The Girl in the Garage
By: Antwan Crump
“No! Catch the ball, dummy !”
-Willy screamed as the leather ball whizzed right by his brother’s head, before bouncing into the neighbor’s yard.
“I’m not gonna keep playing with you, if you don’t learn how to catch.”
“I’m trying! Stop being an asshole!” -Bradley screamed- growing tired of Willy’s relentless taunts.
The two bickered as they followed the ball into a yard -of which they were repeatedly told to stay out of.
“I’m telling mom you cursed!”
“Shut up! I don’t care!”
The ball stopped rolling at the garage adjacent to the house.
Their banter was interrupted by the low -but piercing- sounds of sobbing.
The two turned mute, and followed the noise to the overhead door. The crying lightened as they made their approach.
“What was that?”
“I don’t know.”
-Willy grabbed a nearby garbage pale. Dragging it to the windows of the garage, he flipped it upside down, and climbed atop it.
“What do you see?” – Bradley asked, while watching Willy’s face turn from curiosity -into terror.
Bradley heaved himself alongside his brother, and his own emotions followed suit.
The girl was no more than eight or nine -around the same age as Bradley. The brother’s stared, as she rocked to side to side, in the fetal position -facing a small television that must have been three times her age.
“Hello?” -Bradley asked.
“Shhh!” -Willy demanded- at a volume that could barely be considered a whisper.
The two ducked beneath the window, flustered, and slowly crept back up. The girl was gone.
Scanning the inside, they pondered her whereabouts, before a small voice invited-
The two tumbled off of the flipped over can and onto the concrete. As Bradley’s eyes began to water, the girl put her index finger to her lips, gestured for the boys to follow her, and returned inside.
Willy picked his brother up off of the floor -and the two cautiously followed the girl through an open door on the side of the carport.
The boys followed her, to a small square that had been dug into the cement floor. She sat -perfectly centered- in the middle of what had appeared to be her designated spot.
The boys stared.
They broke their focus on her, for only an instant, to see what she was watching on the tiny fat-back t.v.
“…man, I like you. What’s your name?”
“Is that…” -Willy’s inquiry was cut short by the girl’s jubilant scream-
“Shrek!” -she said, smiling and throwing her arms in the air.
Enamoured with the totality of his surroundings, Bradley smiled and sat beside the her. She nudged him -just a bit- to push him out of her square. The two sat, and enjoyed the film together, while Willy watched -unsure of what to do.
Some time passed. The sun had drifted west, beginning it’s melt into the faraway horizon. The boys remained. The movie had replayed twice. Though none seemed ready -Willy knew that it would soon be past their curfew, and mother would be looking for them-
“Brad, we have to go.”
-Willy declared, pulling him by his underarm, to get him to his feet. The girl stayed in her square, focused on the screen and motionless.
“Hey” Bradley pulled away from Willy-
“What’s your name?”
All were silent for a moment, until the girl answered-
She returned her focus to the movie, and the boys left.
Later that night, the two laid awake in their bunkbeds – anxious about their strange encounter with this peculiar girl.
“What do you think she does in there all day?”-Bradley asked an insomnia ridden Willy.
“Probably what we did today. A lot of nothing, in a weird little square. Now go to bed.”
“Do you think she lives in there?” -Bradley continued.
“No.” Willy insisted.
“It’s gotta’ be her playroom or something.”
Just as Bradley had begun to prepare -yet another- in an endless stream of moot-point questions, the glare of headlights shone through their window, and turned into Emily’s driveway.
The two leapt out of bed, and gazed upon the driver with laser-focus.
The lights of the van flickered off. The garage door opened. The driver exited the vehicle, and went inside.
“I wanna’ see. I wanna’ see! Don’t be a window hog!” -Bradley whined, pushing his brother aside.
From their window, the bright light of the old television screen could be seen shining down the darkened driveway, as could Emily’s shadow.
It all at once went dark.
A single echoed crack filled the air. The boys cowered beneath their window sill, as concerned neighbor’s flipped on their lights, and filled the streets.
Moments later, police charged down the road, and attempted to enter the home. Several walked around; to the open garage door.
The crowds were ordered back inside.
“What’s going on?” -Bradley asked, to an unresponsive Willy.
Suspecting the worst, and without saying a word, Willy climbed into his bunk, and gazed into the bottom of his brother’s mattress. The lights of the first-responders’ vehicles flashed through their drapes for several hours afterward.
The slam of a loose door startled them up. Footsteps made them wish that they’d never woken.
“Willy? Are you awake?”
Willy rolled out of the bed, ordering Bradley to stay, while he grabbed the brass knuckles that his father had given him for his fourteenth birthday.
“I’ll be back.”
As Willy treaded lightly through the halls, he heard the increased volume of the television-
“And tonight, I’m making waffles.“
Shrek? – he thought- closing in on the origin of the sound.
Turning into the living room, he stepped onto the carpet, amidst the silence between the donkey and the ogre, he heard-
Inspecting the ground, he saw a trail of tiny bloody footsteps, that led to Emily – who’d been sitting in the fetal position facing the television- rocking side to side, as a small gun dangled from her right hand.
“Emily?” -he asked through the knot in his throat.
She pointed to the couch, where his mother had fallen asleep -and smiled.
Bradley walked beside his brother and let out a piercing shriek as their mother’s blood drained from her chest, into the couch, and onto the carpet -the knife still deeply implanted.
Willy nearly collapsed, using the wall as a crutch while he slid down to the floor, still gripping his brass knuckles.
Bradley’s screams awoke the neighbor’s once more.
Emily sang along with the movie.
Bradley awoke in a cold sweat.
to be continued…