Skip navigation

I received a troubling letter in the mail the other day. It was from my friend, Olivia. The thing is, I’m flying out in just a few days to attend her funeral. The reasons for her death are kind of complicated, made more so by the contents of her letter. I thought I understood why she chose to take her life, but after reading her last letter to me, I just don’t know anymore.

You might be wondering why Olivia would write to me. What relationship did we have? We were best friends back in high school and that’s really about it. Call it cowardice on my part that I never “officially” told her how I felt. Maybe deep down she knew, but didn’t want to lose what we had. I was fine with that. We remained best friends even when college moved us hundreds of miles apart. Even when she met “the love of her life” –a guy named Greg– she wrote me every week, and I wrote back. We both graduated, she and Greg got an apartment out east, I briefly moved back in with my folks while searching for a job, but through it all, every week I got a letter from Olivia, and a day later I’d mail one back.

Last month, Olivia called me. I knew before even picking up the phone that something was wrong. She would never have called me unless she was in serious trouble or distress and needed someone special to talk to. She was barely understandable through the sobbing and the bursts of crying.

“Greg’s dead!”

“What? How?”

“H-he fell off the roof.”

“Jesus, Olivia, I’m so sorry.”

“Can you come be here? Please, I need you to be here!”

I wanted to be there. I wanted to hold her and comfort her. Maybe a little deep down I thought –and I feel guilty now for this– that it was my chance to show her I was the right guy for her. Let her latch onto you, I thought, this is a sign. God, what an asshole I was to think such a thing.

But I couldn’t go. I had just started a new job and had no time off available yet, nor money to spend to get there. I explained it to her, and she said she understood, but I could hear the despair in her voice, and I felt like I was at a turning point in our friendship where she would never rely on me again.

Maybe if I had tried to find a way… begged my boss for an advance on vacation time or risked just calling in sick for a couple days… if I had borrowed money from my parents or just hopped in the car and drove the 18 hours to get there… maybe if I had done any of those things, she’d still be alive. But I know it’s wrong to blame myself for her death. If the letter she wrote told me anything, it was that Olivia had problems a visit from me would not solve.

Dear Preston,

By the time you receive this, I expect to be gone. I can’t live like this anymore. You’re my best friend and I love you more than anything, which is why I hope that you will read this with an open mind. Everything I’m about to tell you is the absolute truth.

I am the reason that Greg is dead. When the police interviewed me that night, I told them that we had been out on the roof, drinking and stargazing. I had been lying down on a blanket and he had gotten up to go get some more drinks from a cooler we had placed on the ledge. I wasn’t watching, but I saw Greg tip over the edge of the roof and then heard his yelling as he fell and that was all.

I lied.

We had been out stargazing that night, but after having a couple drinks, Greg asked me about you. One of your letters had arrived that day in the mail, and Greg had found it. The truth is, I had kept our correspondence a secret because Greg could get very jealous. And he did get jealous. And so he started accusing me of cheating on him and wanted to know who you were. I told him we were old friends from school, but he didn’t believe me, and in thinking I was lying, he got physical. He grabbed me by the wrist and shook me, yelling accusations and calling me a whore. He had been drinking too much.

I was scared, Preston. I pushed him away from me and meant to run inside, but he stumbled backward and went over the edge of the roof. I couldn’t believe it! I heard him scream, “YOU BITCH!” just at the moment after he went over, and then the sound of him hitting the sidewalk and I was frozen. I didn’t know what to do. I had just killed Greg by accident. You’re the only person now who knows this. What you do with that information is your choice. I’m so sorry.

But it doesn’t end there, Pres. Because this is the part where I’m begging you to keep an open mind. Ever since that night, I’ve seen Greg. At first I chalked it up to the guilt I’ve been feeling, for pushing him… for lying about it. I thought I was hallucinating. But I think the reality is that Greg blames me for his death, and he is tormenting me for it.

My sister Judy came out to help me get through things for the first week after Greg died. I wish it had been you, Preston, but maybe it’s good that it wasn’t. The second night, we were watching television in the dark. Judy was sitting with me, one arm around me and I was wrapped up in an old blanket. I heard a sound from outside, like a rubber wiper blade being dragged down the glass. I asked Judy if she heard it, and she said she didn’t.

I went to the window to look outside. The street was dark, and mostly all I saw was my own reflection. But I also saw Greg. He was upside down. His face was so pale! I knew he was dead, there wasn’t a moment where I thought, “Greg’s alive!”. I saw him in the window, hanging upside down almost directly in front of me, and I knew that even though I saw him, and he was looking directly at me, he was dead. It was only for maybe three seconds, but I have it burned forever into my memory. Even now, as I write this, I can close my eyes and see him glaring at me through the window that night.

They never let me see his body, but I can tell you what he looked like after he fell, because that was the way he looked as he hovered in front of my window that night. His face was swollen and half of it seemed lopsided. One of his eyes was sunken in and it looked like there was blood coming out of his mouth. His hair was all wet-looking and matted together.

I screamed when I saw him. Judy ran over and asked me what was wrong, but by then he was gone, and all I had was the after image of his face in my mind. It was so sudden that I honestly thought afterward that I was going insane.

I saw him again the day of his wake. Judy drove use to the funeral home. I used the mirror in the sun visor to adjust my makeup and when I looked, Greg’s face was right behind me, staring at me angrily. He looked close enough that for a moment I thought I could feel his breathe on my neck. Please believe me, Preston, I was not hallucinating. He looked worse than the first time I saw him. His skin was black and purplish like a bruise, and orangish-yellow in some places. He lingered there, staring me directly in the eyes. I couldn’t blink or look away. I sat there, looking horrified at him until I could finally muster up the strength to scream. I scared Judy so badly we nearly went off the road! I had to grab the door handle for a moment, and in that instant, when I looked away, he was gone. I told Judy that I’d seen him, but she said what anyone would say, that I imagined it because I was still getting used to him being gone.

He’s not gone, Preston.

Since then, I’ve started seeing him every day. I can’t look outside because I see him right outside the window. Sometimes he’s looking in, sometimes he seems to be falling past as if in slow motion, kicking his arms and legs out. I’ve seen him standing behind me when I brushed my teeth in the bathroom, his flesh graying and hair falling out in clumps. Even when I moved my toiletries into the kitchen, I could see a dark form standing behind me in the reflection on the faucet. I woke up one morning and there was matted blood on the pillow where he used to sleep. I sleep on the couch now, in front of the television. I leave the TV on now, because when it’s off I can see him in the reflection, standing right in front of me or hovering over me, several feet off the floor, limbs flailing. If I’m not actually insane, he is driving me there.

He hates me so much, Preston. I see it in his eyes. Even as his face becomes more and more decayed and disfigured, his eyes remain clear and focused and full of anger. I think he must blame me for his death. I know I do.

I can’t get away from him. He is waiting, torturing me, daring me to die. I have tried almost everything I can think of to make him stop haunting me. This is why I’ve decided to do what I’m about to do. I’m already dying inside. I wish you were here for me to tell you in person, but then again, you’d probably try to stop me. All I hope is that you believe me. That, and that death will free me from the hold he has over me. I’ll never forget you, Preston. Please don’t ever forget me. I’m sorry.


Now you can see why I’m not entirely sure what to think. I wanted to say that I don’t believe in life after death, but I do. I found myself trembling after I finished reading her letter. I’ve read it several times since then; I keep it in my filing cabinet with all her other letters.

The worst part is, the day she killed herself, the day she popped an entire bottle of pills and lay down on her bed and never woke up, I thought I saw her. I was at work. I’ve got a cubicle next to a window, and I noticed someone standing outside the building, looking up in my direction. I thought, That looks like Olivia! and my heart raced for a second at how much the woman looked just like her. I even wondered if maybe she was visiting her family and had come to see me as a surprise. I stood up, looked out the window again and the woman was gone. Maybe she’d just been a stranger, passing by and looking up at a random window. Or maybe it was Olivia, come to say goodbye, and to warn me that there is something after life and you can’t escape it.

Originally posted on /r/nosleep.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: