HIDE and SEEK
by Sarah McCullough
The house is alright, I guess. I don’t love it as much as my mother does, though. That’s probably just because I’m more worried about the fact that our family has fallen apart. I just found out that my mother was, quite possibly, the most selfish human being I have ever known. My father is broken-hearted and depressed over the sudden divorce and my baby brother is, without a doubt, confused as to why we were being bounced back and forth between the two of them. It’s all Mom’s fault. She knows it, and she chooses to ignore it. She has always lived her life doing exactly what she wants to do when she wants to do it. Because she is always thinking of herself before anyone, she never considers the effects of her actions on her family. She never thought about how we would feel while she was having that one night stand. I resent her for that, and I hate the weeks that my brother and I have to spend at her house – the new house.
This was the thing I hated the most about having to go through my parents’ divorce: Spencer is so confused. Forget about the fact that my mother is now dead to me, forget that my father is too mopey to do anything for himself or his children… But when I have to try my hardest to convince my innocent three-year-old brother that everything was going to get better when I sure as hell knew things weren’t going to improve any time soon, that’s when nothing is okay. He’s not old enough to know exactly what he’s been thrown in the middle of, but he’s smart enough to figure out that I’m the best one to trust now. It breaks my heart every single time he asks me a question about our parents. “Where’s Daddy?” “Where’s Mommy?” I can never answer those questions for him in a way that he would understand. I try so hard, but he still refuses to grasp the idea that Mom is the villain in the story.
It’s now the fifth week after the drastic change and the third week we have to spend at this creaky, old house. Mom has everything settled the way she wants it around the house, my room is pretty much as good as it’s going to get here, and Spencer’s room is painted and decorated to fit the dinosaur theme that he wanted. I could finally try to have some fun with my brother. I decide it’s the perfect day to go out in the backyard to play a game with him.
“Come on, Spence.” I walk into his room and grab his hand. “I bet you want to come outside with me and play a game of hide and go seek, don’t you?” He nods vigorously and half-jogs by my side from excitement, trying to keep up with my giant strides. I’m so happy to finally see some joy on his face for the first time since the divorce. Not that she’s listening or concerned, but I tell my mother what we’re doing as we pass her in the kitchen and walk out the door leading to the back porch.
The air is fresh; it’s a nice change to be outside rather than in the house with the strong musky scent. I tell Spencer that I will count up to fifty, and that he has to hide before I get up that high. There are plenty of places for him to hide in this yard. There’s a shed, a playground, a pool, a deck, and several bushes and pine trees to choose from. I put my hands over my eyes and begin to count.
“One, two, three…” I can hear Spencer’s light footsteps grow fainter. “Four, five, six…” I already know where he will go to hide. “Seven, eight, nine…” I continue counting out loud so he will know when I reach fifty and to brace himself. “… forty-eight, forty-nine, fifty! Ready or not, here I come!”
I begin to walk around the yard, trying to pretend I am having trouble finding him. I know where he is, though. First, I walk over to the shed and peer in. “Not in here, where could he be?” I walk over to the slide and bend underneath. “Oh, my, Spence, you really got me this time.” I look around the bushes. “I think I might have to give up soon!” Finally, I crouch down to search under the deck, which is always his favorite place to go hide at Dad’s house.
“There you are!” I crawl under the wooden boards to join him. “I got you, Spence! You’re so good at this game!”
“Daddy,” he said.
“Yeah, Daddy likes to play with you, too.”
He says it again, this time pointing further under the deck.
Confused, I look behind him. Against the wall I see the lifeless body of my father. His blond hair is blood-stained, like he’s been hit in the head multiple times by a blunt object. He’s completely pale, almost ghostly. The most disturbing feature is his eyes; his bright green eyes are still very open and it’s evident that every bit of life he had left in him after the divorce is no longer there. “Oh my God.” I’m panicking. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t want to believe what I’m seeing. “Spencer, come to sissy!” I say, stretching my arms out towards him. My instinct is to get far away from the house as soon as possible.
Spencer crawls through the dirt in my direction. I grab him and hold him tight. I whip around to begin crawling back to the opening but something stops me, leaving me frozen in terror. My mother’s feet are blocking the only exit, and shining bright in the sunlight, next to her legs, is a shovel.
Sarah McCullouh is 21 years old. She has received her Associates in Psychology from Hagerstown Community College and plans on continuing her education in the field of psychology in the fall. She has always enjoyed writing, especially creative writing, and hopes to keep writing in her spare time. Sarah’s story, Hide and Seek, appears in the January 2013 issue of HelloHorror.
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