1.13.2015 Journal Prompt

Original source The Denver Post
Original source The Denver Post

January 13, 2015: Sometimes we saw him.

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One thought on “1.13.2015 Journal Prompt

  1. Mama said pa was to stop with his stories of bogeymen and how he’d come in the night if we was bad and he’d give us what for till we promised to be good ever after. Mama said pa was too frightening with his arms raised in the air and his hands like claws pawing nothing and his face all snarl and crumple. Mama said there was no need to frighten us children so, and leastways not before sleep overtook us.

    Pa laughed and he said in his own voice that me and Marnie’d be ok cos we was always good. ‘The bogeyman don’t never come knocking if you is good,’ pa said, and he kissed Marnie on her head and he kissed me the same, and he said then what he always says when he puts out the light, which is how we is to sleep tight and not let the bed bugs bite. And mama said she’d give him what for cos she changes the sheets and blankets most every week and there ain’t no bed bugs in her beds, no way and no how. Pa laughed and mama laughed, too, and I felt a bit itchy with all the talk of bed bugs, real or no.

    ‘What do you suppose he looks like?’ Marnie said when the door was closed and the dark was sudden upon us. Her voice was made small and thin as breath so as mama and pa wouldn’t hear her talking instead of sleeping.

    ‘What who looks like?’ I said, still scratching at imaginary bug bites.

    ‘Well, the bogeyman, of course.’

    I thought for a minute, not sure if I should answer or if I should let Marnie’s fancy turn it over. I knowed she’d been and done wrong this day. I knowed she’d kissed Cotter Barr and he’d put his tongue in her mouth and he’d touched her under her clothes. And didn’t mama say that was a sin? And now Marnie was fretting over pa’s bogeyman.

    I felt sorry for Marnie then, cos what she didn’t know was that I’d done the same with Cotter Barr the Saturday before and I knowed the taste of the boy’s kisses and the touch of his hand on my new diddies. ‘Ain’t no such thing,’ I said, at last. ‘Ain’t no such thing as a bogeyman. It’s just pa. Like with the tooth fairy taking our pulled milk teeth and leaving behind fairy silver in exchange, and that was just pa creeping on heavy tip-toe and it was just ordinary silver. It’s pa as is the bogeyman, sure it is.’

    Marnie turned in her bed. ‘That’s what I thought,’ she said, but from the way that she said it I could tell she was relieved to hear me tell her it was pa.

    We slept then. We must have. Like logs or bells, which is to say sound. Maybe Marnie dreamed and maybe I dreamed also, and maybe it was Cotter Barr we dreamed on, his kisses and his hands soft as feathers under our clothes and me and Marnie breathless in love.

    And something there was that shook us, sudden, and breaking all sleep. It was a noise at the open-a-crack window, A snuffling noise and a snorting. Marnie asked if I was awake or if she was dreaming.

    ‘It’s the bogeyman,’ she said. ‘Sure as eggs or sunrises.’

    And when I dared to look behind the curtain, there on the other side of the glass was the bogeyman, in the street-light yellow, sniffing after sin, and he was hunched over and black like a shadow and shaped like a bear and with great bear paws patting the window.

    ‘I promise to be good,’ I said. ‘I promise, I promise, I promise.’

    ‘Me, too,’ said Marnie.

    And the bogeyman moved slow and lumbering away and off along the street shaking its big bear head. And maybe it moved on to Cotter Barr’s house, that’s what we thought.

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