One of the things I enjoy doing is telling stories to Myles. Before his nap he asks me to tell him a Halloween story. He means scary. I come up with some good ones. When I’m done I ask him if he liked it. He is honest and blunt. I like writing them at times too. Here is one for everyone. I hope you enjoy it.
I wasn’t too happy about going to My Aunt Ellen and Uncle Tony’s house that day. In fact I dreaded it. Normally I’d be thrilled going somewhere with Dad even if it meant that my whiny six year old sister Megan had to come but I knew how Mom felt about these visits to her sister’s house. There was no way out of it. A twelve year old boy could not stay home alone. I liked Aunt Ellen and Uncle Tony , even though he tried too hard to be one of the boys. It was my cousin Tom I didn’t care about. Not Tommy or even Thomas and especially not Tommy boy but Tom, plain Tom. He is twelve like me but we had nothing in common at all. I remember the day it became plain Tom. Everyone was over our house for my sister Megan’s birthday party. I spent most of the time avoiding some of her friends who would sit by me and giggle at everything I did or said. Aunt Ellen and Uncle Tony were beaming about their Tommy boy’s drawings and asked him to show some. I’ve seen them before and I thought they were creepy. It was Tommy boy this and Tommy boy that until Tom said,
“Mother…I am not Tommy boy, I am Tom.
It was not that he said it but how he said it; in a still quiet voice with this stupid stare. Well, no one knew what to say. I think Aunt Ellen was embarrassed. She tried to ease the situation some with a hard pressed smile on her face. “Now Thomas, what has come over you?” He stared at her for a long time and said, “Please, call me Tom.” He then turned his head slowly without his eyes leaving his mother and when his head had turned to where it faced his dad, only then did his eyes slowly turn and look at him and said, “Tom.” He did the same to me. Turning his head without losing eye contact with Uncle Tony and it wasn’t until he had turned in my direction that his eyes met mine and said softly with a slight smile, “Tom.” He got up slowly and left the room. Wow, weird wasn’t it? Ever since then everybody said they noticed a change in Tom; I didn’t. He was always creepy to me only now everyone else saw it.
I don’t know why my dad insisted on driving over there. We lived only a short bike ride away. I had a feeling it was to make a quick getaway if they needed to because it got real strange ever since Tommy became Tom.
When we arrived my aunt and uncle were outside on the porch waiting for us. We said our hellos and did our hugs, which I didn’t care for. They didn’t say anything for a moment then Uncle Tony turned and looked into the house through the front window for quite awhile and turned back to us and whispered, “I don’t want Tommy…eh Tom to hear us. Things have gotten different here lately, I mean with Tommy…Tom, I’m sorry, I can’t get used to that stupid name.” My mom kinda smiled at Aunt Ellen trying to ease the tension. My uncle continued. “He doesn’t talk much anymore. Doesn’t participate in school or see any of his friends. He just sits in the spare room drawing. I hear him talking softly to himself in there and when I ask him about it he smiles and shrugs his shoulders and walks away. We wanted to give you a heads-up because we’re sure you’ll notice the change. Oh yeah, he’s lost some weight.”
I felt my sister Megan’s hand slowly slip into mine. She looked a little scared, then we went inside that’s when I heard my Mom gasp. Jeez, Tommy…Tom looked bad. The hair on my arms rose up and I got this tight feeling in my stomach. He looked terrible. He didn’t just lose weight; he was disappearing into his clothes, anyway that’s the way it looked. Megan was squeezing my hand so hard it was starting to hurt. I pulled my hand away and looked at her to tell her to stop but when I saw the look in her eyes I took her hand again.
Tom said hello in a whispery kind of voice. I thought he was putting it on. He looked at us one at a time with eyes that seemed older than a boy of twelve. His face was very white yet dark at the same time. His lips were dry, even cracked especially when he tried to smile. The smile looked like it hurt. He slowly ran his hand through his hair gripping handfuls of it then releasing it like he was attempting to hold back thoughts. He looked intently at Megan and walked over to her. His walk was jerky, it seemed he had to force his legs to move, and he clumped his feet on the floor loudly.
“Hello Megan, we’re glad you came, would like to look at my drawings?” Megan wrapped her arms around my waist and looked at me pleadingly not to let her go. My dad was standing by a table holding pages of drawing paper and said, “Tommy boy, are these your drawings?” Tom continued to look at Megan then faced my father in his creepy way of turning and replied, “Please, Mr. Davies, I asked to be called Tom.” Dad grinned and jokingly said, “Tom, Tommy, Tommy Tom Tom Tum, whatever, did you draw these?” Tom clumped over to the table and snatched up the papers and grabbed the ones from My dad’s hand and shuffled off saying he was going to his room. My Dad looked at everyone rolling his eyes.
After a while we all sat down to eat. All except Tom. He was still in the his room. This was not his bedroom but a spare room that my aunt and uncle used for storage and now Tom called it his room. I was feeling guilty about not playing with Tom so after we ate I decided to see what was so special about his drawings. Megan came with me because she decided not to leave my side for anything. I knocked on the door a few times but got no answer but when I started to walk away I heard Tom say, “Come in Megan.”
Tom was sitting at a small wooden table in a plain wooden chair; the kind you see at an old library. It was the only furniture in the room. The far wall opposite where he was sitting had a large window that faced him. There were some boxes stacked to my right near the door and some mops and brooms and buckets with old rags inside of them. The walls were painted two colors, yellow on the bottom separated by a wooden chair rail then white above that. The only other feature that stood out was a dark shadow in one corner. The shadow made no sense. It shouldn’t have been there; I mean the room was well lit because of the sun shining through the window but there it was. Tom beckoned us to the table. When we stood next to him he got up and offered the chair to Megan. We began to look at the drawings.
They were pencil drawings and quite good. There were pictures of trains at train stations and children playing in playgrounds. There were some of dogs playing with sticks in unknown yards with unknown children. Pictures of people waiting in lines; lines at movie theaters and supermarkets. I looked up to ask Megan what she thought but she was standing with Tom near the window. I looked at the drawings again and I noticed something in every one. There was always a wall with a shadow in the corner. I looked at the shadows closely and it had something odd around the edges. It appeared to be long black boney fingers with long thin nails. Towards the top of the shadow there was something like long pointy teeth. One drawing made me jump because I saw a pair of large eyes. It was very faint but they were eyes. I wanted to ask Tom what the shadows meant but he was no longer in the room and neither was Megan. The door was still closed. I didn’t hear them leave.
When I returned to the family room I expected to find Tom and Megan but they were not there. I looked in every room calling out for Megan but could not find them and got no response. I went outside in the yard and walked around the house several times. They were nowhere to be found. I returned to the house and told everyone about it. My dad said that they’d show up eventually. The day ended and it was almost dark and we still could not find them. I returned to the room with a flashlight and found a small lamp on the floor next to the box of rags. I turned it on. No one was there but the shadow was. I walked to it and shined the light of my flashlight into it. It just soaked it up. The light beam didn’t penetrate it. It scared the crap out of me. I turned to leave when my heart turned stone cold. Very faintly I saw the eyes I had seen in the drawing and not only that but a smile with long pointy teeth. I ran from the room looking for anyone and everyone to witness what I’d seen. We all entered the room. My mother and father, Aunt Ellen and Uncle Tony and together shined our lights around the room. I directed them all to the corner where the shadow was…it was gone.
It’s been twenty years since that day. We never found my sister or Tom. The police were called that night and a search went on for weeks but they were gone without a trace. Aunt Ellen and Uncle Tony suffered a great deal over the disappearance of Tom and divorced some years later. Mom and Dad were at a loss too. Mom went so far as to consult psychics but that didn’t go anywhere. She stopped seeing her sister completely trying to put the blame somewhere. Dad, well let’s say he handled it his own way at the bottom of a whiskey bottle. I never stopped blaming myself for taking my eyes off Megan that day. I did the best I could to go on. Finished school and went off to college never to return home. I feel Mom and Dad blame me but the weird thing is I kind of know what happened even though the reality is hard to grasp.
I was leaving a store one morning on my way to work waiting for a light to change so I could cross the street when I spotted a strange man dressed in a black raincoat in a doorway of a building across the street. He had his back to me but still something familiar struck me when he slowly turned his head in a manner that caused my bones to chill. His face was strikingly white yet dark. He looked at me and smiled sardonically and began to shuffle off clumping his feet as he walked. He approached a small woman who placed her hand in his and they both continued walking toward the doorway together. I dropped everything I was holding and ran across the street disregarding the traffic and dodging the cars that were slamming on their brakes and honking frantically. As I got to the doorway all I found was a long dark shadow. I looked into it and saw those eyes I saw years ago in the room where Tom and Megan disappeared. I also saw another set of eyes. They were sad and pleading then the shadow dissipated.
I don’t understand what happened only that Tom and Megan now travel the shadows of the world and I can’t stop myself from going from place to place looking into the shadows. My heart is now consumed by those shadows and my grief is as dark.