Something I wrote up for a book I'm writing...
Part I: The Piano Plays
It wasn’t a dark and stormy night. No, the so-fluffy-you-could-eat-’em clouds floated (as the little girl on Monthy street liked to call them), in the sky looking just like cotton balls waiting for you to grab them and feel their softness. (only, they’re too high, the little girl would pout)
Speaking of which, it was also a bright-sky day. (otherwise, you wouldn’t have been able to see the so-fluffy-you-could-eat-’em clouds) Sparrows and robins (or the occasional crow, “black ones”, as the girl would call them) would sing their songs, and fly around. Probably looking for the Twinkie crumbs the little girl liked to throw on the ground for them.
The little girl would ride her own little, red tricycle (because red is my favorite color and daddy knows that, the girl would tell her jealous friends with their boring yellow and blue bikes) down Monthy street. She would squeal with laughter and joy as her “birdie-fans” squawked and chirped after her beautiful red tricycle and, of course, the Twinkie crumbs.
Pedaling as fast as her six-year-old legs could manage, she huffed and puffed until she reached the end of Monthy street. It was the house owned by the Bennet family, (she just called them the Bennies). Getting off her beautiful red tricycle, she rested it by a tall, black lamp post by the front lawn. She began walking (or waddling as her legs could only manage) towards the door.
Billy Bennet (who was also six years old) was a friend of the girl’s. Of course, he pulled her hair sometimes, (because that’s what boys like to do, the little girl’s big brother would say), but never as much as the other boys at the little girl’s church playdates. So Billy Bennett, who would one day be known as “kickedthebucket-Billy”, was the little girl’s best friend.
Billy lived in the big, old house on Monthy street with his grandparents, because his own parents had left. (they div’orst and mommy told gramma to take good care of me, Billy once told the little girl while they played ‘Shoot Me’) When the girl went home that night, she asked her mother what div’orst meant. Her mother only shook her head and told her daughter that that was what a married couple did when they didn’t like each other anymore. The little girl didn’t quite understand, but she just assumed that it meant some type of spanking for the daddy. She laughed at the thought once more before reaching for the doorbell.
On her tippy toes, she pressed the button with her forefinger, but there was no answer. The prospect of doing all that work again (her tippy toes were hurtin’ already) did not appeal to the girl’s mind. So, instead, she sat on the rough, old porch swing Billy’s grampy had installed last summer.
She waited for a while, feeding the birdies her Twinkie crumbs, but as six-year-olds often do, she got bored. Getting on her knees and looking back, she tried to peer through the silky curtains that covered the inside of the house’s front windows. There weren’t any lights on inside (not on a bright day like this, of course, you dummy, she remarked to herself), but there wasn’t any movement either. That was what struck the girl as strange; for both she and Benny had agreed to meet Saturday afternoon and play ‘Wedding’ with Dirk “Dobby” Smith and Marianna Whitmore (the filthy snob, that girl) at the Oakmoore field just behind the little girl’s house.
But Benny didn’t come out to meet her. “Come on now, Benny,” the girl whispered, still peering through the window, “it’s already been five minutes.” It had really been an hour, but the sparrows, robins, and the occasional black-one wouldn’t let her remember over their squawkings for another Twinkie crumb.
The girl cursed under her breath (the notorious z-word that Dobby Smith said would offend a hobo ‘unda-the-bridge’ to the big, fat President). “Zingers…” she muttered, and she immediately felt a little guilty. Yet, at the same time, empowered.
Eventually, Benny did come out. The little girl hugged him, but then stepped away with her hands on her hips. She tried copying the stern (but almost screamin’ like mommy) tone of voice she sometimes heard her mother arguing with her father in. “You are one’a’hour too late, buster!” she said, stifling a giggle.
But Benny didn’t giggle back. He didn’t even look the girl in the eyes. When he did, his eyes were full of something other than mirth. Something other than the joy and excitement of playing with friends. The girl didn’t really recognize it then, but she knew that it wasn’t the type of look you had when you were happy you saw someone. It was the type of look you had when you meet someone, but that someone was sc-
“Let’s go to the Oak’smores now,” Benny said a bit shakily, but still clearly happy about it. About getting away from the house…
The girl forgot all previous thoughts about shadows and those things she saw at night whenever it was quiet around the big closet in her room. The girl took Benny by the hand and led him to see her beautiful red tricycle. (it’s a red one because red is my favorite color and my daddy knows that!). Benny laughed, that childish laugh only six-year-olds could produce, and grabbed his own tricycle. It was just a rusty blue one.
Zooming away at what could only be an eighth-uva-mile per hour on their tricycles (but what felt like boom-thousand speed, Benny said), they rode towards the girl’s house, where Dobby and Marianna (who’s really pretty by Benny’s standards) were waiting for them.
Benny found himself happy. But it was a different kind of happy than the happy he experienced most times he rode with his friend down Monthy street. It wasn’t the type of happy that came from friends. Or was it?
Benny knew that he was happy because of something. He just didn’t know what. He tried thinking “crititacilly” (as gramma said he should). “What made me not happy?” he asked himself quietly as the girl-on-the-beautiful-red-bike giggled with excitement beside him. “It was the house, Benny,” he heard in his head. “It was that scary house.”
“No it ain’t,” Benny replied to himself, “it was the big, bad monster in the house.” Given time to consider it, the voice replied back, “You’re right, Benny. It was something in the house. You don’t like the house because it lives there. Just like beehives. You like the honey, but you don’t like the bees. Isn’t that right, Benny?”
“Yes, I think that’s right,” Benny replied cheerily. “What’s right?” the girl beside him asked. “Nuthin’, “ Benny replied a bit more solemn. He didn’t want his friend to know about the thing that haunted him when he slept at night. She told him of the “spooky stuff” she saw sometimes, and Benny, at one point, even thought that it was the same “spooky stuff” that scared him. But, “thinking crititacilly”, he recognized that it was just one thing that stalked him. Not multiple, as was his friend’s case.
“Nuthin’ at all,” he said again as reassurance, but it wasn’t to reassure the girl. He smiled once more. He was happy. Why? He thought again. The voice came back, “Because of the thing in the house.” Benny nodded. (oh yes, the thing in the house, what was it again?)
In reply, the voice did not speak, but rather, played a note. A single note. A key, but not the kind you put in doors. A musical key. A musical note. And Benny remembered, “It was the piano.”