It’s freezing. It’s not supposed to be freezing in August.
Some people think that all of Canada has winter all year round, just a wall of white snow at the border. No. We have summer. And the height of our summer is August. The month where it’s so hot that I want to peel my skin off. When I come outside and my hair is plastered to my neck with sweat within seconds. These things suck, but when it’s cold enough that I can see my breath in August, it worries me.
A dog howls in the distance. I think it’s from the west, but the sound ricochets off of the fence along the road and skews my perception. It’s dusk, that perfect time in the evening before the streetlights come on that’s just dark enough that nothing looks like it’s supposed to.
I realize that I don’t even know why I’m out here. I don’t remember coming out of my house. What did I come out here to do? It’s Tuesday night, which means I am of no fixed plans. Usually I just curl up on the couch with my cat and read until bedtime. What made me come out here?
I puzzle over this, and more importantly, why I can’t seem to force myself back inside into the warmth. I’m dressed for August in sporty shorts and a tank top, bare foot as usual. My flesh is all goosebumped and my teeth are threatening to chatter.
I hear a giggle right behind me, and I can’t help but let out a scream. I whip around, nearly stumbling over myself in the process. Nothing. Nobody. I swear I heard a giggle. I try to place the voice to an image in my head of a person, but it’s difficult. It didn’t sound like a child, nor like an adult. I couldn’t even tell what gender it was.
I’m still not ready for it, and it sounds closer this time, and the hair on the back of my neck stands up as I stand frozen. I’m too afraid to move now, afraid to turn my head. What type of creature can turn summer to winter and send disembodied ghost giggles to tickle the back of my ear?
A sudden chorus of laughter breaks out and this time I do move, this time in the direction of my house. It’s loud and raucous, a thousand voices guffawing hysterically as I speed towards my front door. I feel like I’m running in slow motion, I’m so desperate to get away, my heart pounding in my ears, adrenaline pumping electricity through my veins.
I leap all three porch steps in a single bound and smash into my front door, unable to stop. I claw for the doorknob, and in my panic it takes me a few seconds to realize there is no doorknob.
There is no door.
The laughter is deafening now. I claw at the brick in front of me, but my scream isn’t heard over the gleeful shrieking.
I whip around, ready to face the onslaught.
Crickets chirp in the still night as the streetlights pop on. The street is clear and peaceful, and I fumble for the doorknob behind me. My mouth is so dry.
I find the knob, turn it, and tear into my house.
Prompted by A Year Of Writing Prompts by Brian A. Klems and Zachary Petit, available at Writer’s Digest!