Tuesday, June 26, 2012


The energy has drained out of me.  Today, I prepared for my quilt friends to arrive for our meeting at my house.  This happens about once a year.  While I picked up things from the floor, I thought of the scary events from the night before.  While I vacuumed, I wondered where Mike had put the gun.  It hadn't been where I expected it to be when I checked.  Believe me, I don't usually check for the location of a gun stored away in my house.  Usually, I'm aware that we have a few of them, but I know they're locked up and I'm not concerned about where they are.  Today, I wanted to know.  Where is the gun?  Where is the ammunition?  Where is the key to the trigger lock? I needed to go to the gun range to practice. 

I kept going through the details of the night before.  After dark, I looked out my window and I saw a very small red light just to the left of my car reflecting off surfaces on the inside of my car.  I saw a small vertically rectangular tail light brighten for a moment in the neighbor's driveway up the hill.  The driveway leans toward the hill and I was below it, so I figured that was why I couldn't see the other one.  Essentially, I saw some unexpected lights outside my window last night.  I live in the woods.  It's supposed to be dark out there.  I kept going over those details.  I am certain of what I saw.  A floating light next to my car that was reflecting different surfaces as if someone were standing there shining it around.  A small rectangular light that got brighter for a moment similar to the way a brake light would. 

I did not see a person.  I did not see a car.  I saw lights. 

But without a doubt, I know that I interrupted someone who was standing in my driveway next to my car, someone who had a car waiting for him just up the hill. 

I say him.  I have no idea who was holding that flashlight but flashlights don't float.

I was jumpy today.  Now that it's dark, I don't want to go to bed.  I don't want to look away from the spot outside my window where I saw the lights the night before. 

When I was a kid, I was seriously afraid of the dark. When my parents sent me upstairs to go to bed, I'd ratchet back and forth between light switches, creating a pathway of light for myself, then turning off the light behind me.  It was all good until I got to that last light.  I couldn't reach the switch in my bedroom from my bed.  Sometimes, I would take a running leap at the same moment that I flung the switched off and all the while prayed that the snakes couldn't make it out from under my bed that fast.  Snakes and alligators.  I believed that I might lose my hand if I casually let it drape off the edge of the bed.  So why did I feel safe within that rectangle on top?  Why did I feel safe tucked inside my quilts?  It's all a crap shoot, I think.  Our minds latch onto an item of safety and that's all it takes.  The quilts that Grandma had made.  Grandma was the one who loved me best.  Her quilts had some sort of power. 

The problem with focusing on that light switch was that a lot of times, I forgot to close my closet door first.  Now, I basically had clothes and stuffed toys in my closet.  During the day, I'd sit in there with my menagerie and make sure each one got a turn at getting my affection.  Yeah, I really was a strange child, but was I really that different than any other child?  Nick's fears make no more sense than mine did. 

So after I got the light turned off and managed to survive jumping into my bed, I'd often notice that I'd left the closet door open.  The closet door was a double whammy.  If it was closed, the tree people in the grain of wood looked at me.  Worse though, was when I left it open and there was a black place through which any manner of monsters could emerge.  Sometimes, a bit of moonlight would light up the eyes of one of my stuffed toys and I was forced to stare back at it.

See, that was the only way to survive, to stare at it until it blinked.  When I stared, nothing was allowed to come out.  When I closed my eyes or turned away, I put myself in mortal danger.  That was how it felt anyway.  Something, anything, could rise out of the abyss, but only if I lost my concentration.

Sometimes, my sister would come up to bed an hour later and I'd still be staring into that dark corner of my closet.  It may have been dark, but I could always hear the eye-rolls in her tone of voice.  On the nights when I hadn't even managed to turn off the lights, she was most annoyed.  What fourteen year old do you know that isn't annoyed at having to share her room with an eight-year-old?  It was embarrassing, but I couldn't hide my fear.  It was too great.  I was always awake when she came into the room.  I was always vigilant.  Even that annoyed her.  I was the little kid.  I was supposed to be asleep.  When she was feeling generous, she'd wind the music box on the dresser.  I loved that music box, but it never played long enough for me to fall asleep and I begged her to wind it again and again.  Eventually, with her there, breathing evenly, I fell asleep despite the abyss in the closet.  Why was I safer from it when her sleeping body was across the room from me?  Oh, fear is never about logic. 

So as I sit here at my computer, I look out that dark window.  Tonight, I see no lights, but there is some part of it that reminds me of staring into that dark closet corner, checking for eyes that might glitter, searching for evidence of any movement.  If I look away, they will come. 

Oh, Stephen King has written wonderful, awful stories about things like this.  I had to stop reading his work when I lived in an old mansion that was built in 1896.  There were too many odd noises in that second floor turet room.  I loved that room, but the whole house creaked.  Sometimes I'd get home from a late night out and look up at that house and it became a haunted mansion, straight out of Disneyland, only not as funny.

I generally don't feel that way here at home.  This house feels more homey to me, even at night.  But I was jumpy today.  While I made pie for my quilting friends, I imagined that the awful people came back.  Nick and Mike went to check out a Suburban that Mike is thinking of buying.  He wants us to be able to travel with the Boy Scouts more easily.  I was home alone until my quilt friends arrived.

Suddenly, I was in the middle of a fantasy.  My quilt friends showed up and I wasn't there.  The front door was open and there was blood everywhere, on the floor, on the walls.  I wrestled with that story for a while.  I didn't like it.  I had to work it.  I didn't want to have disappeared.  So, in the end, my quilt friends called the police and they found me cowering in my linen closet.  I held a small bloody knife in my hand. 

When they got me calmed down so that I could talk, I told them where I had stabbed the person who kept trying to get me out of the closet, once in the foot, another time in the shin, and once in deep inot his hip. I told them the other guy walked around yelling, but never opened the door.   I told them so they could check out nearby emergency rooms.  The bloody guy had managed to get out of the house and I had stayed in the closet, knowing that I could strike out at him if he opened the door again. 

I was crazed, but none of the blood was mine.  What an awful day dream.  It kept coming back around with new details.  I had the gun in there with me, but hadn't managed to get the key to unlock the trigger. 

I washed my hands and put on a Norah Jones disc.  I tried to sing along with 'Come Away With Me.' 

I had just gotten out of the shower and was trapped in that closet in just my underwear.  I had grabbed my phone and had called the police who showed up just after my quilt friends arrived.

I turned on water to make iced tea.

The creepy guys killed my sweet Teddy. 

I turned on the lights in the living room.  I had to work on that one.  I couldn't leave it that way.

Instead, the guys left the front door open, and Teddy wandered over to the neigbor's house where they sometimes give him nice treats.  The cats hid under the bed downstairs. 

It was an awful day dream, but one tht I've come by honestly with the events of the night before.  I've visualized surviving.  I need to imagine that I'll be okay.  I'm trying to face my fears, not to succumb to them.  I'm staring into the darkness still, unblinking. 

Thank you for listening, jb


  1. I will start by telling you my story-- One day I noticed a clear tiny hand print on my bedroom's full window; too small to be my son's.I imagined all sorts of scenarios whole day..the house being haunted and what not.When Hubby came back in the evening he gave me a logical explanation- it belonged to a child who had visited us some time ago with her parents; she must have wandered off to our bedroom and put her hand on the window pane,looking out....it was not visible earlier but now the weather being frosty,I could see it clearly..ha ha!I hope there is a logical explanation to your situation,too.Don't fret, it will be alright...though I am not sure I could survive living in woods...I am too nervous a person.I live in a high rise apartment and I can see a shopping mall ( not to mention half of the town, the apartment is in the Town Center)from my windows.I like it...could n't live without seeing people move around :)

    1. Thank you, Arti. I love living here in the woods most of the time. I do like hearing the highway and imagining where people are going, but I love the isolation. We know and like our neighbors, but they aren't near our house. I know I couldn't live happily in a city. Isn't it funny how people can be so different? My idea of a good time is walking out into the woods with my notebook and my dog.