Has something ever happened that you couldn't explain? Maybe when your father's favorite crystal bourbon carafe was knocked over or the last of the sugar cookie dough was gobbled up. But you didn't do it. Your sibling didn’t either. And, of course, your parents couldn't have done it; they're much too grown up to deny such a crime. It's human nature to blame someone else for something wrong that has happened, but what if someone didn't do it? Then who do you blame?
"Theodore!" a harsh and exasperated voice shouted from the kitchen. "For the last time, come downstairs for dinner!"
"Honey," a lower and hopeless voice came from across the dinner table. "You know he'll never come down. He hates us and he probably can't hear you anyway. He's always listening to that--what do you call it again?" the man asked as he put a thick cigar in between his lips. "'Screaming-people-music?'" he finished as he diligently lit the end of his stogie.
"Bill Gibson, no smoking at the table! Not while Daisy's here!" Mrs. Gibson commanded.
"Robs me of my freedom, and robs me of my pleasures too..." He grumbled as he reluctantly took the cigar out of his mouth and crushed the red hot tip on the ashtray sitting by the side of his dinner plate.
"He hates us?" A gentle voice asked sadly from below the table.
"No, dear" Mrs. Gibson's tone changed as she lifted her small daughter into her seat. "He's just..." her voice trailed off as she thought of what to say. "Going through a phase."
Unaware of the time or anything that was happening around him, Theodore Gibson shook his head to-and-fro to the beat of the harsh shrieks and the sounds of raucous guitars blasting through his headphones. Suddenly, a small figure cracked his door open. Without even getting up to see who it was, he shouted, "go away!"
He paused his music momentarily and cracked one of his eyes open. He heard tiny footsteps skitter down the attic stairs that led to his room and immediately knew who had been knocking at his door. As Theodore peered down the stairs he saw what was lying at his feet. There, sitting on the floor was a sloppily put together bowl of ketchup-y meatloaf and a glass of milk. But something was off about it, there had been a bite taken out of his dinner.
"Daisy!" He yelled down the stairs in a lazy, monotone voice. "Don't eat my dinner!"
"I didn't!" She shouted up to his room from just behind the wall next to the stairs. Apparently she had been hiding there until her brother opened the door.
"Yeah, of course, you didn't!" Theodore spat before he retreated back into his room. "Lying little thief..." He mumbled angrily as he grabbed the bowl and fork and slumped down onto his bed, putting his headphones back on.
Theodore enjoyed being alone. He didn't have any friends and almost never left his room. He never smiled, giggled, chuckled or laughed. And most of all, he resented his family, because they could never truly understand him. At least, he thought he did. His room was his favorite place to be; a place where he thought there was complete solace. Little did he know, there was something else sharing his room and feeding off of his hatred.
Theodore hated so much that his own body couldn't contain it. It seeped out of him and into the place that he never left: his room. It crawled out of him and seized the first body it found, sunk into its fabric skin, melted into its meatloaf-sauce smeared, wooden face, burned brightly through its somewhat too cheerful eyes and was absorbed into its mischievous, pointy, red and green hat.
Hours passed and the night was filled with a still and cold silence, the only thing to be heard was the quiet hum of the heat generator. Not even Theodore could stay up this late; great lords of darkness like him need sleep too. Nothing could wake him or pull him out of bed no matter how hard they tried, which is part of the reason why he didn’t hear the solid thuds of his school textbooks dropping off of his desk. They were pushed across the creaky wooden floor and painstakingly stacked on top of each other in front of Theodore’s door.
In between each thud there was a quiet pitter patter of tiny footsteps and occasional a high pitched giggle, but none could be heard by the sleeping boy. Eventually, there were enough books stacked up so that this small creature could reach the doorknob. It slowly twisted it clockwise and let out a quiet, yet mischievous, cackle as it pushed the door open and made its escape down the steps. Suddenly, with the door open and nothing holding it up, the tower of textbooks toppled over and clomped down the stairs.
Theodore would have to have been dead not to hear the ruckus. He got up and rubbed his eyes tiredly.
“School already deprives me of my sleep...what else could make me more miserable?” he sighed, still in his monotone and breathy voice.
He cautiously walked over towards the stairwell and sighed frustratedly because of what he saw, tipping his head all the way back. But, that was the least of his worries. Theodore wasn’t the only grumpy person who had just been woken up by this mysterious occurrence.
“Theodore!!” Mrs. Gibson shouted as she rushed out into the hallway wearing only a nightgown and sleeping cap. “What on Earth are you doing up there??”
Mr. Gibson walked up behind her, yawning broadly and ready to back-up whatever scolding his wife was about to unleash.
“Mo-o-o-o-o-o-m,” Theodore said in an exasperated, drawn out voice. “Theodore is not my name! I told you to call me ‘Lord of Tears.’ I won’t respond to anything else.”
“I brought you into this world and I can take you out! I’ll call you whatever I want to call you, Theodore Horatio Gibson!” Mrs. Gibson shouted sternly.
Theodore cringed as he heard his full name. He loathed his given name with a burning passion.
“What are you doing up there??” Mrs. Gibson demanded. “I know you don’t like school, but throwing your textbooks down the stairs is just childish!”
“I didn’t throw my textbooks down the stairs, Mom.” Theodore sighed.
“Then who did?! A ghost? A spirit? A magical, moving--?!”
“Dolly!” a high-pitched, alert voice interrupted.
Daisy rushed into the stairwell and grabbed a small, red and green elf on the shelf.
Mrs. Gibson still had her hands on her hips, but couldn’t help but smile slightly at the cuteness of her daughter. Her tone immediately softened and she bent down to Daisy’s height.
“Daisy,” she cooed. “You’ve got to go to bed.” Mrs. Gibson looked down at the elf clutched in her arms. “You could take him with you if you want.”
The small girl nodded and yawned, her sudden burst of energy fading away.
As Daisy walked back to her room Mrs. Gibson turned to her son at the top of the stairwell and her mood immediately changed.
“We’ll talk about this in the morning.” she growled.
“I can see who you love more…” Theodore mumbled.
“Did I hear something?!”
“No…” Theodore sighed.
Of course, Mrs. Gibson did hear something and she did know what it was.
“Theodore,” her tone softened slightly as she turned to go back to her room. “I love you. Good night.”
But, he didn’t hear it; he slammed the door as soon as she said his name. He stomped over to his bed, shoved his headphones onto his head and fell asleep, the abhorrence he possessed for his family growing even more.