Prompt: [She] knew [she] shouldn't have opened the basement door.
Special Challenge: Include an urban legend
I knew I shouldn't have opened the basement door. A rat scuttled across my foot, sending me shrieking and running for a broom. Twenty minutes later the basement had its inhabitant returned and I was trembling on my overstuffed chair with knees tucked under my chin and phone clutched in my hand from dialing pest control. It was my usual perch after a freak-out or panic attack. Sometimes I’d sit there for hours. It was safe there. I was safe. The potatoes could wait in that black hole.
The truth is I’ve spent my whole life dodging from the monster under my bed. Once that light is out, I leap under the covers and tug them over my head. I know if even a strand of hair is visible on my pillow, the monster will slaughter me in my sleep. I’m not brave and I’ve given up ever trying to be.
Pest control dialed, I worked on calming the violent shivers. I wish I had a husband. Pest control, maintenance man, and lawyer all rolled into one. But of course, I had been too scared of that as well. Stood him up at the altar and got on next train out.
I looked at the clock on the mantel across the room. One hour until he’d come and kill the beast. I continued trembling and looked down at my pedicured feet. I hated being such a scaredy-cat, but I was used to it by now.
It all started at a slumber party in elementary school. The only reason I was there at all was that silly rule “if you’re going to pass out invitations in class, you have to invite everyone” and my mother insisted I socialize with people other than book characters.
I can remember it as clearly as if it had happened yesterday. We were all sitting in a circle on our scattered sleeping bags when one of the girls brought out a flashlight and told a ghost story. It was innocent fun, just trying to scare each other, but when Megan took her turn, everything changed.
|Courtesy of subhadipin @ sxc.hu|
And so, being girls, we all had crowded into the bathroom, flipped off the lights, and I was chosen to hold the candle. We twirled. We chanted. We laughed. We slept. I woke up with cuts on my wrists and a note pinned to my pillow. “Ugly duckling as you are, I’ve left you with just a scar. Should you call my name again, I’ll use more than just a pin.” I swear that note had been written in blood.
The doorbell rang, jolting me. I was using a nightlight tonight.