What Lies Beneath?

By Artricia Nou (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

I don’t consider myself crazy. From the things I’ve seen and have done, I wouldn’t be surprised if people raised their eyebrows at me. It’s crazy how a single death affects everything.

I wasn’t considered Dad’s son. I was considered a disappointment. Fine, I don’t get perfect grades nor do I excel at baseball or basketball. My only friend was the cleaning rag that I carried around. It seemed that there was nothing right about me.

Whenever Momma asked me to spend some quality time with my father, I would look down at my shoes and nod my head. She knew that this wasn’t likely going to happen; yet she always continued to ask.

Mom died that morning. Dad’s eyes were rubbed raw, but his cheeks remained dry. His fingers were tangled in the locks of his hair. He kept muttering, “She’s gone. Gone.”

I remember the low whimper that came from the back of my throat. It was a cry of disbelief and denial. For a moment my dad and I stared right through one another. It was he longest eye contact we had ever made. My face got warm and my palms sweated. I left.

I liked to walk through my neighborhood and find random things to fix. Whether it was simply trimming a neighbor’s lawn or aligning a crooked book on the shelf, I would fix it. These tasks reminded me that not everything in life is broken.

A car was parked at the corner of our street. I found myself staring aimlessly at it. I inched towards the car, head cocked. The rear door resembled a crushed Pepsi can. It was registered here, in Pennsylvania, but I had never seen the vehicle in our neighborhood. The foggy windows and dull metal made me cringe. Along with anything that looked messy, I got an urge to fix it.

It was easy to pick up litter off of the ground, but that blue car was a pain. I took out a folded rag and scrubbed the glass panes. Only a dusting of dirt covered the cloth. This one was a stubborn one. I added more pressure and again tried get rid of the filth that was caked onto the car. Why won’t it come off? I huffed a breath-full of air and scrubbed harder. Nothing. Next thing I knew it, I threw the rag on the ground and began blowing kicks into the dented surface.

I was breathing heavily. It took me a second to realize what I had done. That car wasn’t a car anymore. Instead of fixing something, I completely wrecked it. It was the exact opposite of what I wanted to do.  What have I done?

I ran as far as I could. I didn’t even acknowledge the muck filled pond or cooked stop signs. I sprinted with millions of thoughts speeding along side me. My lungs burned inside of me, and my heart was pounding. I kept going until I couldn’t go any further.

When I reached the woods, I collapsed onto the dirt. I crawled into a ball and felt my throat tighten. I forced my eyes shut, trying to stop the tears. She’s gone, I thought. I’m alone now. I drifted off and fell asleep.

The strong stench of pinecones hit my nose and caused me to open my eyes. There was a brief moment of where I did not remember anything that happened the previous day. My thoughts were wiped clear, and for half a second, all I felt was grogginess. After that, my eyes widened and I begged to go back to that half second.

I reached for the truck of a tree to gain balance, but only managed to trip over a hidden branch on the ground. A burst of laughter rose from behind me causing me to jump. I whipped around only to find an amused girl watching me.

What surprised me wasn’t that she glowed in the pitch-black woods. It wasn’t that she wasn’t wearing a pink tutu covered in glitter. No, what surprised me were her wings.

Her dainty feet hovered from the ground along with the rest of her body. Her face was rounded and her eyes were as sparkly as the wings on her back. She giggled once more and zoomed towards a cabin. Curious, I followed.

The door of the cabin seemed enormous compared to the structure itself. Foreign engravings were etched into every inch of the wood. The girl was nowhere to be found. I breathed warm air onto my dry hands any rubbed my arms. I looked towards the sky in search of glittery, pink fabric. I began to get cold. Despite the odd engravings, I yanked the door open and entered.

As I opened the door, a random shimmery light shined. I raised my hands to shade my eyes and saw a flash of pink. The girl flew further through the doorway. I followed her, squinting from the bright gleam of light. She would giggle and then motion me to go with her. Being only ten back then and desperate for company, I followed.

Soon, the brightness faded, and bridge was in front of me. Branches were intertwined and spiraled to form a platform. On the other side was another door. I slowed down to admire the craftsmanship. There was no order in which the branched were placed. It was messy, but for once, I didn’t mind.  I crossed my arms looked towards the fairy.

Her back was faced towards me. She was waving her arms over head. One by one, clumps of fairies approached me. All were smiling and innocently giggling.

“Play with us,” the pick fairy said. My eyes widened at the invitation. I froze. Where they really asking me to play? I have friends now, I thought. The fairies quickly dispersed after gaining my approval to play hide and seek.

“One, two, three…” I counted. Loud, cruel laughter arose. Before I could make it to twenty, I heard a voice.

“See you later, Sammy Wammy.”

Opening my shocked eyes, I was surprised to see the pink fairy girl stand in front of me. Giving me a smirk, she repeated,

“See you later, Sammy Wammy.”

Why did that sound so familiar?

Stop!” I commanded.

“See you later, Sammy Wammy!” she yelled. She was mocking my dead mother. My mouth hung open but nothing came out.

Just like I usually did, I ran. I ran from my problems and escaped across the bridge. My feet thumped on the pathway and caused the spiral bridge to creak. The door on the other side was an exact replica as the one I had come in before. I rammed myself through the door. Gasping for air, I slammed the door shut.

For a while I sat, my arms wrapped around my knees. My breaths were short, and my lip quivered. I couldn’t stop myself from shaking. I didn’t know if it was from the frigid air or from what had just happened. All I knew was that I was scared, cold, and alone.

It was quiet. Maybe they are still hiding, I thought. Maybe I’ll just leave them there. I shook my head. No, that would be mean. I didn’t want to be like the pink fairy, and I especially didn’t want to be alone. I wanted company. I straightened my back and poked the door open.

Through the crack, I saw no bridge. There were no floating fairies, and there was no wild laughter. What lied behind the door was inside of a home. My hand went up to my cheek as I stared at the hands of the clock that hung above the TV. There was a man slumped on the couch. His face showed no emotion, but his eyes were red. He was tugging on the fronts of his hair.

It took me a second to realize that this man was the only company I had left. I walked through the door any sat next to my father.

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