I was quite a lonely child up until the age of seven. The neighbourhood I lived in as a child was newly built so not many people were living there when my family moved into a somewhat small semi-detached house. The house next to ours was empty and there wasn't a living person in the line of houses until I was around four, but that neighbour didn't stay for long. I found it hard to make friends when I started school, and I lacked a bright imagination, so I couldn't conjure up a special friend that only I could see. I had an older sister, Kara, but she was nearly always out with her big group of friends, and if she ever was at home, she made it clear that she didn't want to play with me.
I spent most of my time reading the dull and lifeless paperbacks my mother got from the charity shop near the neighbourhood. Life could have been better but at that time, it just seemed.. normal. It seemed normal to not have a single friend and spend everyday reading about Donald the dentist or Vicky the vet. I'd wake up, my father would drive me to school, I'd go to lessons and spend break time alone, then go home and read those same books.
But my life kind of changed when I was seven. A new girl came into my class. I wasn't to sure of what to do when she sat down beside me when she entered the class and spoke to me.
“Hi! I'm Alison! What's your name?” She spoke to me in a tone I wasn't used to. It was so...cheerful.
“I'm... Peter,” I mumbled, looking away.
After that meeting she began to follow me around and constantly tried to talk to me. I answered her stupid questions and after a week, we were “friends”. She even invited me to her house, wanting to play this game her older brother had told her about.
I agreed to visit her house that Saturday, feeling.. happy. Happy that I finally had a friend.
My father drove me to Alison's house. As usual, the drive was silent. When we arrived at her house, which was twenty minutes away from where I lived, all he said was that he'd pick me up at dinner time.
Alison was happy to see me and brought me to her room immediately. Her room wasn't as big as mine, but it felt cozy and safe, different from my large but dull and empty room.
The game she wanted to play was hide and seek, a game I had heard of but never played, and Alison said she hadn't played it either. All I had to do was hide somewhere while she counted to fifty.
When she began to count, I ran off to find a good hiding spot. While I was searching, I ran into Alison's mother, who greeted me and then let me continue my search for a hiding spot. As I heard Alison reached forty, I came across a small room with just a closet in it. I threw myself into the closet and sat down, panting.
I was sitting in that closet for a good while, just waiting for Alison to catch me. Thinking about it now, it was such an obvious hiding spot, she should have found me within the first five minutes of her search. I wasn't too sure of what to do, as I hadn't played the game before. I waited a bit longer and then decided to get up and let myself be caught.
I opened the door and called out. Alison came running to the room and asked me where I had been, saying that she had drawn a nice picture for me and wanted me to see but hadn't been able to find me.
I was confused. Hadn't we been playing hide and seek? Why was she drawing?
When I asked her this, she replied her usual cheerful tone, “You're just being silly now, I don't even know what hide and seek is!”
Feeling worried and confused, I decided to drop the subject and go with Alison to see her stupid drawing. My father came to pick me up after an hour of drawing with Alison, and she asked if I could come next week to play the game I was talking about when she found me in the closet. I agreed and got in my father's car.
When I got home, I was given dinner and told to go to my room while my mother cleaned the house, like she did every Saturday. I did what I was told but, when I entered my room, something seemed different. The picture of a cartoon farm that was normally above my bed, was now hung above my desk. My bed was turned around so that the end of it was at the window, but normally the top of the bed was there. I felt so confused, and decided to just go to sleep and try not to worry too much, as they were just small changes.
The following Saturday, I visited Alison's house again and we played that stupid game again. After I explained the rules, she began to count to fifty and I ran off to hide. I decided to hide in the closet again, thinking that it must be the best hiding place if she was unable to find me last time.
Again, I was hiding in there for so fucking long, but Alison didn't find me. She didn't call out, and I didn't even hear her entering the room that the closet was in. I was starting to get impatient, so once again, I got up and left the closet. Alison was in her room, drawing.
“Hi Peter! Where have you been?! I have a nice picture for you.”
Just like last week. She had no idea that we were playing hide and seek and didn't even know what it was. We drew until my dad came to pick me up for dinner and again, I was invited to come and play with her the following Saturday.
I was so fucking confused. How could she forget? Was there something wrong with her?
When I got home, I had my dinner and was told to go to my room, just like last Saturday. Nothing was different in my room this time, but something much more scary and weird happened.
When my mother told me to go to my room, I decided to bring my school bag upstairs with me to complete homework. I was having a hard time with my maths homework, so I decided to ask my sister for some help, as my mother was cleaning and my father was sleeping, and I would have been scolded if I disturbed them.
I knocked on her door and waited. No reply. I knocked once more. No reply again. I called her name and opened the door.
All her stuff was gone. She was gone. I was terrified and ran downstairs yelling. I grabbed the hem of my mother's dress and told her that Kara was gone.
She slapped me. She said that she didn't even know who Kara was and that I didn't have a sister.
I was sent to bed in disgrace, but I was unable to sleep. Why was this happening? Why were things changing?
I went to Alison's house again. Everything that happened last week happened again. We played hide and seek, I hid in the closet, she didn't find me, I got bored and stopped playing, she had no clue what I was talking about, we drew, I was invited back to her house when I was about to leave.
I was getting sick and tired of that cycle. Was this some kind of joke? I didn't want to go back to Alison's house if it was going to happen again.
When I got home, I entered the kitchen to get dinner. Something was different.
The sink that was normally under the window was now beside the kitchen door and the chairs that were black were now red.
This was getting too weird now. Why were things changing? When I had finished eating, I left the kitchen to go upstairs and saw the the stairs were now on the left side of the hall instead of the right. The carpet upstairs was gone and the floor was now tiled. My bedroom was painted green. I lay on my bed and sobbed, feeling utterly confused and terrified.
As the week passed, I tried to stay away from Alison. I didn't want to go to her house, I didn't want her as a friend, I didn't want anything to do with her. She tried to talk to me but I ignored her, and during break, I hid in the bathroom.
When Saturday came, I told my father that I felt sick so that I wouldn't have to go to Alison's house. He didn't care, just told me to stay in bed. As I lay in the darkness, many thoughts were running through my head. What if the closet was the reason everything was changing? It just didn't make sense. I wanted everything to go back to normal, but I wasn't sure if that could ever happen.
Monday arrived quickly, and as I sat on the dirty old bus that got me to school, I was trying to think of how I could break friends with Alison. If we weren't friends, she couldn't invite to her house and then things wouldn't change. At the time, I was too stupid to realize that I could just, oh I don't know, not hide in the closet?
I told Alison at break time that I didn't want to be her friend, and walked away, not wanting to tell her why. Thinking back on it, I feel guilty, because it's not like she was the one changing everything.
The weeks passed, and soon Alison moved away. I didn't have to worry about being invited to her house, and once again I was friendless. I went through school not talking to anyone, and I never told anyone about all those weird changes.
I didn't bother with college, so I stayed living with my parents in that graveyard of a neighbourhood. I would sometimes go on little walks around to pass the time,sometimes walking so far that I would get lost.
On one these walks, it began to rain heavily. I had no coat, so I decided to look for a place to sit until the rain stopped.
I walked for another five minutes or so, and saw a very familiar looking house. It was.... Alison's house.
At the time, I didn't know it was hers, and ran into it needing shelter. The door was pulled off of its hinges and most of the windows had been smashed, but all of the furniture was still there. It almost looked as though the family had just dropped everything and left. I walked up the stairs, wincing when I heard the wood creak loudly. As I reached the top, I tripped over a bit of carpet that was sticking up. I fell forward into a room. A room that was nearly empty, all it had in it was a closet.
I stared at the closet, realizing why the house looked so familiar. It was the closet I'd hidden in when playing hide and seek with Alison.
I stood up and dusted myself off. The closet doors were open, revealing a completely empty storage space. It was almost like the closet was calling me into it. I felt myself slowly walking towards it.
I stepped into it and closed the doors. I sat down and pulled my knees to my chest, just listening to the sound of my own breathing. I nearly pissed myself when a spider came out of nowhere and crawled on my arm. I jumped up and threw myself out of the closet.
By that time it was dark and the rain had stopped. I began to walk back towards my house. There wasn't a single car on the road. When I got to the neighbourhood, I noticed that most of the houses' windows were smashed and even the ones that I remember having people living in them looked abandoned.
I walked up the drive way of my house and pulled my key out. I tried to unlocked the door, but it wouldn't open. Oh, and the door was now red instead of white now. I put my key back in my pocket and knocked on the door, still wondering why my key didn't work.
My mother answered and peeked her head around the door, not opening it fully. She looked at me with a puzzled face.
“Yes?” she said as she opened the door fully. I began to walk in and she stopped me.
“Who are you?!” She pushed me back outside and slammed the door in my face.
No one here knows me. Everything has changed. I don't even look like me. That closet.. I don't know what it did, I don't even know what it is. I've gone back to the house, sitting in the closet for hours, thinking that it might make everything go back to normal. But it never works.
I just want to go home.