My mom doesn’t understand why I no longer eat dinner in her company. Why I take my plate to my room and return hungry with empty dishes. She doesn’t notice the stench. The uneaten food rotting inside my closet’s counterfeit womb.
His name is Freddy and I saw him in a movie. Adults can’t see him. I’ve tried to make friends with him. Even monsters need to eat. If your nice to people they’ll be nice to you, at least that’s what they say in church. In practice I haven’t been able to make it work. I must be bad on the inside.
“Freddy’s gonna get me…” I look over my shoulder at mom while we’re watching television. She comes over and kneels beside me. Can she see him too? I don’t understand her questions, only her fear. I should comfort her. I don’t want her to get mad she’ll pull my hair or worse hold her hand over my mouth and nose until I can’t breathe anymore. Freddy’s more of a bogeyman than a person. Sometimes I see him on television and often when I sleep. Well technically I don’t see him because it’s too dark but I know he’s there. She seems relieved. I don’t feel better for having told her. If anything I feel worse. He’ll punish me for telling on him. I wonder if he can hear us talking from the other world? I wonder if he can hear my thoughts even when I’m awake? I wonder if he knows how much I hate him and if that scares him just a little?
“What happens if he gets hungry?” I tug on my mom’s sleeve. She’s scooping up the waste from several days worth of uneaten dinners. She seems more startled than angry. She doesn’t even spank me despite the mess.
“What have you done? The food will attract roaches…” The smell is really awful. I feel sick. I can tell from my mom’s expression that she doesn’t “hear” me. “Freddy can’t hurt you…he’s not real…you’re just having bad dreams…” I let her clean the closet without interfering, the food wasn’t really working anyways.
I know that Freddy’s real, that my dreams are real. His breath smells like ash and there’s blood from where he cuts me inside. I keep my mouth shut. I don’t want to anger him anymore than I already have. I have to be a good girl and when I am good enough bad things won’t happen. God will take me to heaven when I am good enough.
This happened when I was about 4 I was terrified of Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elmstreet films (which I was allowed to watch). I now know that it was a real life monster attacking me in my sleep, my father but at that time I simply could not process the situation. The pain, the smell of ash (Freddy’s burnt and my dad is a smoker), the fact that it was happening to me in my sleep my child mind invented an alternate explanation. I was religious as a child.