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Strawberry Jam

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Rain trickled down in the small town of Uniontown, Ohio. It wasn't unusual since rain continuously falls down regularly in the same gloomy manner without failing. It's on this day that I sat in the small old fashioned kitchen at the counter covered in the ugly brown, white, and cream colored pattern that my grandparents thought looked pretty back in the day. Now, it was just a reminder of how the taste changes for every new generation. I sighed. I knew that I would end back in this little town, I always ended up back where I started... in this old house that I was raised in for god knows how many actual years. An old house with different colored bricks, green shutters, plastic covered windows, and a bluish green roof that never fails to keep you up at night with creaking and groaning of the house settling in on itself.

It's not actually that big. Just a house with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, two living rooms, a basement painted blood red from when my grandpa used to get free paint from work, and a single kitchen/dining room. The yard is a decent size, but nothing to brag about. My family starting with my grandparents lived in this house since it was first built. My parents decided that since I was their only child, I would get this house, no matter if I wanted it or not, which I didn't. This place haunted my dreams at night ever since my high school days where bullies hung me on the goal post using duck tape.

It wasn't like I wasn't grateful for the things that my parents did for me. It's just that it's tough when you grow up and find your parents always working. You grow up learning to fend for yourself. I fended for myself only to find myself back here after losing my job. It wasn't my choice. I just didn't have anything to return to besides here. I regretted it, but here I am. Inside the house that I hated with a burning passion.

A creak caused me to flinch as I swirled around only to realize that it's the house. I almost laugh, but I catch myself. As my heart returns to its normal pace, I head over to the fridge to get something to eat. It seems like the perfect time to get some breakfast since it is early in the morning, and I have about an hour before I had to head over to work. I wouldn't be able to eat until much later on. There's no lunch break. We're expected to work until we head home. That's the mindset for when you work on fixing other peoples' cars all day.

Every day, it's the same in and out routine. Get up, eat, go to work, work on new car, go home, repeat. It's mind dulling I tell you. Pulling out the container of Hazelnut creamer for my coffee, I went for the jar of jam only to find it missing. I didn't think much of it. I assumed that it was simply gone because it had been nearly empty yesterday. I probably threw it out and forgot about it. Shutting the door, I decided that I might get something to eat on the way to work then pick up some more jam on the way home.

The day went by in the same way as it always did with the routine being broken by my visit to the store where I grabbed a few things including a new thing of strawberry jam. Heading inside my house, I carried the slightly heavy bags in my hand only to freeze when I saw something on the counter. An empty clear jar that I recognized as the one that had once held my jam inside. My heart hammered inside my chest for a moment as I searched my house starting with the basement then working my way up. There was nothing out of place and all the doors/windows were locked. So, I went back to the kitchen and threw the jar away.

It was silly to think that someone had actually broken into my house just to eat my jam, but I can't help thinking that something was wrong. Before going to bed that night, I made sure all the doors were locked then checked my fridge to see that my jam is there. I awoke later when the sound of crashing from down the hall came. My eyes darted to alarm clock sitting on my nightstand that read in bright green lettering "3:33 A.M." I gulped. Isn't this supposed to be the witching hour? No, I shook my head. That's silly. I've definitely watched too many horror movies for my own good.

However, there is something that is obviously in my house! I grabbed the baseball bat that I always kept on the side of my bed just for emergencies like this. Slowly making my way out of room then down the hallway, I made it to the kitchen where the only light was coming from the opened fridge where a dark figure tossed out everything food based. It crashed behind him onto the ground. He didn't turn around, but from what I could see, this figure is a man that is just about as tall as I am. Only, he was no where near the body size as I was. He was a stick.

I just stood there unsure of what to do besides stand there watching. Then, the man seemed to find what he was looking for because he stopped throwing things. He straightened up turning slightly. It's then that he finally noticed me standing with my baseball bat in hand. His eyes were a shade of brown that almost seemed red in the lighting of the fridge, and he had on a plain black t-shirt and ripped jeans. His hair was a messy mop of black that looked like it hadn't seen a brush in ages. He frowned while cocking his head to take me in. In his hands is my new jar of strawberry jam. A smile spread on his face as my heart raced again for the second time.

"Stop where you are!" I finally shouted, "I am not afraid to kick your ass!"

This caused the man to burst out laughing. It was the most frightening laugh that I had ever heard with no real sign of stopping. Rage replaced my fear as I took a step forward. That's when the man stopped laughing. His smile disappeared as a hard and stern look appeared on his face. I took another step, but the man shut the fridge causing the kitchen to be covered in complete darkness. I tensed up while narrowing my eyes trying to find him. A minute passed, then another. He never attacked, but I could feel him in the kitchen with me. Spinning around, I felt like a trapped animal waiting for something to happen. The minute that I knew where he was, I was ready to pound him down with the bat.

However, nothing happened. Then, I felt his presence from the kitchen disappear completely. It's then that I decided to feel my way through the darkness to the other side of the kitchen where the light switch was located. I forced the light on, wincing from the pain of sudden light, but I adjusted to see that I am alone in the kitchen. However, there on the counter was an empty jar that once contained strawberry jam. Needless to say, I decided to move out the very next day. I moved all the way to New York where I joined the garage that a college friend set me up with. It's been a couple months since the incident, and I haven't touched a single jar of jam. Life improved a little. It felt like I was honestly back in the routine that I grew to like so much. It was coming onto the month of April, almost a year since that fateful night when I came home with a buddy of mine from work named James. We both had a couple drinks, and both of us were a little out of it. Now, my place was closer to the bar than his so we decided that he could spend the night since he was in no condition to drive.

"Chris, you should really find yourself a girl." James laughed.

"Yeah, yeah." I chuckled, "I'll find one, if you find one."

We stopped in front of the door to my apartment. It was smaller than my house back in Uniontown, but it was much better than that dump. I shoved the key into the hole then opened the door. Switching on the lights, we entered. Immediately, I felt like something was off.

"Yo Chris, do you have anything to eat? I'm starving!"

"Yeah, there should be a few things in the fridge. Help yourself."

I followed James into the kitchen. I flinched before taking a step back. I shook my head. Sitting there on the counter was an empty jar that had once contained strawberry jam.

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