Broken Eyes

Reads: 161  | Likes: 0  | Shelves: 0  | Comments: 0

More Details
Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Scott never had any idea that the monsters he could see didn't exist to everyone else.

Submitted: April 13, 2015

A A A | A A A

Submitted: April 13, 2015

A A A

A A A


Before he was 6 years old, Scott had never had cause to think that what he saw was any different than what other people did. He had been young enough, and innocent enough, that when he talked to himself, and said that he saw was dismissed by adults as part of his imagination, and accepted by other children as a part of a make-believe game. He was extremely fortunate in discovering this so early, and so easily as he did; had he been less lucky, Scott would later realize, he might have been taken away by the white coats, like his sister had threatened.
The discovery, miraculously, was in part thanks to the aforementioned sister, Alex (whose full name was Alexandra- but believed that her name was the first of many injustices bestowed upon her by her parents, and had threatened multiple people, including Scott, with bodily harm if they ever called her by her full name), and it was the only nice thing that Alex had ever done for him- even without meaning to.
This Day of Discovery (as Scott would remember it, mentally, in his later years) took place on a rainy Sunday-Scott remembered that it was Sunday because there was no school, and their father wasn’t home. It had been raining all weekend, which, as any sibling will tell you, is more than long enough for Alex and Scotty to get under each other’s skin and begin to climb the walls (figuratively speaking, that is).
It was also just long enough for Alex, taking advantage of their mother and her frequent weekend migraines, to decide that it would be a good idea to dismantle the generations old grandfather clock that stood guard in the front hall.
Scott only discovered this when he happened to walk from the living room to the kitchen and see her hand on the handle.
“No!” Scott hissed, catching her arm with lightning speed. Alex found herself almost afraid at the burning fear she saw in her little brother’s large green eyes. “You can’t do that!”
“Why can’t I?” Alex challenged him, wrenching her arm from his grip.
“Because the Old Lady will get out.” Scott explained slowly, which only made Alex madder.
“What old lady?” Alex spat, Scott looked at her funny, and then glanced at the clock into the body.
“That old lady, the Old Lady.” He replied, pointing. Alex glanced inside, too, and saw nothing, before looking back at Scott. Scott loved Alex, but the truth was that he didn’t really like her. But one thing about Alex, he’d found, was that she was easy to read; everything that she felt was written plainly on her face. With that said, the look of confusion mixed with anger told him that Alex honestly didn’t see the woman in the clock that he saw, and with that realization, an unpleasant thought began to grow.
If Alex couldn’t see the Old Lady, could she see the rest of the monsters and creatures around them? Could anyone see? Could...could he be the only one?
It was almost like Alex, like most bullies, had the ability to sense the weakness in someone, because she went in for the kill without the perfunctory banter.
“If you’re seeing things that aren’t there, Scotty, than you’re crazy.” She said, sounding entirely too smug about it, Scott would realize later. “Do you know what happens to crazy people, Scotty?” Her voice was sticky, syrupy sweet, and it made Scott nervous. Hesitantly, Scott shook his head ‘no’. “Well, the men in white coats come to take you away in their white van. And then they lock you up, and you’ll never get to see me, or Mom or Dad ever again.”
Scott swallowed thickly and took a step back as Alex stepped forward. “So, are you crazy Scotty?” She asked gently, Scott was quick to shake his head no. With that, Alex skipped off. Scott watched her go, and then, when she’d rounded the corner and he could no longer hear her footsteps, Scott turned back to the clock.
-X-
The Old Lady had never spoken, not as long as Scott had been alive, at least, and he’d been keeping an eye on her.
She lived in the grandfather clock, which, as long as anyone could recall had never been moved or even opened. It was a lovely piece of furniture-a dark wood that had just the touch of burgundy color to it when shined and waxed to perfection; it was Scotty’s Grandma’s pride and joy. Though the clock was cleaned, it had never been moved, in fact, there was a slight raised platform from how many times the floor around it had been scrubbed. It was wound up by opening a small door in the clock’s ‘face’.
Because she'd never spoken, and had never told Scott her name, Scott had just taken to calling her the Old Lady-though, when he was smaller, ‘old’ had been ‘Clock’. But, it should be noted, that as Scott grew, he came to understand that she wasn’t a part of the clock itself, but merely something that had taken up residence there (or was trapped, Scott often thought). In any case, Scott knew that opening the door would only bring trouble-he had the feeling that others in the house felt the same way, except for Alex, apparently.
The old woman was smaller than Scott-at first glance, she wasn’t very threatening, it was only the goosebumps that rose on your arms when you looked at her. Her face was like any old woman’s- creased and lined. She had lips that reminded Scott of raw meat especially when she smiled (which was always)-because then Scott could only pay attention to her teeth-they were long and yellow, and were like shark fangs, brown at the gum line and black at the tips and in between. Her skin was pale white, and papery, like the rice paper that Scott’s grandmother sometimes wrote letters on (she only used it for special occasions, and kept it locked in a drawer in her room so that Alex and Scott wouldn’t use it for drawing paper; because it was so expensive.). The Old Lady had dirty, dusty gray hair twisted up into a bun, with half the strands matted and limp, greasy in what light touched her. The Old Lady had on a black dress stitched here and there with yellowed lace-the dress had begun to fray and was, indeed, dusty from neglect. Her long fingers were always moving, ceaselessly knitting spidersilk with bone white knitting needles. Scott had known from an early age that whatever she was knitting wasn’t normal, and that he should never, no matter what she might imply, with those long, sad looks, that he could never let her out. Even at so young an age, Scott had an instinct for something so ugly as her.
For Scott, ugliness wasn’t something that had to do with appearance; always seeing the unusual creatures around his house had taught him, almost since birth, to look beyond first impressions (and, in truth, to follow his instincts).
Scott watched the Old Lady for a minute; her eyes, which should have been cheerful, but weren’t, were so black they glinted-like beetle’s eyes. They reminded him, though, of Alex’s eyes-nasty-sweetness concealing the sour. Scott couldn’t see the whites of her eys at all…
She clicked her teeth and snarled at him, Scott ran-wishing that her total silence was so complete that she wouldn’t (or couldn’t, if it came to that) laugh audibly.
-X-
Alex had retreated into her room and shut the door- Scott wasn’t allowed into her room when the door was closed, even their parents had to knock, making it as effective as the lock she wasn’t permitted to have. It didn’t matter, really- Alex’s room was her space, and liker her, Scott couldn’t stand to be around it. Instead, he retreated into his own room and into the closet, closing the door behind him and shrouding him in peaceful darkness and silence.
Scott always thought better when he was alone, and when things around him were quiet.
The truth about Scott was that he was different, his Sight aside. It was something intrinsic about the boy- the ways that he held himself, in the way that he looked into people’s eyes, even the quiet way that he smiled; in Scott, there was either something present, or something missing, that wasn’t like other people. His teachers didn’t know how to describe it; they’d seen shy children before, knew how to coax them from their timid shells, but Scott wasn’t shy- he was quiet, but not shy. He would hand back and watch his classmates play; he was a natural observer- Scott wouldn’t hesitate to join if invited, the background was just where he belonged.
Scott knew this in the back burner of his mind- he was clever, but no genius; he just understood himself very well. He just didn’t have the knowledge to know other people, at least, not just yet.
Scotty’d thought about this before, of course-the observer is nature’s thinker. But this wasn’t quite what occupied him at the moment.
In the privacy of his closet, his own sanctuary, Scott allowed himself to think on the monsters.
It wasn’t special, at least he’d never thought so. How could something so natural, normal, for him, be impossible for other people? (If Scott heard Alex in the back of his mind whisper ‘crazy’, well, that was his own business, wasn’t it?) But apparently, that was exactly how things were.
He felt betrayed, realizing that his Mom had only been humoring him when she spoke to the troll in the broom closet (although, if he were being honest with himself, it had been pretty obvious; Wsh’ra wasn’t as tall as his Mom and she always scowled when ‘spoken’ to).
But the thing was that the monsters weren’t limited to his own home; Scott thought about all the creatures that he saw in his school and in the supermarket, and the library, even the street was filled with them-for the most part the monsters kept to themselves and minded their own business, but occasionally he saw them follow specific people, or wave to him.
Even though most of the monsters were terrifying, or intimidating, they were like people; they might have come in different shapes and sizes, but most were ok to know, some were great, and some were downright mean (but they were in the minority)-like the Old Lady, or the Goblins in the school’s boiler room.
For example, the broom closet troll-her name was Wsh’ra (it was actually a lot longer and harder to pronounce, but that was the shortened version of it in English), and even though she as rumpy and loud, she was nice, in her own way. She was a little bit taller that Scott, but she was a friend, and several hundred years older! Or so she said. Wsh’ra was the troll equivalent of what Scotty’s Dad referred to as a squatter- although she might live in the house, unlike Ylse the brownie she contributed absolutely nothing to the household to ‘earn her keep’. She didn’t clean or straighten up or organize the garden gnomes- in fact, unlike other trolls, Wsh’ra didn’t even eat insects! She called herself a masontarian, and ate only rocks and stones- thankfully she did have enough self-control not to eat the house foundations. It was only on full moons that she ate anything else;
(full moons were always special; those were the nights that the monsters and the fae seemed to flock to the Scott’s family’s property. Wsh’ra and Ylse would slip outside and under the moon would dance to the strange music that others would play-Scott had stayed up late to see who came to these parties once, and saw every creature in the neighborhood dancing-the elves and the nymphs, pixies, piskies, even the Black Shuck from the river down the road and selkies from the lakes. Scott had been warned from the cradle, by both brownie and troll, to NEVER go down into the yard on full moon nights; while the two of them liked the little human, other creatures might not. Many still held a grudge against humans for ruining their homes. On these nights everything and everyone would sing and dance and drink Nectar, the glowing liquid that the Fae would make and serve in earthenware cups and ate really weird looking food- Wsh’ra would return to the house at dawn with Ylse, stumbling and singing weird songs to herself. Ylse would have to put her to bed in the broom closet and make her a really nasty smelling potion when she woke up).
Scott thought about all of this in an idle sort of way, allowing the thoughts to swim lazily, occasionally tuning back in to analyze them-granted he thought in simpler terms, but it was more or less the same thing.
He thought about the other things he saw-the shadows that always whispered to each other and shifted shapes when he looked away.
Oh, and Ylse-the fuzzy brownie that did all the cleaning and the dusting at night, and helped the family find things- always in secret (Ylse said that the mark of any good brownie was is how easily they get overlooked-any one of them worth their salt assisted the family and showed no sign of existence and the household suspected nothing). She barely came up to Scotty’s knee, and had muddy brown fur (in color, she was very clean, and for the rest of his life, Scotty would always associate the smell of vanilla and cinnamon with her) and whiskers, and a tail like a gerbil’s. She also dressed in a pale purple pair of cover-alls that Scott had sewn for her himself (after checking to make sure that it wouldn’t dismiss her, like in Harry Potter).
The insect things that swarmed large crowds in the city, the goblins at school (they weren’t pleasant-they smoked and cursed a lot, and often played very nasty tricks on people, usually the custodians). The fuzz balls that cooed, out in the woods, among the hundreds of others outside of his home alone!
But no one else could see them.
Maybe his eyes were broken, he thought out of nowhere, but the thought didn’t stick.
Was he crazy?
The idea that Alex might actually be right was something that Scott wanted to dismiss almost immediately, but his thoughts circled back to it so often that he let it go, just so that he could move on.
He didn’t think he was crazy, but did anyone? Did that homeless man outside of Edie’s, the local supermarket, who shouted about pinwheels in his brain and electrodes and the Illuminati, whatever that was, think that he was crazy? Or did it make perfect sense to him?
Scott felt sick.
-X-
That night at dinner, Scott couldn’t make himself ear. He didn’t speak much, only replied when asked a question or prompted. Alex couldn’t shut up through the meal- Scott had never been more grateful for her idle chatter in his life. He had a feeling that his Mom at least suspected his sister had something to do with his darkened mood (if the way his Mom kept eyeing Alex was any indication, at least), but said nothing about it. His Dad droned on about work and the office and complaints about his boss and The Man (Scott had been hearing about The Man all his life but had yet to figure out his identity). He smashed his peas together with his corn, and picked at his baked chicken before asking if he might please be excused- he wasn’t feeling all that well.
Dad had eyed him and said, “you better feel better, you aren’t skipping school tomorrow.”
“Honestly, George,” his Mom had exclaimed, “he’s in the 1st grade!”
“That’s how it starts!” His Dad banged on the table with his fist, hard, hard enough to make the silverware jump, “let him get sick now and he’ll be cutting classes in high school!”
As his parents bickered and Alex scowled at him, Scott picked up his plate and took it to the kitchen where Ylse was waiting; the brownie took his full plate from him with a soft smile and gave him a small glass of ginger ale. “You ought to lay down, sweetling, if you’re sick. I’ll bring you some crackers and warm milk later, okay?”
“No thanks, Ylse, I think that I’ll just go to bed early.” She nodded and shooed him from the kitchen, saying that he didn’t need to get the household sick by hanging around in there.
Scott followed her advice and headed up to his room-through the servant’s entrance, or so his Dad called it. Scott was too young at the time to really care about his house, or its history, but he’d heard his Dad and Grandpa brag about it enough to give him a vague sort of idea.
Scoty only knew the bare bones about it though; he was aware that the house had come after the land. His family, on his father’s side, had owned the property for several hundred years. The house had first been a small ranch which had burned to the ground, mysteriously. With that small bit of bad luck, a lot of good came after it- Scott’s great-great-grandfather invested the family’s remaining money in a small feed store; the only one in almost a hundred miles. It grew into a general store that carried everything anyone could ever possibly need. This same great-great grandfather had then opened several more stores, all run by the family, The wealth practically rolled in- he had then built the three story house that Scott’s family now resided in (it wasn’t quite a mansion, but it was big enough that it had been given a name by Scott’s forebears; they had named the property Dawn’s Hideaway). There had been 3 maids and a man who kept the lawn, as well as a butler, back in the ‘good old days’ as Scott's dad was fond of saying (usually after a few drinks, and following the statement with a sad little sigh). The market crash had stripped most of the wealth from them- but they’d survived, which was more than many had been able to say. They’d kept the house, but had to sell most of the property that they owned; they’d gone from nearly 250 acres to just under a hundred.
Scott knew nothing of this, and was also unaware of his great-great-uncle; Oliver O’Boyne, who had been stricken from nearly every family tree and record. Family legend had it that this man had been able to see things that the common man couldn’t, and speak with the devil and other unholy servants cast out by the Lord. He had been taken away to a hospital in 1899, where he lived for another 10 years until he died; a casualty of the tuberculosis epidemic.
(It should also be said, in fairness to Alex, that she had no knowledge of the man either; she was just being a snotty older sister when she implied that Scott was crazy.)
-X-
Scott laid down in bed like he said that he would. He pretended to sleep until everyone else was in bed, that was when he opened his eyes again. He hadn’t been sleeping, dozing, napping, or resting his eyes- he’d been waiting for silence. Alex had been ushered to bed at about 9:00, but his Mom and Dad had stayed up for another hour or so, listenin to his Grandma’s old Perry Como records- in his mind’s eye, he could picture the scene; his Mom in her slightly sagging, faded, armchair, reading a book and wrapped in her pink bathroom, or maybe playing solitaire, humming to the records. His Dad would have been smoking his pipe (he’d been able to smell the smoke and tobacco), watching Scott’s Mom (but pretending to read his own book or newspaper; Scott’s Dad still thought that his wife was the loveliest woman on the face of the earth and sometimes could only marvel at her accepting his proposal, and would watch her in amazement, but he hated to be caught or called out on it). The record had eventually ended and they came up to bed.
When the digital clock read 11, Scott felt the prickling on the back of his neck that signaled the arrival of Raw.
Out of the corner of the room he stepped- Rawhead was a tall figure, stick thin and wearing a burlap sack over his head. Frankly, and Scott had told him this more than once, he reminded Scott of Scarecrow, from the Batman cartoons. That only made him mad though. Beneath the sack, Raw had a face that accurately described why he was named ‘Rawhead’; his face was nearly torn apart, save for his teeth and eyes; he has infected sores and injuries, scars on his neck and hands, bloodshot eyes, and a rattling voice that cracked and was clotted at the same time, that indicated throat damage. Scott was aware that Raw was terrifying, but only barely, because he didn’t know how to be scared of him. All his life, Raw had been there; Scott even had vague memories of Raw being there when he learned to walk-at least, he had memories of Raw crouching down and holding his arms out to catch him if he fell.
Raw was Scotty’s best friend- between the two of them was a bond that was palpable beneath it’s quiet exterior. They understood each other, they were almost like brothers, if that were possible between a monster and a little boy.
Raw saw Scott sitting up in bed and grinned, before bowing low and sweeping his hat off his head with an elaborate gesture and flourish, something that had never failed to set Scott giggling- at least before tonight. Tonight, Scott only cracked a soft smile, and that didn’t even reach his eyes.
Cocking his head and narrowing his eyes suspiciously, Raw asked, “what’s up, kiddo?”
Scott couldn’t meet his eyes, instead opting to pick at the bedspread shyly. “Scott?” Raw repeated gently. “What’s wrong?”
“Alex said something to me today,” Scott mumbled, “I’ve just been thinking about it.”Raw raised an eyebrow (rather, the flesh on his forehead where an eyebrow should have been).
“What did she say, Scott?” Scott shrugged, but raw was unconvinced and suspicious. Moving closer, he sat down on Scott’s bedside and turned to face the boy, crossing his legs and resting his elbows on his knees, like a little kid. “Alex says a lot of things, Scott,” Raw reminded, “what did she say this time that has you so upset?”
“I’m not upset.”
“You’re a horrible liar, Scott.” Raw chided gently. “At least, you’re lousy when you try and lie to me, so what stupid thing came out of her mouth today that has you brooding in the corner?”
Scott thought about lying again, but that just didn’t seem right. Pretending you were okay when you weren’t is one thing- lying straight to Raw’s face, when Raw had never lied to him in his life, that just didn’t sit right with Scott.
“I found out today that Alex can’t see the Old Lady, in the clock, you know?” Raw nodded, and Scotty continued. “She said that if I was seeing things that aren’t there, then I’m crazy, and that they send crazy people away. That Mom and Dad will send me away, and I’ll never get to see you, or Mom, or Dad, or Ylse or even Wsh’ra or Alex, ever again, and-” Raw raised a long fingered hand and put it onto Scott’s shoulder gently, stopping his train of thought without any effort.
“Scott, you aren’t crazy,” Raw assured him, but Scott tore himself away from the grip.
“How do I know that? What if you aren’t real? Why can’t anyone else see you? Or the Old Lady? Or any of the other things that I see?”
“Because, Scott, you’re just...different, than anyone else.” Raw began slowly, he was intelligent, but, it had to be noted, the fearsome looking monster wasn’t very articulate. “It’s just...okay, you know how a person might be born with eyes that don’t work quite right? How some people need glasses and others don’t?” Scott nodded. “Well, most people are born with eyes that can’t see things like Wsh’ra, or me, or the Old Lady. That doesn’t make us any less real. You eyes were born right.” Raw finished, rather helplessly.
Or mine are the ones that don’t work. Scott thought bitterly.
“But why can’t they see you?” Scott demanded, not satisfied.
“I don’t know, ok.” Raw admitted. “No one knows why some people can see things like me and the others. Everyone’s got their own theories about it, honestly, but as far as I know, there isn’t a real answer. That is what you wanted to know, isn’t it?” Scott nodded.
The room was quiet for a bit, as Scott thought it over, turning what he knew and had been told over in his mind slowly- the only light came from the luminescent stick-on stars that were on the ceiling. Scott’s Dad had put them up himself, careful that they were exact. When he couldn’t fall asleep at night, and Raw wasn’t visiting, Scott would lie on his back and look up there, he would name the constellations, or make his own.
“Do you have a theory?” Scott finally asked. Raw shrugged, but seeing the look on his friend’s face, he began:
“I think that the truth is that most humans couldn’t handle the truth about us. No offense, Scotty, but your people aren’t the most accepting sort around- they imprison and treat each other horribly for no reason. I know that not all of them are that way, but most can’t handle that there are different things out there that are stronger, who look so different- we are different. I think that that sort of thing has gone on for so long that it’s become first instinct for humans to not see what’s around them. But then there’s Scotty,” Raw pushed a skeletally thin finger into Scott’s tummy; Scott couldn’t help but giggle- Raw knew how ticklish he was. “I think that you can see us because you can accept us. Have you ever been able to look at a person and make judgements about them, just by how they look?”
“No,” Scott replied, disgruntled at the thought of it, “of course not.”
“Well your parents do that, your friends do that- almost every human alive does that. But can’t. Not won’t. Can’t. You’re special Scott. Not crazy.” Raw grinned, and Scott felt better. He didn’t know if he believed what Raw said, frankly he didn’t quite understand all of it. But Raw believed it. And, with the same instinct that told him that Raw was good, and that the Old Lady was bad, Scott knew that Raw was right. At least, right enough to assure him that he wasn’t crazy.
The two of them talked a little longer, before Scott began to yawn and Raw said that it was getting late and he had to leave. Scott climbed under the blankets and turned on his side to face Raw.
“Get some rest, Scotty,” Raw ordered, pulling the covers up to the boy’s chin. “You’ve got school in the morning.”
Scott let himself be tucked in by the boogeyman and wished his friend a good night, while the other wished him sweet dreams.
Scott closed his eyes and dreamt of all the different creatures that were out there in the world. He didn’t have to be a friend-to-all to understand them, or the other things. He was different, but different was good, and being different was just who he was. He had no reason to hide it, and no reason to be ashamed.
Being different, being broken had given him a gift.
And, frankly, he’d be stupid not to make the best of it, and to be anything less than the best person he could be.
Before he was 6 years old, Scott had never had cause to think that what he saw was any different than what other people did. He had been young enough, and innocent enough, that when he talked to himself, and said that he saw was dismissed by adults as part of his imagination, and accepted by other children as a part of a make-believe game. He was extremely fortunate in discovering this so early, and so easily as he did; had he been less lucky, Scott would later realize, he might have been taken away by the white coats, like his sister had threatened.
The discovery, miraculously, was in part thanks to the aforementioned sister, Alex (whose full name was Alexandra- but believed that her name was the first of many injustices bestowed upon her by her parents, and had threatened multiple people, including Scott, with bodily harm if they ever called her by her full name), and it was the only nice thing that Alex had ever done for him- even without meaning to.
This Day of Discovery (as Scott would remember it, mentally, in his later years) took place on a rainy Sunday-Scott remembered that it was Sunday because there was no school, and their father wasn’t home. It had been raining all weekend, which, as any sibling will tell you, is more than long enough for Alex and Scotty to get under each other’s skin and begin to climb the walls (figuratively speaking, that is).
It was also just long enough for Alex, taking advantage of their mother and her frequent weekend migraines, to decide that it would be a good idea to dismantle the generations old grandfather clock that stood guard in the front hall.
Scott only discovered this when he happened to walk from the living room to the kitchen and see her hand on the handle.
“No!” Scott hissed, catching her arm with lightning speed. Alex found herself almost afraid at the burning fear she saw in her little brother’s large green eyes. “You can’t do that!”
“Why can’t I?” Alex challenged him, wrenching her arm from his grip.
“Because the Old Lady will get out.” Scott explained slowly, which only made Alex madder.
“What old lady?” Alex spat, Scott looked at her funny, and then glanced at the clock into the body.
“That old lady, the Old Lady.” He replied, pointing. Alex glanced inside, too, and saw nothing, before looking back at Scott. Scott loved Alex, but the truth was that he didn’t really like her. But one thing about Alex, he’d found, was that she was easy to read; everything that she felt was written plainly on her face. With that said, the look of confusion mixed with anger told him that Alex honestly didn’t see the woman in the clock that he saw, and with that realization, an unpleasant thought began to grow.
If Alex couldn’t see the Old Lady, could she see the rest of the monsters and creatures around them? Could anyone see? Could...could he be the only one?
It was almost like Alex, like most bullies, had the ability to sense the weakness in someone, because she went in for the kill without the perfunctory banter.
“If you’re seeing things that aren’t there, Scotty, than you’re crazy.” She said, sounding entirely too smug about it, Scott would realize later. “Do you know what happens to crazy people, Scotty?” Her voice was sticky, syrupy sweet, and it made Scott nervous. Hesitantly, Scott shook his head ‘no’. “Well, the men in white coats come to take you away in their white van. And then they lock you up, and you’ll never get to see me, or Mom or Dad ever again.”
Scott swallowed thickly and took a step back as Alex stepped forward. “So, are you crazy Scotty?” She asked gently, Scott was quick to shake his head no. With that, Alex skipped off. Scott watched her go, and then, when she’d rounded the corner and he could no longer hear her footsteps, Scott turned back to the clock.
-X-
The Old Lady had never spoken, not as long as Scott had been alive, at least, and he’d been keeping an eye on her.
She lived in the grandfather clock, which, as long as anyone could recall had never been moved or even opened. It was a lovely piece of furniture-a dark wood that had just the touch of burgundy color to it when shined and waxed to perfection; it was Scotty’s Grandma’s pride and joy. Though the clock was cleaned, it had never been moved, in fact, there was a slight raised platform from how many times the floor around it had been scrubbed. It was wound up by opening a small door in the clock’s ‘face’.
Because she'd never spoken, and had never told Scott her name, Scott had just taken to calling her the Old Lady-though, when he was smaller, ‘old’ had been ‘Clock’. But, it should be noted, that as Scott grew, he came to understand that she wasn’t a part of the clock itself, but merely something that had taken up residence there (or was trapped, Scott often thought). In any case, Scott knew that opening the door would only bring trouble-he had the feeling that others in the house felt the same way, except for Alex, apparently.
The old woman was smaller than Scott-at first glance, she wasn’t very threatening, it was only the goosebumps that rose on your arms when you looked at her. Her face was like any old woman’s- creased and lined. She had lips that reminded Scott of raw meat especially when she smiled (which was always)-because then Scott could only pay attention to her teeth-they were long and yellow, and were like shark fangs, brown at the gum line and black at the tips and in between. Her skin was pale white, and papery, like the rice paper that Scott’s grandmother sometimes wrote letters on (she only used it for special occasions, and kept it locked in a drawer in her room so that Alex and Scott wouldn’t use it for drawing paper; because it was so expensive.). The Old Lady had dirty, dusty gray hair twisted up into a bun, with half the strands matted and limp, greasy in what light touched her. The Old Lady had on a black dress stitched here and there with yellowed lace-the dress had begun to fray and was, indeed, dusty from neglect. Her long fingers were always moving, ceaselessly knitting spidersilk with bone white knitting needles. Scott had known from an early age that whatever she was knitting wasn’t normal, and that he should never, no matter what she might imply, with those long, sad looks, that he could never let her out. Even at so young an age, Scott had an instinct for something so ugly as her.
For Scott, ugliness wasn’t something that had to do with appearance; always seeing the unusual creatures around his house had taught him, almost since birth, to look beyond first impressions (and, in truth, to follow his instincts).
Scott watched the Old Lady for a minute; her eyes, which should have been cheerful, but weren’t, were so black they glinted-like beetle’s eyes. They reminded him, though, of Alex’s eyes-nasty-sweetness concealing the sour. Scott couldn’t see the whites of her eys at all…
She clicked her teeth and snarled at him, Scott ran-wishing that her total silence was so complete that she wouldn’t (or couldn’t, if it came to that) laugh audibly.
-X-
Alex had retreated into her room and shut the door- Scott wasn’t allowed into her room when the door was closed, even their parents had to knock, making it as effective as the lock she wasn’t permitted to have. It didn’t matter, really- Alex’s room was her space, and liker her, Scott couldn’t stand to be around it. Instead, he retreated into his own room and into the closet, closing the door behind him and shrouding him in peaceful darkness and silence.
Scott always thought better when he was alone, and when things around him were quiet.
The truth about Scott was that he was different, his Sight aside. It was something intrinsic about the boy- the ways that he held himself, in the way that he looked into people’s eyes, even the quiet way that he smiled; in Scott, there was either something present, or something missing, that wasn’t like other people. His teachers didn’t know how to describe it; they’d seen shy children before, knew how to coax them from their timid shells, but Scott wasn’t shy- he was quiet, but not shy. He would hand back and watch his classmates play; he was a natural observer- Scott wouldn’t hesitate to join if invited, the background was just where he belonged.
Scott knew this in the back burner of his mind- he was clever, but no genius; he just understood himself very well. He just didn’t have the knowledge to know other people, at least, not just yet.
Scotty’d thought about this before, of course-the observer is nature’s thinker. But this wasn’t quite what occupied him at the moment.
In the privacy of his closet, his own sanctuary, Scott allowed himself to think on the monsters.
It wasn’t special, at least he’d never thought so. How could something so natural, normal, for him, be impossible for other people? (If Scott heard Alex in the back of his mind whisper ‘crazy’, well, that was his own business, wasn’t it?) But apparently, that was exactly how things were.
He felt betrayed, realizing that his Mom had only been humoring him when she spoke to the troll in the broom closet (although, if he were being honest with himself, it had been pretty obvious; Wsh’ra wasn’t as tall as his Mom and she always scowled when ‘spoken’ to).
But the thing was that the monsters weren’t limited to his own home; Scott thought about all the creatures that he saw in his school and in the supermarket, and the library, even the street was filled with them-for the most part the monsters kept to themselves and minded their own business, but occasionally he saw them follow specific people, or wave to him.
Even though most of the monsters were terrifying, or intimidating, they were like people; they might have come in different shapes and sizes, but most were ok to know, some were great, and some were downright mean (but they were in the minority)-like the Old Lady, or the Goblins in the school’s boiler room.
For example, the broom closet troll-her name was Wsh’ra (it was actually a lot longer and harder to pronounce, but that was the shortened version of it in English), and even though she as rumpy and loud, she was nice, in her own way. She was a little bit taller that Scott, but she was a friend, and several hundred years older! Or so she said. Wsh’ra was the troll equivalent of what Scotty’s Dad referred to as a squatter- although she might live in the house, unlike Ylse the brownie she contributed absolutely nothing to the household to ‘earn her keep’. She didn’t clean or straighten up or organize the garden gnomes- in fact, unlike other trolls, Wsh’ra didn’t even eat insects! She called herself a masontarian, and ate only rocks and stones- thankfully she did have enough self-control not to eat the house foundations. It was only on full moons that she ate anything else;
(full moons were always special; those were the nights that the monsters and the fae seemed to flock to the Scott’s family’s property. Wsh’ra and Ylse would slip outside and under the moon would dance to the strange music that others would play-Scott had stayed up late to see who came to these parties once, and saw every creature in the neighborhood dancing-the elves and the nymphs, pixies, piskies, even the Black Shuck from the river down the road and selkies from the lakes. Scott had been warned from the cradle, by both brownie and troll, to NEVER go down into the yard on full moon nights; while the two of them liked the little human, other creatures might not. Many still held a grudge against humans for ruining their homes. On these nights everything and everyone would sing and dance and drink Nectar, the glowing liquid that the Fae would make and serve in earthenware cups and ate really weird looking food- Wsh’ra would return to the house at dawn with Ylse, stumbling and singing weird songs to herself. Ylse would have to put her to bed in the broom closet and make her a really nasty smelling potion when she woke up).
Scott thought about all of this in an idle sort of way, allowing the thoughts to swim lazily, occasionally tuning back in to analyze them-granted he thought in simpler terms, but it was more or less the same thing.
He thought about the other things he saw-the shadows that always whispered to each other and shifted shapes when he looked away.
Oh, and Ylse-the fuzzy brownie that did all the cleaning and the dusting at night, and helped the family find things- always in secret (Ylse said that the mark of any good brownie was is how easily they get overlooked-any one of them worth their salt assisted the family and showed no sign of existence and the household suspected nothing). She barely came up to Scotty’s knee, and had muddy brown fur (in color, she was very clean, and for the rest of his life, Scotty would always associate the smell of vanilla and cinnamon with her) and whiskers, and a tail like a gerbil’s. She also dressed in a pale purple pair of cover-alls that Scott had sewn for her himself (after checking to make sure that it wouldn’t dismiss her, like in Harry Potter).
The insect things that swarmed large crowds in the city, the goblins at school (they weren’t pleasant-they smoked and cursed a lot, and often played very nasty tricks on people, usually the custodians). The fuzz balls that cooed, out in the woods, among the hundreds of others outside of his home alone!
But no one else could see them.
Maybe his eyes were broken, he thought out of nowhere, but the thought didn’t stick.
Was he crazy?
The idea that Alex might actually be right was something that Scott wanted to dismiss almost immediately, but his thoughts circled back to it so often that he let it go, just so that he could move on.
He didn’t think he was crazy, but did anyone? Did that homeless man outside of Edie’s, the local supermarket, who shouted about pinwheels in his brain and electrodes and the Illuminati, whatever that was, think that he was crazy? Or did it make perfect sense to him?
Scott felt sick.
-X-
That night at dinner, Scott couldn’t make himself ear. He didn’t speak much, only replied when asked a question or prompted. Alex couldn’t shut up through the meal- Scott had never been more grateful for her idle chatter in his life. He had a feeling that his Mom at least suspected his sister had something to do with his darkened mood (if the way his Mom kept eyeing Alex was any indication, at least), but said nothing about it. His Dad droned on about work and the office and complaints about his boss and The Man (Scott had been hearing about The Man all his life but had yet to figure out his identity). He smashed his peas together with his corn, and picked at his baked chicken before asking if he might please be excused- he wasn’t feeling all that well.
Dad had eyed him and said, “you better feel better, you aren’t skipping school tomorrow.”
“Honestly, George,” his Mom had exclaimed, “he’s in the 1st grade!”
“That’s how it starts!” His Dad banged on the table with his fist, hard, hard enough to make the silverware jump, “let him get sick now and he’ll be cutting classes in high school!”
As his parents bickered and Alex scowled at him, Scott picked up his plate and took it to the kitchen where Ylse was waiting; the brownie took his full plate from him with a soft smile and gave him a small glass of ginger ale. “You ought to lay down, sweetling, if you’re sick. I’ll bring you some crackers and warm milk later, okay?”
“No thanks, Ylse, I think that I’ll just go to bed early.” She nodded and shooed him from the kitchen, saying that he didn’t need to get the household sick by hanging around in there.
Scott followed her advice and headed up to his room-through the servant’s entrance, or so his Dad called it. Scott was too young at the time to really care about his house, or its history, but he’d heard his Dad and Grandpa brag about it enough to give him a vague sort of idea.
Scoty only knew the bare bones about it though; he was aware that the house had come after the land. His family, on his father’s side, had owned the property for several hundred years. The house had first been a small ranch which had burned to the ground, mysteriously. With that small bit of bad luck, a lot of good came after it- Scott’s great-great-grandfather invested the family’s remaining money in a small feed store; the only one in almost a hundred miles. It grew into a general store that carried everything anyone could ever possibly need. This same great-great grandfather had then opened several more stores, all run by the family, The wealth practically rolled in- he had then built the three story house that Scott’s family now resided in (it wasn’t quite a mansion, but it was big enough that it had been given a name by Scott’s forebears; they had named the property Dawn’s Hideaway). There had been 3 maids and a man who kept the lawn, as well as a butler, back in the ‘good old days’ as Scott's dad was fond of saying (usually after a few drinks, and following the statement with a sad little sigh). The market crash had stripped most of the wealth from them- but they’d survived, which was more than many had been able to say. They’d kept the house, but had to sell most of the property that they owned; they’d gone from nearly 250 acres to just under a hundred.
Scott knew nothing of this, and was also unaware of his great-great-uncle; Oliver O’Boyne, who had been stricken from nearly every family tree and record. Family legend had it that this man had been able to see things that the common man couldn’t, and speak with the devil and other unholy servants cast out by the Lord. He had been taken away to a hospital in 1899, where he lived for another 10 years until he died; a casualty of the tuberculosis epidemic.
(It should also be said, in fairness to Alex, that she had no knowledge of the man either; she was just being a snotty older sister when she implied that Scott was crazy.)
-X-
Scott laid down in bed like he said that he would. He pretended to sleep until everyone else was in bed, that was when he opened his eyes again. He hadn’t been sleeping, dozing, napping, or resting his eyes- he’d been waiting for silence. Alex had been ushered to bed at about 9:00, but his Mom and Dad had stayed up for another hour or so, listenin to his Grandma’s old Perry Como records- in his mind’s eye, he could picture the scene; his Mom in her slightly sagging, faded, armchair, reading a book and wrapped in her pink bathroom, or maybe playing solitaire, humming to the records. His Dad would have been smoking his pipe (he’d been able to smell the smoke and tobacco), watching Scott’s Mom (but pretending to read his own book or newspaper; Scott’s Dad still thought that his wife was the loveliest woman on the face of the earth and sometimes could only marvel at her accepting his proposal, and would watch her in amazement, but he hated to be caught or called out on it). The record had eventually ended and they came up to bed.
When the digital clock read 11, Scott felt the prickling on the back of his neck that signaled the arrival of Raw.
Out of the corner of the room he stepped- Rawhead was a tall figure, stick thin and wearing a burlap sack over his head. Frankly, and Scott had told him this more than once, he reminded Scott of Scarecrow, from the Batman cartoons. That only made him mad though. Beneath the sack, Raw had a face that accurately described why he was named ‘Rawhead’; his face was nearly torn apart, save for his teeth and eyes; he has infected sores and injuries, scars on his neck and hands, bloodshot eyes, and a rattling voice that cracked and was clotted at the same time, that indicated throat damage. Scott was aware that Raw was terrifying, but only barely, because he didn’t know how to be scared of him. All his life, Raw had been there; Scott even had vague memories of Raw being there when he learned to walk-at least, he had memories of Raw crouching down and holding his arms out to catch him if he fell.
Raw was Scotty’s best friend- between the two of them was a bond that was palpable beneath it’s quiet exterior. They understood each other, they were almost like brothers, if that were possible between a monster and a little boy.
Raw saw Scott sitting up in bed and grinned, before bowing low and sweeping his hat off his head with an elaborate gesture and flourish, something that had never failed to set Scott giggling- at least before tonight. Tonight, Scott only cracked a soft smile, and that didn’t even reach his eyes.
Cocking his head and narrowing his eyes suspiciously, Raw asked, “what’s up, kiddo?”
Scott couldn’t meet his eyes, instead opting to pick at the bedspread shyly. “Scott?” Raw repeated gently. “What’s wrong?”
“Alex said something to me today,” Scott mumbled, “I’ve just been thinking about it.”Raw raised an eyebrow (rather, the flesh on his forehead where an eyebrow should have been).
“What did she say, Scott?” Scott shrugged, but raw was unconvinced and suspicious. Moving closer, he sat down on Scott’s bedside and turned to face the boy, crossing his legs and resting his elbows on his knees, like a little kid. “Alex says a lot of things, Scott,” Raw reminded, “what did she say this time that has you so upset?”
“I’m not upset.”
“You’re a horrible liar, Scott.” Raw chided gently. “At least, you’re lousy when you try and lie to me, so what stupid thing came out of her mouth today that has you brooding in the corner?”
Scott thought about lying again, but that just didn’t seem right. Pretending you were okay when you weren’t is one thing- lying straight to Raw’s face, when Raw had never lied to him in his life, that just didn’t sit right with Scott.
“I found out today that Alex can’t see the Old Lady, in the clock, you know?” Raw nodded, and Scotty continued. “She said that if I was seeing things that aren’t there, then I’m crazy, and that they send crazy people away. That Mom and Dad will send me away, and I’ll never get to see you, or Mom, or Dad, or Ylse or even Wsh’ra or Alex, ever again, and-” Raw raised a long fingered hand and put it onto Scott’s shoulder gently, stopping his train of thought without any effort.
“Scott, you aren’t crazy,” Raw assured him, but Scott tore himself away from the grip.
“How do I know that? What if you aren’t real? Why can’t anyone else see you? Or the Old Lady? Or any of the other things that I see?”
“Because, Scott, you’re just...different, than anyone else.” Raw began slowly, he was intelligent, but, it had to be noted, the fearsome looking monster wasn’t very articulate. “It’s just...okay, you know how a person might be born with eyes that don’t work quite right? How some people need glasses and others don’t?” Scott nodded. “Well, most people are born with eyes that can’t see things like Wsh’ra, or me, or the Old Lady. That doesn’t make us any less real. You eyes were born right.” Raw finished, rather helplessly.
Or mine are the ones that don’t work. Scott thought bitterly.
“But why can’t they see you?” Scott demanded, not satisfied.
“I don’t know, ok.” Raw admitted. “No one knows why some people can see things like me and the others. Everyone’s got their own theories about it, honestly, but as far as I know, there isn’t a real answer. That is what you wanted to know, isn’t it?” Scott nodded.
The room was quiet for a bit, as Scott thought it over, turning what he knew and had been told over in his mind slowly- the only light came from the luminescent stick-on stars that were on the ceiling. Scott’s Dad had put them up himself, careful that they were exact. When he couldn’t fall asleep at night, and Raw wasn’t visiting, Scott would lie on his back and look up there, he would name the constellations, or make his own.
“Do you have a theory?” Scott finally asked. Raw shrugged, but seeing the look on his friend’s face, he began:
“I think that the truth is that most humans couldn’t handle the truth about us. No offense, Scotty, but your people aren’t the most accepting sort around- they imprison and treat each other horribly for no reason. I know that not all of them are that way, but most can’t handle that there are different things out there that are stronger, who look so different- we are different. I think that that sort of thing has gone on for so long that it’s become first instinct for humans to not see what’s around them. But then there’s Scotty,” Raw pushed a skeletally thin finger into Scott’s tummy; Scott couldn’t help but giggle- Raw knew how ticklish he was. “I think that you can see us because you can accept us. Have you ever been able to look at a person and make judgements about them, just by how they look?”
“No,” Scott replied, disgruntled at the thought of it, “of course not.”
“Well your parents do that, your friends do that- almost every human alive does that. But can’t. Not won’t. Can’t. You’re special Scott. Not crazy.” Raw grinned, and Scott felt better. He didn’t know if he believed what Raw said, frankly he didn’t quite understand all of it. But Raw believed it. And, with the same instinct that told him that Raw was good, and that the Old Lady was bad, Scott knew that Raw was right. At least, right enough to


© Copyright 2018 Raven Garritano. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments: