(From the Twisted Childhood stories)
Dust piled upon dust piled upon boxes laid upon the floor,
all filled with memory. The
click of a pull-chain sprays stark glare upon the age worn trinkets
of childhood. From somewhere far below,
the static of four a.m. TV echoes upward to the attic. Lidless eyes glare angrily; doll faces whispering
in the dead air.
…What do you want? You don’t belong here! Ashes…Ashes… we all fall down…
Bare footsteps plod across the floorboards. Creaking fills her silent mind. Lips purse, holding back nothing-thoughts
that bubble silently behind her face. A stuffed bear hangs from her noose-like grip,
smiles knowingly, glassy eyes staring.
…You will see what she finds.
Sing a song of six-pence…
Nursery-rhyme hum escapes soft lips. Fingers
search out latches and locks, pulling open a box of childhood.
Shadowed eyes search slowly, questing for reassurance, and
fail. Knocked aside, the
brick-a-brack of yesterday is strewn across
the floor. The hum continues.
Soon the floor is covered in memory-shards, bits of her childhood,
and forgotten objects; girl’s paper dolls, boy’s baseball bat, mother’s
wedding dress, father’s toolbox. All tinsel and Easter baskets choked with dust
and decay. Hum turns to lament.
…Once we meant something.
Round and round the mulberry bush…
Finally fingers wrap tightly round a thick volume. The black leather bound cover creaks, gilded
edges gleam sharply in the lone bulb’s light.
Eyes and fingertips trace out the words they have longed
to read since they first opened and twitched into the waking world
today… Poems by Mother Goose. Lips stretch into a silently sensuous smile.
She sits upon the floor, cheerleader jersey pulled tightly
round her shoulders. The nightmare twists, screaming in her head
as fingers flip through the volume.
…When the bough breaks the
baby will fall…
Thoughts of yesterday slither through her mind. Scraps of memory, nostalgia, love, hate, betrayal,
and trauma breach the walls she’s built. Screaming images of silhouettes and faces twisted
in anger, fear and remorse. Calm
waters hide deadly undertow, and she is quickly pulled under. The shadows in the corners twitch.
…And down will come cradle, baby and all…
Suddenly, she’s a child again, ready for bed. Brush your teeth. Wash your face. Put on your nightgown. Say your prayers. Mother’s voice echoes the childhood litany,
"Early to bed, early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy and
wise." She jumps into
bed, prayers have been said, and waits to be tucked in. But mother doesn’t come.
…This old man, he played
four, He played knick knack at my door…
Screams from downstairs muffle through the walls. The young girl lies
waiting for mother to tuck her in, but mommy never comes. The door remains shut. She begins to drift to sleep, but the door creeks
and a silhouette blackens the doorway.
…And he huffed, and he puffed,
and he blew the house down…
As she sits and turns pages back in the attic, a shadow creeps across the
floor. Pitch coloured blackness
drenched in shadow, filled with nightmare whispers. With each passing moment, each turned page,
each flitting thought of hands reaching, arms crushing,
legs entwining, mouths swallowing whole, the shadows creep across
the floor. Stretching forth
tendrils of dark, the blackness envelops her silently; fairy tale
and rhyme taking hold, seeping into the waters of her mind.
…Little Miss Muffet…
Downstairs, father sits reclined in front of a snowy TV. White noise fills the air, masking the creak
of attic steps. There is
a click, and the following silence causes him to stir.
He looks up to see his daughter’s silhouette in the door. Something hangs loosely from her grip. She moves forward. "Hey baby-girl. I musta dozed off.
What are you doing up at this hou-" his question is cut short by the dull crack of
the bat splitting his skull.
…This old man, he played
eleven, He played knick knack up in heaven…
Andrew Winter (a.k.a. Unbreathless, a.k.a. Johnny the Homicidal Maniac) is a student residing in St. John’s Newfoundland (that’s Canada for those of you who don’t know North American Geography or History. It is the oldest friggin’ city in North America you know? Jeeze, read a book.) He enjoys writing, reading, movies, photography, drawing, music and the occasional snifter of brandy to calm the nerves after a long hard day in the dishroom in back of a dirty Mexican eatery.
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