It comes like a bag over my head and I throw my memory back like a grenade but it still arrives.
I’m back in my basement room in Camrose, in the yellow duplex and I’m 7 or 8 at this time. My ‘room’ is a space cordoned off by walls Dad put up with pressed chip board and a flimsy door. The cold dark cement is covered with a light rug covering a large crack in the floor that spiders out to smaller ones like webbing from a spider. I always avoid touching any of the cracks. My belongings are neatly arranged. A Tiffany poster hangs on the wall next to my bed and a Guns n Roses fabric poster hangs as well. I took down the Iron Maiden one I had because the iconic skeleton scared me too much. At the foot of my bed is a wooden closet that is painted a sky blue to cover up the cheap, light wood underneath. It has one of those round, metal concave handles, the size of a twoonie I guess now, that could easily be twisted off and I tighten it every night just in case whatever is inside can get out during the night. Even having this memory today scares the living shit out of me.
My bookcase could easily topple over had I not shoved all of my books in it. My ghettoblaster, the same one my little brother got for Christmas (I think I got one so my parents wouldn’t think he was being favoured but I know that’s the real reason why) sits on my nightstand and this is the same time WHAM has their ‘Last Christmas’ hit on Power 92. I also remember the song ‘Call Me Alf’ and ‘Morning Driving’ on the radio. I religiously listen to my Joan Jett tape at this time, turning it over and over to hear all the lyrics. I take comfort in my few tapes because they were my friends and my company. My lighting is a bare bulb right over the weight set that’s kept in my room. Dad thought it was a good purchase for my older brother, who has since given up all healthy lifestyle and is currently living off of pizza and denotes any hint of depression. No one come down to use it except when my older brother was playing for the football team at the Camrose high school. I hated going to his football games. The crowds terrified me and so did my Dad. So much so that one day I wet myself in the back seat of the station wagon to my embarrassment right in front of my older brother’s friend. I was too scared to ask to use the bathroom because the boys were more important. Next to my bed, I have a metal, cone shaped desk lamp that I keep near just in case the middle of the night comes. It’s brown, cheap and has holes around the edges either for decoration or to let off heat. My immature brain thinks it’s for both and I remember when I burned my fingertips one night accidentally grabbing the wrong part to turn it off after reading. The middle of the night always comes.
I wake up sweating and I can hear myself silently gasping for air. I will myself by screaming in my head to shut up, to not make too much noise because on the other side of the wall is the stairs leading up to the rest of my adoptive family and I don’t want to wake up my dog who is on the same level as me. My dog Corky is in his dog pen which takes up half of the basement. Wooden stakes with wire, a simple lock and his dog dishes is what keeps him company. He’s viewed as much of a nuisance as I am and we make a great team. Sometimes he runs away in the middle of winter and I have to go chasing him in terror, worried that my only friend will desert me forever.
So I cry silently with my nightmare.
It always starts in a pitch black darkness. I’m in my room, I’m sleeping and it inevitably starts. A soft, rhythmic thumping and it increases getting louder and then it starts to bang. It sounds like an off weighted rinse cycle from the washing machine so I creep out of my bed, hesitant to place my feet on the ground for fear of the coldness and for fear of underneath the bed monster. But I go to check the appliances sitting across from my bedroom door. Adjacent to the creepy storage room, (where my Mother keeps this hideous plaster skull with red eyes; I hid it one day but know it’s there and I’m terrified of that too to this day) is the washer and dryer set that came with our rental. But it’s never the washer, if it was I could somehow rationalize the fear in my adult brain and calm the child in me. But it’s not that.
The sound keeps at me, invading my hearing and suddenly I start to feel like there’s some sort of rubber balloon getting bigger, but its not a balloon, not a ball … just a force that grows at me and makes a very high pitched squeaking, like the twisting of rubber, as it grows it starts to suffocate me and at this point my heart beat starts to pulse faster and feels like it’s going to blow up and I’m shaking … and I wake up.
I wake up to a pitch black darkness. I wake up to myself as a 7 or 8 year old having nightmares and I don’t tell anyone.
I don’t tell anyone because I’m isolated in my own skin.
I’m scared of the spider crack on my cold basement floor. I’m scared of the plaster skull with the red eyes in the storage room. I’m scared of burning myself with my lamp and I’m definitely terrified of going to sleep at night knowing that there’s a possibility of suffocation in the middle of the night.