Contributor: Tim Gerstmar

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It was really awful what happened to her, wasn't it? I mean, if you could have seen it. If you could have seen what had been done to her. That was Cherrie though, and she had a right to do whatever she wanted. That was just the way she was, and if she liked living the way she did, then that was her business. I'm not about to get on her case.

Anyway, I can outline the whole thing for you a bit, at least what I understand about it. It needs the right approach. I really cared about Cherrie in my own way, and I want to get across how horrible it was what was done to her.

Picture a girl alone on the elevator. There is the cold hum of the building, all those apartments, all those people, and yet so much isolation. The lights flicker in the elevator, and then it stops on the fifth floor. The key turns in the lock of the door, and she turns the knob.

She was such a nice girl. At this point in the story, there were only about five minutes left in her life, and only one minute that wasn't sheer pain. It was in the shower, or that's what I recall anyway. It's all so distant, and I can't even sleep anymore, and I can no longer go into cities, for the very cement reminds me of it.

The apartment was dead silent when she stepped inside and shut the door. She never saw what happened, but she did hear the rustle of its black skirts flowing behind it like curtains in the breeze. Then there was only the darkness and the feeling of force.

It wasn't like I ever saw it, you understand. There was only the sheer sensation that something had gone on there. Everyone meets their lover in the end, even young girls on elevators with flickering lights. Voyages end, and we sleep the deep sleep of dreams.

You know, you look at those curtains, and you think to yourself, those are probably the same curtains that were hanging in there when she died. I never even saw Cherie. I didn't even know who she was. Cherie Beaumont was her name. I could picture her. I could see her blond hair, kind of wavy, and that listless smile on her face. She was a girl who liked summer dresses and being lazy while she shopped. She was happy.

Then I looked out that window at the view that she must have seen everyday while she stood there drinking coffee. I was hearing what she heard. I was walking where she walked. I was sitting where she made love and ate and laughed.

I see Cherie every night in my dreams, except I don't see her. I just see wallpaper with a mesmerizing pattern on it, and I can hear the pulsations like a ships boiler, and I can tell she's coming.

Even as I walk through the city, my eyes are always drawn to the window of that condo. The shades are always drawn, but sometimes I can see shadows moving behind it. Sometimes I wake up in there. When I do, I think about how cold I am, and I start to tremble. I stay awake late and wander the streets, but in every alleyway and every porno theatre I see her. Cherie stands out, her face lighted by the awful neon and the sweating pavement.

I had to finally have it out with her. I had to release Cherie, because you know, I think that’s what she wanted. I called out to her, and she didn't answer, only the room answered. Only the room. It talked to me through the hum of the walls and the gurgling of the pipes. It was the horrifying sound of my dreams, but I was awake. I searched for her in there. I pulled apart the sofa and scoured the corners for some trace of her, some left over remnant of her being, but there was nothing. There was something else in that room with me. The place became ice cold. I shivered and slumped into a corner. Then I noticed that the closet door was just slightly ajar. However, I could swear it had not been when I entered. Slowly, with agonizing speed it began to open, and I heard the dull thundering in the walls, masked by the gurgling and the incessant hum. I became tired, as though I had taken an entire bottle of sleeping pills. Then came the voice, "The pattern on the wallpaper," it said, whispering to me a clue to the mystery that I would never solve. "Cherie, I am here for you baby. I've come to help you." The door of the closet swung open and slammed into the wall. An impenetrable darkness beckoned to me. I heard the slow tread of heavy footsteps, and it was then that I learned that not all spirits want release.

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Born in 1972, Tim Gerstmar came to writing later in life. He has been an illustrator, teacher, film actor, shoe salesman, and he even spent time in the U.S. Navy. He now works as a high school teacher in Bangkok, Thailand.
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