We’ll Meet Again: A two-part spooky short story by Kamryn Pitcher of The Summit Staff

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In October, I  felt the most awake on nights like these, when the moon was full of itself and the wind spun my hair in its bony fingers. The lamplight of the campus kept away any uneasiness that usually comes with walking alone at night and  Losekamp Hall sat before me as alive in the night as it was during the day. The old structure looked back at me expectantly. It said Look at me! Look at how well I’ve aged! My yellow stones are as good as gold! This was all true, of course. I almost liked seeing the building better this way. In the shadows, it could be whatever it wanted to be — Bly Manor, Thornfield Hall, or even the House of Usher in a less glamorous light. Something eerie and novelistic hung about the thin windows, and counterfeit flames mounted on each side of the heavy, decrepit doors covered in crosses. I couldn’t tell you how long I  stood there simply admiring the architecture before Tony interrupted me, his image escaping suddenly out from being the object of my bewitched gaze. I jumped back, embarrassed as if he had walked into something private and tried to diffuse my astonishment with the automatic laughter that generally follows embarrassment. The poor boy looked immediately sorry.

“Oh, shoot! I didn’t mean to scare you. Are you alright?” he asked, sounding almost as startled as I was. 

Tony was always too quick to say sorry, but it suited his tender demeanor so no one ever said anything about it. He was also the only good-looking guy in band, as far as I was concerned, with his short, toffee brown curls that fell just above his eyes which matched his hair in shade and shine. On the more convenient side of things, he was easy enough to talk to, and I wasn’t, so that made us a good pair in most situations. It was especially good in moments like this, where too many um’s and sorry’s might’ve warranted social catastrophe for a couple of college students. 

“Oh no, I’m fine! Don’t feel bad. I was just, um-”

“You know it’s kinda spooky out here at night. Especially this place, with the ghost and all.” 

His smile revealed the obvious disbelief in the paranormal but I decided to humor him and started in on the famous campus argument. My clunky black heels made a click-clack noise against the cracked concrete steps as I climbed to meet him halfway as if to announce my presence to Losekamp and its remaining inhabitants. 

“Oh, stop it! You know none of that stuff is true. Professor Losekamp never killed his wife because he didn’t have a wife and he didn’t kill himself either. He was a businessman who commissioned the making of this building. Never taught a day here, in fact.”

“How do you know all that?” he asked earnestly, slightly taken aback by my sudden outpouring of information. This behavior wasn’t uncommon for me, but people still don’t like talking about ghosts, at least so openly, that is. 

“I did my research.” That wasn’t enough, say more, crack a joke, make him laugh. “Do you think I would’ve walked into a building with ghosts in it? Hell to the no. I don’t mess with no ghosts.”

He gave me a little chuckle, barely anything, but it was enough to make me feel good. That was another thing I like about Tony — he cared for what I had to say even when he could tell I was trying too hard. 

His eyes met mine in a smile for a moment before he asked me what I was doing at Losekamp so late since I hadn’t answered him the first time.

“I could ask you the same thing,” I said, unwilling to give up the game.

 “I was getting in a short practice before the concert tomorrow. I still have trouble with the coda in the second sonata. It always switches quicker than I anticipate.” 

“But it’s so beautiful.” It was Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 in C Major. My heart broke for such literature. But he sighed for the way I ignored the struggle and loved the art. 

“Yes. It is,” He said defeatedly. I had won the game at last. “Is that why you’re here? To practice, I mean?”

“No, I just came to pick up my viola before I go to bed. I like to have it with me a while before a show just so I know I have it.”

“Well okay. Do you want me to come with you? I think I was the last one there.”

“No, it’s alright. I’ll be fine. Thanks, though.”

“Yeah, of course. See you tomorrow, then.”

“See ya!”

I watched as he walked on, fading into the night like the shadows of any lingering hopes. It took me a few more steps to realize how stupid I had been to decline his offer. More time with a pretty boy that understood me was a luxury that I should’ve taken full advantage of but I was raised to defer any help ever offered. You don’t want to be a burden, my mother would say. Just look at where that behavior’s gotten me! 

I would have spent the next twenty minutes in a cloud of these thoughts were it not for the sonorous voice wafting from the empty auditorium. The door was still cracked open so I slid into the first chair I could find without breathing for fear of being noticed. It was a man that was likely a couple of years older than me with a face I had never seen before. He stood center stage with his chest reaching valiantly for the spotlight’s shine and his shoulders pulled back with shut fists at the end of each brawny arm. He looked like Ricky Ricardo with the sleeves on his button-down rolled up halfway and slacks that reached just over his belly button. I thought I saw paint on his clothes but I hardly cared to notice. It was his voice that had captured my attention. The song he sang was one I knew well from years of piano lessons, but he made it sound operatic with how he projected his voice, rolled his Rs, and elongated his Os. His words were like alcohol for the ears, making me feel increasingly inebriated with each verse. My blatant admiration caused me to forget I had been hiding and I said, “Wow” right under my breath, almost too quiet for my own ears to hear it, but it stopped the man midway through the chorus and caused him to look right at me in a move quicker than I could comprehend.

“I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to interrupt. It’s just that I heard your voice and, well, you sing very beautifully.” 

I was fumbling over my words, I knew that, but his bemused expression did not change the more I tried to explain myself. If anything, he looked more and more frightened as I went on. He took a step back like a skittish animal but I kept on talking. This stranger’s voice had entranced me and I wasn’t going to leave without his name. I approached the stage with my hand stretched toward him and said, “I’m Calliope Evans. Callie, I mean.” I don’t know why I gave him my full name. Perhaps it was that he was dressed like a grandfather, someone accustomed to formality. Regardless, he took my hand, and in what looked like one sweeping motion, brought himself down from the stage and smiled so wide I thought I might’ve been able to count all his teeth. Up close, his eyes were dark and glossy like the rocks in a riverbed and he smelled like the earth after it rains.

“Calliope.” He repeated back to me, revealing that the exaggeration in his singing was not for dramatic effect but a symptom of a genuinely thick accent. 

“I’m Salvatore. Sal.” He sounded genial and eager all of a sudden as if I had not scared the living daylights out of him just a minute ago. 

“Sounds Italian. What’s it mean?”

“I believe the English word is Savior.” He replied after a moment’s pause, still holding onto my hand which had disappeared in his large grasp. He looked enough like a savior to me.

“You speak English very well. Have you been here long? At Rocky Mountain College, that is?” I could see his answer roll back and forth in his head.

“A while, you could say,” he spoke hesitantly, “But I was born in Sicily.” He let my hand drop and stuck his fists in his pockets.

Sicily meant nothing to my American mind. Italy was Italy to me but I had heard Sicilians were a very proud sort of people.  

“I’d love to go someday. The food’s supposed to be amazing over there.”

“Si, si. It is.” I could tell he’d heard that sentiment repeated a million times over but he remained in his good humour. “I love to go back someday.”

“Why haven’t you?”

It took him a couple of seconds to answer as he looked down at his boots that he kept swaying and tapping into each other. 

“Had not had the chance, I guess.”

He grew quiet after that. I felt the same as when I would play the wrong note, a flat instead of a sharp, and it was too late to take back the ugly sound I’d made. Hurry, change the subject.

“I know the song you were singing.” He perked up immediately. “World War II classic.”

“Si! Yes! You know it?” He blurted. He acted as if that song was his own little secret.

“Yeah, my piano teacher always used to make me play those wartime oldies.”

“Classic, yes! Oldie, no.” He wagged his pointer finger in front of me in contradiction to what I’d said. It made me laugh, this sudden show of personality. Everything about him seemed to light up after this and he made Tony look like a cartoon character. I didn’t know if it was the dimples or his black, slicked-back hair that placed a knot inside my stomach. Butterflies? Are you kidding me? Get it together, stupid. 

“In all of my years here, I have never met one who knows the song.” He made it sound as though he had been at Rocky for ages but I would’ve remembered seeing his face or hearing his voice for that matter.

“Well, it’s true. I can prove it to you. Follow me.”

We left the auditorium and began climbing the stairs at a quicker pace than I had expected. He was at my heels like the cold air had been at my toes outside. I didn’t slow for a second. It was like he was seven years old, rushing to see what Santa had left him. I just hoped my playing would be up to par, though it would undeniably pale in comparison to his voice. When we got there, he opened the door and placed his hand on the small of my back to urge me into the room though I was already entering willingly. Italians are touchy, I thought, but who the hell cares? I took my seat at the piano bench and ran over the fingerings in my head. How long had it been? Five, six years? But the notes came back to me. I had perfected the simple progressions and repetitions as a child. It had been my grandmother’s favorite. 

He stood at the front of the piano with his hands folded behind his back and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen! I present to you ‘We’ll Meet Again’ by Vera Lynn, performed by Miss Calliope Evans!” 

He then bowed to an invisible audience and came to join me, flipping his imaginary coattail up before he sat. He had to remind me what we were doing there or I would’ve laughed at this goofball all night. So on I went and the keys were like magnets beneath my fingers. I never even missed a note. Sal held his breath and watched every twitch and flex my hands made. I had performed in front of hundreds of people before, maybe even more than that, but the pressure was not nearly as intense as what I felt as he breathed over my shoulder. His breath was shockingly frigid and conjured up goosebumps from every inch of my body. 

“Sing, bella,” he said, sounding like a sad drunk. But it was his coldness that overwhelmed me. Had it been there before? I shook my head. It was a ridiculous request. 

“Please, Calliope, sing. For me,” he persisted. He looked at me directly this time. 

“I can’t. I’m not good. Trust me you don’t want to hear me sing.” I replied. Why is it so hard for men to take no as an answer? 

“Sing, bella. Now.” Oh no. He grabbed me right above the elbow and my hand slipped off the piano, making the keys play a grating moan that created a lump in my throat. I pulled my body away before I could think and reached toward the windowsill where the moonlight shone through. I was like a rabbit caught in a fur trader’s trap and he clung to me still as I fought to escape. I looked back at him with the intention of biting his wrist or stabbing his eyes, anything to release his grip. But as I turned to gaze upon his face, I saw my arm ensnared by the hands of a corpse. The moon’s luster had altered Sal’s appearance altogether, with his warm olive skin now a sickly shade of blue and icy white. His lips were chapped purple with a fountain of crimson bubbling out his mouth and down his shirt where I saw the circumference of a gunshot wound spreading. His eyes, so dark and warm, were lifeless in the moonlight and seemed to see nothing before them, not even me, the suffering things he still clung to. 

I shrieked involuntarily as he sprang back. He had revealed himself and I struggled to find what he might do next to take back the situation that had been a touch of heaven just seconds ago. I was down one flight of stairs before I could hear him shouting after me, nipping at my feet like a dog out of hell. 

“Calliope! Mi dispiace! Come back! I’m sorry! Just come sing, bella! Please!”

Get out. Get out. I need to get out. Yes! I made it to the front door. Open, dammit, open! The doors were too heavy, they wouldn’t budge. Did I pass into the Twilight Zone?! What kinda sick joke is this? I threw myself against the door. Nothing, not even a crack as I pushed with all my strength. 

“Bella! Come back! Sing for me! Please!” His voice was desperate and drawing nearer by the second. I had no option but to hide. Bursting up the steps and into the auditorium, I hid in one of the rows. Oh god! I AM the stupid girl in the horror movies! What’s a chair gonna do to save me? The shouting stopped just outside the doors as I lay curled up like a baby with my eyes shut and body shivering, awaiting what would become of me. I could hear footsteps creeping down from the top of the aisle and I covered my mouth with my hand to keep him from hearing my staggered breath. He had heard my whisper before. He would surely hear me now. My heart beat faster and faster the closer he got but I was frozen. Any second I could’ve gotten up and run but my body wouldn’t let me. His steps got to my row and I felt his presence looming over me. This is it. A hand found my shoulder in a second and I let out a scream worse than the one from before. I thought my lungs would rip in two if my heart didn’t give out first. Yet, when I opened my eyes to look back at my pursuer, it was not Sal that I saw, but Professor Hart. 

“Callie? Is that you? Are you alright?” He seemed concerned but calm, as if this hadn’t been the strangest occurrence of his week. It took a while for words to come back to me. I could scarcely breathe. 

“Profess… Professor! This man– he was not a man — he was dead! But, but he touched me,he touched, he could touch me!” I sputtered out like a blubbering child. Tears began welling up in my eyes and I had no intention of keeping it together. I thought I was going to die. He gave me a side hug as he led me out of the row and into the aisle. My legs were still numb and wobbly from the flood of adrenaline. 

“You’re okay. Ol’ Sal get to you? Is that it?” he said. He knew? How did he know? I looked up at him, unable to speak but he understood me well enough. Patting me on the shoulder, he said gently, “I think you oughta take a trip over to the library.” I don’t want to go to the goddamn library. I wanna go home! 

“I can’t. It’s too late. It closed hours ago.” He looked sorry for me and conflicted as my mother does when she has bad news.

“Callie, it’s eight o’clock in the morning.”

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