I still remember that night like it was yesterday.
It was the first day of summer break and my cousin, Bryan, was visiting. It was also the first time we met Matt.
Matt was Bryan’s good friend. They met at a comic book store and became inseparable after they discovered they lived just a block away from each other.
So, when Bryan’s parents decided to send him to our place in the summer, Matt tagged along. For the first and last time.
As always, I wasn’t anticipating their arrival the slightest bit. My brother, Harry, was a different person around Bryan. I wasn’t allowed to join them in anything they did – “boy stuff”, they called it. As if!
I watched grumpily as Bryan and Matt got out of the car and ran to hi-five Harry. After lunch, Matt came up to me and said, “Hey, you look like you need some cheering up. We’re planning a prank on..”
“Nothing, nothing, nothing,” interrupted Harry.
We looked at him.
“It’s nothing,” Harry continued, looking at me.
“Too late. Matt already told me you’re planning a prank. That’s all I need to know,” I said threateningly before screaming, “Maaaaa!”
“Shush! Okay fine, we’ll let you in on the prank if you promise not to tell anyone about it.”
“I promise. Pinky promise.”
“Shut up. Now listen closely. We’re going to play a prank on Christine tonight.”
Christine was our 80-year-old next-door neighbour who lived alone. Harry disliked her because she complained every single time he played the drums at home. Because of that, his band was forced to stop practicing at our house, which was quite an inconvenience for them.
“What?? No! Poor thing.”
“Uh-oh, here we go, party pooper,” said Bryan.
It then struck me that this was my chance to prove myself and said with a fake laugh, “I was going to add, she deserves this.”
Now, I wasn’t one to get involved in pranks. Even though I pretended to be tough most of the time, I never did mean things to others.
But just this one time, I consoled myself. Then they’d see how much fun I really am.
So, there we hid behind some bushes on Christine’s lawn. The night was unusually chilly. In fact, I don’t remember it being this cool all month. Strange.
We had a clear angle of Christine from where we stood. She was sitting in her rocking chair and knitting. I don’t know about the boys, but seeing the chair go back and forth like that gave me goose bumps. And Christine hadn’t exactly aged gracefully. She was what I pictured the witch in ‘Hansel and Gretel’ to look like.
“Why are we watching her?” I asked, attempting to sound brave.
“We’re waiting for the right time,” answered Matt.
“Shut up, you guys,” was Bryan’s prompt response.
After what seemed like ages, Christine got off her chair and walked towards a big black box – I couldn’t make out what it was from that far. She fiddled with it for some time and suddenly, we heard loud music coming from her living room:
“.. away from the garish light of day..”
Harry grabbed my arm and the four of us ran and sat against the wall right outside her window.
“Turn your thoughts away from cold unfeeling light ..”
While they peeped inside, I made sure no one was around. This time, her back was facing us. I still had no idea what the boys had planned.
“.. And listen to the music of the night.”
At that moment, we heard a ruffle.
“What was that?” whispered Bryan.
“I.. I.. I don’t know. It wasn’t me,” I stammered.
“Something moved in the shadows.”
Matt turned around to look and knocked me over while doing so. “Ouch!” I yelled.
The three of them whispered together, “Shhh…”
Harry helped me sit up, while Matt and Bryan looked around for the source of the sound.
We only realised we had forgotten about Christine when we heard the window above us open followed by a loud scream. The scream ended abruptly with a loud thud.
We made a run for our house, not stopping to look back.
Mother woke us up the next morning to tell us that Christine had died of a heart attack.
Was it us, or something else she saw that scared her? We’ll never know. But now, when someone says, “you almost scared me to death”, I turn blue.
This is my submission for this week’s Speakeasy #130.