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The sickening sound of floorboards. Wanting so badly to cry and let myself slowly drift into insanity. But, I couldn’t risk being heard. Footsteps neared my bedroom door, each one eating at me, hammering at my subconscious, telling my death was only a few feet away.
I sat straight up in bed, my heart racing. The realization that I was safe sank into me.
“Just a nightmare,” I muttered to myself.
It was a warm night. I worked my way out of bed and let my hands guide me to the kitchen. The walls were cold against my nervous hands. Turning the corner, a small creak jolted through me as loud as a car crash.
My head spun to see my cat prance into the kitchen. I let out a small sigh and drank a glass of water, keeping myself braced to the countertop, paranoia setting in.
Another creak boomed.
I looked through my doorway into our living room. I stared in silence for a few seconds. After I was sure nothing was there, I let myself head back to my room.
Just as the blanket fell over my bare legs, my mind began to pulse with images of masked murderers creeping through my house. The hair on the back of my neck stood on end. I looked across my teenage messy room, and identified the most weapon-like object in the room. I stared at the warm red glow of the red boombox, it calmed me.
I awoke the next morning to Justin Timberlake, “Bringing Sexy Back” along with the distant drone of a vacuum cleaner. I pictured my mother cranking up the volume, not caring that I was still sleeping. I sat up angrily.
It always puzzled me how my mother could so easily wake me up by cleaning on such a lazy summer day.
“ANNIE!” My mother yelled from her unknown position in the house.
Making my way out my room, I fumbled down the stairs. My mother stood on the shag carpeting just outside the kitchen, winding up the beige vacuum cord. I don’t know why, but I could only think on strange thought.
I bet that carpet stains easily.
“What is this?” She inquired in her regular annoying tone, snapping me out of my carpet daydream.
I followed her extended finger that was apparently pointing to the slightly open back door toward the back of the kitchen. I shrugged and opened the fridge to find the milk.
“So, where did you go last night?”
“Wha—” I was shocked by her sudden accusation.
I hated when she did that, accused me. I always felt like I was on trial, like every word I said was held against me.
“Where?” Her voice rose with frustration.
“To sleep.” I said, matching her frustration.
She shook her head and walked away quietly judging me. Leaving my milk on the counter, I went over to the still cracked back door and shut it. Apparently my mother wanted to make a point by leaving it open. It didn’t work.
Suddenly, I heard a small voice whisper to me, freezing my hand just above the martini glass full of milk.
She probably hates you.
I ran upstairs angry and confused. The voice whispered to me again.
Slam the door.
Cranking up the radio to drown out my anger, I walked to my window. I watched the trees move with the summery breeze. The tune of summer went along with the smoke scratched voices of Areosmith. When my breath began to fog up the glass,my anger trembling finger rose to write my name in the fog, but before it could reach it, a word began to appear.
I watched as the misty lettering of my name formed. This act of, what seemed to be, miracle spelling appeared before me. A whispered growl read.
A small breath of shock left my flushed lips. I was certain I heard it, certain the window had spelled my name. The voice spoke with venom I hadn’t ever heard.
The night is what you fear most. The darkness you can’t even see through the shield that is your ignorant eyelids. What rests behind your eyelids, in the deeper parts of your brain weep knowing they are possessed by me. Every night is a different dream, a different sense of fear. Waking up to witness the last thread of the dream is cut by the scissors of reality. She will get you, Annie. That’s why your father left you, to rot in her grasp. No one believes you, Annie. No one, no one, no one.
I awoke from another nightmare, this one even stranger. I sat in a dark room, the voice whispered to me, telling me about fear, something about reality.
“Mom?” I whispered in to my parent’s dark bedroom. Knowing somewhere in the room the empty husk of my father’s side of the bed loomed cold and empty. I hear a small shift in the blankets, followed by my mother’s hazy reply.
“I can’t sleep.”
I felt foolish. Asking for confirmation from my mother, confirmation that it was ok to relax and sleep. Unable to handle the nightmares the way I had the first few nights they occurred. Now they hurt.
Tears burned the backs of my eyes. I hated waiting in the dark, too scared to move from my seat on the island counter top. My eyes focused on the pale blue light of the old nightlight behind the microwave.
Annie, she’s going to hurt you.
“Mom?” the darkness didn’t answer.
When she comes back, she’ll get you. Get you good too.
“This isn’t funny mom! Stop, please, stop!”
The whispered growl let out a small chuckle, a laugh cold and sickening. The house then became still, and the voice sang to me.
She’ll get you, shell get you, Annie. Get you in her grasp and tear you to pieces, Annie. This house is against you. Don’t worry though, Annie.
The last thing I remember was falling from the counter. My bare feet stuck to the linoleum. I heard the bathroom door open.
Oh, Annie. Don’t be afraid.
“This is a dream,” I told myself, “none of this is real.”
Oh, no, Annie. This is real.
Stay awake. That’s all I could manage. The only way I knew to stop it. Days past, fading into each other. Time didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. The voice was right, no one believed me, no one cared. I was being plotted against. My mother wanted me dead and my father knew it. That’s why he skipped town. That coward didn’t want to be involved.
I was sick.
The morning of my eighth night without sleep, I sat in my bed. A staring contest with the wall across the room raged for hours on end. Hearing the voice carry on about my mother needing to be killed. It would sing to me. Tell me things only I knew about myself, creating an agitated grip on the scissors in my hand. I caught on to the tune of those songs though. They began to make sense. I could visualize the feeling of killing my mother. Drowning her, watching the bubbles stop.
“Annie?” My mom whispered from my doorway, jerking me out of murderous space.
My head turned slowly, the voice ripping at me again.
Do it, Annie. Get her before she gets you. Make the bubbles stop.
“Um, it’s time for breakfast, sweetie.” You could hear the tension in her voice, “I guess I’ll give you a minute.”
After she disappeared from my doorway, I stood and faced my small mirror on the wall. The bags under my eyes were more defined. My skin was pale as snow.
This is you now, Annie. Aren’t you beautiful?
“No.” I whispered weakly to the voice.
After slipping into a pair of skinny jeans and a sweatshirt, I padded barefoot down the stairs. For a few brief moments I stood in the doorway of the kitchen and watched my mother prepare breakfast.
She moved so swiftly, practically oozing happy. I hated it. I hated how she could go on happy while I waited in a pool of misery. I pictured strangling her. Watching her frantic eyes be left without life.
It is time.
“Oh, An,” She paused, stared at my tired face and grimaced, “you scared me.”
I took a few steps towards the counter. Every step I took killed me inside. I wanted to collapse into sleep so badly. Death seemed almost pleasant.
The second I was close enough, I grasped the counter.
“I’m going to the store, Annie.” My mother’s voice startled me. I had almost forgotten she was there.
After noticing the steaming plate of eggs and toast sitting beside the stove, I began to feel the telltale sting of fearful tears behind my eyes and an overwhelming nausea. Without warning, the reassuring feeling of my mother’s lips on the top of my head lasted for only a moment. Then, she was gone.
I stood in the shower, water running down my back.
I turned the shower off to the well known song of my mothers needed death.
Slipping listlessly into my off-white robe, I stared into the mirror. My eyes still held the days I’d spent without sleep. The small creek of the front door caused me to take my tired eyes off the mirror. Mother was home.
I turned back to the mirror to see a face that wasn’t mine. A face that was genderless. Surprisingly, I didn’t scream. I just stared. Nothing seemed important enough to say. I blinked a hopeless blink, and it was upon me. Face to face, I stared into It’s eyes. When it spoke to me, the lips didn’t move. The eyes stared cold like ice.
The time has come, Annie.
I awoke, lying in my bed. My hair was dry, but my skin was covered in a misty layer of sweat. The house was quiet. The sounds of my footsteps were the only thing I heard when I made my way out of my room. I stood at the end of the hall, listening. Silence loomed heavy, making me feel forgotten.
It's in the kitchen, Annie. Go.
A grey figure flitted across the hall. My body slammed back against the closet door. My ears rang with pain.
“What was that?” I asked myself.
I don’t know, Annie. Why don’t you find out?
Against my will, my feet inched down the stairs. Ungodly sounds echoes from the kitchen.
My mother’s voice called to me, “Annie, please help me with breakfast.”
I heard such normality in her voice that I was again struck my overwhelming nausea.
My pace quickened, the doorway growing closer. Within a few second, I was staring into what once was the kitchen. Now, it was nothing. So much nothing I felt sicker.
My mother stood, over the abyss where the island counter once stood.
“Come here, Annie.” It was my mother’s voice again.
I looked into the chasm and stepped into it. I didn’t fall, I moved. Faster than light I was at my mother’s side. The house felt like it was filling with water, drowning us.
She spoke as it were just another day, as if we weren’t standing over an abyss.
“What do you want for breakfast?”
I didn’t respond.
“It’s over, mom.”
“What do you me—“
I rammed the scissors, which remained tight in my grasp, through her chest. I stared into her eyes as the kitchen slowly appeared around us again. Bacon sizzled on the stove, coffee dripped from the machine. She slummed to the now relevant floor. Pride raged with in me.
I released the scissors, saying nothing to go along with the smug smile that crossed my lips.
You got her, Annie. You got her, before she got you.
I wake in a room I haven’t ever seen. I stare at hands that aren’t my own. They are aged and scarred. The door opens to a man I haven’t ever seen. He speaks into a recorder.
“Annie Klidge; sixteen years old, 120 pounds- 5’2.’’ Will be moving her to solitary. ”
He leaves. I stare at the room, beginning to recognize the pale walled room I was in.
I heard him mutter a few more things in to the recorder as he left the room. Something about the gruesomeness of the murder I committed against my mother.
I smile, filled with the same feeling of pride I had when I killed her.
You got her, Annie. Got her good too. You see, everyone knows.
Two men move me to a small room, shutting the door in haste. The walls were plastered with pictures of farms and animals. Supposedly, they were supposed to be calming. I hated them. I thought of the feeling that pulsed through my veins. The feeling of happiness overshadowed by pride as I rammed the scissors through her chest. The splatters of her blood on my face as I cowered in the living room. The stains on that God awful shag carpet from me wiping my red hands on it.
I stand and face a detailed painting of a farm. I feel the urge to sing.
“I got her first; I got her before she got me. I got her I got her I got her.”
Yes you did, Annie. Yes you did.