Mum says nine is a lucky number. She says I’m allowed to make fairy bread cos it’s my special day and everyone’s here for me. I chose the cake in the shape of a witch cos I like the green snakes for her hair. I already pulled one off and ate it but I don’t think anyone saw.
They told me to stay in the wardrobe while they hide. I know I’ll find them quickly cos it’s my house and I know all the special spots. I’m so good at hide and seek.
I can’t hear their footsteps anymore. I press my head against the door of the wardrobe and listen to my dog bark. She’s a poodle and dad says that makes her yap a lot. Just like you, jelly bean. I like it when he calls me jelly bean.
I can’t hear my dog anymore and the ABBA song must’ve finished and suddenly all I can hear is nothing. Fat black pools of nothing swimming around my feet. And I know what that means.
I know what that brings.
Dr Archer says there are no creatures. When I hear them growling from behind my eyes he pulls at his beard and tells me to think of my safe place. A waterfall, he says. Think of a waterfall. I don’t tell him I’m afraid of waterfalls. Too many creatures waiting under the water to grab my legs and pull me down.
They come when it’s still, when it’s all still and quiet.
I don’t sleep well. I have fuzzy pyjamas with Red Fraggle under the pocket. Mokey’s my favourite fraggle but my sister got the Mokey pyjamas. She says I’m more like Boober anyway cos Boober’s the worrier. My sister doesn’t seem worried about the creatures. I think maybe her bed’s too far for them to reach but maybe they just come for me cos I’m bad.
I wish I could hear something.
There was a pocket above Red Fraggle but mum cut it off. I kept my hair balls in there and she cried when she found them. When it’s quiet and they growl I pull hairs out and they can’t come any closer. I used to keep the hair under my pillow but my sister said ewww that’s gross so I hid them in my pocket. Mum cut the pocket off so now I put them in my sock.
I can hear mum breathe funny when she brushes my hair. No-one will love a bald jelly bean, she tells me in a strange voice, but I don’t believe her. I know my dad will.
I hate the quiet. I have to count to fifty before I can go and look for everyone. I scratch my nail along the wood of the door. It sounds like chalk on the board at school but they don’t come when there’s noise. I can’t breathe when it’s quiet. I asked Emma-Louise once what she did when she heard the growling behind her eyes and she looked at me funny. She looked at me like Auntie Clara does when I come back from my talks with Dr Archer.
Once Auntie Clara saw me in the car with my hands in my hair. I had to pull out hairs cos the number plates didn’t match. I take the letters on the number plates and put them in pairs and if there’s one letter left over the car will crash so I need to pull out hairs or my family will die. I wanted to explain but she looked so sad I didn’t know how. Dr Archer gets to pull on his beard but I don’t think he’s putting anything into pairs, I just think it’s itchy.
I can’t hear anything. I listen for ABBA but my breathing is too loud. And then I hear the growl.
I think it’s in here with me.
I scratch the wood to scare it away and splinters jam up under my fingernails. Do you think the creatures will leave me alone if they know it’s my birthday?
I hear a noise like my dog made when she got glass stuck in her paw. I think it might be coming from me.
I want my Fraggle pyjamas with the cut off pocket. I want my witch cake with the green hair and liquorice broomstick. I want to be ten and all grown up. I think they might stop growling at you when you’re ten.
I want someone to tell me it’s ok, jelly bean.