I always wanted to play with them because they were my older brothers and they always seemed to do the coolest stuff. I even busted my head open trying to ride my bike down the stairs like they did. When they invited me to come play with them, I was an ecstatic eight year old. (My oldest brother was fifteen and my other brother was thirteen.)
They took me across town because I was supposed to be heading that way for a sleepover anyway but they took a detour. “Wanna see where that old guy died?” they asked me. I said yes because I didn’t want to look like a wimp. Didn’t know anything about this old guy either.
They took me to this abandoned house that I now know was just abandoned and no one died in it. Some furniture was still in there but nothing worth keeping. There was an old chair that had that wobbly leg and a box that it looked like someone tried to make into a table at one point. They used to run homeless people out of there all the time.
We explored and they told me the typical story about how some guy freaked out and killed himself in the storm cellar. I wanted to be brave and impressive so I asked where the cellar was. They took me around the back of the house and opened it up. There was nothing of significance down there. There were some old clothes and for some reason, a top hat that had been trampled on many times.
I was shaking because I was afraid of the spirit that they claimed forced people to kill themselves in the house. I still don’t know if they planned this or if they just decided to do it but while I was still looking around, they ducked out and locked me in the cellar. They used a pipe of some kind to bar the door closed so I couldn’t get out. I could hear them laughing as they got on their bikes and left me screaming.
It felt like I was screaming for help for hours. No one was around and I wasn’t exactly in a populated area. Even the homeless people had abandoned this area at the time. My only company were old beer bottles and wildlife that I could never see because it was so dark inside and outside the cellar.
I managed to slip my fingers through a crack. I tried to force the door open or feel around for a board I could tear off. I immediately pulled my fingers back in when I felt a cold nose on them. At the time, I didn’t know what it was. I still don’t know what animal it was. It could have been a stray dog or a bobcat for all I knew. I was so afraid that I didn’t even try to escape anymore. I just had to wait for my brothers to come back.
I got in the corner where the top hat had been kicked to and I just sat there. I cried harder than I ever did in my life. I didn’t know if my brothers were just outside listening to me cry or if they really went away. I didn’t hear them laughing at me or talking about me so I knew they were gone. After a few hours I got the old clothes that were laying around and used them to pee into.
As I continued to cry, I questioned why they would do this to me. I wanted to know why they wanted to get rid of me. I tried to do everything they told me so they would love me. I always did their chores for them because they would give me some of their candy if I did. I thought they loved me when they offered for me to come with them. I kept thinking about how much I just wanted them to want me to be around without mom and dad forcing them to take me with them.
I cried until the sun came up. When the little bit of light came through, I tried to escape again. I tried kicking the door, sticking my fingers through the cracks again, and I even tried to move the pipe a little bit at a time. It wasn’t moving. I was just stuck there. I remember screaming again for a really long time. I screamed until I just couldn’t scream anymore. My throat began to hurt too much.
My stomach was hurting me because I didn’t have any food. I had already starved myself a little the previous day because I was supposed to go to a buffet with my friend. My brothers told me that if I didn’t eat anything the day before a buffet, I could eat a lot at the actual buffet. So now that I’m locked in this cellar, I’m hungrier than I’ve ever been in my short life.
The night came again and I realized that I was never going to leave. I laid in front of the door and cried myself to sleep. Every once in a while I would hear something scavenging through the empty bottles outside and sniffing through the cracks in the door. Inside, I kept fearing that something was moving around with me. I thought I saw something multiple times but with nowhere to run and my back to the door, I just closed my eyes and hoped to die.
When I awoke the next day, I couldn’t even get up. I had never felt so weak in my life. I don’t know if I just gave up or if the lack of food and water had just taken a toll on me. I had never felt pain like that before. It hurt so much, I couldn’t even cry anymore. I don’t know how long I laid there. I just remember staring at the top hat sitting in the corner. It was the only thing there for me to really look at.
Around eleven that morning, I heard the pipe being moved behind me but I was still feeling so weak that I couldn’t move. I heard my oldest brother call my name but I couldn’t respond to him or maybe I just didn’t want to. He picked me up and carried me out of there. He ran too fast with me in his arms. He tripped over his own bike and dropped me. That’s when everything went dark again.
I awoke in my bed at home with my parents both looking at me, one of my brothers sitting behind them. My parents had obviously been crying. They called my oldest brother in to see me. I thought they were just going to be forced to apologize but my parents did something else. They apparently didn’t ask him about what happened while I was unconscious, they waited until I woke up.
My oldest brother told them the truth. When they left me there, they went to the gas station to get something to eat but they separated there. They both thought the other was going to go back for me and take me to my friend’s house. They never bothered asking once they met back up at home who went to get me. They both just assumed the other did it because they had both been gone so long.
No one knew I was there until I didn’t come home when I was supposed to. My mom called my friend’s mom and she told my mom that I never came. They thought I was grounded or that maybe I just got into a fight with my friend. My brothers heard my mom screaming about calling the police when they realized that I must have been locked in the cellar still.
My oldest brother rushed to come get me and my other brother told my parents what happened. I’m guessing they wanted to see if their stories would add up. My mom approached him with a tear in her eye and slapped him. I’ll never forget that slap. It wasn’t even on me and I felt it.
When my other brother ran to his rescue. He was saying it was just a joke and it was an accident. She turned around and backhanded him. He fell to the floor and cried. My father just stood there. He had never looked so disappointed in his life. He pulled my mom out of the room and left me there with my brothers. It was obvious they were supposed to apologize.
My oldest brother helped my other brother up and told him to stop crying. He said, “We have no right to cry,” and walked him out of the room. I thought he was going to give me the generic apology that everyone knows a kid never means when we were alone. Instead, he took care of me. He spoon fed me Mac and Cheese spoke for me because I didn’t speak at all for a while after that.
It took a while for my parents to even trust them alone with me after that. Even when he was clearly putting in the effort to take care of me, they were in there every five minutes to see what he was doing. He never cared though. He just knew he was the reason his sister wasn’t speaking, wasn’t laughing, wasn’t crying, or even attempting to eat.
When I was finally ready to do something after two weeks he was sitting there with me. He turned on some cartoons and a little penguin with a top hat was crying on it. Then I cried and he hugged me. He hugged me and I cried more. I cried more and then I became angry. I started hitting him but he didn’t move, he didn’t let me go. He told me to let it all out because I deserved to and he deserved it.