My shorts are going to be sopping wet. I took my sunglasses from my eyes and laid back on the sticky grass to gaze up at the leafy canopy above me. I closed my eyes. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it. Mom would have--would have what? Does it even matter now? Memories of my deceased mother had been chasing me for days. She’d been dead for years--I was only eight when she passed--but the memories were stronger, here at her childhood home.
My family had been going through old pictures of her. I had tried to be compliant: “Oh look at this one! What a sweet picture!” I do believe those were the last words I had said aloud. Inside, all I could think was Oh gosh. I look just like her. It finally got to be too much. Aren’t memories supposed to be happy? This was more like torture. So I ran. I ran as far away as I could. In the southern heat, I made it as far as the wooded patch at the back of my grandmother’s property. Pine trees, sycamores and weeping willows invited me in with their slightly waving arms. Trees are so much like people, it’s disturbing. I was trying to relax there; clear my head. But it was too quiet. I found myself feeling anxious, bothered. My palms were sweating in anticipation of something, something big. Something monstrous. Must be this humidity.
I felt something touch my arm. My eyes flew open, my heart began to race. I’m getting kidnapped. I drew the courage to look down. A sparrow sat there with its dainty head tilted to the side. Almost as if it were lost and needed to inquire of me where the closest nest was. A nervous laugh escaped my lips. Kidnapped? Really? It's just a bird.
“Well, what do you want, fellow?” I asked the bird.
I jumped. What is going on here. Am I delusional? This heat is ridiculous. Or maybe it was that huge enchilada I ate last night--
I slowly backed away from the sparrow, towards the opening in the woods. I had made it about three feet when I felt a slight gust of wind pass my face and something hard hit my head.
“Ouch!” I looked to see what had hit me. I should not have looked up; as soon as I did my heart began to race and panic began to set in. Eyes. There were eyes everywhere. Large, yellow, piercing eyes. I couldn’t see what they belonged to, and I didn’t want to know.
Follow me. My sparrow friend began to hop further in to the woods. If you want to live, follow me. Now.
I slowly crawled after the tiny bird. He took flight skipping and gliding from branch to branch until he finally perched upon the doorframe of an old, rickety barn that had escaped my attention.
Now, go in.
I’ve seen enough scary movies to know that you should never go into any building that looks remotely creepy. Who knows what’s hiding in the dust and darkness? But a bird was telling me to go. A bird. And when it’s just you and a freaking sparrow against all of those eyes and the unknown creatures those eyes belong to, it’s best to listen. I tentatively set foot inside the wooden structure. One two three four. I counted in my head. Counting always made me feel better, especially counting to the number four. Four is a number of action. When you count to three, you never actually go on three. You go on go which is the fourth item in the sequence. Therefore, four. I stood, anxious, just inside the barn, letting my eyes adjust. My life is in danger and I’m thinking about numbers, a bird is talking to me without actually speaking, and there are eyes out there. I am going crazy. My fowly friend flew past me and rested on an old, rusted piece of farm equipment.
“What do we do now?” I whispered to the bird, ignoring the fact that I might be psychotic for doing so. Desperate times; desperate measures. He cocked his head towards the back of the barn.
Do you see that door? Go through it.
One two three four. I counted as I took halting steps towards the mysterious door. The floor creaked and groaned below me. This could not get any creepier. My hand rested upon the rusted door knob. I took a deep breath, and opened the door.