We all deal with grief in our own ways. Some like to have the pity of others. Some like to get angry and take it out on others. Some only want the solitude to sort through their feelings until they learn to accept it.
I drink and keep in solitude. A little different than sitting in solitude sober.
It does help the ache that has bloomed in my chest. An ache I fear may never truly go away, that will always be there and flare when I least expect it.
Like now, I think what Nan would be saying to me as I miserably sit on the lonely, cold floor. I can practically see her sitting in a chair opposite of me - having grabbed her own bottle of wine as we snuck away - making fun of our family just right outside. Saying how she may not be here, but that didn’t mean all the memories we had weren’t still here.
And I know that’s what my family is doing on the other side of that wall. I know I should go out there and be with them, to allow us all to comfort each other as we mourn someone who was the cornerstone of our family. But… I feel like they didn’t know Nan like I knew Nan. That the stories they would share were not like the Nan I knew.
It ignites a spark in me that makes me want to scream at them.
They paint Nan in a light that she was the sweetest woman you would meet, never saying anything negative about a soul. This leads me to believe that they never spent time with her as I did. They never went out people-watching with her, or when someone was getting fresh with us she’d get fresh right back. They never listened to her as she spun her tales to place a little fear inside. Telling me that fear was good for the soul. That fear was what kept you from not quitting.
I think that’s why she filled my head with all her tales. That the wolves I heard weren’t actually wolves but the White Thing. The mythical creature that fell off the train long ago and roamed right outside her woods. Warning me to stay away from the fire tower right outside her property because that’s where it would hunt its prey. She’d warn me of the home several streets away that was haunted and said to be the gateway to Hell, why it’s been abandoned for so long.
I know now they were tales to make sure I never went near those places so I wouldn’t hurt myself, but there was one tale that always stuck with me because I think deep down she’d believe it.
The creature under my bed. The long, willow of a man. The Hollowling was so hollow inside and only could become full from eating children. Only become full after murdering them in ways that were beyond horrific and terrible; in ways that you would never forget. She would tell me how you’d know he was coming, it could be felt in the air. That the world would stop moving, pleading with you to do the same. Telling you to be quiet, to hold your breath, close your eyes tight, and wait for the tap of the pipes. The creak of the floors. The thud of his shoes and the silent hiss as he slips underneath your bed, waiting for you to give in and look for him.
To look below your bed to be greeted by his eyes that were made purely from a void, from all the darkness that he’s caused. He wanted you to experience all of the lives he’s taken and the one he’s going to take from you. For you to have a small, savouring taste before he lunged dragging you down with him.
As I sit here, leaning against this wall, downing more and more of this wine as I go through old memories of her. As I think of The Hollowling I recall that Nan spoke of him the last time I saw her. She was so persistent I listened and heed her warning about The Hollowling. She seemed so on edge speaking about him I chalked it up to her paranoia she’s developed with Dementia. She was so paranoid that as I hugged her goodbye she whispered in my ear, “The world keeps telling me to be quiet.”
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