Thursday, 21 April 2011

Sin... the glow in the attic...

The light in the attic was noticeably different - it had a strange pink hue.

I remember it even now. It glowed with a faint pulse and there was a low hum that accompanied the glimmering.

I think I was around 8 years old at the time. I was the worn-down brunt of my father's jokes. The steady stream of strangers that came and went through the back door were often entertained by his playful banter at my expense and his rough'n'ready prodding. They never saw the bruises from the prodding - verbal or physical. They just laughed as they ruffled my hair. I tried to ignore it all, just as I tried to ignore the pricking at the corners of my eyes.

I'd never let my father see me cry. Only Joy, my sister, ever saw that. And she understood. She had it too, in her own way.

I was never allowed in the attic, though I never actually wanted to go up there. It was dark. It was dusty. Dad told me that monsters slept in the shadows and, if you put a step wrong, your foot would go through the ceiling and you'd be trapped. Then the monsters could feed on you as they wished. They'd chew on your fat and gnaw on your bones until all that remained was your eyes - they left them until last so you could watch them eat you.

I stayed away.

The odd creaks and muffled voiced that I heard from up there only served to confirm what Dad said.

At night I would listen to the sounds. I'd imagine the monsters staring at me from hidden holes, shuffling around with their stomachs growling, desperate to dine on 8 year old boy.

Then the light up there changed. It had always been yellowy-orange. Whenever Dad went into the attic with a bag of clothes or old toys - moaning that they should be taken to the tip rather than be shoved up there where they'll be forgotten about until the next owners moved in - he'd pull the cord for the light. It would be 'light' coloured. The same way my bedside lamp was. The same way the bulb in the living room was.

But then it changed. It became pinkish. And the hum started. And the strangers visited.

On the day of my ninth birthday, Dad wasn't there. Mum told us, my sister and I, that he'd been eaten by the monsters that hid in the shadows, and that we should listen to what Dad had said - NEVER go up there. Not that we would.

Dad wasn't there for a long time. I cried, then. He always treated me like he hated me. He always acted as if I embarrassed him. But he was always, still, my dad. Then he came back.

He hadn't been eaten by the monsters. That was just a joke my mother had said. He'd been staying in a hotel that was so safe they put bars on the windows.

The pink glow had gone. So had the monsters, Dad said. But we should still never go up in the attic.

Just in case they ever came back...

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