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Secrets We Once Knew

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The Babysitter

Let me tell you a tale.

I had no name for her. The woman that came at night. My brothers' room and mine were separated by a tiny bathroom which we often left open so I could see straight into their room at night.

I would feel my skin prickle and a chill like someone had strode up my spine. Making my eyes water and my throat tight and I knew what I would see when I leaned down my bed enough to peer through the bathroom doors.

She was always there.

A filmy bluish woman whose long dress seemed to disappear somewhere at the hem. A dress which I perceived to either dark blue or purple despite that I could only see that it was a dim shade. Her hair was light blonde or silver and piled atop her head in a curling bun. Her dress was long sleeved and buttoned down the front. Frilled at the cuffs and at the high neck which seemed to rest just below her long pointed chin. Her nose was very sharp and her mouth seemed rather typical with nothing notable. But her eyes...It was those eyes I found so horrible...

She floated there next to my brothers' bunk beds. Seemingly touching their faces and tilting her head to give them fond looks.

As though she wanted more than anything to touch them.

The older of my younger brothers, Donald, was often found out of his bed at night. When he was about 3-4. My parents once searched all over for him before realizing he was sleeping upright atop his dresser in the corner in the corner of the room. With the drawers pushed in there was no way he could've gotten up there. It was too high and there was nothing around it. And the room was pitch black. But he was there.

And fast asleep.

Mom and dad would often catch him putting puzzles together in the dark as well. Unsure why he'd do it in a completely black room.

My little brother, Clancy, would often flee to my room, seeming so terrified he was shaking.

But once I leaned toward the foot of my bed to look through the doors I would see her and my heart would begin to pound and my gut would sink.

In that moment I was frozen. My eyes glued to her and feeling like I couldn't breathe. I hated seeing her. Every time it was like that.

It took me years to learn not to look. But I was so afraid she'd hurt my brothers that I often still couldn't resist.

But in that moment I stared at her, I felt as if she knew I was looking at her. Even as I thought it her head would slowly turn without the rest of her body moving.

She would make eye contact with me and I felt hatred and simmering fury rolling off her in stifling waves. Then she'd move toward me, like someone stuttering. Fast flickers of appearing and disappearing and then suddenly she was in my face. So close I felt like she was breathing in my air.

Stealing it from me.

I would hunker into my bed and pull the blanket up. Shaking in terror. And the floor heater in my room would kick on. It would get hotter and hotter. The longer she stood there.

Sometimes it felt like she was there for hours and I was paralyzed in that bed. Though I have no idea how long it was in real time.

But sometimes Clancy would run from his room, through the bathroom and jump into bed with me. Scrambling under the blankets and huddling behind me. Tucking his face into my back while I stood locking gazes with her.

As much as was possible...

She had no eyes. Just deep black sockets that seemed to never end.

Black, empty eyes.

I always got the sense that she was looking for a small boy child which might be somewhere close to our house. But I never knew for sure if that was only my childish idea from watching too many horror movies. Or if it was really possible since we lived out in the county beyond a small town and next to a cemetery where it's quite possible that at some point someone had buried a child under the ground our house now stood on.

I tried to explain to my parents what was happening but they thought I was just a small child with a wild imagination. And I could never get my little brother to talk about the woman, even though I knew he saw her too. Everytime I brought her up he would go tight lipped and blink at me.

But I knew he'd seen her. Many times.

But one night I managed to force my throat open enough to shout for my parents while she stood over me.

My dad rushed down the hall and threw open the door. He gasped and asked why it was so hot in the room. He said it was like a furnace.

I was frustrated and told him, "I've told you! I keep telling you! When she's here..."

Dad frowned at me but his arrival had done it's work. With his protective presence and my soothing mom close behind him, rubbing my forehead, they'd chased off what had so been terrifying me.

That was the first time I began to wonder why when my parents had come she'd disappeared instantly. And I was able to conclude at six or seven, that it was unlikely it was them but rather my own reaction to them.

And I began to wonder if I could drive off these things I often saw by trying to calm myself.

However that was a feat far easier said than done.

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