Dec 23

Never Stop

I slump on the couch,
exhausted,
as my first day on the job
comes to an end.

Eleven is too young
to be babysitting,
I think to myself,
as the soft snores
of my two annoying
four-year-old cousins
fill the house
with feelings of triumph.
I did it, at the very least.
I grin.

Now I just have to wait
till my parents
come to pick me up.

I grab the remote
and turn on the television.
The bright lights
flicker and dance
before my eyes.

The room seems to grow stuffy
in a comforting way,
and the squeaks and pops and yelps
of the TV
fade into the background.

My eyelids droop.
They feel so heavy,
as though the weight of the world
presses them down.

I figure I can take a nap.
Mom can wake me up
when she arrives.

The kids were in
a deep sleep
when I had left their room,
so I am certain
they will not wake too soon.

I finally let out a long sigh
and give in
to sleep.

I suddenly sit bolt upright
beads of cold,
cruel sweat
trickling down my neck.

Out of the corner
of my eye
I see the digital clock on the mantel:
11:32 p.m.

At first,
I am not sure why I awoke.
All seems normal.
Maybe a bad dream?

But then I hear it,
like long, bloodred fingernails
on a chalkboard.

“CREEEEAAAAAAK!”

I jump to my feet.
“Who’s there?”
I murmur,
not wanting to wake the kids.

I grope for the flashlight
that I know is on the table,
somewhere in the dark,
and my fingers close around it’s rubber frame.

I flip the switch
and a beam of whiteness
cuts through the dark.

It lands on
the metal poker
leaning next to the fireplace.

I tiptoe over to it
and grip the cold metal rod.

I have never used a weapon,
ever,
but if there ever is a time
it’s now.

I hold the poker like my baseball coach taught me
to hold a bat,
over the shoulder,
let it rest there
but not too much
because you need to be ready to crush it.

I shiver at the word
because now all that comes to mind
is the pronged end
crushing someone’s skull,
and I hate it.

The sound comes again.

“CREEEEAAAAAAK!”

Louder.
Closer.

I leap into the kitchen,
ducking behind the counter
without making a sound.

I know that my aunt’s phone
is in her bedroom somewhere.

Before I know it,
I am off and running
as soundlessly as I can
never stopping
because I’m scared
if I do
I won’t be able to start again.

Through the dining room
Never stop...
down the hall,
Never stop...
past the bathroom,
Never stop....

And I’m there,
standing before
a faded white door
with a rusted golden handle.

I grab the knob
and yank.

The door doesn’t budge.
Locked?

“No,” I breathe.
I came all this way
for nothing?

And the creaking
will surely catch up now.

I suddenly feel something
like I’m being enveloped
in darkness
and I realize
it already has.