As I creep down weathered stairs
fear engulfs the mind
Anticipation of the unknown
grabs me every time
Monica M. Brinkman, 2012
The basement in our old house ran the full course of the home. With concrete gray floor, railings propped to hold the structure in place and provide heat to the floor above, it was rather dismal and always smelled a bit dank.
The light switch was at the top of the wooden stairs leading to the large, forlorn space. . I made it a practice of turning on the light before venturing down the staircase, yet it did little to take away the panic I'd feel as I hit that last step and stood on the hard, cold cement. The basement, itself, was spacious and connected to the cellar door via a short hallway and small room which the bats found fit for their needs. Needless to say, I allowed the bats their space, never venturing into their dark abode.
My young mind told me to be fearful of this room was insane, especially since it was the perfect spot to use those steel and leather strapped roller skates I'd received so joyfully last Christmas. Reason took the place of intuition as I slid my Keds sneakered feet into the steel sole and strapped the leather bands tight and secure.
At the onset, I felt free as I rolled across the room, excitement growing while I turned and circled the circumference of the room. Whee! I'm skating through the air, picturing myself the next Olympic champion adorned in pink tights and jeweled top. Yes, here comes Monica so expertly evading the steel columns, turning circles within the open spaces in between. See her twirl and dance, roll and jump, never missing a step.
From out of the corner of my eye I'd see it, just a glimpse, a dart of darkness. "Just your imagination", I'd think, comforting myself with the absurdity of the image. Still, a cold chill ran down my spine, hair standing up at the nape of my neck.
" No! This isn't happening. Daddy said there are no ghosts, that the devil puts such pictures into the world to scare the children."
And I skated, a bit reluctantly as the ghostly images became more brave, showing themselves in rapid succession, darting in and out, around the bend, jumping from the columns as if to touch my soul, as I cornered the room.
Then the laughter began. Haunting me, calling to me that I must believe in their existence, these bleak, gray silhouettes which changed form at their whim. I shut my eyes in hope they would go away, that it was my imagination and nothing more. But they persisted in playing their game of hide and seek until so fearful, I froze in place, eyes full of tears.
Have to escape - so I shouted in pleading voice - " Leave me alone - go away - I dont' want you here." But I knew, as my skin crawled, my nose ran and I shook with fright, they claimed this domain as their own and I was trespassing.
It was time to vacate my playroom and give it back to those who dwelled here. I ran to the bottom of the stairs, placed my foot upon the step and tore off my skate, then the other and sped up the stairs, taking two steps at a time until I reached the safety found on the other side of the door.
Only now would I breathe freely and feel secure and protected.
Time would pass and another day I would talk myself into venturing down the basement stairs once again, only to find my ghostly playmates were waiting for me with open arms.