He grew up in a haunted house so each new place he moved to he was open-minded to the possibility that it too would be haunted. He looked for signs. He watched for movement and listened for unexplainable sounds. He waited patiently for the ghosts to show themselves but they never did. Then, one night, nine plus years after having moved into his current home, he heard her voice coming through the shower pipes.
He dismissed it at first. Ghosts don’t just show up unless something happened to invite them in or to keep them from leaving. Nothing tragic had happened in the house or nearby. There was no reason a ghost should have chosen that specific night to reach out. But, she continued to talk through the pipes when the shower was running and that made it so he couldn’t ignore her. Besides, he’d waited for so long he didn’t want to.
Her words were garbled. The water made them impossible to understand but her voice only came through when the water was turned on. No matter what he tried, he couldn’t understand her.
It was disconcerting to have her chattering away while he showered. Though, once the initial shock wore off, he tried to engage her in conversation. She didn’t respond to any of his questions in any discernible way. It didn’t seem like she cared what he said because her tone and the pacing of her words never changed. He grew used to having her voice in the background as the days passed, until it no longer seemed strange and he no longer even tried to understand what she was saying.
And then, one morning during his shower, her words turned to screams.
He called out to her, asking fervently how he could help, what was wrong, what she needed. When there was no change, he turned the water on and off, hoping to get a break from the onslaught. Hoping the cycling of the water might help or reset the scenario or anything that might break off the noise. He turned on different taps and called out through them. But, when the water was on in the shower nothing stopped the screams. Nothing he tried did anything to diminish her wails.
He had to turn the water off. Even at a trickle her cries of anguish came through at piercing decibels. He felt bad about it but he had to go about his life. He couldn’t leave her screaming while he wasn’t home. He couldn’t leave her screaming while he was trying to get things done around the house: eating, sleeping, …
He turned off the tap and left it off for several minutes. The silence was nearly as deafening as her screams had been. Nearly. For the first time since her sudden arrival, he was scared.
What would happen when he turned the water back on? What if she was still screaming? What if she wasn’t?
The unanswered questions couldn’t wait forever. He only had one bathroom in his place. Eventually, and sooner rather than later at that, he would have to turn his shower back on.
He couldn’t face it naked, though. Though he had mostly dried in the process of running around trying the other taps in his house, trying to get to the women, to help her, to get her to calm down, he still had soap on him. He didn’t worry about that, though, as he finished toweling off and put some clothes on. Then he walked back into the bathroom, haltingly, timidly. And with his heart racing, he pulled the lever that would turn his shower back on.
Water poured forth but nothing else. No screaming. No talking. Just water.
He stared at the drain as the water filled around the edges before being pulled away, forgotten, lost forever. Where had she gone? Had he imagined the whole thing? What was he supposed to do now?
He shut the water off and then immediately turned it back on. Still, there was no hint of his ghost. With a frown he turned off the tap and left the bathroom. He had to get to work. The mystery would wait until he got home later and could see if she had returned. Then again, perhaps he would never know why she had come, why she had screamed and why she stopped…