JESSE (9)

 

Stupid KC. She got me in trouble with mom again. I know mom’s afraid I’ll see something that will scare me and keep me up all night if I look out, but I’m so bored. I can’t see my friends on our right side because we have no windows facing them. I can look through our windows to the house on the other side, but no one’s there. Mom said the lady’s parents live on the street behind us, so they’re probably staying with them.

There’s only old people living across from us and there’s been no sight or sound of them. I think they ran away or died. That’s why I was so surprised to see someone at old man Eric’s.

            His face was really white. Not normal white, but sickly white like my fish’s belly after he died.  There was another thing that kept him from looking like a real person--his eyes.  They were really dark and sunken and serious. He didn’t look right, but he didn’t look like one of those dead-alive things either. He looked like a ghost. I jumped when I first saw him, and then again when he disappeared, but I wasn’t scared of him.

I used to be scared of ghosts. I didn’t know what they were when I was really little, but I learned about them when I’d watch Dr. Who with Hou and KC when mom wasn’t around, and from other shows I’d peep at from the shadow of the stairs. Ghosts back then were pee-in-your pants scary. I’d watch a show with ghosts in it and suddenly it seemed like every dark patch and every creak was something that wanted to haunt me. My mom wondered why I would then sleep in KC’s room when we fought so much, but it’s hard to sleep when there’s stuff under my bed or behind my door that might want to get me.

No, I’m not scared of spirits anymore, they’re just wispy things.  In the movies they’re floaty bits of cold air, and air can’t hurt me.  I know that Spirits can’t hurt me, but the bodies they leave behind can. They can make me lose everything I love.  So I’m no longer scared of ghosts. Instead I’m scared of the dead bodies, bodies that want to bite me and make me like them.  And I’m really scared of the stuff that makes a body dead and then not-dead.

We all stopped getting spooked out over dopey things and instead started to be afraid of things we thought were safe, like water. We’re all scared of water now. Water can’t be trusted. Water brings death.  It brings death and then keeps dead things going.

I’m still having a hard time getting used to this new fear.  I love water. I love my memories of it: swimming in the summer and throwing water balloons full of it and drinking it with lots of ice (especially since KC hates it when I crunch ice around her). I miss taking long baths and playing with all my wind-up bath toys. I miss how good it felt to play in it when it rained really hard. It was one of the few things that KC and I could do without fighting--we would run outside while the skies pounded us with rain and stand in the mini river at the side of the road and splash and dance around until we were as soaked as fish.

Water was supposed to be good for you. Water was supposed to keep you from dying in the desert. We were supposed to drink at least 8 glasses of it every day. It cleaned out scraped knees so I wouldn’t get infections. It kept us from overheating. So how can it suddenly be dangerous?