Written by mucalling
My little sister was only seven when they buried her. I had a very vague knowledge of vodou back then, most of which came from my grandmother. My mother had discouraged her from talking about it, buther mother was much more stubborn than her. Consequentially, the intricacies of zombification as narrated by my grandma late into the nights are some of my earliest memories.
We lived in a decent-sized house back then, but there were a lot of us - my mama and papa, my grandma, my uncle on my father’s side, and three cousins of my mother. Then, there was me and my sister - before they found her dead in a ditch in the rain. I had seen her lying there, but was too young to understand the vicious slashes, all over her neck and back, and the bloody indentations in her skull. I remember distinctly my papa, holding me against his chest; the tears streaming down his cheeks like a floodgate had been opened, as his body shook with the sobbing. Turning my head, my hair dripping wet in the humid rain, I looked to see the droplets of rain as they bounced off my sister’s corpse and slid coldly over the grooves of her back. She didn’t seem to mind.
She started to visit me at night soon after that. It gradually became routine to me to leave my bedroom window open, so she could climb in and sit on the floor and watch me as I slept. Sometimes she woke me up, and we had humdrum conversations about other children we knew or school or what my grandmother had cooked that day. Her face was in a terrible state, her eyes especially – one of them an empty socket, and the other cold and distant. But she had such a warm voice, and she was my sister, and to this day I choose to believe that she loved me as I loved her, even after she had come back. She looked like a corpse, but she talked to me like a sibling, and that was enough for me.
The court never found evidence about who did that to her, who threw her into a ditch on that dismal night. But as time went on, my sister started hinting to me that my uncle was somehow involved. He was the only one living with us at that point – the cousins had moved on to different places, and we’d taken grandma to a home for the elderly with what money we had after my sister was killed. So my uncle became a bigger presence in my everyday life, and I began to grow frightened of him.
This wasn’t 1950s America, and back then I’d never really heard of the stranger-with-a-lollipop mythos, if you get my meaning. I was young, then, too, and in that culture I was so innocent of these things that I never understood what my sister was trying to say. Until one night, when we were sitting on the floorboards of my bedroom, and she gripped my elbow with fingers of ice. She told me everything, every little thing that my uncle had done to her. Then she just left in silence. I was seething.
To my child’s mind, things seemed to fall into place. I thought I understood, then, the reason that my sister kept coming back to talk to me. She wanted revenge, the revenge that cowboys did on television, where they made their enemy pay for what they had done. The first time I had a golden opportunity, I took it. As my uncle took me for a walk along a cliff over the sea, the first time he turned his back, I gathered all my strength and kicked him in the back of the knees. I still remember the expression on his face, as he buckled and toppled over the side. As I saw his skull smash on the jagged rocks, his neck twisted like gelatin, red blood everywhere. I lay about crying until the police came, although I never regretted it for a second.
That night, my parents wanted me to sleep in their room. They thought I was traumatised or something, maybe I was. But I refused. I told them I wanted to sleep in my own room, to be alone, and I don’t know how, but I convinced them. My father was obviously torn apart by what happened to his brother, and though she would never have admitted it, my mother saw something different in my eyes. On that night, on the day that my uncle had his horrendous accident, I lay in my bed and slept alone.
I was woken up by the sound of screaming. As my eyes flickered open, I saw my sister, on her knees on the floor of the bedroom, her fingernails scrabbling at my chest, screaming into my face. She was a mess, her veins bulging, blood leaking from her wounds that looked as fresh as the day she had died. “What have you done?” she screamed at me, over and over, her one eye fixed looking at me so intently that I couldn’t move. As I watched, she screamed and sobbed and tore at her own flesh with blood red fingers. Then I blacked out.
I never understood the horrible thing I had done to my own sister, until we went to the churchyard after the funeral. They buried my uncle right next to her.
I never saw my sister again.