In the fourteenth hour, my arms ached so much I couldn’t stop crying. In the twenty-first, I’m too dehydrated to make tears.
The little plastic triangle, the planchette, swirls around the ouija board on its trio of stubby legs. Our fingers stay with it, because it’s the rule. You can’t let go until the spirit swipes it over “Goodbye,” at the bottom of the board.
In the second hour—nine p.m. on Halloween—we decided to take a break, and told whatever had been guiding the planchette across the cardboard surface that we needed it to say goodbye. Two framed photos crashed to the floor as the little window in the pointer settled decisively on the word “no.”
* * *
When I pulled out the dusty box, I told Nina—this was six hours before she soiled herself, here on my bed, and sobbed in despair—that tradition says you have to light a white candle for protection, and two people have to hold onto the pointer until given the “Goodbye,” or they risk a permanent haunting, even possession for the last one holding the planchette.
The candle burned itself out just after midnight. A dozen books lurched horizontally out of my bookcase, clattering to the floor a good six feet away.
As the candle guttered its last hour, the pointer merely swirled without stopping, never coming near the “Goodbye,” even when we cheated and tried to nudge it that way. After midnight it started spelling out secrets. Nina has had two abortions she never told anyone about. Blind drunk, I cheated on her at my office Christmas party last year.
Things were tense between us until about four-thirty. Weariness and desperation don’t heal all wounds, but they force you to ignore the bleeding. ‘
In “The Exorcist,” the girl became possessed after playing with a ouija board.
* * *
Early on, our unseen visitor claimed to be Alastair Crowley. Then it was John Dee. I had to explain to Nina who they were. We were amazed, but didn’t quite believe this was anything other than our subconscious, until shit started flying off the walls.
“We don’t know that there’s any consequence to just letting go,” Nina insisted in hour twelve. The sun was coming up on the Day of the Dead. The pointer had been ricocheting between “H” and “A” for thirty-five minutes. It paused to spell out “YOU WILL BE MINE” before reverting to laughter, ignoring our questions and our pleas.
Nina’s propped up on pillows, her head lolled back. I’m afraid she’ll fall asleep and let go. I bark her name to jar her awake. I know she blames me for this. The pointer spins, and a cold spot wanders around the bed. Waiting.
It has been a full day since I ate. Two fingers of my left hand touch the drifting pointer. My other arm aches so much I’m not sure I could lift it. Nina’s almost comatose. The engagement ring glitters on her hand, which is barely keeping up with the plastic pointer.
In less than twenty minutes, we’ll hit hour twenty-two.
I’m thinking about letting go.
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