It Could Have Been Me

It Could Have Been Me

When I was five, my parents gave me the bedroom in the basement to make room for my baby sister in the room next to theirs.  On paper it sounded great – I had my own space and my parents didn’t really care much about what I did in the basement so long as I didn’t wake up my baby sister.  If I had the volume down really low, I could watch television until way past my bedtime or play video games until the sun came up.

The thing I hadn’t considered until my first night in the room in the basement was that I had a crippling fear of the dark.  I dreaded bedtime because I knew that it meant having to go to the basement in the dark, and having to brave the hallway between the light-switch and my bedroom.

After weeks of putting bedtime off as much as I could, my parents finally came up with a solution.  One night my father came home with a present for me to keep me safe in the basement by myself – a beagle puppy.

I named him Snoopy for obvious reasons and I loved that dog with all my heart.  I trained him to hunt monsters and to keep me safe in the stretch between my bedroom and the basement door, and for the next ten years we were inseparable.

I stopped fearing the basement when puberty hit, but our routine never changed.  I would click off the light and close the basement door, and together we would walk down the hall until we reached my bedroom door.

Last night, something different happened.

I shut the basement door behind me and saw immediately that I’d left my bedroom lamp on.  The door was closed, but I could see the thin line of light at the floor.

Snoopy lead me to the door and I followed a step behind.  I could see his paws like four black bars of shadow against the line of light by the door, then suddenly, I watched those bars slide unnaturally to the right side and disappear out of sight.  I heard his claws against the hardwood floor as he was dragged from in front of my bedroom door, then nothing at all.

I ran down the hall and opened my door, letting light from my bedroom flood through, but all there was to see was an empty hallway.  There was no sign of Snoopy anywhere, except for the long, jagged scratches in the hardwood floor where he had been standing.

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