Unpublished (c) A. Lacy 2019

I have been working on a novel for a few years. As an exercise in returning to what I love, I have picked it up again. Instead of telling myself I had no time, I am making time for something that I love, which is writing. I’ve included an excerpt of the 1st chapter below. I would love your comments.

 

The boy, craned his neck upward, peering longingly at the small basement window, high above his head, opaque from years of dirt and grime.  He stretched out his arms, as if to soak up the last vestige of light and warmth the day had to offer.  All he could see was a rectangular patch of pink sky, signaling the last gasp of an autumn day.  He knew it was close to Halloween because she came and got the skeleton off the shelf this morning.  She always placed the life-size bony man on the porch rocker next to the smoking ice stuff.  The effect of the smoke slowly swirling around the smiling skeleton did achieve a very creepy vibe.

When she retrieved the decorations, she did not speak to him, for which he was grateful.  It was always better when she didn’t notice him.  He pretended to be asleep on the cement floor, watching her behind lidded eyes.  She seemed almost happy as she retrieved the box with “HALLOWEEN” scrawled across the top in a child’s print.  She might be having a good day, he thought.  But…he had been fooled before.  No, it was better to go unnoticed.   He had kept his eyes shut and sighed as he heard the staccato click of her heels ascend the stairs.

He used to take advantage of the quiet moments to remember what it had been like before.

Before the basement…Before the pain…Before Dad left.

It had been Ok.  He used to pretend it was still OK.

He stopped pretending long ago.

Darkness crept stealthily into the basement, its frigid fingertips creating shadows in every corner.  He watched as the night came slowly into his world inch by inch until he felt the icy breath on his arms and shivered in response.  He hadn’t eaten since last night.  That was the one downfall about being forgotten.  But he thought of all the evils and chose the lesser one, commanding his tummy to quiet down.  He remembered that there were some things to eat in the deep freezer, but he would have to be very careful not to disturb the order of things.

She didn’t like it when things were out of order.

The deep freezer was against the wall under the dirty window.  He moved slowly out of the shadow and tip toed to the big white box.  If he remembered correctly, there was a package of frozen hot dogs under cartons of ice cream and packages of wrapped deer meat.  He had taken a few out of the package last night.

He tried to open the lid quietly, grimacing for the telltale squeak.

The lid did not budge.

He slid his hand beneath the handle, wrapping his small fingers around something cold and hard.

His mind clouded as his thoughts raced.

When had she locked the freezer?  He hadn’t seen her.   She must have noticed the hot dogs and put the lock on while he slept.  She never said anything.  That she never mentioned his crime was very strange.   She spent a good deal of time reminding him of his place.

He shook his head, dizzy from hunger and not making sense of the situation.  Accepting that there would be no food this night, he walked over to the furnace,  putting his hands close to the sooty grate and absorbing the cast-off heat.  When his hands were warm, he made a place among the newspapers drew his legs up into his chest and went to sleep

8 thoughts on “The boy in the Basement

  1. When I was in college I volunteered in a program to visit kids in mental hospitals. The mute boy I visited had been chained to a radiator. You can’t make this stuff up, so I know your child welfare experiences have informed this chilling account.

    Liked by 1 person

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