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I walked over to the basement door and opened it, looking down into the black abyss with which I was very familiar with. I push my blonde hair out of my eyes so I can see the steps carefully, making sure I don’t trip.
“Can you believe it was three years ago today when I met you? Seem like such a long time doesn’t it Patrick?” I reach the bottom of the steps and reach my hands up; searching for the beaded chain that will turn the light on. My hands roam the air for a few seconds before I feel the cold metal chain touch my fingers. I grab a hold of it and pull down. As soon as I do, light floods into the room from the fluorescent lights that hang on the ceiling.
My basement was not furnished. It was simply a place where we stuffed our unwanted junk. Being that it was huge, it held garbage from at least twenty years ago. We had lived here all our lives and the basement could tell our life story. I looked at the broken dolls and toys that lay by the stairs, things of my childhood. Too broken to play with anymore, but too cherished to even dare throwing out. I stepped over the pile of dolls with no heads and pushed past the rocking horse that’s head was broken in half and covered in a dark brown stain that contrasted with the rest of its white body.
“I used to ride that horse like there was no tomorrow! Did you see the picture of me on it when I was a baby? It’s on the mantle. I’ll show it to you later. “I walked past the shelves of unstuffed teddy bears and moved towards the piles of clothes.
“As you may have noticed my mother is a hoarder. I don’t think she has thrown anything out that I’ve ever used. She’s kept every toy, every shoe, every item of clothing… I’m surprised there isn't a mountain of used tissues that we have to climb over!” I pushed through the piles of red and black clothing from my childhood. Only red and black. I never wore any other colors. They just didn’t suit me like red and black did. But red was my favorite. Most of my dolls used to wear red dresses. The teddy bears would wear red ribbons. And I would wear red outfits to match. It was just such a bright, intoxicating color. I stopped in front of the rack that held my clothes from middle school. I pushed a few aside until I found the outfit I was looking for. It was a sleeveless, red dress with black polka dots all over it. Around the middle was a silk, black ribbon that tied in the back. I pulled it off the hanger and hung it in the air.
“Do you remember this? I wore this when I first met you three years ago. You probably wouldn’t remember, you boys are so forgetful. Hmmm….. I wonder if it still fits.” I undid the buttons in the back and slowly slipped it over my head. “A bit snug, but I could still wear it. Just for you.” I pushed back the rack of clothes and maneuvered my way through towers of boxes.
“Do you remember the day we first met? It was three years ago today, the first day of school. My first day of public school. I didn’t know a soul. And then I saw you. You were wearing a blue button down shirt and pair of khaki pants. You looked so handsome.” I stopped at the box marked with a red “P”. I pulled it out from beneath the other boxes marked with 18 other red letters. I picked it up and moved farther down into the basement.
“I couldn’t keep my eyes off of you. You looked so handsome. Your blonde hair was combed to the side, your bright green eyes filled with excitement when you saw your friends. You were so full of life, so full of joy! I had to talk to you. I had to be your friend. I knew you would treat me differently than the other kids.” I was now facing a dusty brick wall, covered in dried up mud. The end of the basement. I couldn’t go anywhere. “Oh! Nowhere to go…but down.”
I grabbed the shovel lying against the wall. I had put it there when I was five, just in case I might need it. And I always did need it, on certain days. I placed the box down on the ground and turned towards the way that I came. I put my back to the wall and slowly started to walk forward, pacing my steps evenly, counting each with a letter as I always did.
“A. B. C. D. E. F. G. H. I. J. K. L. M. N. O…P!” I drew an “x” with the sole of my shoe on the dirt floor. I took a step back and drove the shovel into the ground I had just marked.
“Every other girl in the class thought you were handsome. You were such a pretty boy, Patrick. Pretty Patrick is what they called you. They said if you wore a dress you could have easily been a girl. No. You were too handsome to be a girl.” The dirt beneath my feet became moister as I dug farther into the earth. The hardened soil soon broke way to softened mud, much easier to dig up. Much easier to get to what I wanted.
“By the end of the day I had said nothing to you. Not a word. Unacceptable if you ask me. So when I saw you walking in the direction of my house, I decided to walk with you. Oh we hit it off great! We were like two peas in a pod. You liked blue and I like red. I liked cats but you were allergic. Your favorite food was pizza but I’m lactose intolerant. We would have gotten along great!”
THUD. The metal of my shovel had hit something. I stopped and tossed the shovel out of the hole I had dug around me. I got on my knees and started to push back the dirt that lay underneath me, blocking me from seeing what I wanted.
“When we reached my house I asked you to come in and play. And you did, so I showed you to my room. But when you saw my dollies, my beautiful headless dollies…. you called me a freak. A freak! Just like all the rest! You weren’t nice and sweet like everyone said. You were ugly! You were ugly and hurtful! Just like the rest! The world didn’t need any more people like you. You tried to run away. To get out… like the rest. But you…you tripped. That’s right you tripped and fell on my rocking horse. You fell four times. There was nothing I could do.” I finally reached the wooden crate. I reached out of the hole and grabbed the box marked with the red “P”. I opened it and pulled out a bundle of newspaper clippings about a missing twelve year old boy Then I reached down to open the wooden crate. I looked at the picture of the beautiful blonde haired, green eyed boy in the picture and then at the contents of the crate. Most of the hair was gone by now. The eyes had been eaten by maggots and worms. The skin that had not rotted away was shriveled up, nearly exposing the bone. I smiled.
“Not so pretty now are you?”I stood above the crate, looking through the clippings in my hand and back at the remains left in the crate. I closed up the crate and put the clippings back in the box and filled the hole back up. When I was done, I put the shovel in its spot against the wall and made my way back toward the other end of the basement. I placed the box back onto the shelf, between the box marked with an “O” and the one marked with a “Q.” I walked to the racks and pulled off the dress, placing it back on the hanger between the other red outfits. I climbed over the pile of old toys and made it back to the stairs. I reached up for the chain that turned on the light just an hour before. I turned off the light and walked up the stairs.
“Good night Patrick. See you next year.”