It was a day like any other. Gry lived in a boringly ordinary family. Her little brother Nathan was already as tall as her, despite the three years between them. When he wasn’t at school or out playing with his friends, he sat in his room with a controller in his hand, shouting at a screen. Her father was rarely at home and did little else but work. Well, the only thing unusual about her family was the absence of a mother. She died in an accident a few months after her brother was born. Gry was also normal, as normal as anyone could be. At least she thought she was. She was an average student in the final year of high school. But lately she had lost interest in school. She spent most of her time on the phone with her best friend, who, despite their close friendship, made Gry roll her eyes every now and then with her stories about her countless love affairs. The small family lived in a medium-sized flat above a small kiosk. Every few days, she would buy a coffee there before school. Since her father didn’t think much of this „dangerous drug“, he didn’t know anything about it.

Gry stepped out of the shop, steaming coffee in hand, into the street, took a sip of the tasty warm beverage and headed straight for the ugly little bus stop on the corner, a few minutes from her front door. As usual, a homeless man was staggering around in front of the dilapidated wooden box that must have once been a shelter for passengers. Everyone thought the man was crazy, but Gry always liked to listen to him when he talked about the fantasies he must have imagined from time to time in his drunken stupor. On this day, however, the bus arrived just as she reached the bus stop. The doors opened with a loud squeak and the driver waved her impatiently onto the bus. She looked at herself in the reflection of the windows in the door before boarding and nodded with a smile, her freshly dyed red hair likely to cause some conversation, but probably to the liking of those who were interested. The bus driver grumbled at her impatiently. She got on and walked the length of the bus, past students, pensioners and workers who kept glancing at their watches. Gry sat down in the last row of the bus, put on her headphones and slowly drifted into the world of music before the annoying conversations of the other passengers could reach her ears. She looked out of the window at the people walking along the pavement next to the bus. Then she suddenly stopped, feeling as if she were freezing. There, on the other side of the road, was a man, pale and somehow transparent. He waved at her with a smile and looked as if one of his eyes was hanging out of his skull. Gry rubbed his eyes and murmured. „I guess strong coffee and hardly any sleep don’t really go together.“ She shrugged and closed her eyes. Gry tried to concentrate on the music and what lay ahead.

A few minutes later, the bus arrived at the bus stop within sight of the school. Pupils, young and old, pushed past her to get off the bus. Gry hated those big crowds of people crammed together. She sighed and followed the others out of the bus. Her mobile phone vibrated and a message appeared. She fished her smartphone out of her bag and looked at the screen. Her best friend Alice would not be coming, she must have been suffering from a stomach ache. She was supposed to teach the teacher, like every time. Annoyed, Gry put the phone down. Suddenly, she stopped, because there, right next to the big glass doors that led into the school, he was standing again, the man she had already seen from the bus, waving at her. Crowds of students were crowding into the building, but no one seemed to be paying any attention to him. She realised now that she could see half of him. The ugly yellow bricks of the building shone through his body. A little afraid, she started to walk towards him, but tripped over a stone on the ground. She caught herself at the last moment to avoid falling. This small moment of carelessness and the man was gone. Gry rubbed her eyes again, hoping that this apparition was simply related to her lack of sleep. Suddenly a hand rested on her shoulder. It belonged to a blond boy with a mean grin. It was Alex, the class macho who felt and acted like the king of the school. „Well Grychen, what are you staring at, have you seen a ghost?“ He laughed. Gry just rolled his eyes, slipped his sweaty hand from her shoulder and made his way to the school entrance.

The day’s lessons went by quickly as she only had her favourite subjects today. The bell rang and all the students jumped up to take their first step into the weekend. Gry, however, quietly got up from her seat and said goodbye to her favourite teacher, Miss Greyfort. The teacher, who always seemed to be in a good mood and really lived for her job, nodded at her. Gry smiled and made her way out through the long corridors of the school. Her new shoes squeaked on the smooth floor and all the students of the school streamed out of the many different classrooms. She pushed her way through the crowd without a care for others or their property. After leaving most of the students behind, Gry strolled leisurely outside to the bus stop, cursing loudly as she watched her bus pull away just in front of her. She looked at the display and sighed. The next bus she could catch wasn’t for another 29 minutes. She sat down on an uncomfortable looking metal bench, plugged her headphones into her phone, put them on and started her favourite playlist. Gry tried to block out the urine stench in the air as best she could. Her mind went back to the man she had seen. She feverishly wondered if she was just experiencing harmless symptoms of sleep deprivation or if she was really going crazy. Coming to no real conclusion, she unlocked her phone and scrolled through her Instagram feed. Her best friend had posted a new Story. She must have been out with one of her new lovers. Gry laughed. „Sick then.“ Then suddenly she heard the sound of an engine in the distance. She looked up and saw her bus, the 606. She looked at the display and sure enough, the 29 minutes had flown by. Several students crowded onto the bus, but Gry managed to grab a seat just in time before it was all taken.

Some time later, she was back at her apartment door, digging her keys out of her pocket. Clumsy as she was, she dropped them on the floor as she tried to unlock the door. She bent down to pick it up. Gry was startled when she saw movement out of the corner of her eye. She quickly reached for the key, picked it up, unlocked the door and pulled it shut behind her as fast as she could. Her father was standing in front of her, looking at her questioningly. „Why did you rush in like that? Never mind, I have to go to work. Please make sure your brother does his homework and goes to bed on time.“ Without waiting for an answer from Gry, he grabbed his long dark coat from the wardrobe, opened the door and slammed it behind him. Gry sighed, „Great, I get to babysit again.“ Nathan, her brother, came running out of his room with an empty bottle of lemonade. He grinned broadly when he saw his sister. „Well, did my jailer arrive on time for her shift?“ Gry ran past him into her room and threw herself at him, „Just do your homework and leave me alone.“ She squeaked her door open and walked into her room. Every single piece of furniture was white, the carpet was fluffy and long and the walls were light pink. She sat down on her bed and yawned. Without the will to fall asleep, she dozed off after a while.

She was suddenly awakened by a loud noise. She heard someone clacking at her window. Slowly and still half asleep, Gry got up, went to her window, pulled the curtain aside and fell backwards to the floor in shock. She barely managed to stifle a scream as a brutal grimace stared at her through the window. It was just like the figure before, slightly translucent, and Gry could see the starry sky through it. It laughed at her in amusement, or at least it tried to. What had once been his face was now an indescribable mass of scars, eyes and mouth. A nose seemed to have disappeared altogether, or been fused with the rest of the face. He tapped the glass once more and disappeared with a low laugh. Gry was still half on the floor, her heart beating up to her neck. She stared traumatised into the night. As the sun slowly rose, she slowly thawed out of her stupor. Gry decided to tell her father about her visions, although she doubted that he would listen to her. She felt like she was going crazy and needed to get rid of the burden somehow. She stood up, almost keeling over from exhaustion. She yawned and lay down on her bed, quietly turning on her radio and hiding under the covers despite the heat in her room.

After waking several times, she finally got up at eight the next morning. Yawning, she stretched and slowly sat up. What she had seen was still burned into her mind. She hoped desperately that it had all been a dream. Gry pulled on an old t-shirt, which she considered more of a dress than a t-shirt, and a pair of baggy jogging pants that had seen better days. She glanced at her mobile phone, but she hadn’t received any messages, so she put it back on the bedside table and went to the kitchen to find something to eat. Her father was sitting at the dining table, sipping tea and looking at her in surprise. „What are you doing up so early?“ She wanted to tell her father what she had seen, but something inside her resisted, so she just shrugged. „I just couldn’t sleep. Will you bring me some strawberries after work?“ He sighed audibly, „Yes, I will. But you should buy some yourself if you’re going to sit at home all day.“ Gry rolled his eyes. „I might be out later, I’m not at home that much, you’re just never around to notice.“ Annoyed, she went back to her room, forgetting to make something to eat. Gry sat down at her desk and started drawing, trying to depict what she had seen or dreamed as best she could, hoping to get the image out of her head.

An hour later, she was happy with the result. Looking at the sheet, she almost got scared again and had flashbacks of the previous night. She looked at the clock. It was exactly 9:12. Her father should have left the apartment by now, so she made a second attempt to find something to eat, this time without annoying conversations. Gry grabbed some toast and wolfed it down with some raspberry jam. She yawned for a long time and then decided to make some coffee. She always kept a small supply in her room, and since her father wasn’t around, she could enjoy her favourite drink undisturbed. Shuffling into the living room, she put the steaming mug on the table and sat down on the couch, comfortable enough to look out the window at nature. A squirrel jumped happily up to the tree that towered high into the sky a few metres from the window. Gry started to reach for her coffee, but stopped short. On the small, old wooden table lay a slightly yellowed book with a red leather cover. On the book, in black serif letters, was written „Diary“. Tense, she reached for the book. She had no idea her father kept a diary. As she was about to open the book, she thought again. Should she really read her father’s diary? Gry shrugged and murmured quietly. „Well, a quick glance can’t hurt anyone.“ She opened the diary and almost dropped it. Under the words „Diary of…“, written in the most beautiful handwriting, was „Karen“. Her late mother’s name. She stared at the letters in disbelief. She had hardly anything to do with her mother. Her father had disposed of everything. He had told Gry that, but he had probably not destroyed everything. She took a deep breath and opened the first entry in her diary. „Thursday, 05.04.2001. Dear diary, my great therapist told me to start keeping a diary today, especially when I see things. My husband is looking after Gry today and I have relaxed.“ Gry stumbled at the start of the text. Her mother had been in therapy? Thoughtfully, she sat back to process what she had just experienced.

A sound ripped her from the depths of her thoughts. Nathan was suddenly standing in front of her, grinning broadly at her. „What are you doing?“ Gry tried to slip the diary behind her back unnoticed. „Oh, just some boring stuff from school. Don’t you have anything better to do than get on my nerves?“ Nathan shrugged. „I’d love to keep bugging you, but I have to go now. Say I’ll be back at seven.“ Gry looked at him sternly. „Where are you going?“ Nathan called to her briefly, „To play with Luca,“ opened the door and was out of her sight. Gry wanted to shout something after him, but her brother was already out of earshot. She rolled her eyes and started to reach for the diary again to continue reading. But when she reached behind her back there was nothing, so she stood up frantically and searched the whole sofa. She pulled all the cushions to the floor and pushed them aside with a squeaking noise. After a few minutes of fruitless searching, she fell back onto the sofa, exhausted. Was she going mad? Had the diary been a figment of her imagination? She sighed. „A cold shower might help.“ She got up, grabbed some fresh clothes from her room and headed for the bathroom. Some time later, she emerged from the bathroom, her hair still a little wet, but much more relaxed. Suddenly she noticed a small movement out of the corner of her eye. When she turned her head towards the sofa, she couldn’t believe her eyes, there on the table was the diary again, as if it had never disappeared. Gry laughed and slapped her face lightly with the flat of his hand. „I think I need glasses.“ Keeping her eyes on the book, she walked slowly towards the table. But when she reached the table, the figure from the night before suddenly appeared in front of her again. Gry jumped in fright and took a step back. The figure picked up the journal. A mumbling sound came from what seemed to be its face. It sounded as if it was half swallowing its tongue with each word. „Is this what you want? Your mother was always up for a good time, wasn’t she?“ Gry looked at him anxiously, wanting to scream but not getting a sound out of her lips. She took a deep breath, forced herself to close her eyes and whispered softly. „You’re just imagining it, relax,“ Gry opened her eyes again. And there it was, right in front of her, only centimetres away from her face, the being, the ghost or whatever it was. Gry felt her blood freeze in her veins, her heart beat faster than it ever had before. She felt everything around her slowly go black, her legs weakening and she simply collapsed. She heard only a gurgling sound, which must have been the creature’s laughter.

Some time later, Gry slowly opened her eyes and looked around in confusion. She was lying backwards on the soft carpet with the coffee table on it. She slowly sat up and thought about what had happened. Then, in a flash, the grimace came back to her mind and she felt as if she was reliving the moment. Worried, she slowly looked around. But everything seemed normal, the diary was still on the table and there was no trace of what had frightened her. She shivered with fear and decided to search the apartment for clues. But first she needed something to make her feel safer, she briefly considered calling someone to not feel alone, but decided to look for something weapon-like instead. Slowly, with a wandering gaze, she entered the kitchen and grabbed the first large knife she could find. She gripped the handle tightly with her sweaty hand. She started at one end of the apartment, searching everywhere for clues. She didn’t know what she was looking for, but she expected to find out if anything turned up. A sound startled Gry from her concentration. She heard a key turn in the lock. She looked at her watch and realised that it was already 6 p.m. Her father opened the door. Gry tried to get rid of the knife inconspicuously. As she tried, the knife fell clattering to the wooden floor. Her father looked at her questioningly. „Do I want to know what you were going to do with the knife, or should I just get home in peace for now?“ Gry smiled embarrassed. „No, it’s okay to come home quietly for the first time.“ Her father nodded. „Thanks, do you want to order a pizza later or are you still out?“ „I haven’t decided yet, I’ll let you know in an hour.“ He sighed audibly, „But please let me know for sure this time,“ then reached into the fridge to get an ice-cold beer and sat down on the sofa in the living room. Confused, he suddenly stopped and picked up the diary, which was still lying on the table. His mood changed from tired to angry in an instant. „Have you been going through my things? Why is this here? Gry looked at him in surprise. „It was already there, I was…“ He stood up and almost screamed. „Don’t lie to me, Gry. Or I’ll change your internet password.“ She swallowed and anger slowly began to grow in her as well. „No, it really wasn’t me, it was there when I made myself something to eat this morning,“ she said. She had never seen her father so angry, he wasn’t just angry, he seemed to be afraid too. Gry knew that she had to fake it or the argument would go on unnecessarily long. She pulled herself together not to throw out some bitchy line and just said curtly, „Yeah, okay, it was me.“, turned around and went to her room. She sat down on her bed thoughtfully. It couldn’t have been her brother, she gave the possibility too little chance to really consider it. The ringing of her mobile brought her back to reality. The name of her best friend was on the display. „Hey, hey Gry, Jamie’s invited us to his party, it starts at nine. Are you coming? You haven’t been out for a long time.“ Gry almost choked at the thought of the boy. She hated him and her best friend knew it. She couldn’t help but think about school and how she’d just acted sick. Gry thought for a moment and decided that she would rather skip the party and do some research instead. „I’d love to, but I’m not feeling very well today, stomach cramps and all.“ „Gryyy, come on, a few vodkas and you’ll feel better.“ Gry sighed. „No, not today, next time.“ „Alright… Get well, we’ll see you in a few days.“ Gry said goodbye in a playful voice. „Thanks, see you.“ Shortly after she hung up, there was a knock at her room door. Her father entered her room with a pizza flyer in his hand. „Would you like a pizza now?“ He still had a slight angry undertone in his voice. Gry nodded. „Yes please, Margherita as usual.“ Her father just mumbled, „Okay.“ and left the room. For a long time she thought about what to do next. How to get back to the diary unnoticed. She opened her laptop and went on the internet to find out about what she had seen and why.

After some research, she came to the conclusion that she either suffered from schizophrenia or simply had an innate ability to see the supernatural. Gry, however, had never believed in anything supernatural and was brought up by her father as a strict atheist. The doorbell rang and a few minutes later her father entered her room with the pizza. „Shall we eat together or do you want to eat alone?“ Gry thought for a moment but then decided to eat alone in her room. „No, another time, okay?“ Disappointed, her father left her room and she made her way hungrily to her pizza. When she was full, she grabbed her laptop, lay down on her bed and started watching her favourite show. She made a plan to find the diary again at three o’clock, when her father would be asleep, and read it in peace, or even take pictures of a few pages. She hoped to find answers to what was happening to her. Yawning, she set an alarm on her phone in case she fell asleep. She set it a little lower so her father wouldn’t hear it. What would she learn about her mother if she found the diary again? Had her father been telling the truth about the accident? Time passed and the light of the moon bathed her room in an eerie glow. Raindrops trickled down her windowpane and lightning flashed across the sky in the distance. Despite her age, Gry still felt queasy every time there was a thunderstorm, but year after year she managed to push the fear further and further into the background.

It was three o’clock in the morning and her alarm clock was ringing. The storm was coming. She hoped her father could sleep through the thunder. On soft soles she crept to her door, opened it as quietly as she could and went to her father’s door. Cautiously, she opened it and, with a bit of luck, saw the diary lying on the bedside table. As she approached the bed she stumbled, it was empty. She panicked. He must have been in the bathroom for a moment. If her father caught her here, he really would change the wifi password, or worse. She quickly grabbed the diary. She almost ran out of the room. A loud noise made her jump. She looked around, it seemed to have got much darker. The moon seemed to have disappeared behind the clouds. An even louder bang broke the silence in the apartment. Trembling, she took her mobile phone from her pocket and switched on the lamp. Slowly and carefully, she walked towards her bedroom door. Suddenly, a soft voice whispered beside her. „Are you scared? Your mother was scared.“ With a jerk, she turned the lamp in the direction of the voice. But there was nothing there, just the cold white wall. She sighed in relief as she stood outside her bedroom door. She had the feeling someone was behind her. Another voice whispered. „Are you sure you want to go in there?“ Gry turned abruptly, but again there was no one there. She took a deep breath and grasped the handle of her room door with a trembling hand. Slowly she opened it. A cold breeze blew in. The moon was shining partly from behind the clouds again, letting Gry see the outline of her room. A flash of lightning illuminated her room for a moment. She saw that her window was open and the curtains were flapping wetly in the rain. She gathered all her courage and walked to the window. Always ready to turn and run. Sweat ran down her forehead as she slowly approached the window. She pushed at the window, and suddenly it was closed again. Had she just imagined it? She looked into the window and recognised her reflection. She was startled by how tired and worn out she looked. Suddenly she saw a smiling, brutally disfigured grimace behind her, in the reflection of the window. Afraid to turn around, Gry froze like a marble statue. She saw the mouth move and an unexpectedly calm voice breathed into her ear. „You may not want to admit it, but you’re going mad. You’re like your mother.“ Gry turned with a start, but the figure was gone, the room empty, and she frightened and alone. Trembling, she sat down on her bed and turned on her bedside lamp. After a short time, the light made her fear disappear a little, but Gry still didn’t know what had happened. What were all these apparitions? Slowly she was convinced that she hadn’t imagined it, but a small part in the back of her mind wasn’t sure if she wasn’t going crazy. She lay down in her bed and opened her mother’s diary, expecting to pick up where she had left off. After a few pages, she came to Friday, 11 May 2001. It read: „Dear diary, nobody believes me, I see ghosts and my husband hardly pays any attention to me. My therapist prescribes some kind of medication to dull my senses, but while I’m pregnant I’m definitely not taking anything. But I am sure that the voices and figures I see are real. I worry about my little Gry and my unborn child. How can they live in the world with such beings?“ Gry put the diary down. She didn’t know what to make of it. But now she was more sure than ever that the creatures were real. She believed her mother’s words without a doubt. Her tension and anxiety had dissipated, and fatigue slowly overcame her. She sat up straighter, turned up the lamp and turned on her music playlist to counteract the tiredness. Tense, Gry skimmed a few pages until she came to 16.08.2001. „Dear diary, I don’t know why I’m writing here again after so long… …. I have stopped therapy, despite my therapist’s warning. My husband is hardly ever home and I am too weak to look after the two little ones. They spend most of their time with my parents. I see more and more of these ghosts and I have not found anyone who can help me to understand and believe. I am beginning not to know what to do. The voices of the ghosts say that they will kill me. But I think they are just empty words to make me angry“. She had read, she had a lot of inhibitions about sharing what she had seen and experienced with anyone, no matter how close she was to them. Would her father pay attention to her, at least for a second, because of what she had experienced with her mother? She felt a tsunami of despair sweeping over her. In her excitement, she did not notice that her bedside light was flickering slowly and erratically. She only noticed it when she tried to reach for her mobile phone, which was on the bedside table. Gry gave the lamp a light tap and the flickering stopped. After looking at her phone, she tried to reach for the diary again, but it was gone. Gry looked around, it was gone. But then she saw that there was a small white piece of paper on the bedside table. She took the note, written in a handwriting very similar to the one in the diary. „Devil, you are not alone.“ She looked at the note in disbelief. She stammered softly, „How… how can this be? Her mother had always called her that as a child because her hair had been fiery red as a baby. Only she and her father knew about it…“ Gry didn’t know what to think or do. She couldn’t believe that this message came from her mother, but she suspected that this note had fallen out of the diary. But after what she had experienced in the last few days, she wouldn’t be surprised if it had just appeared. Tears ran down Gry’s cheeks, she hadn’t thought about her mother that much in a long time. The memories of that day, the day her grandmother picked her up from kindergarten, her eyes irritated with tears and her face distorted with pain. The image brought back all the pain she had seen and felt. The tears slowly blurred Gry’s vision, ignoring the remains of her make-up being washed away. Then she heard it again, the voice. She laughed happily. „Oh God Devil, are you in pain?“ Gry had no more room for fear, the emotions of grief and despair washed away any fear and she screamed angrily, „LET ME GO!“ And then she threw her bedside lamp in the direction of the voice, ripping the cord from the wall and smashing the lamp against the wall with a loud bang. The voice only laughed harder, now coming from another corner of the room. „Oh, the beautiful lamp. I loved to make it flicker.“ Gry shouted again in the direction of the voice. „Come here if you dare!“ Suddenly, the grimace she had seen at the window appeared in the darkness. It roared and came quickly towards her. Gry swallowed. She fully expected that she would not survive this new encounter. The thought that her mother had not really died in an accident sprouted in her, and the beautiful moments of her life slowly passed before her inner eyes. The grimace was fast approaching, but time seemed to stand still. All the beautiful thoughts of her mother, the great birthdays she shared with her, the days when she stood proud as a lion with her school bag in front of her school and looked into the wide smiling faces of her father and grandparents. With a loud bang, her bedroom door burst open and her father burst in with a baseball bat in his hand. He looked around her room in a belligerent manner. But he didn’t see anything. Then he saw Gry. She was sitting on her bed, tears still running down her cheeks. He dropped the bat and ran to her. „What’s wrong? Are you all right?“ Gry sniffled loudly. „No… It’s mum… I see these things…“ He sat down next to her on the bed and took her in his arms. „It’s going to be OK. I know I haven’t been the best father. I should have believed your mother… Unfortunately I can’t undo my ignorant behaviour. But I will be there for you. The important thing is that you come to me with your problems. We can do it together. You are never alone.