Sunday, May 1, 2011

A place of dread

(An assignment from my writing class, to describe a place of dread from my past).

It was large, for a garage—comfortably holding two cars with room for shelves on either side. Three rough-wood stairs led to the back yard via an alcove off the north; an old fridge rattled in the corner. Next to those stairs was the entrance to the crawlspace, covered by a slab of plywood pinned to the wall with a pivoting wooden stick. The gaps around the edges of that primitive door were easily wide enough for creeping wolf spiders or squeezing mice or slithering, unimaginable entities to escape the pure blackness in the dirt under the house.

Directly across from the crawlspace, twelve unfinished stairs connected the garage to a small landing, from which one could scurry through a door into the safety of the basement. But to get there, it was necessary to pass the yawning door to the shop, over which a worn, vomit-pink blanket had been nailed to keep the heat in when my dad was working. What manner of creature could be lurking among the furniture-sized machinery, burrowed into the piles of sawdust that drifted around the floor in suspicious paths?

I never dared to look behind me, only felt the tendrils of darkness reaching toward my shoulders, slithering around my ankles. I would try to walk slowly at first but soon was leaping up the stairs, dashing across the landing and finally, slamming the door on the cold fingers of my imagination.