|This Week’s Theme: Pick an unusual phobia and explain why a character has it.|
It's that sound, you know? That tearing sound that makes your teeth sweat, like the sound of tendons ripping away from bone. But sounds will do that to you. I was told that smells bring back the strongest memories, but I don't believe it. Sounds, man.
Think about it. Any good thriller or horror flick. What makes it scary? You know the stupid bimbo who just ran out into the deserted forest in her nightgown is about to get filleted by ten inch knife. It's the soundtrack. A good soundtrack is what makes that scary. There's no smell but popcorn in a movie theater, but you're still scared shitless.
Sounds. Like the sound of a dripping faucet in the middle of the night. The drops echo, and you open your eyes to the darkness and think there's water dripping over by the TV, or in the closet. Makes you disoriented. Where the hell am I? What's that noise?
You'd think I'd hate pocket knives, or sand paper. After all, that's what the sick bastard used on me. Somehow he always found me. Seemed to know, every day, where I was hiding. I had some good hiding places, too, but damn he found me every time. Every time. Scars in hidden places, patches of pinker skin where no hair grows even though I'm forty-six. Mom never realized what her "boyfriend" was doing in those hours late at night when she was off working at the hospital. Not til that night she got laid off.
What could I do? I was eleven, scrawny, bookish. He spent his days tossing luggage at airplanes and his night tossing back Millers. I hid. He came after me. Always had a reason, even if he had to make it up. Maybe one night I didn't wash all the dishes, he'd say. Or I left the toilet seat up, he'd say. Anyway, I needed some discipline, and by God he was going to give it.
He wore a back support harness, one of those things that looks like some freakish neo-Nazi Blade Runner fashionista interpretation of lederhosen. Black, it was. He'd wear it all day at work, throwing luggage around. Even wore it in his pickup on the way home. He'd open the door and come in, and I'd be buried in a book, maybe already hiding, and then my world would freeze and the air would turn solid in my lungs and I'd hear that ri-i-i-i-p of the industrial velcro straps being rent away from him, releasing him into the house.
She came home that night. It was a Thursday. She looked sad when she walked in, then confused. She saw him over me with the pocket knife, my own cub scout knife, open and drawing a fine, crimson line down the left side of my back. My hands were held behind me, wrapped tight by a black velcro strap.
I saw her eyes. He saw her eyes. He lost it, lunged at her. He knocked her down... I don't remember too much. I looked away. I was crying, I know that. He was nuts. He'd gone nuts. Lost it completely. I remember more sounds of velcro, and then Mom lay beside me, her mouth strapped shut with a thick, black velcro strap, another around her neck. Her hands were wrapped tight, and she was bent in half, unnatural. Her eyes looked scared, and she stared at me. Then I felt the knife touch my back again, this time burning and, I could tell, cutting deeper. I tried to block it all out, closed my eyes so Mom wouldn't see the pain I felt growing in my legs and back and wrists, bound too tight.
When I looked again, Mom's eyes held no more fear. She still stared at me, but her gaze was vacant, her eyes glassy and unfocused. It was then I noticed she wasn't breathing.
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