Tuesday, July 06, 2004

IF two

When Beth was eight years old, and when her brother was eleven, their parents would leave them home alone. Her brother was in charge, because he was oldest. Beth's brother would torment her in the way that older brothers will, chasing her and hitting her and throwing water on her and breaking her toys. When their parents would leave them home alone, and when Beth's older brother was left in charge, Beth would pretend to stay in bed and be asleep, because then her older brother would leave her alone.

But he would eventually grow bored, and maybe desperate, because he surely knew that when their parents were gone (and when he was in charge), Beth's older brother had a greater degree of freedom than he did otherwise. He could chase her longer and hit her harder than when their parents were there, so he would try to wake her up. He would yell at her and throw things at her, and if Beth still pretended that she was asleep (laying in bed and facing the wall), Beth's older brother would pounce on her and sit on her until their parents came home. Beth said nothing, because Beth was not a rat.

Beth's family lived next door to a church. When Beth's parents left the kids home alone, and when Beth's older brother was in charge, and when pretending to be asleep no longer kept him at bay, Beth would sneak out of the house (because she had learned how to be quiet and stealthy) and she would sneak next door and she would sneak around the side of the church and knock on the cellar door. Patty lived there, in the cellar, and Beth would talk to her. It wasn't for very long that Beth knew Patty, maybe only one summer, and Beth only let her out of the cellar once or twice. They would talk through the door, and the door was shut tight and locked, but about nothing in particular. About hiding from Beth's brother, maybe, or about the school year that had ended and the one that was about to begin. Patty looked like the boy from Mask, the boy with the face that was too big, only not as scary.

Beth and Beth's older brother got older, and Beth's older brother didn't beat up on Beth so much, and Beth didn't go to visit Patty so much, and then not at all. Beth doesn't know where Patty got her name, or what she was doing there in the church cellar, but it gave Beth a reason to get out of the house, and maybe it gave someone for Beth to talk to, when she needed someone to listen to her.

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