Throwing another load of laundry in the water-efficient washer that sounds like no other - a washer that squeaks, groans, whirs, and sounds like a fast-paced train rushing at the house when it's in the drain cycle, I considered humming to disrupt the silence that was unusually foreboding this night. I folded the three loads of clean clothes while trying not to play out the scenes of the horror novel I'm writing, which is as effective as not visualizing a pink elephant after telling yourself not to think of a pink elephant. Your mind cannot help itself, as it is a rebel -it has to think of the pink elephant, especially when told not to do so.
An awful squeak kept coming from the darkened furnace and water-heater room. Can these clothes fold any faster? I reassured myself it was only the damper being moved by the wind outside. Bad things. Bad things happen to little girls in the dark. The walls are whispering. I whipped around toward the door I had my back facing, just to make sure there's no ghastly black spirit standing there. Nope, things were as they're supposed to be. There was no whispering in the walls other than the whispering in the walls of the horror novel I'm writing, "On the Other Side of the Wall." A perfectly creepy scene where suddenly I felt as though I'd somehow managed to jump into its pages.
Against my will, my mind began singing the song in the book when the child fears the dark, fears the face in the window, fears the whispering behind the walls, "This little light of mine. I'm gonna let it shine."
Laundry's done. Finally, I can return to the well-lit safe haven of the upstairs. I struggled to carry the heavy basket, turned off the laundry room light, cloaked in darkness once again. "Charlie," I called my daughter's cat. "Come on, Charlie." I stared out into the expanse of darkness of the open downstairs. His eyes glowed fiercely, like a hidden predator in the night, patiently awaiting his prey. He refused to follow me.
I knew what he was planning, because he's evil like that, but it still didn't stop me from shrieking when he came chasing after me up the stairs while I tried not dropping the laundry basket of clean clothes. The mudroom is the coldest room in the house. I could see my breath.
There was whistling and shrieking and it wasn't coming from the possessed washer downstairs. It was coming from beyond the door, where suddenly fire alarms penetrated the night. It was the type of night where people lock their doors and stay engulfed in synthetic light for a false safety and security.
I heard a crash. The night outside was so dark, I had to press my face to the cold glass window of my door to attempt to see anything. All the while my mind kept playing the scenes from my horror novel. Bad things. Bad things happen in the dark. You must run. You must hide. The darkness child whispered beyond the wall. Something came toward my face, fast, causing me to jump back away from the door.
How many times have I told my daughter to close the storm door so that the wind doesn't whip it back and forth? But wait, something's different. Something's off. There's ... something ... a big shadow in my driveway. I practically got frost-bite on my nose, as I pressed my face so tight to the glass in order to decipher the shadow.
The crash. It was my basketball hoop, having lost the match against the whipping wind, and toppled over into the driveway. I briefly considered picking it up, as it was covering the entire driveway and my daughter was expected home at any minute. All the while, the fire alarms were still going off.
Hell No! I'm not going out there, I thought loudly, while my facial expression mimicked my thoughts with raised eyebrows and adult-like justification that won't, in a thousand years, admit to actually being afraid. Instead, it came down to a 'It's cold out there, and I don't feel like doing it right now.'
Finally, back in the heated, lighted safety of my upstairs, I called my daughter's ride to give her a heads up about my driveway being blocked. When my daughter finally walked through the door, I gave her a giddy hug and told her how much I missed her. She will never know that I used her cat as a safety-base to attempt to keep my fears eased. Nor will she ever know how Mommy shrieked, how Mommy trembled, and how Mommy almost peed her pants in fright, because writing a horror novel in January is some scary shit.