Goosey Goosey Gander
The house being empty for so long, I was thrilled when a family moved in. But I knew He had seen them too. If I was Mother, then He was Father by right. But I was here first and I was not going to be driven away by Father’s games and cruelty. Once, this was a happy place and I would often retreat to the Room to enjoy the memories of decades. When Father had discovered my Room, he had laughed with glee, pulling the secret of the Room from me. At first I had resisted, but Father’s fingers had dug into me, ripping apart my soul.
I had wept with pain, for within the Room I could feel, and Father could hurt. When Father had finished, I had retreated to the darkness where I floated free of pain. When I returned to the Room, Father had made changes. He had boarded the window up, sunlight trying to get through the smallest cracks to warm the damp room. The wallpaper was peeling away and the flowery pattern had faded. The carpet beneath my feet was now threadbare and the sofa I had once enjoyed lounging upon was battered and the brown leather split. A television sat on the floor in front of the sofa, the screen cracked and caked in dust. Spiders hung from a light bulb.
Now as I stood in the Room, static played on the television and Father sat on the sofa staring into it, as though he saw something within the swirling mess. The smell of death filled my nostrils and I backed away from Father, hoping he had not heard me.
I reached the door and pulled at the brass handle, but it would not open. When I looked around, I saw Father stood before me, his dirty face filled with a grin of sharp daggers. His straggly white hair hung around his gaunt face and sunken eyes. It was his eyes that made me fear Him, for they held a dangerous glint and allowed me to glimpse the thing behind the mask. And it was very old.
Behind his shoulder, I saw through the grey and white mess of television static the family. There was a small girl who looked around the age of ten, her pretty little face full of childhood innocence. Her parents were young, but they looked at each other with what I could only imagine was love, having never really experienced that myself. Father turned to look at the television, and then faced me again, the grin still fixed upon his rotten face.
“I am hungry,” Father whispered, a long tongue licking his lips. He moved closer and his breath made me retch. “I will feed on their souls!”
Summoning all my strength, I pushed Father back. He staggered away, yelling out in rage. The door behind me swung open and I ran through it, hearing it slam shut behind. Then I ran down the landing, rushing by the man within the family. Turning back, I yelled out to him, but I knew it would be useless.
“The man behind the door is coming!”
The man walked away, unable to hear my screams. The adults had long closed their minds to beings like me, for we were the ones who lived behind the curtains, and an adult would keep those curtains firmly shut. There was one hope, I realised, and that was with the child. I floated through the house, down the stairs and went from room to room, looking for the girl. And then I found her, playing with her doll in the conservatory. Moving in close, I listened to her play, warm memories flooding me as I recalled many other children I had watched play like this. Once, I had been a friend to one, and would whisper into her ear and giggle along with her. But Emily had grown up and had shut the curtain on me. When she had laid upon her bed in the upstairs front room, she had turned her face and looked at me. After many decades, she spoke again and asked where I had been.
“I have always been here,” I told her.
She smiled at me, nodding. “I always knew you were real.”
The gathered family members asked her who she was talking to, but she had drawn her last breath and died. I saw her spirit float away, but Father had come and taken her back to the room, dragging her screaming down the landing to the secret place. Unable to stop him, I had watched helplessly as the door to the Room slammed shut, cutting out the screams of lost souls.
The little girl sat upon the floor reminded me of Emily. Swirling around her, I whispered in her ear, but I was weak from my struggle with Father. The little girl cocked her head, her face frowning in confusion. I tried again.
“Don’t listen to the man behind the door; he is dangerous.”
The little girl looked at her doll. “Oh, you can speak, Linda! We can have so much fun now.” She scooped the doll into her arms and ran from the room. The light outside the window was fading into late afternoon and I knew that Father would come at night; the night had always been His. I swirled around the house again and found the woman by the back door, smoking a cigarette, blowing the smoke into the garden. She turned and looked at me, her eyes searching the room.
“Anyone there?” she called with a tremble in her voice.
Frustrated, I pulled one of my memories into existence and allowed a family I had watched fifty years ago cross the barrier of time. The woman stared as the blurry figures flitted into her field of existence, and I felt a warmth filter through me as I remembered that distant day. But the woman screamed and ran from me. It was useless, I realised. I would have to watch over the little girl and protect her from Father and his evil songs.
When the night came, I was ready for him. I found a safe place in the corner of the little girl’s pink bedroom and settled there to wait. The girl’s door was left open a crack and light from the landing spilled into the darkness as the little girl slept. It was not long before I heard the door to the Room creak open, then slam shut. Father was on his way and I heard him singing his wretched song as he made his way down the landing towards the girl.
“Goosey goosey gander, whither shall I wander? Upstairs and downstairs and in my lady's chamber. There I met a little girl.” He paused by the door. “So I took her by her left leg and dragged her to my Room!”
I rushed at him, pushing back with all my might. Behind me I heard the girl scream. Father growled and invisible fingers dug into me. I was dragged down the landing towards the secret door that led to the Room.
“No!” I screamed out and struggled, but it was useless. We entered the Room where Father could cause me pain. And he ripped me apart several times, enjoying the sound of my screams until I lay a shaking mess upon the threadbare carpet. But I had held out for a long time and when Father had finished with me, it was too late for him to get the girl.
Angry, Father returned to the sofa and sat in it, watching the television, ignoring me as I wept in agony. I was not sure if I had the strength to stop him again. Weakened, I listened as Father sung, “Goosey Goosey Gander, whither shall I wander?”
Unable to hold onto existence, I fell back into the darkness and faded away from everything. But I was stronger than Father had imagined, for I had been around a long time. The house was very old, and when they had built it, I was woken from my deep sleep. I shaped the home around me, building the Room at the centre and hiding it away from the rest of the house. But Father had come along one day and found my Room. It had allowed Him to taste life and how he hungered for it! At first I had ignored him, thinking he would go away. How naive I had been! Father had grown strong over the years, and I realised this entity was older and more powerful than I had imagined. He would laugh as he told me of times of plague where humans had died in agony.
“They listened to my songs,” Father told me. “Ring a ring a roses....”
Now he wanted the little girl. The very thought angered me and I flitted back from the darkness and into Room where I gathered my strength. Father was not there and I feared he was in the house, whispering his deathly songs to the little girl. Slowly, I regained enough strength to walk to the door. Shaking, I opened it and stepped through and into the house. Free from the pain of the Room, I floated to the little girl’s room. I could hear the soft sound of the girl laughing and I relaxed. Slipping through the gap in the door, I went to a corner of the room and looked around.
The toys had gone from the room and the pink walls had been painted white. Apart from the bed, the room was bare. I followed the sound of laughing and saw the girl upon the bed. Her face had matured into adulthood and I wondered how long I had been locked in the Room. Moving closer, I saw the girl had been tied to the bed at the wrists.
She lurched upright and pulled on the straps, her eyes wild. Her dark hair was tangled and damp with sweat. There were deep cuts across her arms and blood trickled down her chin where she had bitten into her lip. A smile spread across her face and she hissed at me.
“Goosey Goosey Gander, whither shall I wander?”