Monday, June 1, 2015

The Witch of West Elkton | A True Story

Fears of the Dark - Notcot 2015, Image

My Dad likes to tell a story from when I was about five years old. Our house in West Elkton, Ohio had wood trim that ran along the carpeted floor that we called baseboards. The winters would get below freezing and we heated the house using electric heat. These terrible metal heaters were mounted to the walls of each room, right along the baseboards. We called these heaters, baseboard heaters.

My parents were constantly worried that the heaters would cause a fire and so I was allowed to have nothing near them. They had convinced my young mind that to even get near these accursed baseboard heaters would surely mean death.

The sun set one evening with me securely tucked into my bed as I fell asleep looking at single, blue helium balloon that was softly floating near the ceiling. 

I heard a noise. I layed there with my eyes tightly closed. Maybe it would go away. If I just kept my eyes shut… it would go away.

There! I heard it again. This soft, dragging sound. Something was sliding across my room. I closed my eyes even tighter. But I heard it again… and it sounded like it was at the end of my bed. I held my breath. A cold sweat broke out over my entire body as terror began to grip my chest with an icy grip.

I couldn’t take it anymore… my eyes opened wide as my mind tried to make sense of the cloaked figure at the foot of my bed. Before I could control myself I suddenly sat straight up and stared at the monster. It’s shrouded head turned to me, the face hidden in the darkness. I didn’t move. Neither did it.

I couldn’t breathe, I was sure I was going to die. Slowly… ever so slowly, I gripped the blankets in my fists behind me as I slowly lowered myself back down. I clenched my eyes shut. I dare not move. The blankets were tight to my chin. Time passed, how long… I don’t know. I began to sweat beneath the blankets… and yet I dare not move. I must have fallen asleep.

And then I was aware. Soaked underneath the thick blankets, my fist holding them tightly underneath my chin, I opened my eyes. Just a sliver. I was expecting it to be inches from my face. I was sure the thing would be staring at me, waiting for my eyes to open.

Nothing was there. Ever so slowly I turned my head to the left and to the right. I looked at the foot of my bed. I looked towards my closet. The door was fully closed. I even looked up at the ceiling. Nothing. I was convinced that this meant that it was underneath my bed. I knew I had one shot. One last chance to live.

I bolted from my bed, jumping as far away from the darkness below as I could. My feet hit the ground already running as I ran with all that I had and turned the corner into the hallway, into my parents bedroom… I was sure that it was behind me, reaching out claws to take me down and pull me into the darkness. 

I ran and jumped headfirst into the sanctuary of mom and dad’s bed. I landed with a force between them, gasping for air.

Now my panic was contagious as both my mom and dad shot up with a fright! My dad took me by the shoulders and said “what’s wrong?” Without missing a beat… he says to this day that I whispered… “Dad, there was a witch in my room. I waited until she left… and I ran here.”

As the story goes… it was the blue balloon that had slowly leaked helium, and was carried by a draft, drawn to the baseboard heater below. 

The heater. The accursed heater. It had nearly taken me that night. My father had smelled the smoldering latex of the balloon, and gone to investigate, wrapped in a large blanket.

What I thought was a monster… a robed villan… the witch of my night terror… was my father, preventing my room from igniting into flame. My fears were unfounded. My thoughts had controlled me, and I misinterpreted the saving act of my father.

How we interpret situations is often far more important than the situations themselves. Are we thinking clearly?

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