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Off the Rocker
The old woman sat in her favorite rocker and rocked, sat and rocked. She never moved, never got up, just sat and rocked. She listened to the groan of the porch floor boards under the fluid curved wood of the rocker.
She never moved only sat and rocked day in, day out.
She would watch my friends and I play street hockey. Every month she would watch a different one of my friends. Every month they would disappear. It was always on the new moon of that month they would disappear, like all the other children who did before. The old lady would sit on the porch of her shoe-like house, and watch while she rocked.
This month was different, she was watching me. On September 21st of 2017, I didn't expect to look over at the old woman, and see her looking at me. Me watching her, watching me. She smiled, and paused her rocking. Only for a moment, like a realization, then continued rocking. She didn’t stop smiling
I turned back around away from that haunting sweet old lady smile which I’m certain, is a cover for something. I rejoined my friends on the street, more aware of the distinct -
- of her rocker. We played until dark, or until our parents called us inside, despite our pitiful protests.
“ Carlimae Fallon!” My mother yelled from or cape two doors down, “Get in here
before your dinner gets cold!”
“Okay, okay, I’m coming!” I ran to the house. Feeling the wind on my face and the quick steady pounding of my feet against asphalt. The taste of the crisp, dusk air was sweet in my lungs. The smell of grass already collecting morning dew filled me fully. I would never forget, this is home.
It flowed into my ears causing me to stop and turn quick on my heel, the old woman had stopped smiling. I shuddered, she was still watching. Does she ever go inside?
The rocker was slowing as we continued to stare at each other. Gazes locking, dark, black, bottomless eyes almost enticed me to go to her, almost. I shook off her gaze and slowly walked back toward my house, knowing she was still watching.
The wind now howled in an eerie way that makes me shiver, goosebumps rising on my arms, stinging. The air was thick and heavy, coating my once sweet lungs with a heavy, mildewy feeling. The grasses dew drops kept making my feet slip, not getting a grip on the ground. I reached the front door and paused. I heard her keep rocking on the old porch.
Her eyes burned into the back of my skull as I walked to the house, like if she could stare hard and long enough, she could get into my mind, and take control over me.
I ran through the threshold of the house and slammed the door quickly. I then ran to the calendar in my room. Two weeks. About two weeks until the next new moon.
“Carlimae! Get down here and eat!” My mother hollered from downstairs, evidently upset, “and if I ever hear you slam the door again, you will not have dinner for a week!” She didn’t mean it.
“Sorry mom! I’m coming!” I sprinted down stairs and into the kitchen where my mom was waiting for me to eat.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. I kept tossing and turning, rolling my covers around me like a straight jacket. Every time I got a glimpse of sleep, the old lady’s eyes shone in my mind, and the sound of her rocking chair echoed through my head.
For the next couple of weeks my nights were like this, no sleep, black abysses for eyes and the rocking chair.
I didn’t go outside, my friends asked, and begged me to go out, but I refused. For fear of the old lady’s eyes and the awful sound of the porch under the curved wood of her rocking chair. For fear of being taken, or disappearing altogether.
On the night of the next new moon, I rose out of bed, unwillingly. This is not me why am I doing this? The fear growing inside of me as I stepped outside, as I walked past the mailbox, past the Gades’ house to two doors down, to the old lady.
I walked up her porch now sweating from trying to restrain against my own body.
She was sitting there in her rocker, smiling wickedly sweet at me.
“Hello Carlimae,” she crooned, “you have known that you would come here.” I twisted and turned against whatever was holding me with no prevail. “Come inside, and have some tea.” She stood from her rocker, opened the door, and grabbed my wrist to drag me inside. I sat down on a hard loveseat while she made the tantalizing tea, it smelled so good, and I wanted a taste. A small voice inside said not to swallow it. I will listen to that voice.
The old lady came to me with the tea.
“Drink,” she commanded. I opened my mouth to let in the tea. She smiled again, satisfied as she watched me. I spat the tea in her face and her smile broadened.
She tsked, “feisty one are we? Didn’t mother ever teach you to respect your elders?”
“My mother taught me to fight back!” I yelled at her, and then I screamed.
“Oh Carlimae, no one will hear you, they are all asleep. Now be a good little girl, and drink your tea, even just a sip, and join you new brothers and sisters.” She turned to the mass of children behind her, they were all haunted shadows, willing to serve at her demand. I gasped as I saw my old friends, my mouth open and suddenly dry from realizing what was happening. The old woman took the opportunity and forced the liquid down my throat. I choked and was forced to swallow. I felt dizzy. Then I felt like I was just shot in the head.
I had no remembrance of who, what, where, and when. I was a mindless drone.
“Now, children, go to bed.”
“Yes mother,” we all chorused.
The old lady went back outside. She sat in her favorite rocker and rocked, sat and rocked. She never moved, or got up, just sat and rocked. She listened to the groan of the porch floor boards under the fluid curved wood of the rocker. Until the next new moon.