Alphabet Blogs

C is for Catoptrophobia. The Fear of Mirrors

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Opal Perkins bustled around the farmhouse nervously searching for anything that she might have missed.  The place had to be perfect for Omar’s arrival.  She had waited too long and worked too hard to blow it on a forgotten detail like a doorknob or a piece of jewelry.  She’d be damned if she was going to let anyone take him back to that awful place because she screwed up again.

She knew her twin was still sick–that much Dr. Barrett had made abundantly clear–but she wanted her brother home, needed Omar to be a part of her life like she needed to breathe.  It was the sole reason Opal had gone through so much trouble and expense to purge every marginally shiny surface from their family home.  She removed every last mirror, bought the best non-reflective windows and covered them with sheer drapes, and swapped out all the doorknobs, light fixtures, and faucets with modern, matte-finish, black hardware. She even donated all her jewelry and her beloved sequined party dress to the church for the annual rummage sale.  Opal  told herself that she wouldn’t be socializing all that much once her brother came home in any case.

She opted to take all but one of the family photos down from the walls and place them in storage rather than replace the glass.  The image she kept–the one from the Christmas before Omar was committed–had given her comfort throughout the years, and she was unwilling to part with it.  It was the last time her family had been together and happy.  She remembered the love and joy that had filled the house when she looked at that picture, and she wanted so very badly for those feelings to infuse the house again.  So, she had that photo enlarged, framed with non-reflective glass, and hung prominently in the foyer above the console table adorned with a shallow, wooden, bowl of flowers.

The doorbell rang, and Opal hurried to answer it while wiping her sweaty hands on her skirt.  At the door, she paused to smooth her hair and steady her breath.  This time will be different, she silently promised herself.  The bell chimed again, and she put on her most radiant smile before throwing open the door and greeting her guests.

Ignoring Dr. Barrett, Opal flung herself into her twin’s arms and clung to him with all her might.  “Dear God,” she whispered into his collar.  “Please don’t take my brother from me again.”

Omar patted his sister’s back awkwardly.  “Sis?”  His voice trembled.  “I can see it in that picture on the wall.  Mother’s hand mirror.  The one she got for–”  He shoved Opal away and whirled away from the open door.  “Take it down!  I can see it!  It’s going to–”

Before she could stop him, Omar lunged down the wooden steps and disappeared into Dr. Barrett’s van, shattering her hopes beyond repair.

 

Alphabet Blogs

B is for Bogyphobia: Fear of the Bogeyman

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Cayden knew he wasn’t alone in the empty room.  Knew it like he knew his own name.  It wasn’t a ‘feeling’ or a ‘belief.’  It was fact

He also knew that no one would ever believe him.  Oh, sure, they’d pretend.  First, they’d crouch down and speak to the air next to him as if the faceless, shadowy, man-thing leering over their shoulder at him was an invisible playmate.  Then, they’d give Cayden a spray bottle filled with water and labeled ‘Monster Repellant’ in his mother’s handwriting.  And finally, they’d do the obligatory shake down of the dust bunnies under the bed, followed by a cursory, annoyed shuffling of the soft disarray of stuffed animals, cheap toys, and clothes in the closet.

“See? Nothing’s in there that isn’t supposed to be.  Nothing is going to get you,” they would conclude with an exasperated roll of the eyes, implausibly ignorant of the creature huffing in amusement right next to them.  “Now, go to sleep.  You’ve got monster repellant, a night light, your teddy, and the new dream catcher to catch those bad dreams and keep them from waking you anymore.  You’re safe.”  Then they’d turn off the light, and leave him alone with it.  Again.

‘Safe,’ they’d promised.  He hadn’t been safe for what felt like months, not since the man-thing first appeared, slinking through the night to carry away bad little kids like his grandmama had told him.  The first few nights, Cayden would lay in his bed, eyes wide, body stiff as a board, barely daring to breathe, while simultaneously praying that it was gone for good, and listening fervently for any indication that it was already there.  If he fell asleep–which he rarely did anymore–he would claw his way back to consciousness screaming.  Over time, however, his soaring terror had honed his senses to the point that he simply knew when the creature was in the room.  Even when–like now–it couldn’t be seen.

As if reading his thoughts, the man-thing chuckled–a sound that sent icicles plunging into Cayden’s fluttering heart.  Tears flowed unchecked down his pink cheeks as his small limbs shook in silence.  He curled his little body into an even smaller ball around his teddy, and snuggled further under his bunny-print sheet and blanket.  When the bogeyman ran a hand lightly along the curve of his back, Cayden stifled his scream by shoving a fist into his mouth and biting down hard enough to draw blood, but he could not stop the liquid warmth that seeped into his pajama bottoms.

In the morning, Cayden’s empty bed–rumpled, whimsical, bunny sheets stained with tears, snot, urine, and blood–would provide the only proof the boy could have ever offered, but only after it was much, much too late.