Her world was silver and glass and cold as ice. It hadn’t always been like this. Sometimes, she could remember the feeling of the sun on her skin or the warmth of another’s touch. These days, she barely remembered what it was like to have skin. She was a nightmare monster given substance and forced to haunt the slumber party set. She was blood red eyes and terror sealed between silver and glass. She was the specter of midnight and thrice spoken names.
She was a promise in the dark and a crossroads. The words of the game were a key to her prison and the players were her sustenance.
The forms were nearly observed and soon she would feed. Soon, the little sweet sixteen who dared challenge her memory would be nothing more than a statistic and a mystery.
The girl opened her mouth a third time.
the ball the ground the hand
a shrill whistle blows
llllllllooooooonnnnnnggggggg and LOUD
Under the screams of his parents arguing, he could still hear something coming from his bedroom closet. Something shattered in the other room and the screaming continued, only broken by periodic sobbing and the sounds of something striking flesh. He wasn’t sure which was worse. Then the closet door opened completely and Lionel pulled the blankets up higher trying to hide. The black eye still dominating his small, pale face told him he couldn’t go run for help.
The voice was female, soft and surprisingly gentle. Poking his head out the slightest bit, he saw a beautiful woman with the darkest skin he’d ever seen. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail that seemed to be made of a mass of braids and her eyes were gentle.
“You’re not a monster, right?”
His voice was still quiet, full of fear. But her light laugh and little smile allayed his fears.
“No, little one, I am not one of the monsters.” Her glance strayed towards the door of his room, but then she smiled at him again. “Would you like to go somewhere where you will not be hurt again?”
He started to nod eagerly and then looked down.
“What about Mama?”
Her eyes, nearly black as coals but with just a hint of flame in them, turned away from him.
“She cannot come, dear one. She…would not be welcomed where we would go. Do you deny that she has also turned a hand against you?”
With a little sniffle, he shook his head.
“She only does when Daddy hurts her.”
“My poor little one, that is not for you to bear. Come away with me and be happy. Never again be hurt. Be a child.”
He smiled a gap-tooth grin and nodded.
“Can Teddy come?”
This time, he held up a small bear covered in patches and wearing a small cape.
“Oh yes, Teddy can come.” The woman scooped him up in her arms and strode towards the closet once more. “One last thing, before we go. From this point onwards, tell no one that you are Lionel.”
He had already wrapped his arms around her neck and cuddled against her shoulder like he belonged there.
“Because if anyone knew, they could use your name to hurt you.”
“Oh…so what do I get called?”
She kissed him gently on the forehead, healing the bruises on his face.
“We shall see.”
as it turns
dressed in yella
The little girls
chant their song
in time to the
What goes up, must come down.
Unless what the force sending an object up is a father,
In which case, the child is caught still in “up”
and learns to fly
Gravity doesn’t exist until you believe in it
Especially for children whose fathers teach them to fly
Running in the yard, pulling the kite behind
And it soars, just like the little girl pulling it can
Gravity decreases the farther from the center of the earth you get
And when you’re normally all of three feet up,
Reaching to six feet in the air is the upper stratosphere
And planes soar beneath you
There was just that one streetlight, the one on the middle of the street, which always seemed to glow an eerie shade of green. It was the sort of thing that the bigger kids teach the younger ones not to play under, never to venture near. Who knew what it could mean for their beacon of nighttime safety to be an unearthly shade of green rather than the bright clear white of all the others.
It was a pretty typical summer night, warm and sticky in its oppressiveness. Carter stood in his backyard, his cap drawn down over his eyes and bat in hand. Here’s the windup and the pitch. The ball came ever closer and then WHAM! It flew in a wild arc over the street and disappeared into the bushes on the other side…under the feared light. The boys stood and mourned the loss of the ball, for there was nothing that could get them to venture forth on a rescue mission. They had come to an unspoken accord that the ball was lost forever. As the one who had hit the doomed ball, Carter was in nearly as bad a state as the ball. For being so brazen as to send the ball into that other space, there was no greater crime in the mind of a nine-year-old in this neighborhood. They made their excuses, one by one, under the pretext of the game being over, the night falling and the oncoming darkness. Slowly, the street lights up and down the street flicked into life, like the eyes of a massive guardian opening for the night watch. But Carter just stood there, watching the eerie glow of the green one, the one that had cost him a ball and the rest of the game. Certainly, he could wait until morning, ask the almighty Dad to fetch the ball under the light of day. But that would be giving in to that infernal light again. How many times had he had to change the path of his bike to avoid the glow cast on the ground, lost toys because they had landed in those very bushes, how many children had been warned that they should never, never tread under its baleful gaze? He was moving before he had even realized it, across the street in a flash of red sneakers. Then came the true test. He froze inches outside the ring of light cast down from the horrible creature and looked. He could see it, the shiny new baseball just sitting there waiting for him. He took a step and paused again, almost waiting for doom to come crashing in. He could hear the unquiet crickets and the cars a few blocks over. The street he stood in was empty, devoid even of sounds beyond the crickets and those distant cars it seemed. He scooped up the ball in one hand and turned to make his way back to his house. One foot was still in the light when a sound broke the quiet of the night. The squeal of rubber on asphalt ripped through his soul for a mere instant before Carter knew nothing but the darkness.
The boys came back the next day, unknowing and ready for a new game. They gave their ancient enemy a wide berth but one noticed something new. Sitting in the gutter was a blood-spattered baseball, no longer shiny and new, and there was a smear of blood on the edge of their enemy’s territory. There would be no more playing with Carter. And never again would a child brave that green light, particularly not at night.