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I got a mask for my birthday. I told my mom I wanted it. She said, "Masks are scary, Charlie. Do you want something else?"

I said, "No, I want a mask. I like scary. I don't want something else."

I was lying. She was right. Masks are scary, especially the one I got. It's a werewolf mask. She told me not to lie, but I had to. I couldn't wear the mask if I didn't.

I'm scared of werewolves. I'm only 11. Lots of stuff is scary when you're 11. My mom says on the phone that she wishes she were young again and things were different. She said she wishes she could do it all over, different. I wanted to tell her she doesn't, that it's scary to be 11. Werewolves are scary. She must not remember, so I wanted to tell her, but I didn't. I wasn't supposed to be listening.

She got me the mask at a store we go to during Halloween. My birthday's near Halloween.

"Why do you want a mask?" she asked. We were driving there. I don't like driving. I get nervous in the car, and my stomach hurts. Kind of like at home sometimes with the loud. My stomach hurts then, too.

"Why?" she asked.

"Why what?"

"Why do you want a mask?"

"I like them," I said. She could tell there was something else about the mask I wanted. She could tell, but she couldn't know what.

We got in the store. She asked the woman at the front desk where we could find masks.

"Aisle 7," she said.

There weren't many. Only one on every shelf. Lots of empty spaces. Lots of people wearing masks.

I picked the werewolf one. I already told you I picked the werewolf one. It was a werewolf with big teeth, and a big tongue, and blood all around his mouth. The scariest left.

"That's the one you want?" she asked.

I nodded. I was almost too scared to touch it. But no, I had to touch it. I had to stop being so scared and touch it. I would.

"I can't reach it momma. Will you get it?" I said. I could. She knew I could.

"Ooook," she said. She reached for the mask slowly. I almost didn't want her to touch it, either.

"I shouldn't have read you all those stories about werewolves," she said. "This is my fault."

She did read me a lot about werewolves. It's a person, I think. A werewolf is a person who does crazy things and becomes a wild animal because he got bit. I think that's what it is. I hope.

The lady at the register didn't seem scared of the mask. Some people see lots of scary stuff, and they're not so afraid anymore after a while. I hope that's what happens to me. I think that's what's happening to me. Like I got bit. Maybe I'll work here when I grow up.

I could hold the mask in the bag, but even that made me nervous. And the car made me nervous, and we were already back in the car with the mask in the bag. And the house made me nervous sometimes, and we were back at the house before I knew it. Sick from the car and the mask in the bag. But I wasn't gonna' be scared soon. I couldn't be. Even if I had to pretend.

When we got inside, it smelled like my playhouse in the back. The wood on it, I think. I knew that smell. My stomach hurt.

"Where have you been?" my dad said. He was sipping from his cup and sitting at the kitchen table. There were papers all over the place. The TV was on in the background.

Our dog ran up to me. His name's Sam. He sniffed the bag like he always does with the stuff we bring home. That's how he makes sure it's all okay.

I bet he'd be scared of the mask. I decided I wouldn't show him, only if I had to. I wouldn't show him unless I had to.

"Charlie, go upstairs," my dad said. He said he had to talk to my mom about something. My stomach ached.

"Come on, Sam," I said. Sam always came with me. I think his stomach hurts, too, sometimes.

I got to my room and threw my bag in the corner. I told myself I'd wear it soon. Tonight, I'd wear it tonight. (I wasn't scared anymore.)

I waited for the loud. We don't live in a house too big, and my dad is really tall, so he can make his voice really loud. The neighbors hear it, sometimes. I think they get mad, and that makes my dad mad.

"What do you want me to do, huh?" I heard. It was my mom. She always says "huh" a lot.

My dad shouted back. The loud. He said something about having to figure something out. That they needed to do something.

I looked in the corner. The paper bag was all in a weird shape. The mask poked out just a little. An eye. An ear. (I wasn't scared anymore.)

"I-I don't know what to say anymore. Let's sell the house, then! Let's sell the house. Is that gonna' make it better?"

I moved fast before I changed my mind. I thought it could stop everything. That was the day I decided to stop everything. No more fighting. No more loud.

Sam followed me down the stairs, whimpering. I don't think he recognized me. I didn't even recognize me.

I ran into the kitchen where they were.


"Jesus! What's the matter with you? You scared me, Charlie." My mom touched her necklace. My dad gave it to her when they got married, she said. It was already working. My mask was already working.

I bumped into mom. I knocked over dad's cup. Sam hid under the dining room table. I promised him that it would be all right in my head. It would all be all right now.

"Hey! Hey! Knock it off!"

I grabbed all of the stuff on the dining room table and started throwing it around. Some of it was glass and made a noise. Sam ran into a different room. He was scared. I wasn't. Not anymore.

"Charlie, stop it right now!"

I grabbed a picture hanging on the wall and ripped it down. It was a picture of our family a few years ago. Before all of the papers and the loud happened. Before everything bad happened, but I couldn't know what. They always told me I couldn't know what. That all doesn't matter, though. Nothing was worse than the werewolf. That would all go away now. They had to worry about the werewolf. He's scary. My mom even said so.

"Charlie, stop it!"

She said it again, but I could barely hear her. Almost like she whispered. Maybe it was the mask. It covered my ears. And my eyes. And my head.

I tore the rest of the stuff off the walls until nothing was left. They didn't stop me. They didn't do anything. They didn't know what to do, I guess.

I guess they were scared.

But the loud was over. They stood together and watched me, and the loud was over. Now, I was the loud, and that's better. And I wasn't scared. I was sorry Sam had to see it, but he had to. I had to. They stood together. I wasn't scared. Not anymore.

December 04, 2021 02:17

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1 comment

Lore Ax Horton
18:52 Dec 05, 2021

Love this!!


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