Afraid

Sandra is afraid of the dark, and this is one game of hide-and-seek to prove herself.... FOR THE HALLOWEEN COMPETITION

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1. Afraid...

Sandra stared at the cellar with frozen eyes. She had to either get in there or get out of the house if she wanted to escape. Kenny and Lily and Brittany had already hidden- one behind the cupboard and the other in the closet. Brittany had run off first so no one knew where she had hidden. This was her chance to prove she could make it in the dark and in a game so darkly dazzling. Sandra wished Lily had let her hide behind the door but Lily, for a fact, was nothing close to a giver and she enjoyed bossing people. Of course, Sandra wouldn’t ask Kenny.

He was Lily’s best friend and she didn’t let Sandra get chatty with him because she didn’t want her sister to be friends with anyone above her age. Sandra could have argued Kenny was just one year older but Lily was never a listener either. Sandra had seen how kind and bubbly Kenny was and she wished he would be her friend too, but Lily was the boss – over Sandra, at least. Lily, too, liked Kenny as much and she was afraid of bossing him like she did to so many others.

Kenny wasn’t the major problem right now, however. Neither was Lily. The problem was Sandra’s fear of the dark. She recalled how she fought to play with the older children – Lily, Kenny and, Kenny’s brother and sister, William and Brittany – and how a condition was demanded, by Lily, of her in exchange of her participation…

“Lily, what are you guys doing?” Sandra asked, putting her doll down and looking as her sister sat with the two boys and Brittany.

“It is an adult thing, Sandy,” Lily replied, with a mixture of a scoff and sigh.

“But, Lily! I want to know!” Sandra pouted cutely, putting her stuff away and approaching the four children.

“You heard me, right? It is none of your business,” Lily smiled hardly and gave her sister a cold stare, out of her friends’ sight.

“Uh, Lily, I had to interfere…” Kenny spoke and passed a kind glance at Sandra before adding:

“It is really not that big of a deal to keep from your sister…”

“Oh, Ken, you don’t know her!” Lily sighed dramatically and was about to speak before Brittany poked her head in, brushing her blonde curls off her eyes.

“What’s to know about her? She is just twelve, for God’s sake,” Brittany, who was the oldest of fourteen, asked.

Lily frowned at her and opened her mouth to say something but shook it off, remembering Brittany’s both brothers were there, and looked at Sandra instead.

“You, go away and let us play. Just…” she wanted to say ‘back off’ but she didn’t.

“Oh, Lily, please, please!!” Sandra cried.

“Lily, she is a kid!” William argued, in Sandra’s favour.

“Yeah!” Brittany joined.

“Yeah, Lily, we can tell her without making that big of deal, right?” Kenny asked very nicely and then smiled at Sandra and said, “Why, Sandra, we are playing hide-and-seek!”

“Oh, no, Ken…” Lily groaned, half inaudibly.

“Ah, hide-and-seek? Wow, I want to play! Can I play, guys?” Sandra asked, tying her silky brown hair in a loose ponytail.

“No, you can’t!” Lily answered sharply.

“Why not?” Sandra gasped.

“Well, you are too young! That’s why, silly!”

“But I want to play with Kenny… and Brittany… and you guys!! Please, Lily, please let me!” the younger girl begged.

“No means… what?” Lily asked, her bossy senses kicked in.

“No?” Sandra asked, her eyes big, beautiful, and black.

“It means ‘back the hell off and do as I say or you will regret every moment of your horrible life’,” Lily hissed.

“Uh… Lily, I know you got rules but I do want to play! I do!!”

“No. And, now that you know what that means, back off, Sandra.”

The boys and girl exchanged alarmed glances and William spoke again.

“Sandra, you play with us, don’t worry!”

Sandra, who was about to cry, turned to look at him with hopeful eyes but remained silent, as if wondering what Lily would say. Kenny joined in too.

“Yeah, sure you can!!”

Sandra broke into a soft chuckle and profusely thanked them and Brittany gave her a thumbs-up. Lily’s face was that of the angriest ghost ever. She stuttered to protest but then grumbled loudly and said:

“Argh, fine! But, on one condition…” Her eyes narrowed in an evil manner and she added, “You will not be afraid of the dark.”

“W-what?”  Sandra stammered, hopes almost seized away.

“You know what,” Lily smirked.

“What’s the matter, ladies?” William asked.

“The matter? Well, our little Sandy here happens to freak out in a dark place. Hasn’t gone in the dark since she was nine. But, as you all know, hide-and-seek is a lot about the dark so she doesn’t have to be afraid of the dark…. I ain’t gonna play with a wimp then,” Lily explained, passing Sandra a wicked smile now and then.

“Is that seriously true, or is it serious garbage?” Brittany asked, pulling out a lollipop from her pocket to suck on.

“Huh! Garbage, you think, Brit? Oh, Sandy, would you mind clarifying?” Lily smirked.

“Y-yeah, that’s true…” Sandra whispered.

“Oh! Don’t worry, Sandra!” Kenny smiled, consoling her broken feelings, “Just promise you won’t freak out because of the dark, okay? And… and then you can play!”

“With you four? Really?” Sandra smiled, getting a sick, hidden nudge from an angry Lily.

“Yeah, with us four,” Kenny chuckled.

“Okay, okay, I promise!!” she grinned.

“Yay!” Brittany laughed.

“Awesome… just keep in mind I hate promise cheaters, ‘kay?” Lily scoffed.

And, they all drew lots and William was ‘it’. He said he would count down from hundred and the remaining four had to hide. Brittany, who was done with her lollipop, put the stick in her pocket and winked at them and ran off like wind. Nobody had the chance to know where she ran. Then, Lily took off running and dragged Ken along. Sandra too ran but she didn’t know where… And then she found the place none of them had ever gone in.

The cellar.

And here she was now, staring at it and knowing how dark it was going to be down there.

Sandra shook. She felt her forehead get moist and cursed herself for sweating at the mere sight of the bloody cellar. Why on Earth did she have to be such a fraidy-cat? She was twelve years old, for Goodness’ sake! The thought of her fear of the darkness sent chills down her spine and she trembled – with her inner coldness or simply the fear, she knew not.

William had counted down to ‘fifty’ by now. Sandra panicked because she didn’t want to be found- at least, she didn’t want to be the first one. Neither did she want Lily to know how long she had been shivering at the sight of a dark cellar in her own house. Sandra looked at the damp wood in front of her. She was sure there were rats. She was afraid that they would sneak upon her arms as she walked in the lost dark and gnaw on her tender skin.

The idea nearly made her scream and she was about to retrace her steps to say she was out of the game, but she decided she wasn’t going to lose this once-in-a-lifetime chance of proving what a fathead her sister was. She listened for William- obviously, now he was counting down from ‘nineteen’. Fresh panic filled her and Sandra glared at the cellar door. With a deep breath, she stepped forward when she thought of spiders.

Oh gosh, she would never be able to stand spiders! They were the weirdest, nastiest creepy-crawlies to exist and she was never going to face them. And, that cellar… that cellar was probably going to be full of them- and rats. She was letting herself drown in fear again, when she heard William yell out ‘ten’. Sandra gasped.

Only ten seconds left.

Her wish to be treated equal and fair by Lily got the better of Sandra and she opened the cellar door, causing dust to fly in her face. It was not as much as an unused cellar door would typically have, but it was obvious that it had been a while since someone cared to go there. She could see the wooden steps going down.

William was on ‘five’…

Sandra jumped directly on the second stair and closed the door behind her.

Four…

There was a low creak, but Sandra prayed no one would hear. It was horribly dark in the cellar, except a few cracks on the cellar which allowed narrow, small shafts of light in. Sandra could easily make out the silhouette of an empty chair.

Three…

Sandra fixed her gaze on it as she climbed down slowly. It was the only place that was lit and she tried to stop her tension and fear from getting the better of her.

Two…

Sandra’s foot nearly slipped, but she stopped just in time to prevent a heart attack and got back on track. As she adjusted herself, she heard a gentle footstep. She looked up so quickly that she made someone rush past the chair. Jesus Christ…. Her heart thumped so hard that she was afraid it would shoot out of her chest.

One.

Someone, in the abyss of darkness, clicked their tongue, causing Sandra to run to the chair to see light. She was sure she would have a bloody heart attack if she didn’t. There were gentle footsteps approaching her, but she was too afraid to turn away from the light.

“Ready or not here I come,” William called from above her.

“Sandra…” someone whispered and Sandra turned just in time to see the blonde-curled girl, softly giggling in front of Sandra’s frozen, priceless, near-to-heart-attack, i-look-like-a-complete-idiot face. She was lost for words in the scariest way ever, and she couldn’t move a muscle for a whole minute.

Brittany laughed.

“Are you okay, fraidy-cat?”

Sandra shook.

“I- I think… Oh my God, Brit!! You gave me such a bloody scare!!”

Brittany chuckled again.

“Shush, little kitty, shush! I just want to congratulate you!”

“Me? What for? Looking like the stupidest idiot to exist?”

“Nah, silly! You officially survived my scare test… so, I guess you are in the team!”

Sandra laughed in complete delight.

“Why, thank you, Brit!”

“I’m gonna hide behind that wall if Will comes here. You coming?” Brittany offered.

“Yeah… uh, that’s be great…”

Brittany turned to go away but then she turned on her heel and winked at Sandra.

“And way to go for proving Lily wrong. She won’t mess with you anymore. You have my word,” she grinned.

Sandra thanked her and sat on the chair, dreaming of rainbows and bright things. It was a miracle that only Brittany was here. She would die if a ghoul had popped out instead. She really would have.

Thankfully, what Sandra did actually learn from that (bloody) game was that if you face your fears, your fears will lose their bloody face – and now she was the boss of Lily.

Ha!

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