A Crack in the world
He woke up. It was still dark. Off to the side he could just see the light around the top and one side of the door. He was probably three or maybe four, but he had no sense of that now. His big brother was there. Andy pointed to the crack in the ceiling. It bothered him. What was it? What did it mean? Dan said that was the ghost crack, the crack to The Other Side. If he wasn’t very quiet the ghosts would know he was there. Andy wasn’t sure if his brother went back to his own big bed, or if he left the room. He could do that, just leave the room. Dan didn’t have bars on his bed like Andy had on his.
In the dark from his bed he could just make out the crack in the ceiling. He stared at it – hard. He looked away fast. Had he seen it move? Couldn’t be, it was just a crack. A crack couldn’t do anything could it? He looked to his stuffed bunny, there beside him. Pulled it closer, buried his face in it. After a long time he looked at the ceiling. It had seemed to move just a little he thought. He pulled the covers up over his head. He wanted to call out for Mommy, Daddy, someone, anyone to come get him, come turn on the light. But he could make no sound. Not. A. Sound.
After another long time nothing had come and gotten him yet. He pulled the covers down away from his eyes just enough, just barely enough, to see out through the wooden bars of his bed into the dark beside him. Nothing was there. He pulled the covers up over his head again. It seemed cold when he uncovered his head. Were Ghosts cold?
He slowly pulled the covers down again. He did not look right at the crack in the ceiling. He somehow thought that maybe it only moved, only opened when you looked at it. Was that right, or did it only move if you stopped looking at it? If that was true he hadn’t looked at it for a long time and maybe it was way big open now. He looked. It hadn’t moved. He looked harder. It moved. It didn’t. Did. Didn’t. He covered his head up again. If it got him, he would stay gotten for a really long time, maybe forever. He wasn’t sure either, what forever was, but sensed it meant for real and for keeps and maybe even past then.
He pulled the covers down again. He was sure the crack had gotten wider, deeper, and blacker inside. He looked away and then back. It was the same as when he first looked at it. But there, off to the side, where the ceiling met the wall, now he saw a spider web. Spider webs meant spiders.. A Spider! It wasn’t. It was. Wasn’t. Was. He covered his head with the blanket again. Did spiders only move when you were looking or when you weren’t looking?
That reminded him he hadn’t been watching the crack. He had to know, even if looking meant it would move while he watched. He looked. It was wider. It wasn’t. It was. It grew wider and wider still; began to open downward into the room. It was really dark inside, but he could tell something was moving. He could feel it coming to get him. He pulled the covers up over his head. He thought sure there was something, something mean and angry and hungry in the room with him now.
At that moment he was sure it would be bad. It would hurt and hurt and be scary and sad and hurt some more, for longer than anything ever and there was no one to help him because he could not move or make a sound.
Andy woke up. It was lighter in his room now. The side of his bed was down, like when Mommy came to get him. But Mommy wasn’t there. His gaze shot up to the ceiling. The crack, little more than a squiggly line on the ceiling. It was the same as it had always been. His brother Dan’s bed was gone. The funny cactus lamp was gone. The rug was gone. The bookshelf that held his Little Golden books and Dan’s big books was gone. Everything in the room, except his bed, was gone. He stood there in his pajamas looking for a long time at the floor where the rug should be. It was covered with a thick dust.
He had to find Dan, he had to find Mommy, or maybe even Daddy for this! He ran into the hall,down to the first place the steps stopped, to the front window. There were no curtains on the window. The window was covered in dust. He rubbed the dust away with his hand and wiped his hand on his Roy Rogers pajamas. When he stood on his tip-toes and looked out the window he could see his parents’ car out in front of the house in the street below. There were people in the car.
He ran, almost stumbling down the rest of the stairs, suddenly knew that the living room downstairs was bare of furniture, that the whole house was empty of everything except fort maybe ghosts. He got to the front door. Pulled with all his might on the big wooden door, and again, and more frantically still and finally got it open. He couldn’t open the screen door. He banged and banged on the door, trying to get the people to see him, to hear him. They were going away. They couldn’t hear him and they didn’t see him.
The car slowly pulled away from the curb and drove away. He sat down on the floor and cried. And cried harder. And cried some more.
Andy woke up. It was too dark where he was. There was a crack of light in the floor. He needed what was on the other side. He pushed the crack open, slowly, quietly. There was something alive sleeping in the room below.
And Andy was hungry.