Traumatized By A Book
When I was young, I was known for having a pretty vivid imagination. For instance, my father could never tell me I was “grounded”. To my strange over-thinking brain, I thought being “grounded” meant being buried alive. I, truthfully, think I came out of the womb a bit unusual, but the “grounded” thing is a story in its own right.
I was rarely scared of much of anything growing up. My father had to take me to An American Werewolf in London when I was six because I would not shut up about it. He even had to sign a release at the theatre that he wouldn’t sue if I had nightmares. I didn’t.
So, that brings us to what did scare me as a kid. The one thing that comes to mind that I didn’t come up with on my own was what I’ll dub, “The Bathtub Incident”. And, of all the things in the world that you would imagine would scare me, a book featuring Sesame Street characters did it.
Like most young children, I had an undying love for Sesame Street. I had toboggans with Big Bird, Numerous stuffed animals. (Bert and Ernie in particular. There is a story about me and my dog, Beau with that one, but I digress.) At any rate, Sesame Street was a staple in my house. So, when a new children’s book came out, Mom bought it for me.
I remember this being before I could read very well, so I was probably somewhere around three. My third year was also the year I taught myself to read because I wanted to see what time The Jefferson’s came on TV. So, memory puts me before then, but I am unsure of my exact age. Mom used to sit down with me every day and read with me.
When the book came into the house, that was when the trouble began. No, it wasn’t a haunted book or anything that sinister. In fact, to most people, this book was rather unremarkable. The particular book had a variety of stories and poems with the Sesame Street characters. Mom dutifully read each one to me as I stared wide-eyed at all of the pictures.
Finally, we got to a poem in which Bert and Ernie went down the bathtub drain to have an adventure.
Little did my mother know that my strange imagination had taken hold again. That night, at bathtime, suddenly I kicked and screamed. Every time she tried to put me in the tub, I tried to climb back out. She kept asking me, “Dani, what is wrong?” I would not answer.
The next night, it was more of the same. I refused to take a bath. Mom didn’t know what to do. Dad was at a loss as well. Finally, Mom stared down at me.
“I’m tired of this. You are taking a bath whether you like it or not.”
I blinked up at her with tears in my eyes. “But, I don’t wanna go down the drain.”
She gaped at me for a moment. “Is that what this is about?” She grabbed the book. “Here, it’s gone.”
And, she threw it into the trash.
It made no difference. I still refused to get in the tub. My brain kept imagining that I was going to go down the drain and die a horrible drowning death. She let me go to bed once again without a bath.
By night three, Mom was done. “Get in that tub.”
She picked me up, dodging my flailing limbs and put me in the tub.
I tried to get back out.
She grabbed my foot and forced it over top the drain. “See, it won’t even fit. It’s impossible. You aren’t going down the drain.”
I looked at the drain, then looked at my foot. Then, I forced my own foot onto the drain, trying to see if there was any way my foot could fit. Nope. Nothing. Mom was right.
Everything was okay again. I slid back into the tub, grinning, ready to play in the water.
Mom pulled her hair back from her forehead and sighed, preparing for the next unusual event. I can assure you, I am the reason Mom’s hair went gray.
Named one of the Examiner’s 2014 Women in Horror: 93 Horror Authors you Need to Read Right Now, Danielle DeVor has been spinning the spider webs, or rather, the keyboard for more frights and oddities. You can find out more about her works by visiting her online: https://www.amazon.com/Danielle-DeVor/e/B00CJLIEV0