Monday, August 31, 2009

It's Comic. It's Tragic.

My family went to visit our cousins every other year; in between, they would come visit us. On one such trip, and I must have been very young at the time, I was left with the adults as the kids went out. I'm not sure how that happened since my siblings and I were much younger than my cousins; it's possible that I was simply left alone in the house while they went hiking.
Their house was built into a slight incline of land. The driveway and carport were on the top level, the front door on the mid-level, and the workshop and cellar that would otherwise be at ground level were underground. There was a pool table in the cellar that provided hours of amusement and, if I close my eyes, I think I can still smell the musty workshop and cellar.
The family room was on the ground floor under the kitchen. It housed a large couch and several chairs, all facing the fireplace and TV. As one came down the stairs, the bedrooms were off to the left and the family room and cellar to the right. On the far wall partially hidden by the interior fireplace, there was a blank wall.
Well, blank except for the masks: comedy and tragedy. Their grotesque features always gave me the creeps. I refused to be within sight of them if I was by myself. Even in the comforting arms of family members, my eyes would invariably drift to the masks and a chill would run up my spine.
Alone that day, I grew weary of listening to adults chattering about nothing. I wandered downstairs, intent on playing pool. I stopped at the bottom of the stairs. Something told me that I was not alone downstairs. In the room lit by bright sunlight streaming through windows, I dared to glance around the corner into the family room. My heart pounding, I knew that there was something very wrong. In a moment, the masks had freed themselves and were floating in mid-air, turning to look directly at me, the expressions on their faces changing before my eyes. In a moment of terror, I screamed as loudly as I could. As adults ran from the kitchen and down the stairs, I watched the masks bob backwards towards their resting place, as if in laughter. I pointed and gestured towards the fireplace (the masks themselves were not visibile from where I stood) as my confused aunt and uncle and parents searched for anything that might have frightened me.
They chalked it up to my imagination, my nightmares, too many sweets, too little sleep.. anything but that I might have been telling the truth.
Years later, alone again, I dared to peek. The masks seemed dead. The features appeared smoother, less drastic. The eyes themselves seemed devoid of anything vicious. I can not explain what happened all those years ago. I can only relate what I experienced.

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