Isabel Sicree, C’22
Like an owl cry on a snowy morning, the music cut through the blue pines, slicing the silence around me like a serrated knife, sawing as it progressed. The voice was soft when it started, but gradually built up louder and louder a sit marched my way, agonizing over something long gone.
I wandered around a tree, trying to find the source of the singing. I knew the tune; I knew the song. Yet even though I’d never heard this voice before, the singer was hauntingly familiar, like something out of a dream.
I saw her then. She stood out amongst the resurrecting plants, as white as a snowflake, illuminated by the moon itself. All of her clothes were white, from her out-of-season winter coat to her jeans and combat boots.
“Ma’am?” I called out, beginning to approach her. “Are you alright?”
She didn’t answer; she just kept on walking down the path as if she hadn’t seen me, yet her singing became louder the more she wandered away.
“…I said, don’t…don’t you…forget about me…”
I felt a cold pit in the bottom of my stomach as I watched her leave, not sure if I should follow or not. Something was wrong, and I knew that something horrible was going to happen to her if I let her wander through Blue Stone Park on her own in the middle of the night. All the same, I was terrified of the way she had just looked on through me, as if I didn’t exist.
“…don’t you…forget about me…”
The words ripped through me as an icy wind. They made my decision for me.
“Ma’am!” I shouted, racing down the path after her. “Ma’am!”
She kept going, turning around a bend, fading between the pine branches. Darting through the brush, I cut the corner, hoping to appear ahead of her, letting vicious branches tear through the skin of my face and legs for my efforts. Yet, when I emerged, she had vanished. The path was empty.
“…call my name as I walk on by…”
The music still played, louder than it had before, but I still couldn’t find the woman as I spun in circles, looking for her.
“…rain keeps falling…”
I closed my eyes, listening to the singing voice, hoping I could at least figure out which direction it was coming from. It was just beginning to fade, trickling out like the original song, as if the woman singing was losing all hope of receiving an answer to her plea. Spinning slowly, I focused on the sound, letting it surround me as I inhaled it.
I opened my eyes. I found it.
Not twenty feet away sat a decrepit gazebo, dark and un-lit, but the voice trickled out of it like a stream from an old mill. Cautiously, I approached it, hoping I wouldn’t scare the woman away again, but she wasn’t there at all. No one was there, yet I still heard the voice singing.
“…forget about me…”
A small flash of light caught my attention in the corner. Wandering over, I turned my phone light on to see what it was, just as the song ended, fading into the night.
Plugged into a loose wall outlet sat a blue, cracked smart-phone, dangling from its charging chord. When I picked it up, I saw that an alarm had just ended on its recent notifications. The singing…it hadn’t been from the woman I saw. It was just a coincidence: a wandering woman, and an abandoned cell phone alarm. Still, I hoped that I could return the device, so I unplugged it and put both the phone and the chord in my pocket as I left the park.
There wasn’t anything else I could do, was there? Still, the woman in white bothered me, as if I had failed her in some way.
A streetlamp flickered next to me as I headed down the path, eager to get home, but a poster caught my eye. It was faded, battered by the recently diminished winter weather, but the words were as sharp as the song I had heard.
“‘Do you know me?’” I read aloud to myself. “‘Found: Un-identified female.’”
It was the woman from Blue Stone Park, and her eyes were closed. She’d been dead for three months.
The phone alarm went off in my pocket again.
“Don’t you…forget about me…”