I hadn’t seen this place since the night Aunt Tilly had bitten it. That night I would never forget. The smell of sick and suffering all over everything, and the quite. The way we all sat , holding out breath waiting for Doctor B to come out of the room, hoping against hope that the news would be good, that she just needed a few days for the bruises to heal, and a setting for that arm. The arm she had bee favoring for a week, the one we all knew but would dear not tell that Uncle Franz had probably broken last time he was drunk.
I still remember the look of pity that Doctor gave me even as he told us that Tilly was gone from us. Diana was giving me the same look. It had nothing to do with our Aunt biting it, even though that was sad and sad enough. It was because they knew I was next. Because she had died keeping off me, he was always after me. Too small for my 13 years, too weak to fight back, not fast enough to escape. And I knew fear in that moment, under their heavy pitiful gaze. I felt myself shudder as my body cringed anticipating the blows that would fall, smelling his acrid stench of booze and BO, cause he’s be drunk on a friday, after all day in the mines. Looking for someone to blame for the pathetic mess he was.
That night I packed a little bag and ran for the woods. I hiked 7 miles past the nearest town, Uncle would look for me there. And bought a ticket two towns over to the furthest place the train could take me on 3 and a half pounds. I remember sitting on that train and crying myself to sleep, relief stealing into my weary little body and knocking me unconscious.
Now 12 years later I’m walking up the gravel path, ’cause my car won’t make it up the here, and my back pack is a little bigger, but I can still feel the fear. Like little insects crawling up my spine. I don’t know how Diana had found me, or why he wanted to see me now. Now he was dying, now he was what he had made of sweet Aunt Tilly. Now that he was as pathetic in body as he had been in state.
Diana was a woman now, full and pretty, and her face lit up when she finally saw me. She let out a woop and came running out of the house, wiping her sudsy hands on her apron as she laughed. She hit me like a freight train, knocking the wind out of me and catching me up in her arms to squeeze the rest of the air out of me. Words spilling from her, telling me how she missed me and how life had been. How Uncle Franz had fallen sick and I had nothing to fear from him now, how he wanted to see me, how he had one foot in the grave already.
We entered the house together, and I wasn’t ready for what I saw. This was the monster that had haunted my dreams, this was the creature that for years had me jumping out of slumber in a cold sweat. This wrinkled, twisted broken thing. Propped up in Aunt Tilly’s old easy chair, drooling all over himself, smelling of sick and age.
When I walked in he saw me, and began crying. Looked like he was trying to sink into the chair, like we was trying to escape me! Later Diana told me, it was because I looked like Aunt Tilly, he thought I was her ghost, come to take his soul to hell where he belonged.