the woods, week 2.

Not to alarm everyone, but my little stone house is haunted. There are big brown spiders. I’ve seen two so far, or it might be the same one. The first time I picked him up in a towel and shook him outside. Then I watched him immediately scurry into a crevice near the doorstop, so he might have just come back in. Better it’s the same spider, right? I’m not afraid of spiders. I don’t want them crawling all over me but my fear is proportional to the harm they can do, which as I understand it is not very much. Even if the big brown spider is one of the poisonous kind, he would have to bite me like twenty times before I died, wouldn’t he?

Something lives inside the chimney, I can tell you that much. The thing inside the chimney has sharp claws and an itch that she waits to scratch until just before I’ve begun to fall asleep. She is irregular. More terrifying than the scratches is the silence between, when I’m waiting for it.

A gurgling ghost in the toilet, but what else is new. He’s either gasping for air, or like a fish, the water is his air.

Mostly they live inside my head. Too many horror films. I turn around and my brain thinks there will be a person standing there. Coming or going from the bathroom, what if there’s a person standing there. When I turn around, what if someone snuck right up behind me. What if, what if, and no need to finish the thought.

Look, I get over it. I’m not huddled in the corner of my studio with all the lights on terrified until morning. I will let my feet dangle over the side of the bed, no problem. I imagine how horrible it would be if a scaly hand reached out and grabbed my ankles and I brazenly do it anyway. That’s what being a grownup is.

There’s this thing about me and my past that pretty much nobody knows about. It was so significant at the time, more than a year of this, but I was around 8 years old? Over 20 years ago, who cares about a terrible year that happened when you were 8. It sounds dumb but I’m just going to tell you anyway.

My mom went away for the weekend and I had this babysitter. She did my mom’s nails. We watched the movie Pet Sematary about a million times that weekend. I’ve seen it again recently – it’s kind of a good movie, actually. It’s brilliantly campy and absurd. That weekend, I watched it over and over and over again. I was terrified of the sister with the weird disease and the little boy and the idea that animals and people would come back to life to kill me and my entire family but I couldn’t stop watching it.

After that weekend, some thing happened inside my brain and I was just completely fucked.

First of all, my bedroom was not a bedroom. It was my mother’s closet made into a tiny room that held my bed and my stuff. My mom’s clothes lined the far wall. I used to share a room with my sister but they put me in the closet because I was too messy. My sister tried putting a strip of duct tape across the floor but I guess I was sort of a brat about it and threw my stuff over to her side anyway. So, until I was almost 16 my bedroom was my mother’s walk-in closet.

After that weekend I was terrified of everything and I couldn’t sleep alone at night. My mother would read me books and then when she got up to leave I would cry and scream and claw at her until she agreed to come back. I made her stay with me, but even then I was still scared, and it took me forever to fall asleep. Oftentimes when she got up to go back to bed it would wake me up, and I would whimper at her to come back.

A year of this. My mom tried really hard to be patient with me but it completely exhausted her. You could see it all over her face. An 8 year old could see it. Once she sat out in the car all night because she was afraid she might lose her mind and murder me. My brother and sister were fed up. They’d say, “Molly, can’t you understand you’re driving our mother fucking crazy?” and I knew I was but this thing inside of me was bigger than my desire to be considerate. I thought there were people hiding behind my mother’s clothes. When I shut my eyes, I thought the second I opened them there’d be a wrinkly-faced woman peering down at me. There were monsters under the bed and undead animals slithering around above the ceiling tiles.

It just went on and on and on like this. It was embarrassing. I was too old to be behaving this way. Once I flipped out at a slumber party and the parents called my mother to come pick me up, angrily. Mom took me to a kid shrink. Some other stuff happened. I don’t know. Eventually I was able to pass a single night alone in the closet with all the lights on. I remember just staring around the room with the covers up to my chin, fighting to keep my eyes open until I fell asleep or went blind or something.

Everyone thought I’d gotten better, and I had, but only just enough that I was able to keep it to myself. I slept with the covers over my head right up until one of my siblings left and I finally moved into a big kid room.

Years later my mom told me she thought something else must have happened that weekend, that the nail technician babysitter had done something funny to me, but I don’t think so. I’ve always been “dark.” I just had this wild imagination without an off switch. I think I was mad about being put in the closet, but I’m not the type of person that expresses anger properly. My first reaction to being slighted is that it must be my fault. I am only vaguely considering the idea that ghosts and demons are real and have a way of coming out whenever we’re alone together.

I do go on! I hope that wasn’t terribly boring for you to read. It was surprisingly painful to write.

About the writing and whatnot: I started my novel over today. The first couple of weeks are designed for making mistakes, I figure.

You know, I check my stats for this site from time to time, and I discover that people out there are reading. Often I can guess where you’ve come from and why, but it’s weird when you’re from some state I’ve never been to and I see that you’ve clicked on a lot of links and stayed for an hour. I just hope I’m not letting you down. A blog devoted to talking about pretty much nothing but me and my feelings… I feel like I’m getting away with murder here.


3 thoughts on “the woods, week 2.

  1. I had a similar childhood trauma. Mine concerned Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa. I was terrified of that picture – that ambiguous smile implied something sinister to me. I had a dream (nightmare) over and over again for at least a year when I was six or seven. The dream would start with the normal picture of the Mona Lisa. But slowly, ever so slowly, the dream frame panned in on her (very cinematic, I know), so she was closer, and her smile began to slowly, imperceptibly grow until finally teeth began to show, definitely evil, and then I would wake up. It’s the ambiguity that I perceive that still makes it an unsettling picture for me.

  2. Added Pet Semetary to my Netflix queue. Also, read this quote in This Recording and thought about you:

    “While working at the MacDowell Colony, Powell learned Edward MacDowell had gone mad on the estate, and wondered if his wife “started this place after his death to see how many other artists would be driven nuts by it, too.”

  3. hello –
    i can’t remember if i’ve ever commented here before, but your paragraph re: mystery readers made me want to say hi.
    i’m from ontario. looking back i think i came across your blog by way of a comment that you left on a article.
    i enjoy your writing a lot (though maybe it’s a slightly narcissistic thing because i find a lot of it relatable). i hadn’t ever put into words until reading this that i totally turn anger into guilt in the very same way.

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