“When I was a kid, about eleven I’d say, I experienced something… something that, to this day, horrifies me. Deeply.”
My psychiatrist isn’t listening to me. Although I am lying down facing a window, I can tell he is daydreaming. It’s his breath, too relaxed, and how he is scribbling with his pen. He’s not writing words but drawing pictures, the dollar sign perhaps. But, never the less, I continue my story. I need to tell it out loud.
Yeah, it comes easily because I tell it to myself everyday. Before I go to sleep at night, like a prayer, I go through the events in images like a movie. A beginning, middle and end. It starts with the flash of doors going by me as I run down the hall in the house I grew up in. The corridor extended the length of the house from the front door to my parents’ bedroom. That house is gone now due to urban sprawl, replaced with cheap houses for young couples, but when I was young it was the country.
But anyway, I used to run up and down the hall, door to door, every night, back and forth, with dreams of becoming an Olympic sprinter for Ireland. Gold medals weighing me down. My parents didn’t mind me running because I’d get tired afterwards and go to bed. I bet every parent wished they had a kid like me.
I can see my parents in the sitting room. I’m peeking at them through a crack in the door, my dad sitting in his chair and my mother reading a magazine with reading glasses. People on the TV laugh and my dad wakes up a little bit and looks over to mother to see if she noticed him drowsing off, but she keeps reading.
Next, I see myself in the mirror, my face red from running and my hair sticking up at all different angles. I brush my teeth, making faces at my reflection, pulling wide my mouth and squinting my eyes, sticking my tongue out, white toothpaste dripping down my shirt. I say “Bleugh and boo.” I point my fingers at my reflection like a gun and say, “Bang, you’re dead”, and I fake my death, clutching my chest and rolling my eyes. Finally, I rinse my mouth out.
I’m in bed now, comfy but a little nervous. The light bulb in my room was gone and I’m afraid of the dark. The door is left open, letting enough light in to keep me in bed, but not enough to allow me to shut my eyes. I’d squeeze them shut but they’d spring back wider than before to make sure the door was still open. After a while, my eyes stay more shut than open and it becomes so that when they are open they are too out of focus with exhaustion to even see the door.
Next I remember waking up in total darkness, the door shut. There is movement in my room; I could feel it. I clutched the edge of my duvet, pulling it over my mouth. A thump comes from the closet or something in the closet. My eleven-year-old mind reproduces monsters from old black and white movies that were shown Saturday mornings. Monster from the blue lagoon. An ant monster. A squid monster. A werewolf and a vampire. Frankenstein with the bolts in his neck. All of them in my closet, ready to jump out at any second and devour me. I remember crying and asking the monsters, “Please, don’t eat me.” I didn’t know what to expect from saying that. Even now, when I think back on it, I can’t imagine a good reason why I didn’t just run from the room, screaming or whatever. But I didn’t expect to hear a voice.
“Don’t be afraid, little boy, I’m your friend.” The soft, feminine voice disarms me and I sit up on the bed. The closet door is open slightly and something white moves in it.
“Come closer so I can see you better”, the voice says. I don’t move, just keep staring in the dark of the closet.
“Who are you?” I remember asking, not so much afraid anymore as curious.
“Come closer, little boy. I am weak and I will not hurt you. Come.”
A white, bony hand slowly moves from behind the closet door and reaches forward. The palm faces downward. “Come, child.” The hand shivers slightly as if the words come from it.
I didn’t think, I just threw the duvet off and went to the closet. The doors swung open and I was grabbed around the shoulders.
Two big, brown, doe eyes.
“Shhh, it’s okay child.”
A slender white nose with a pointy tip.
“Don’t scream. Don’t make a sound.”
Thin pink lips.
“I’m your friend. You want to play with me?”
A pale white face, round cheekbones.
“Don’t be scared, it’s completely natural.”
Long black hair, down to the shoulders.
“My name is Michael. What’s your name?”
A bird flies into the window, cracking the glass. My psychiatrist swears and calls his secretary. She comes in with a drink for her boss and fusses over the cracked glass, taking her designer glasses off and putting them on. My doctor apologises profusely and promises to refund my money for this session. On my way out, I catch a glimpse of his yellow pad. On it, he had written in big black writing ‘AQUITTED?’