Word House

THE SCARY NAKED LADY | December 31, 2007

The place was dark and the music was loud.  Flickers of light like fireflies dotted the empty dance floor.  He grabbed her hand and led her to a room at the back.  It had a couch and a cage in it.  There was a chair in the cage.  A red velvet chair with a light shining on it.

He made her sit next to him on the couch where they waited.  Then the scary naked lady appeared in the cage.  He slapped her hands away when she tried to cover her eyes.   He slapped the back of her head when she tried to squeeze them shut.   You watch, he said.                                

The scary naked lady moved like a snake.  She twisted and turned, sometimes bending all the way down to the floor, other times doing stretches like they did before gym class.   Then she sat on the chair and her hand was there. 

He said no, she could not go to the bathroom.  Sit!

The lady started to make sounds.  This time Sarah didn’t have to close her eyes or plug her ears.  She could see and hear other things.  She could see the girl in the movie she had watched yesterday.  The girl with the parents who wouldn’t let her go to the library.  The movie with the happy ending, where the girl went to live with the nice teacher.  Sarah could see the teacher pushing the girl on the swing in the backyard.  

When the scary naked lady stopped, Sarah’s father told her that this was what her mother did every night.  He said don’t believe your mother when she says she’s going to work the night shift at that company.  There’s no night shift.  This is your mother’s night shift.  Don’t be like your mother, he told her.    And maybe you should think twice the next time your mother tells you something. 

She always thinks twice.  Before crossing the street.  Before putting her homework back in the folder.  Before deciding which headband to wear to school in the morning. 

Sarah doesn’t want to think twice about her mother.  Her mother helps her with her homework and makes sure she has an apple in her lunch.  Her mother tells her she loves her and she doesn’t want to have to think twice about that.

When the scary naked lady starts up again and Sarah starts to gag, he pushes her off the couch.  He yells, get!  She stumbles out the door and into the black and suddenly there are lots of scary naked ladies.  She stands with her back pressed to the door and watches them all dance like snakes to the music.

She won’t go back in there.  She wants to go home.  She sees the door where the men come in and runs.

Hey kid, somebody yells.  How’d a kid get in here?   She pushes past the man in the suit and is out in the sun.  This is a tricky place.  It feels like night but really it’s day.  

She runs along the gravel on the side of the road.  She is careful to stay far from the edge because a car can get you.   

She feels him before he’s even there.  His car slows alongside her.  Get in the car, he yells.  I’ll beat you dead if you don’t get in this car now!  She is running.   He swings the car into the gravel and she runs around it.   She is running. 

He veers the car again and this time he hits.  She’s in the ditch.  Get up, he yells.  Get the hell up!  The naked lady is there.  Only she’s not naked anymore.  She has on shorts too short for school and a top with glitter-words on it.  

Blood is coming out of her nose and she feels it in her ear.  At least she thinks she feels it in her ear.  She doesn’t know what she feels. 

He kicks her.  Then he is jerking a finger at her like a crazy man.  She doesn’t close her eyes, even though she wants to.  Instead, they are razor-focused on him.   What she sees is hard to explain, but the swing is there.   She looks around in the corners and there are no scary naked ladies. 

The naked lady has bent down next to her.  She stares and makes a face.  She says this child needs help.  Let her mother help her, he says.  I ain’t paid to pick no lazy-ass children up off the sidewalk.   Let her mother pick it up.  The scary naked lady says he’ll have to go back to jail, the way it looks.  Either way.

He tells her to get in the car and shut up and they leave.  She lays there, warm things trickling everywhere.  She hears the gravel crunch again and the fear makes everything that hurts hurt worse.  Then a door slams and a different lady is at her side.  Are you okay, honey?  Oh my God.  Don’t worry.  I called for help.  They’re on their way.  The ambulance will be here any minute. 

The lady sits down on the grass and holds her hand.   She directs her eyes to the lady and she is everything.  She glows.  More time than seems right goes by.  The lady phones again.  No, left on Main, she shouts.  She says let me tell you a story while we’re waiting.  The story has a happy ending.  She’ll be very happy, the lady says, the way things turn out.       

Does it have a swing, Sarah manages to ask.  The words make her cough and everything hurts again.  The lady says, a swing?  Oh yes, there’s a swing.  A squeaky old swing, the kind you find at houses with kids who do nothing but swing all the live-long day.  Just you wait and see. 

Only she can’t wait.  She tries to tell the lady to hurry her story, to get to the part about the swing, but she can’t get the words out.   She closes her eyes.   

 …and then the little girl ran into the yard and her mother said let me push you on the swing I’ll push as long as you want and as high as you want there’s nothing I’d rather do than push you on the swing because I love you with all my heart forever and for always you are my angel and …  

The ambulance comes and she let’s go.  They place her hand with the other across her chest.   It’s dark now, with flickers of light dancing across the sky.      

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About author

I do PR for a writing instruments company. I have three kids. I like to write. I used to write for a newspaper. I am very busy but still find time to over-think things.

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