- Hobbies and A Room of One’s Own
By the time I reached the house, I had made up my mind to somehow get this new Louis back into his room. Convincing my fearful new friend would take time and reassurance. I knew it was not healthy to compartmentalize all I felt for him, but I had no other way forward. There was no logic to explain who he was, from whence he came. I felt like I was being swallowed by a fog of wishful dreaming, creeping memory and hazy images.
He had looked on me without fear. And I seen something in his eye, and within him. He may have reached out before and been punished or harmed. But before today, I had been an option. I would help him. And that meant having him close and clean and safe.
He may be to big for Louis’s bed, but he curled up on that filthy mattress anyway. He needed nourishment and running water. I would read books to him as he recovered, White Fang and Treasure Island.
And my brain caught up with me. I would have to sleep in my own room.
My breath caught in my chest and I suddenly felt powerless and lost. I had not slept in my own room at Grimwalt Place since the night Louis was brought home from the hospital as an infant. My childhood was defined by being his protector, always by his side. I held him and rocked him and learned how to warm up a bottle of formula. I sang little songs to him and kept him clean. He was precious to me because I was no longer alone in the living desert between Enid and Arthur.
I hated my room. Enid had acquired and over decorated the space with every pink, lacy, ruffled piece of garbage she could find. There was no room for me on my bed because of doily pillows and ugly dolls. Dolls that I could not even play with because they were vintage and might break. I knocked one off and the face chipped, and then the eye would not quite roll back right. Her name was Jenny Lind according to the stamp on her trapezoid doll butt. But I called her Blinky Lou. I would lay her flat, but she still watched me as I tried to sleep.
My bed had a canopy. I slept face down because it made me feel claustrophobic. I would just drift off and then feel the fear of it dropping down and swallowing me. And then there were the window shadows.
My room in the very back of the house where no trees or bushes had been planted. In the daytime, I could throw the pink gingham curtains back to full sun. But at night, the shadows came. Shadows of trees that were not there. The vague outline of hands waving their wooden fingers across the panes. Voices chattering and sighing just low enough for me not to hear them properly. The curtains were closed and I clipped them together with safety pins. I would lie face down, my eyes wide. My mind would vomit up parts of Enid’s party conversations involving spirits in white noise and dummies that walk on their own.
I told Enid and Arthur about this phenomena, but they did not believe me.
“You shouldn’t eavesdrop, Dahlia. You take things out of context.” Said Enid.
“You’ve got a big imagination like your Pop, Dolly Daisy!” Arthur smiled and patted my head.
I rounded the hallway corner nearly colliding with Enid who was carrying towels and a gin martini.
“There you are! Now I’ve invited a few people over tonight, so_”
“Can I move back into my room?”
Her face twisted itself in awkwardness. She pressed her lips together. “That’s not a really good idea.”
“Why not?” I took the towels and began folding them on the kitchen table.
“Since you ran away- left with your aunt- we decided to make it a hobby room.”
“You have a hobby?” Enid being any kind of craftsman or creator was ridiculous. She never had a hobby. She never did anything on a small enough scale for it to be called a hobby.
“Uncle Ig uses it. He does…well…taxidermy.” She downed the drink.
“He takes apart dead things in my room. Ohhhhhh-” I felt nauseous.
“Well, it hasn’t been your room for fifteen years!”
“Like what? Squirrels? Dogs? Beavers? Jesus! That old ghoul!”
“It’s no different than what your father-“
“My father? Are you serious? Dad, my dad made a living creating puppets. Wood and metal and cloth. No carcasses or guts or blood or—” I turned and vomited into the kitchen garbage can.
Suddenly, I could smell it coming down the hallway. My childhood nightmare room had evolved into a seething abattoir of dead parts and glass eyes and sawdust. And evil, twisted Ignatio Ormonza was monster responsible for that transformation.
The ghost room was literally a graveyard. I slumped down on the floor. Enid hovered, trying to connect with me but I felt so disoriented. I tried very hard with my mind to make her stop moving and saying my name. I could hear his voice in my head, “Hey Little Girl Creep. You know where you used to sleep? I make dead things. Want to hear ‘em talk?” Then his hacking laughter.
“Dahlia! Dahlia! Honey are you okay?” She jostled my shoulders.
“Hear ‘em talk.” I muttered just before it went black.