It Was You
January 20, 2021
It was a chilly October morning a couple of weeks before Halloween. I was a freshman at college and had moved out of state for school. The campus was on the bay, so in the mornings I liked to grab a coffee and go on walks by the ocean. I strolled into the coffee shop near campus. A lot of students liked to go there in the mornings. I went up to the counter and decided to try their popular pumpkin spiced latte.
I grabbed my morning dose of caffeine and walked by the oceanside. After ten minutes of walking, I found a bench to sit on and indulge in the amazing ocean view.
After thirty minutes taking in the scene, I heard a voice behind me ask, “Hi, may I sit with you?” It was a little awkward, but being the polite person that I am, I said, “Sure” as I forced a smile.
This person seemed a bit abnormal, approaching a stranger on campus and asking for a seat. I thought to myself, she’s probably a freshman like me, trying to get to know people and make friends.
I asked her, “What’s your name?” She looked at me silently for a moment, then blurted out “Haley.” She seemed afraid to say her name or to think that I might be on the verge of finding out who she was. But I had never known a Haley before in my life.
“I’m Elizabeth,” I said. She gave me a piercing look and then asked in an excited tone “So, what’s your major?”
“Biology,” I answered.
As the conversation went on, I found out that we had a lot in common. I told her what dorm I was living in and she said that she’d stop by later. It seemed kind of strange, but at the same time it gave me a sense of excitement because I had actually met somebody in college with common interests.
Throughout the week, I met Haley at the same spot, always right after dinner, and she came up to my dorm room to help me study. We became really good friends. The only times she seemed a bit off and nervous was when I opened up about my high school relationship. Whenever I spoke about it, she would look down and crack her fingers. When I noticed that, I stopped talking about it.
As Halloween approached, my roommate Sierra and I were invited to an off-campus party at someone’s apartment. Everybody was excited. During the week before Halloween, I didn’t hear a word from Haley. In the short time that I had known her, I had never asked for her phone number or connected with her on social media. I still hate myself for that. I never even asked.
Halloween came and my roommate and I went to the party. We were not very frequent drinkers, but that night we got stinking drunk to the point that Sierra was nowhere to be found and I had to go to the bathroom and throw up.
Way past midnight, I found myself in a conversation with a group of people. We were all wasted and some guy named John started to tell a story. He asked us, “Do you want to hear a true ghost story that happened on our campus five years ago?” We all were like yeah whatever, just tell it.
He began, “Five years ago, there was this girl on campus that went to a party with her boyfriend on Halloween night. Her boyfriend was a starting player on the football team. He was known to take hard drugs and he drank like a fish. Anyway, one day after the Halloween party, he and his girlfriend were walking by the bay to the dorms. Word is they had a fight and he threw her into the ocean. She drowned! She died and, with some fancy lawyer’s help, he was declared mentally ill by the court and committed to a mental hospital.
Ever since then, people have said that her ghost wants revenge, and is looking for somebody to possess. She wants to hunt him down and kill him.” We all laughed. But his face was dead straight and showed no emotion. He said, “Google Haley Sullivan, and you’ll see.” I felt my stomach shrink and became even more light headed. I ran to the bathroom to throw up again.
I thought to myself, Could this murdered girl be the same Haley as my friend? I have a feeling she is. I never asked Hailey for her last name.
A strange sensation crept over me. I was convinced the girl he had drowned had somehow come back as my new friend Haley. I left the party without saying goodbye to anybody. I speed-walked towards the campus dorms. It took me twenty minutes. The longest twenty minutes of my life.
As I reached my dorm room, I saw that my door was open. I swallowed hard. It felt like I had swallowed the whole world. I was shaking, too afraid to walk up to my room.
Finally I had the courage to walk in. As I entered, I heard a faint weeping in the closet. By now my adrenaline had kicked in, so I was not really thinking about fear. When I pulled the door open, I saw Haley curled up, weeping, her head on her knees.
I asked her, “Is everything ok?” The weeping increased to a wail.
“IT WAS YOU!” she screamed.
“What do you mean, Haley? What did I do?” I asked, baffled.
“IT WAS YOU!” she repeated.
Haley tilted her head up. I was aghast. Her tears were blood. She grabbed me and looked me dead in the eye, yelling, “I WILL NEED YOU!” I fainted.
When I woke up, I was in a prison hospital.
Detectives came in and told me, “Elizabeth Warner, last night you went into a mental
institution and murdered one of their patients. When we found you, you were bleeding internally. Quite strange because you had suffered no trauma.”
I was confused. Me? Murder? It just didn’t match.
“You must be mistaken,” I stammered, “I didn’t kill anybody. Last thing I remember, I was in my dorm room talking to my friend Haley. She was crying blood, and then she grabbed me.”
“That is impossible, Elizabeth. Nurses at the hospital recall hearing screaming. You were saying ‘IT WAS YOU, BRENDAN!’”
“Who is Brendan? I don’t know hi–….”
Then I paused.
I remembered the story John had told at the party. Then it dawned on me: Haley had possessed my body to use it for revenge.
There was no hope now.
I tried explaining to the court that I Haley had possessed me to kill Brendan, but to no avail. Nobody believed me. I was declared insane and sentenced to life in a mental institution because of the barbaric way I stabbed Brendan to death. I am sane living among the insane.
(Published January 2021)