Imaginary Men

images-3A few weeks ago I wrote a dud of story about a repairman who came to my house.  I posted it here for about a minute, a story that was so much a nothing I hit delete.  So this man came to my house.  So he seemed scary.  So nothing happened.  So what.  Who cares.

But after I took the story down and shoved it into the digital black hole  drawer, I could not stop thinking about it.  It woke me up at night.  It festered.

You can find the real story here, up today over at The Manifest-Station.

(with a huge thanks, as always, to Jennifer Pastiloff)


Excerpt from “The Man In My House”

I grew up with my single mom, in a house without a man.  My mother was not a fearful person, nor was her mother, my grandmother, and we all lived on a diet of scary movies, movies where men like Dracula waited in the dark to abuse his women.  

We watched TV shows about terrifying men, like the one where Darrin MacGavin searched for The Night Stalker, and when I was ten and eleven I would come home from school in time to watch Dark Shadows with my grandmother in her cold, dark basement.  Fear, fear of imaginary bad men, was our entertainment.

And yet, when I was little, I had regular and vivid, terrorizing nightmares.  I screamed like someone was killing me.  I walked out of our apartment and knocked on neighbors’ doors.  I babbled incoherently to my single, sleep-deprived mother in our ever-changing string of new, and unfamiliar, apartments.  The most vivid and repeating nightmare, like a record player with a skip, had me staring hard out our window into the dark, my fingers crunched hard on the sill, while kneeling on my bed and seeing a strange man with white eyes staring back at me from the other side.  To this day I am sure I can smell him.


8 thoughts on “Imaginary Men

  1. donnaeve

    You’ll probably hate that I read the original – b/c I tend to read the email version vs clicking over to your actual site sometimes. The story resonated then – I got it, it made sense to me. And this one is even better! Congratulations on it’s publication!

    The thing is, (I’ll speak for the universe now – haha) I believe we all have something of this nervous nature snaking around under our skin. It’s partly what we’ve been exposed to and partly b/c we (women) have been told to “be aware.”

    Just hearing those two words sets me on edge. Even before I was mugged, weird stuff happened that made me extra cautious. I’d rather be that than thrown into the back trunk of a car and hauled off to who knows where. Remember my recent strange phone call. Yeah. That kind of stuff is enough to make one leery – and then some.

    1. Downith

      Like Donna, I read the original too and wondered why you took it down. Even better that it’s been published somewhere.

      You know, I’d rather be wrong and feel badly afterwards (even if only in my own heart) than the alternative…

  2. jovialgingerforlife

    I read the entire story and it was very well written. I, too, feel anxious and cautious anytime a stranger comes to my home. I think it just makes good sense to be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.

  3. Deborah

    Loved the story. I get like that when my husband is away. I hear noises, check under the bed… I eventually fall asleep from exhaustion with the radio quietly playing. Why is that? I hatch an escape plan to save all three children and sneak out of the house. The cat will have to fend for himself. Last year, a chimney sweep gave me the creeps like you wouldn’t believe. I put a description of him on my Facebook page in case he came back and I was found murdered. He didn’t and I’m still here.
    Note to self: quit the serial killer books and stop watching CSI. Except… in those, the good guys always win in the end.

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