...is not much more than I knew before.
Let's start at the beginning. Today I woke up at noon and put on jeans and a T-shirt, and biked to the store to buy a bottle of wine. I figured that if nothing happened, I'd get drunk and try again. It ended up being windy and cloudy, but it doesn't really matter that much. Not like bright weather would do a lot to help my fears.
I got home and turned on the air conditioning, and locked all my doors. Then I taped newspaper over all of the windows, and shut all the blinds for good measure. I'm sure my neighbors think I'm insane. I honestly don't give a shit.
My house was sort of dark, like it was twilight inside, so I turned on all my lights. A huge waste of electricity, but again, I don't care. None of it really matters at the moment. It's not like I've got to worry a lot about the long term.
So I sat down with my laptop near me, and put on a ticking metronome thing I got online (here, if anyone cares), and I closed my eyes and listened to the ticking and thought about the Slender Man.
It wasn't hard. It's never far from my thoughts, really. I pictured it in its entirety- the height, the suit, the facelessness. The shiny shoes and long fingers and how it's so pale. I thought about how I used to call it Mr. Moon when I was little. I tried to remember being in the forest by my house and seeing that faceless face peer out from behind a tree.
I thought about it in my silent house with the doors flying open behind it.
I thought of it appearing in front of Andrew's car.
I thought about it standing in front of Jill, tentacles reaching out to cut her open.
I started shaking.
In the end, I did have a flashback, although it's not like I'd imagined it would be. I thought it would be like in the movies, where a person feels like they're in the moment again, and they can see and hear and taste that moment again. It's not like that. I never thought I was six again, I never lost the sensation of being in my living room with this ticking next to me. But I saw it, like one of those dreams where you know you're asleep.
I saw myself -- well, no, that's not right, I was myself as a little kid. Maybe 8, I'd guess. And it was summer, and I was coming out of a pine forest, on the side of the hill covered in brown needles, and I was walking home by myself. It was the middle of the afternoon and the sun was in my eyes, and then suddenly it wasn't, because Mr. Moon was blocking it out. And he had all of his arms reaching, reaching. I could see my house behind him. And Mr. Moon wasn't friendly anymore, he didn't feel safe anymore and he hadn't in a long time, and I had to get home so I'd be safe from him, so I could hid under my blankets and make him go away. I dodged his arms and ran.
I remember now that I tripped. My foot caught in a gopher hole or something and I landed on my outstretched hands, dirt and pine needles all down my front. I'd scraped my palms in the fall but the blood that would've sent me screaming for my mom didn't even register because Mr. Moon was turning around. He was leaning, reaching for me.
And I saw my Grandma Alice come out of the house, carrying a bottle of water, and in my adult, grown-up Ali mind in Tucson in 2011, I was screaming no, no, go back inside, please don't do this I know what you're going to do and I can't bear it if you see, but 1997 Ali was screaming the opposite, Grandma, Grandma, help me. And she turned around and ran to me and picked me up and comforted me. She never saw the monster at all, never saw it set one hand gently, gently on her forehead and then vanish. I did. I saw it and cried, but with relief, because when I was 8 I thought it was over. The faceless face outside my window went away, the forest felt safe again.
And then 2 years later Grandma Alice died. Of a stroke.
And then I open my eyes and let all the tears out.
I've known, intellectually, that when I was little, the Slender Man came after me. I've known it since February. Probably even before then, in some corner of my mind. I can look at the proof and figure out that for a period of 3 or 4 years (years! I can barely believe it) the monster hung around my house. And I know, obviously, that I escaped somehow. But it was like something I read about in the news, or heard second-hand. And now, suddenly, it's not. It's something that happened to me. And the reason I'm not...whatever happens to those kids, is because of Grandma Alice. She saved me, just like Kevin saved me last week, and God, oh please God let her stroke have been a coincidence because I couldn't bear it if her death was my fault...
I remember that Jill talked in her notebook about being saved too, when she was little. Her teacher saved her. I'm going to try and look that teacher up.