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Child of Amenta

Child of Amenta

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Published by: stumbleupon on Aug 21, 2012
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01/15/2013

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Chapter 1
All my life I have had trouble sleeping because of the monsters. When I was younger, mymother and I used to have midnight tea parties to scare them away but I felt themlurking
…s
omething strange was in the air. I remembered when I was little and my nightmareswere particularly unmanageable, my poor mother would pull herself out of bed and set my littletable with some cookies and freshly brewed magic tea. She said it was made from a secret
family recipe that her mother and her mother‟s mother 
perfected. It was brewed just to keepaway monsters, and it only worked at night.
For a time, I really thought my mom was some kind of witch…a good witch with special
 powers. If it kept the nightmares at bay, I guess my mom was happy to let me believe just aboutanything.It was the still of night, just before the sky became scribbled with the pastels of dawn. Dadlet me sleep on the couch from time to time. He thought it was a good thing to let me sleep whenI could. I untangled myself from the oversized blanket my father had draped over me andpadded into the kitchen for a cup of tea. I flicked on the kitchen light switch. My cat, Lucky,was wrapped like a black comma on top of the heating duct, seeking any warmth he could find inthe drafty apartment. Feeling sorry for him, I bent and scooped him up in my arms. I sat for awhile at the kitchen table, stroking his rich fur, cooing into his ear.
Why am I not afraid of you,black cat? I should be, by all rights! A black cat should be at the top
of my list, but you’re just 
not that scary
. Although I had intended to make tea, it just reminded me of my mother. I really
didn‟t want to have tea without her, so I sat with my cat and scratched the soft fur that grew
between his ears.I stopped, sudden
ly sensing something was wrong, and I couldn‟t think clearly. Then I
wondered if I had slipped into a nightmare.The feeling only lasted a couple of moments and then was gone as quickly as it had come,but I knew something was different, deep inside me. I wondered why I had felt so strange, as if something powerful had taken hold of my heart and had no intention of letting go. I know nowthat was the moment when the key to earth had been forged.Lucky leapt from my lap and growled from the darkness. He sensed it too. I once heard thatdogs had the ability to see ghosts and that was why they sometimes seemed to bark at the ceilingor the empty corner of a room. Maybe cats could see monsters too. Swooning, I shook my head,feeling all cobwebby and confused.Bed, I weakly told myself. The only place I should be right now is bed, but with bed camesleep, and lately, the nightmares. These were the nightmares of childhood, the real ones, whereyour mom dies or your dad leaves, or the ones where the monsters not only live under your bedbut they come out to get you.
We couldn‟t afford to leave the kitchen light on, so I flipped it off again, hoping the strange
feelings would stay away. Spreading my arms wide, I groped my way along the rough walls of the corridor. My fingers eventually recognized the texture of the waxy wood that framed thebathroom door. I slipped through the doorway, squinted, and flicked the light switch. Peeringthrough heavily lidded eyes, I waited until I was able to function in the stark room.Instead of buying a shaded fixture, the landlord had installed a frosted bulb to tone down theglare. It was old and had a yellow cast that projected onto the linen-covered walls, giving themthe appearance of ancient papyrus. In the socket above the sink, dirt had collected in a roundspot at the bottom of the bulb, and it bulged like an eyeball. Around the mirror, the wallpaper
 
was torn and clung to the wall like burned skin. Yellowed plaster peeked through the holes as if the house itself were spying on me.I turned on the water to the sink, and again, the miserliness of the landlord was apparent.Warm water could only be won by mixing what came out of separate hot and cold faucets in thesink bowl. Cold would suffice. Scooping up water in my cupped hands, I drew it to my face. Iglanced in the mirror and saw a ghost of my former self. Even through clouded mirror, myreflection commanded attention. I stepped back quickly, surprised at my ghoulish image, waterfrom my hands trickling onto the cracked, dirty tile floor. Was that really me? I raised my hand just to be sure and the ghoul followed in kind. I leaned in to look more closely.My skin looked pale, almost transparent, like wax paper. Dark circles ringed my eyes andonly intensified their frigid blueness. My black hair was an eerie contrast to my faded skin. Icombed my fingers through it, and it swirled like smoke around my face. My lips were red anddrawn in a firm, even line. As I studied myself, I thought I looked almost vampiric, like thevictims in those old movies I watched with Mom. I was Lucy, the girl that was always the
 bloodsucker‟s first victim, and like her, I saw myself wasting away. If only a vampire wouldshow up and make me forget…I would succumb.
Late fall in East Hemlock is a very dark time. The clouds sleep on the hilltops and the sunforgets to make an appearance. My Texas tan faded quickly when we came here and I think theclouds just added to my overwhelming feeling of sadness. Now you could call me pale, quitepale. My eerie appearance might have been a result of the light bulb, swollen and wart-likeabove the sink, but even in the yellow cast, anyone could tell I was hurting. Disheartened by myappearance, I turned off the water, hit the light switch with my fist, and again entered thedarkness of the hallway. Lightly running my fingers against the wall, I padded back to bed andcrawled beneath the covers.I soon became aware of a strange noise, a soft lament; unbearably and soulfully tender. Atfirst I thought it was coming from inside the walls, so I pressed my ear against the rough stuccoand strained to recognize the sound. Initially, I thought it could have been a baby or maybe achild, but as I listened, I understood and my heart crumbled. It was Dad crying softly, so I
wouldn‟t hear.
 Listening to my father softly sob through the thin wall was heartrending. He held my
mom‟s illness inside him. He hadn‟t laughed or cracked a smile for months, ever since Mom got
sick. He was always at the hospital, hardly ever with me, and I missed him terribly. I was 17though, and able to look out for myself. That was what I had done for most of the past year, andunfortunately, I was getting used to being alone.
We couldn‟t afford to rent
the best house in East Hemlock, or even close to it, so we settledfor this one. Mom had been sick, in and out of the hospital for about a year. Just over a monthago, Dad quit his job to take care of her and we moved here for some experimental treatmentprogram.In Texas I tended to fade in and out of school depending on how Mom felt, but at least I had
friends there who understood. Here, there was no one. This house didn‟t echo Dad‟s laughter 
like our old house. It was eerie and silent, as if it a
lready housed the dead. I don‟t know if the bad vibe was because of our family‟s unexpected ride on the cancer highway, or if it was the
house itself. All I know is I hated it here.
Dad spent his days at Mom‟s bedside, at appointments, and waiting for he
r to come out of treatments. He said he wanted to spend time with me, but I tried to be in bed when he got home.
I couldn‟t stand to see him so alone, so tired, and so sad. He often opened the door of my room,
 
 just to peek in on me. If it was still early he came in and sat on the folding chair next to my bed.Sometimes he gently stroked the top of my head. He used to do that when I was little and it still
helped me to fall asleep. Sometimes we‟d talk, sometimes we wouldn‟t. I think he just wanted
to let me know he still cared.
As soon as the door opened, I drew up the covers. “I heard you get up,” Dad said softly.“Dreaming again?” He left the lights off and sat on the chair. I think he was trying to hide the
stress of recently shed tears.
“Hi, Dad,” I said. I ignored the question about the dream. “How‟s Mom?”
 
“She‟s okay,” he sighed. “Doc says the treatments are going well and her counts are comingup. It‟s slow, but they are looking better.” He always tried to put a positive spin on everyt
hing.
“I‟m going to see her tomorrow,” I yawned and curled onto my side to face him.“That‟s fine, but after we get you enrolled in school,” he said with as much authority as hecould muster through his weariness. “You‟ve been off for almost a month.”
 
“I want to see Mom,” I stated. I decided to test the school waters; “I don‟t care aboutschool right now. I can catch up later.”
 
“Your mother would kill me if she knew you‟ve been off for so long.” Dad stressed. “Now
get some sleep, we
are
going tomorr
ow.”
 
“Okay. We‟ll talk tomorrow.”
 Dad walked toward the light streaming through the door. It made the shadows even darker.With the light behind him, he became a wraith stalking the doorway. Although I strained to seethe details of his face, blacknes
s enveloped them. “Done talking,” he said. “Sweet dreams.” Hedidn‟t wait for a reply before he shut the door.
 
“Love you too,” I whispered.
 
Chapter 2
 My alarm woke me early the next morning. I rose and walked to the window. It was mid-
 November and the morning sky was grey. Angry clouds spat rain against the glass. I didn‟t have
much of a view from my room; no sweeping vistas or the ocean shore of romantic daydreams.Instead I was met with the cold, black stone houses that littered the neighborhood.We lived in a crowded, urban area, far from the familiar plains and prairies of Amarillo.Instead of wide, open spaces, the houses here jostled for space. Some were shoved forwardtoward the street, and others were nudged into the background, too small to be noticed. Eachgeneration of builders crowded in more and more buildings until the roofs touched each other.Most were black stone, like ours, but others had been covered with siding or stucco that wasbeginning to show its age quite badly. There was a bright spot though; it was so close to thehospital we were able to walk there.As I continued to look out the window at the rainy, autumn morning, a lady across the streetcaught my eye. She must have been on her way to work. As soon as she stepped out of her frontdoor, she began tussling with her red umbrella. When it eventually opened with a violent twistof her wrist, it looked like a perfectly round drop of blood cast on a faded watercolor painting. Ittook a moment, but she finally got her act together and scurried toward the bus stop at the end of the block.I turned away from the window, walked across the small room, and opened the closet door.Dad put most of our things in storage, including many of my clothes. We sold our house because
we needed the money, but we had every intention of going back to Texas…as soon as Mom was
better. I shuffled the hangers and they resisted on the rusty closet pole, making squealing sounds

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