Becky slammed open her door yelling “Morgan!” She stuck her fingers in her mouth and pulled her lips apart to show her new braces. “Lewk! Imma monsher.” She gnashed her teeth and snarled at her friend laying on the floor eating chips.
Morgan bolted upright and said, “Holy shit! Was that today?”
“Yeah, sorry for being late. Mom took me to get them today. She had to go back to work, but she gave me money for pizza.”
“Oh, I can’t stay, my brother is going to get me in a bit. I’m helping him with some art project of his.”
“Lame.” Becky moved on quickly and closed her door. “It’s such bullshit, Dad said I wouldn’t have to get these if I got As.”
Morgan smiled. “You failed geometry.”
“Yeah, but the rest were As!”
Morgan put down her chips, stood up and walked over to Becky, motioning for her to open her mouth. Becky smiled wide.
Morgan leaned closer and said, “Does it hurt?”
“No, of course not! I’m not a wimp.” Becky lied.
Morgan laughed a little and flopped down onto Becky’s bed. “You’re so cool.”
Becky’s eyes opened wide. “Oh! You think that’s cool!” Becky jumped down to the floor and started rooting under her bed. First, she pulled out the record player that her parents got her for Christmas two years ago. And then she pulled out a red sleeve with the words “Limited Release” printed in black. Except for a small fold near the corner, the sleeve looked brand new. Becky started to remove the record from the sleeve and said, “You have to listen to this, okay? Just tell me what you hear.”
Morgan looked into Becky’s eyes and saw mostly excitement, but also a bit of concern, but Morgan pushed this down, worried she was reading into things too much. “What is it?”
Becky didn’t respond, instead she simply placed the record on the player, and set the needle down. Music crackled out of the speaker, starting with a melodic guitar, then backed up with drums, and finally by a saxophone. In the middle of this was a sort of mumbling singer barely comprehensible, singing about wanting to go home.
“Is this your uncle’s band? Did he give it to you?”
“Yeah, it’s my uncle’s. It was in the boxes that my mom got.”
Morgan shifted her weight, readjusting which leg was on top. “Did they ever figure that whole thing out?”
“Idk, they don’t tell me anything. But like, listen to the song.”
“It’s alright I guess. I like the guitar, but the saxophone is a weird addition.” Morgan laughs a little, “They kind of sound like a dollar store Steely Dan.”
“Shut up! No they don’t!” Becky shoved Morgan’s dangling leg in feigned protest. “But that’s not the point. Listen to the silences.” Becky put the needle back to the start again.
Morgan half stumbled and half crawled off the bed so she was laying on the ground next to Becky, getting her ear close to the speaker. While pointing an accusatory finger at Becky she said “You better not fuck with the volume again, okay?”
Becky lifted her hands, “I won’t. I promise.” Morgan turned back around, and Becky stole a chip from Morgan’s bag.
Becky started the record again. They listened through the melodies and the verses.
“What did you hear?” Becky said with a few chips in her mouth.
“Can you eat those?” Morgan took her bag back.
“What are you, a cop? What did you hear!”
Morgan sat up and faced Becky. “It kind of sounded like breathing? But like different than your uncle’s. Like, I can hear his whole thing with his mumbling just fine, but it sounds like behind that there is breathing.”
“Isn’t that weird?”
“I don’t know, is it?”
“Yes it’s weird!”
Morgan simply shrugged.
Becky leaned over Morgan to reach the record player. “Okay, but listen again.”
Becky started the record again. Morgan pushed herself as close to the speaker as she possibly could. “No, yeah, it’s definitely breathing. It sounds louder though. Did you mess with the volume?”
“No! But I’ve heard the same thing! Every time I listen to it the breathing sounds closer and closer. It doesn’t matter where I sit in my room. I hear it more and more. Like, I took it from my uncle’s stuff and I started listening to it and it just keeps getting louder. I even tried playing it and running downstairs. Still heard it.”
Morgan jumped off the ground and sat on Becky’s bed. “Play it again, I want to see, or hear, or whatever.”
Becky started the record from the beginning once again, and then she ran over to her dresser on the other side of the room. “I swear, it sounds like it’s just behind me.”
Morgan slowly sat up straighter, her eyes widening. “It kind of sounds like words now? Like, do you hear words?”
“It sounded like a d, right?”
Both of them jumped a bit when they heard the sound of knocking on the front door. Morgan stood up and picked up her backpack. “Damnit, that’s gotta be my brother. Tell me what you hear tomorrow, okay?”
Morgan ran down the stairs as Becky put the record back on.
A breathy rasp just barely whispered, “D……….V…” behind the lyrics.
It sounded so close, like right outside her window, but the sound of the music was just a little too loud. She started the record again, lowering the volume, hoping the voice would stay. And then she heard it, like a whisper down the back of her neck. “Don’t let her leave.”
Becky heard the door slam shut, and she sprung up and ran down the stairs. She swung open the door to a silent street.
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