I Don’t Know
Mama had to work, she always had to work. Why she had to work nights, which was something I never quite understood. Normal people work all day. Normal people worked while their kids went to school, and were home at night. Normal people were there to protect their children. I guess my Mama isn’t all that normal. Nana says that I’m not normal. Normal 16 year olds aren’t afraid of the dark. That’s what she says. Well if I’m so bad for not being normal, then why doesn’t she get onto Mama for not being normal? I wish my mom worked regular hours so I didn’t have to be watched over by her step-mother. I feel like I’m being babysat, like a child, I’m almost 18, can’t I just stay home alone like a real teenager?
I look at the clock after I finish my homework and realize that my mom is going to leave for work in less than fifteen minutes. I rush up the stairs and ask her if I can stay home by myself tonight.
“Not tonight hun,” She says. Her face tells me that she still sees me as a pre-adolescent child who needs constant supervision. So what I almost burned the house down when I was 14. That wasn’t so bad. Well, we did have to move because of fire and smoke damage. But hey, at least I don’t play with matches and lighters anymore. In the house at least.
We finish up watching her talent show on TV and she turns to me with her hand out. I know this means that I have to give up my phone. I hate being treated like a kid. This is really getting old. Two more years, I tell myself, two more years and I can get the hell out of here. Before I could even finish the thought, I hear footsteps coming up the stairs. Damn, Nana is always on time. I hate her so much it makes me grind my teeth and dig my nails into my palms. But, I am a good faker, and I rush to the top of the stairs and greet her with the same smile I would give to an old friend I hadn’t seen in weeks. She meets me at the summit and embraces me with open arms. I know this is all for show. Mama hasn’t quite left for work yet. She was still gathering her, and my phones, into her purse along with the car keys, a lighter, and her pack of Marlboro cigarettes.
“Have a good night at work tonight,” Nana says as my mom starts down the stairs.
The door shuts and my babysitter, that’s what she is to me, asks if I would like to watch a movie. I agree and she lets me pick a movie from our Netflix list while she makes us popcorn. That is probably the only thing I like about her coming over. I get to watch my favorite scary movies and she makes popcorn. Not just any old popcorn though. She adds gummy bears and milk duds. It is wonderful and I enjoy every last sticky salty kernel.
The movie ends and I realize how late it is. I have to get up for school in the morning. So I tell Nana I am off to bed, hoping she does not follow. I don’t understand it, but she has a problem with me sleeping with a night-light on. Normally I can just close my door and put a shirt by the bottom of the door so it stays dark on the outside and she doesn’t notice. But, every now and then, she opens my door, and sometimes even wakes me up to question me and belittle me for having the light.
I slip into my bedroom nice and quiet. Closing the door, calling out to her, “Good night Nana,” and wait for her reply. She responds and I close the door, kick a shirt across the bottom, and turn off my light, triggering the night-light on the other side of my bed. I’ve learned to hide it so she doesn’t complain when she comes in my room. With no disturbance for some time, I drift off to sleep.
“What kind of baby sleeps with a night-light?” is what I am suddenly awaked by. There she is, hovering over me like a vulture. The scowl on her face tells me she has been taking her feel-good medication, which makes her act funny sometimes. I roll over, eyes still trying to adjust, and tell her that it’s no big deal, Mama lets me have it. I guess I wasn’t awake enough to think that one all the way through. Her face turned to a snarl. “Do I look like your Mommy?” she barked at me. Little droplets of spittle sprayed from her lips as she questioned my eyesight. I apologized. She stormed around my bed, yanked the light from its hiding place under the desk next to my bed, and proceeded to stomp her way out the door, slamming her hand down the wall on the light switch and slamming my door shut.
At least there was a sliver of hope. The crack under the door was now visible. The hall light was still on and it shown through like a flashlight in a cave. I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep. Suddenly something changed. I opened my eyes like storm shutters in high wind. She had turned off the hall light and I could hear the trash compactor in the kitchen grinding away at something. That bitch must have put my light in the disposal. How mean can one person really be? I felt my anxiety begin to rise in the darkness. I knew that if I were to crack my door, or come out of my room, especially in the mood she was in, I would hope for death rather than sleep. I closed my eyes and started counting heartbeats and breaths, trying to hypnotize my fears away and send myself back to slumber.
I don’t know how long I had been sleeping, I have no clock without my phone, and the darkness in my room was so dense it was hard to tell if I was really awake. I listened and heard the TV still on so I knew that at least the Tyrant was still awake, or had fallen asleep on the couch as she was known to do. I turned and swung my feet over the side of my bed to get up and use the restroom. The bladder is the great alarm clock if there ever was one. But my feet did not find the carpet. What they met was slimy and wet. What my feet touched moved. I screamed and pulled my legs under the covers and my knees up to my chest. I screamed until my door swung open and then I begged her to turn on the light.
The light came on and blinded me. My eyes adjusted and I saw that I must have woken her up too. She looked bleary eyed and startled. “What is it?” she demanded. “I don’t know,” I told her, “I tried to go pee and something was under my bed.” I felt like crying. I knew she wasn’t going to believe me. Sure enough, her tone turned to the mocking tone of a middle schooler, “Something’s under my bed,” she snipped, “Go back to bed,” she said in a normal tone, “One more outburst and your mom will hear about this.” They told each other everything. I hated it. Nothing was safe, nothing was sacred. And if I pissed Nana off, Mama was sure to follow, and nobody wants that.
She shut the light off, shut the door, and went on back to whatever she was doing. I could not bring myself to try to sleep. I couldn’t even let go of my knees. I was shaking and hyperventilating. I really had to go, I felt as if my bladder may burst if I sat here much longer. I couldn’t bear close my eyes, but I looked inward for strength and begged my bladder not to release on my sheets. I would never here the end of that. Fist I need a night light, then there was something under my bed, and now I wet the bed. Lord that would be the last straw. So I begged my insides to not become outsides. I pleaded with my nearly bursting bladder to just be quiet and stay calm. Instead I was warned by a pressure I was sure was going to release itself. I could wait no longer. I stood up on my bed and counted to three. On three I jumped as far as I could toward the door to my room. I leaned into my leap so far that I had to slam my hands against the wall to keep from hitting it. I hit the light switch before I even grabbed for the door.
Before I could even stop myself, I had turned to face my bed. As my eyes adjusted to the light I saw something moving. Something dark, shiny, almost wet looking, trying to hide itself back underneath my bed. It had one glassy pale eye that stared at me from beneath my bed. It’s long tentacles slithering back beneath itself leaving no residue that I could see. It was as if I had gone crazy. I couldn’t look away, but I couldn’t believe my eyes. I rubbed my fingers in my eyes and when I was done, it was gone. I felt the warm trickle down the legs of my pajama pants and felt the steaming puddle of piss grow beneath my feet in silence.
My door swung open hard enough to hit the wall. “Why the fuck is your light,” she trailed off. Her eyes, not on my bed, which is where I should have been, and where the thing had just been, but on me. They were not so much looking at me per se, as the growing wet spot that stretched from my crotch to the floor. “Did you piss your pants?” she said. A sneer began to creep across her face.”Oh your mom is gonna love this,” she informed the room, it was as if I wasn’t even there. Like I had somehow became nothing but a puddle. “What’s the matter little girl,” she mocked, “The monster under your bed try to get you?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. I know I saw what I saw but it made no sense at all.
“I’ll tell you what,” Nana said, “I’ll go check under your bed, and if I don’t find anything, you’re gonna be in so much trouble.”
She went over to the bed. I just stood there and watched. The wetness on my pants now starting to get cold. The puddle beneath me still warm. She lifted the blankets and threw them on the bed. “Nothing under there,” she smiled. She put her hand on the bed and bent over, looking beneath the bed itself, ”Come out monster monster monster,” she said. She went down to her knees and stuck an arm under the bed, pretending to search around for what she knew was not there. “See, there’s noth..” her words were drowned out by the liquid tearing sound. She started to scream words that weren’t really words. Her arm had come off at the shoulder and blood so red it looked black sprayed all over my room like a fire hose. I saw at least five tentacles, black shiny things, swing out with a precision unmatched by any animal I had ever seen, and take hold of her. She was now halfway under the bed, legs kicking for purchase, trying to backpedal, praying for escape, but there was no escape, not for her.
The screaming stopped when her legs were so far under I could only see her feet. Her toe nails were a pretty blue, almost lost in the red streaks that were now a part of everything in my room. I heard terrible crunching sounds that could only be her bones. The thing was eating her alive. By the time I realized that the puddle I stood in had grown cold, her feet were disappearing into the darkness below the pale eye. It stared at me as it smacked and tore the flesh from her bones. Then, the eye closed, and all at once it was gone. My room looked like a scene from Guinea Pig, gore dripped from everything. But the thing was gone. And so was Nana.
I sat awake in the living room, the news on television. I wasn’t so much watching it as having it on for background noise. The sun started to rise and I knew I had to get ready for school. I hadn’t realized until just then that I was still in my urine soaked PJs. I tried to decide if I could even go back in my room to get clothing for school when I heard my mom coming up the stairs.
“Hey hun,” she called from the top of the stairs, “You’re up early.” I said nothing, I just stared at her blankly like I had been doing the TV all night. I didn’t know if I could trust my eyes, I didn’t know if I were awake, asleep, or insane. “Where’s Nana,” she asked me. I replied, “I don’t know.” She wasn’t even listening. She put her purse down and went on down the hall. “What do you want to wear to school today?” she asked, and went to open the door to my room. She looked back and I said, “I don’t know.” And then she opened the door.