My Worst Fear
By Beverly A. Rearick
My heart is pounding against my chest as I open my eyes. The fresh wax on the hardwood floor assists my body as I slither farther under the bed. Confusion bounces through my mind. One moment I am in bed and the next under it. A boom vibrates through the house making me understand the reason for hiding. With concern, I check left and right, looking for my husband, David, bumping my head on the box spring boards. Then it hits me, he is on a business trip. He left three days ago and won’t be back until the weekend.
Coldness from the wood floor seeps through my flannel pajamas. Why didn’t we buy the area rug we were looking at a few months ago? It had been a huge debate, ending with our decision not to since we wouldn’t be lying on the floor. Boy, were we wrong.
Shaking my head, I try to get these nonsense thoughts out, bumping my head again on the board from the box springs. An old decision won’t make a difference now. A part of me wants to believe everything is a dream. When I was a girl, our neighbors had someone rob their house while they were away. After that, I would make my parents check the whole house when we got home. Even now, I would have David do a walk through when we would come home after being away for a while. I never thought this would happen while I was sleeping.
Dust missed during my cleaning makes it way into my nose when I take a quick breath. A sneeze builds up in my sinuses. The hallway light suddenly appears under the bedroom door. Whoever is in my house is now in the hallway. The urge to sneeze builds stronger. To stop it, I squeeze my nose. A picture of a grotesque man coming through the bedroom door, following the sound of my sneeze, fills my head.
Vibrations travel through the floor. They are not strong at first but grow as whoever is in our house comes closer to the door. The thing, can’t believe anything other than a creature, must have checked the other rooms first. In the hope of waking up back in bed, I close my eyes. With my eyes now closed, they won’t open back up for fear of the situation actually happening. Feeling like a young child, who believes a monster is in their closet, I squeeze them tighter.
The vibrations stop. I hold my breath with one last intake of air. The bedroom door creaks open and my mind thanks David. A few weeks ago, we had a huge argument over him getting it oiled. He just kept putting it off and putting it off. If I make it through this ordeal, a big thank you for not listening to me will be going his way. No matter how annoying that sound is, I will never allow that door to be oiled.
The strong odor of sweat hits my nose. It’s mixed with a type of cologne very familiar to me. The different name of the colognes David wears goes through my head. Footsteps moving to the bed bring the smell closer. The name of the cologne comes to me. Well at least my death will come with knowing the name of the cologne my killer wore. A giggle forms in my throat and with great effort, suppressed. Years ago there was an article about people handling stressful situations with humor and at the time it sounded ridiculous.
Suddenly, everything stops. The coldness of the floor disappears. The smell no longer fills my nostrils. The footsteps and vibrations are gone. Is the entire thing over? Did time stop? Am I dead? Although scared about what may happen, I try getting my eyes open. They have a mind of their own and refuse.
The box spring drives into my back, pushing the air out of my lungs. Something is sitting on my bed. When this is over, the bed will be burnt. The smell comes back, but this time with a mixture of mud and dog poop. My thoughts turn to Rufus; not remembering hearing him during this whole experience? Normally, he barks at the slightest noise. My stomach churns. The image of a creature pulling me from under the bed as vomit trails along the floor crosses my mind. The newspaper headline flashes my eyelids: WOMAN DIES DUE TO VOMIT. Another giggle forms and is suppressed.
The nightstand drawer rattles. Odds and ends that we keep there are moved around. What is it looking for? Money? Jewelry? We never kept anything of value in our house. Even David’s mother’s jewelry is in a safe deposit box. The items we typically keep in the drawer are mentally checked off: lotion, extra batteries for the remote, old glasses, coins, pens, a few bookmarks. Some other object keeps moving from my mind’s grasp.
Something touches my face with a brief rush of air. The bed skirt must have moved with the air. Whoever or whatever is above me moved, causing a rush of air under the bed. My family enters my thoughts. My two children, one in college and the other married, were never told one last time of my love and pride for them. What will David do without me?
Lying on the cold floor, my thoughts run through a scenario of David’s life without me; the dryer shrinking his clothes and things left lying all over the house. And the crying. He would cry and cry. As David’s crying runs in my head, the realization that the thing sitting on my bed was also crying comes to me. What did it have to cry about? Anger rises in me. An emotional creature has me trapped under the bed. Another headline appeared in my mind: WOMEN KILLED BY CRYING CREATURE. No giggling this time. I was angry. How could this thing come into my house? How could someone destroy a whole family for some money?
The boards slowly rise from my back. I feel the vibrations of footsteps getting lighter as they move away from me can be felt. The bedroom door creaks as it closes. A slight pause in the vibrations as the door is moved for another squeak. Maybe the door will get oiled after all. The sound of footsteps walking down the steps can be heard. A few minute after they reach the bottom of the steps, the distant bang and glass breaking reaches my ears. Did the creature really leave or is it pretending to trick me so I will come out?
Keeping my eyes closed and staying under the bed, I listen for any sound from the house. When no unusual sounds are heard, my body inches its way from under the bed, my eyes still shut tight. Once out, my eyes slowly open. With wobbly legs, I make my way out of the room, making sure the door creaks. The steps lead to the foyer and a right turn takes me into the living room, where we keep a phone.
Looking around, my eyes land on David, sitting in his favorite chair. I run toward him, then halt before my brain registers what it is seeing. The blood. Blood is all over the back of his chair and on the wall. Our family picture is slanted with the glass missing.
Something black sits on David’s lap. Moving closer, a gun becomes visible. Our gun. “But…. But….” When I look around the room, the flowers filling the room register for the first time. Not flowers picked or bought from the local grocery story. Flowers usually sent when someone….Dies.
This has to be a dream, my mind screams as my body turns and runs up the stairs. My life is worthless without David. Reaching our bedroom, the drawer is still open. The drawer where David always kept the gun. This was the item I couldn’t remember earlier.
Papers are lying on the bed. They are all different shape and sizes. Walking to the edge of the bed and looking down, they come into focus. There are funeral notices and newspaper clippings. The headline on one of them catches my attention: WOMEN KILLED BY INTRUDER AS SHE HIDES UNDER BED.
A hand touches my shoulder. With my heart racing, I turn to face the truth. David pulls me into his arms as we both start sobbing.