UNK SEZ: Happy Halloween! Recently our good pal Stacy Pershall gave her students a special Halloween homework assignment and got them all to write some traumafessions for Kindertrauma! Here is the first one out the gate, a very scary memory of one Cessie Adair! Take it away, Cessie!
Uncle Jed and his new wife, Fran went to bed early, leaving Brad and I upstairs to stay up late watching TV. I had been doing aerobics after dinner so I was still wearing my tan leotard that mademe look like I was naked. At twelve years old I was already concerned about body image. Even though I was muscular with a dancer’s body, I was already concerned about being fat.My brother was sitting on the couch against the wall directly across from the open stairwell that led to the bedrooms downstairs of my aunt and uncle’s town house. I had a hard time sitting still so I was stretching and pirouetting all over the living room carpet that was the same colour as my leotard.
The television was on the top shelf of one of those flimsy rolling type stands with wheels on the bottom. “Don’t Look in the Basement” was on. I think part of the reason I couldn’t sit still was because the movie was scaring the crap out of me. Even though I loved scary movies, I was driving myself mental with some kind of morbid desire to scare the daylights out of myself.
Not only was I driving myself mental, I was also driving Brad mental, getting in his way so I could do a handstand without breaking any thing if I fell. “SIT DOWN!!” he yelled at me. “No! I’m doing my exercises and working on my dance, numbnuts!” He kicked me in the leg so I sat down hard on the floor and glared at him. I decided I would just do my stretching on the floor and pay more attention to the movie.
The movie was getting more intense and I remember the new nurse in it finally discovering that there were bodies in the basement. As she was going down the stairs I started to freak out because in the window directly to the right of the television I saw a shadow of what looked like curly hair.
Pause. I felt someone spying on me. Perverts and creeps from before this day had already caused paranoia in a child who really should be too young to know that someone wants to rape her.As the innocent nurse was finding bodies and the other nurse who was crazy was doing everything she could to stop the new nurse from escaping, I suddenly jumped up without thinking and ran to the kitchen to scope out the knives. I paced quickly on my tippytoes, back and forth in the galley kitchen. The vinyl floor felt so cool compared to the rest of my body. As I looked at the knives I thought that getting a knife was too dangerous and he could kill me with it. Just as I decided to not grab a knife I heard footsteps coming up the stairs. They were soft but quick and just before he tried the door handle to get in, I locked the door.
Then I saw it again, that shadow of a man’s curly head outside the window in the living room. He wanted to hurt me. My heart was pounding and I didn’t know what to do. Terror coursed through my veins like speedballs. Quickly, I was high on adrenaline. My brother was oblivious on the couch. He was used to me running around being a spaz. Then I saw him. The man was coming up the stairs. That’s when I jumped up and down, pounding both feet as hard as I could with the weight of my fit, twelve year old body into the carpeted floor. I felt on fire with fear. I pounded as hard as I could. My aunt and uncle’s bedroom was directly below us.
I screamed, “THERE IS A MAN IN THE HOUSE!!!” pounding the floor until I might pass out. Just as I finished screaming the man disappeared and my uncle came running up the stairs yelling, “What the hell is going on?” I was pointing at the window beside the TV yelling jibberish and pointing some more. Jumping from one foot to the other like I had to go pee right now. My uncle thought I was freaking out about the movie. “It’s just a movie.” He tried to calm me down. I said, “NO! There is a man in the window!” “He’s coming up the stairs!” Uncle looked perplexed and said, “There is NO ONE there!” I cried again, “There is a man trying to get into the house!” Uncle ran down the stairs and into the bedroom across the hall from his room. I could hear him from upstairs. “Jill! Call the police! Someone broke in!”
When I timidly went to the bedroom my brother and I were staying in during our visit, I saw a moccasin on the floor. The guy lost it when he took off. The amazing thing is that he had to crawl under the patio to get into the window. It was a narrow space. How he got out so fast I will never know. What I do know is that I will never be able to think about or see “Don’t Look in the Basement” without recalling that night.