The first visit came when she was twelve. Vic was lying on her bed, staring at the swirling pattern on the ceiling that someone had created there long ago when textured ceilings were all the rage. She was listening to music – the sort of music that angsty twelve-year-olds who are pissed off at their parents, their teachers, the world, tend to listen to – and thinking about nothing in particular, when she felt a coolness against her neck as though someone were breathing on it.
And then there was a whisper.
They’re on their way.
And then the coolness was gone, and the voice with it.
The second visit was not until three years later. At fifteen, Vic was long over her angst. Her life now revolved around texting and blended coffee drinks and discussing boys with her friend Tanya, whom she secretly had a crush on (but she wouldn’t admit to it for another year).
Vic had never mentioned that strange whisper to anyone, not even Tanya. Not even the therapist she had briefly seen when her parents were separating (and if you can’t tell a therapist, who can you tell?). She had almost forgotten about it. Almost.
But upon feeling that coolness once again, Vic froze. She would always remember that feeling.
This time, she was in the kitchen making dinner. Her younger brother Nick (the rhyming was intentional; it was one of the few things their parents had ever agreed on) was in the living room watching a Jersey Shore marathon. He never helped with dinner. Not yet home from work, their mom had needed to stay late. Some emergency with an incubator breaking and a cell line needing to be split. Or something. Vic hadn’t really listened to the message past the word “late.”
And there it was.
A cool breath against her neck. And a flicker of light.
Vic could see the outline of a person, tall but hunched over, arms stretched out towards her.
And it whispered, “They’re almost here. Won’t be long now.”
Vic dropped the jar of tomato sauce she was holding. It shattered, sauce splashing everywhere, and the person disappeared.
“What the fuck just happened?” Nick shouted from the living room.
“It’s nothing, I just dropped a jar,” Vic shouted back, unable to look away from the spot where the person’s outline had been.
“Mom is going to kill you,” Nick said from the doorway, looking pointedly at the sauce all over her jeans and her brand new flats and the white linoleum floor and the stove. And pretty much everywhere.
“Can you just get the mop?” she sighed.
“Nope, this is your mess,” he said, turning to return to Snooki and The Situation and the less-famous of the Jersey Shorers.
She never did manage to get the sauce stains out of the jeans. And never again would she come close to forgetting what at the time she thought of as “incidents.”
By the summer before college, the number of incidents had reached seven, each lasting longer than the one before, each more vivid. Vic now knew that the person was a man, young, with a gaunt face and tired eyes. She had once dared to ask what his name was, but he disappeared before answering. So she called him the rainbow man, because the halo of light around him was multicolored.
Vic still hadn’t told anyone about the rainbow man and his visits (she now thought of them as visits, and liked to imagine that they were old friends and he was just coming to say hi and gossip about mutual acquaintances, whoever “they” were – the jerk never said).
Not even Tanya knew, even after all this time. Of course, Vic wasn’t likely to tell Tanya much these days anyway. They were going to break up at the end of the summer, so she didn’t really see the point.
And maybe once she was at BC and away from all of this (and by “this” she meant New York City, probably the least glamorous moniker the city that never sleeps has ever been given), maybe his visits would end. Maybe he wouldn’t be able to find her there.
False. He did.