Something lives in the basement.
It is my daughter who first tells me this, her eyes earnestly blue and so unlike my own.
She stands on her tiptoes and grabs my hand when I drop the fatty dough on the tabletop, flour rising up in an endless cloud of white – swirling, forever turning.
Who tells you this, I ask her, patiently, to which she replies that it was daddy, yesterday, during storytelling time. I say nothing. While I don’t believe that she’s speaking of our basement, I do believe that she is speaking of monsters, but as through the mouth of her father.
As to whatever that means…
There’s a nip in the air on this fine night as we walk next to each other, hand in hand. She asks me what I made of tonight, and I answer that I would just as well not go again unless she wishes to? There’s no answer to that, predictably, and so we keep on walking, hand in hand, as if we hadn’t just been about to make a deal with the devil. We can work on it ourselves, I say, to which she, again, stays silent. I see no muscle move on her face, and yet, somehow, I know that this right here— this is the end of it.
There was nothing to fear – there, under the bed and in the closet – they told me over and over again, but it wasn’t the bed, nor was it the closet, that would keep me awake at night, jostling and turning in my childhood bed. It was the clock, downstairs, reaching upstairs with fingers born from a time as old as the night itself. I never got rid of that fear. Even now, as an adult, it is still there. Nowadays, however, this fear sometimes pays off in unimaginable ways. Like now, for example, as I lie awake in my bed, listening to the footsteps that ascend the stairs in time with the ticking of the clock.
Did I not lock the door?