn’t quite right about Kalem. He was the kind of guy that was the first out of class and rapidly making his way to the next lecture. Today however, he stood there like a statue, staring at the erased blackboard.
Esha walked over to him. He didn’t budge at her approach, which was even weirder as his usual reaction to people was to move away from their general vicinity.
Esha turned her head to one side and nudged his arm saying, “Hey, Kalem. Class is over, time to head for the exit.”
The next part surprised her even more. If he’d said nothing and continued to gape like a zombie, it wouldn’t have surprised her. No, he turned to face her and opened his mouth to speak!
“I believe that you have a spirit that has been causing you trouble in your house recently.” said Kalem. It was Kalem’s voice and Kalem’s body, but what he was saying just couldn’t be something Kalem would know.
“I…d…don’t know…what you’re talking about. My house is just fine.” lied Esha. How could he possibly know about this?
“The time is coming, when it will manifest.” said Kalem, who couldn’t possibly have been Kalem. His green eyes blinked again, twice.
Kalem looked at her, then at the clock and said, “Shit, is that the time already?” He quickly grabbed his sling bag and started running to the next class. For some reason, Esha found that she couldn’t move. She was also unable to stop her hands from trembling.
When Esha had first moved to the city from their old home in the suburbs, she thought that a change of place and different people in her life would be a good thing. Her father and mother divorced when she was quite young and she’d lived with her mom ever since. Her mom wanted to open her own ‘Astrological Consultancy’ and Esha supported her. Her mom had been interested in ‘Esoteric’ things ever since she split with her dad, and it seemed to make her happy so Esha just went along with her whims. Also, Esha wanted to study journalism at a college nearby the apartment they bought, so it was just fine for her.
She remembered the first day she arrived in that apartment. It was bright, with quite a lot of sun. It had small rooms, one for her, one for mom and an extra room. Maybe if mom had a ’friend’ over, Esha had thought.
“Esha!” called her mother. “Be careful with those boxes sweetie, those are all my essential oils!”
“Right mom,” Esha mumbled wondering why she got to carry all the heavy boxes. She put the box down in her mother’s room and looked around. It wasn’t a bad size apartment and it was fully furnished.
“Ahh this won’t do!” said Esha’s mom. Esha’s mom was quite the sight. She was a woman who believed that you always had to look your best (funny how that never seemed to rub off on Esha) - just in case. Her long, permed curly black hair dangled in a mass from her head. Her face was covered in sparkling makeup and she wore her favorite purple tie-dye dress. Her blue eyes looked seriously at Esha.
“The Feng Shui in this room isn’t right. Esha, move that plant to that corner of the room.” said her mother, Fumiko.
“Okay, mom.” she complied, picking up the poor plant that had looked quite peaceful in its original place.
“Hmmmm, and the bed shouldn’t be facing this direction. Which way is east Esha?” Esha thought about it. She’d seen the sun coming up earlier when the movers had arrived, now which direction was…
“Aaaah mom, forget about it, just put it in a direction you feel comfortable with.” Fumiko stopped, eyeballing Esha.
“Esha, Feng Shui is as important to a house as electricity and water. Don’t ever forget that my dear, if you place something incorrectly it could upset the balance of your whole life!”
This was an ongoing discussion Esha and her mother had, but she didn’t want to pursue it now.
She grabbed her box of stuff and headed off towards her new room. Opening the door, she was happy with what she saw. The room had plenty of light. It had a nice, cozy looking bed and her own bathroom inside. There was a dressing table in the middle of the room and a huge mirror on top of it. Putting her box down she went to inspect the table that would be a place she’d have to spend some time laboring over her unruly hair at. Sitting down at the small chair in front of the mirror was when she felt it. Well, it wasn’t the first time she’d felt it, she’d had these feelings all her life. This was the first time having it in her own bedroom!
There was a presence nearby the dressing table that sent chills down her arms and her stomach immediately tied itself up in a knot. Gazing into the mirror, she half expected to see someone else’s face looking back at her. But it was still herself, and she could still feel the uncomfortable feeling.
That had been a few months ago now. She’d found a decent college and travelled there every day. She hadn’t made any particularly good friends yet, but she wasn’t worried about it. What did worry her was that every night she slept in that room; it felt as if she only half slept. She woke up every morning feeling as if an octopus had been squatting on her head the whole night. And every time she passed the dressing table, her skin crawled with that familiar feeling. Her cat, Fifi, wouldn’t go past the entrance to her room. It was as if Fifi could see something was there. There was definitely a spirit in the room.
“What?” Fumiko said when Esha told her about it. “A spirit in your room? Well, dear I have just the thing for that!” Esha watched as her mother rummaged through a drawer full of ‘magical’ objects and withdrew a dream catcher and an essential oil diffuser. “Here,” she said triumphantly, holding out the two objects and a small bottle of essential oil to her. “Put the dream catcher above your bed and burn the oil once every day. That should cleanse your bedroom just fine!”
Esha stumbled back to her room and hung up the dream catcher and burnt the essential oil every day, but the spirit hadn’t gone away.
Standing in the classroom, watching the silent boy Kalem leave the room, she felt a slight ray of hope that she might actually being able to do something about this problem. Esha pondered on what she could do. She’d have to confront Kalem and ask him how he knew about her situation. Maybe he was some sort of spiritual master who had a solution for her. Either that or a creepy stalker and a peeping tom.
She caught up to him in the canteen. He usually sat alone, so Esha pulled up a seat across from him, put her tray down and looked him right in the eyes. She could see he was deliberately avoiding her gaze, and he shoved a spoonful of mashed potatoes into his mouth.
Esha gave him a sideways stare, “So, are you gonna tell me what you meant by all that earlier? You can’t tell me, ‘I don’t know’ or ‘What are you talking about?’ because what you said is completely true. I’ve had a spirit that’s been making my life hell in my bedroom since I moved to my new apartment. How would you know about something like that?” she questioned, her eyes flickering.
“Okay,” Kalem seemed to give in. “What if I told you that there is a spirit that sometimes decides to speak through me? I don’t know when he’s going to do it or why. But there you are.” He looked straight into her eyes and for some reason, she knew he wasn’t lying. “Why do you think I stay away from people? You’re not the first person who the spirit’s tried to talk to. You’re just the first person who’s actually come back and asked me about it. Most people just flip out and never talk to me again.”
Esha wasn’t a newcomer to the world of spirits. Her mother had become engrossed in spirituality after her divorce from her dad and talk of spirits was as common as ‘pass the salt’. And spirits talking through people? Sure, her mother went to see them all the time. There were spirits of deceased wise men talking through men and women. Some even claimed to be from other planets. This all wasn’t new to her. What was new was someone who knew exactly about her situation without ever having set a foot in her house and…it wasn’t even something that could be seen! She could only feel it. Esha decided to take the plunge.
“I believe you Kalem, and I want to talk to this spirit that talks through you again. I need to find out how I can get rid of this entity that’s causing me so much pain.” said Esha.
Kalem looked at her in disbelief, and then his face softened as he saw the truthful look on her face.
“Alright Esha. Tomorrow.”