Thursday, March 20, 2014

Scaredy-cat, Scaredy-cat

Finish That Thought #37 (Judge's Comments)
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 @
“I know a real ghost story,” she’d said, taking the flashlight and illuminating her pale features and jet black eyes. She proceeded to tell of her cousin’s best friend’s sister who had done the Bloody Mary challenge with two other girls. They went to sleep laughing. Only two of them woke up. The third girl had been lacerated.

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.

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