A young girl doesn't find the fuzzy slippers very comfortable. A short story.
My Daddy has a pair of dangerous slippers.
Grandma and Grandpa gave them to him for Christmas and I knew right away they were bad. Mommy and Daddy laughed when he pulled them from their nest of white tissue and blue wrapping paper. They both tittered over them and said what a delightful gift they were.
The slippers are fuzzy brown monster faces. They have blood red noses, protruding white plastic staring eyes, light brown ears and a row of white fangs on their upper lips. Dad put his feet into the mouths, pushing his toes up into the monster's brains. I didn't like how they glared at me. I thought for sure they would bite his feet off.
I said how they scared me and everyone laughed; even Wesley, my little brother. Mom said that eight years old was too old to be scared by a stuffed toy, and weren't the slippers just that? A toy? I tried to explain but Dad made me stop before I got Wesley upset. They turned back to opening presents. All the joy had gone out of the day for me. Something black had moved into our house.
Later I took my new dolls and dresses to my room. I made space in my closet and drawers and put away my new clothes. I stopped to look again at each item as I put it away. I memorized every lace pattern, every colour and every pleat. My parents had such wonderful tastes, and not just Mom. Dad picked out a lot of things for me and his meant the most because I knew he carefully chose each selection.
"Jenny's scared of old slippers. Jenny's scared of slippers." Wesley sang mockingly from my door. He scrunched his face up letting his tongue hang out as he sang, making the words sound slurry and more cruel.
"Shut up 'LITTLE' boy," I emphasized the little since he hated being only six. "Get out of here or I'll punch you out." He also hated that fact that I was stronger than him.
"Slippers of death, yah! yah!" He sang like a rock star, "Slippers of fear." I slammed the door in his face. "Yu cain't hyde fm slprs of dooooom," he had pressed his lips to the crack along the bottom of the door.
I jammed Ken doll's arm under the door and heard Wesley cry out. He went away.
I apologized to Ken and played that he had hurt his arm in a bad accident, tragic really. I had Barbi nurse him.
Lying in bed that night I couldn't help thinking about the slippers. I knew they were waiting until the house was quiet so they could do something. I listened for them and heard their movement in every night sound. I could feel them moving. I was just drifting to sleep when I heard them make the floor creak just outside my door.
My door! I sat up, almost screaming. I had left my door open a little bit. I wondered if I should get up and close it tight but was afraid to leave my bed.
What was I going to do? The slippers were in the hall. There was nothing between them and me. I needed my door closed. Would I have enough time to jump out of bed and slam the barrier and get back to safety? What if they caught me half way?
I couldn't decide what to do, so I did nothing. I lay there like a simple chicken, pulling the covers a little tighter under my chin. I hoped the slippers couldn't hear my breathing. I could hear them, breathing as one. Moving slowly, sniffing me out. They peaked around my door.
I squeezed my eyes tight but could hear their breathing change as the moved into my room. They knew where I was despite my best efforts to remain hidden. Their breathing became more rapid but shallow, trying to remain silent. Just like me.
They stopped just inside the door. I could feel their eyes watching me. I tried not to squirm. Tried not to let them know I was awake and aware of their presence.
They watched me for a time and finally I dozed off. In the morning the memory was as thin as a dream. I went to school.
After supper I told mom I didn't like the slippers; that they were scary. She laughed again and said I was being silly. I was too old to be so affected. Wesley came in the room so I left to watch TV. Soon the rest of the family came in and we laughed through our favorite show; until dad came in. With his slippers on. "Slippers of death," Wesley sang in a whisper. I went to my room.
They visited me again that night. They came just inside my door and terrorized me with their silence; choked me with their unspoken horrors. Again I drifted to sleep before they left. Again I woke to a safe morning. I felt a little better but still felt uncomfortable in the house. It got worse whenever dad was home. He always wore those slippers.
Every night they came and watched me fall asleep. I almost came to look forward to their quiet vigil. Matching my breathing to theirs, I quickly fell asleep. Then they started moving closer.
I didn't notice it at first. Not until they were halfway to my bed. Little by little, night by night they got closer. Were they tired of taunting me? It became dreadful again to hear them. I could almost hear them whispering my name. Whispering words. Telling me I was pretty and soft and they wouldn't hurt anyone so tender. I wanted to tell mom they were right beside my bed but she would think I was lying. She wouldn't believe me. I cried into my pillow and wished the slippers away. Then they touched me.
It was a gentle caress, barely felt through the heavy quilt but there was darkness in it. They were going to get me and it would be slow.
After they touched me I talked to mom. I told her the slippers were touching me. They were going to do worse. "It must have been a dream Jennifer," she said, "I am quite surprised those slippers still frighten you. Maybe we should have you speak with someone about them. Your school nurse maybe? Would you like me to call the school?"
I knew what would happen then, another adult would laugh at me and then all my friends would find out about it. Everyone would laugh at me and call me sissy and not like me anymore. "No," I replied, "maybe it was just a dream." I felt more afraid of mom that moment than I did of the slippers. What would she think if she knew the truth?
I began to wonder if maybe I had done something to make the monsters hate me and want to hurt me. For all of their silent action I knew they were going to hurt me, in their own time. Why were they picking on me and not Wesley? Or were they? I wanted to ask him about it but I was scared of his reaction. I couldn't stand any more of his teasing. He had told a few of his friends about it and for a while they badgered me constantly. I had to pull his hair hard to make him stop. I suffered alone.
It was on my birthday that they touched me under the covers. They pulled the blankets back and stroked my hair. They crooned to me about how I was growing into a fine looking young woman, getting so big and mature. I was too frightened to stop them from pulling the blankets down, exposing my head.
The stroking was gentle but it was dark. I knew it was bad, it felt bad. It got worse.
Then they touched me and I knew I would never feel clean again. I could feel them probe spots that were mine only. My private places became a playground for vile fingers. How could I ever tell anyone about this? I bathed and scrubbed but could not rid myself of the wrong that was on me. The monsters were not satisfied with violating me, they began to make me touch them. They told me it was my fault they had to do this. I had to do this to them. My fault. I was to blame. I was shame. I did what they told me. I touched what they told me. I let them touch me. I welcomed them because they kept the secrets. They wouldn't tell. They scarred me, marked me but no one could see. Then dad went in the hospital.
He had to have an operation. Mom took his monsters to the hospital. I slept undisturbed.
On the second day mom took all of us to visit dad. He showed us his stitches and we talked a bit. Wesley and I got bored in his room and went to the TV room.
In a little while I wandered down some of the hallways, waiting for mom to be ready to leave. I didn't want to go to dad's room, it smelled strange. I looked in all the windows along the hallway and carefully tested each door. Most were locked. One wasn't but I had to push hard to open it.
It was darker inside the room than the hallway had been. A lone bulb burned high above me but hardly kept the shadows in the corners. The room felt small, not much more than a closet. It did not smell like a hospital in there.
The door pulled itself shut cutting off the extra light from the outside and allowing darkness to get a better hold on the room. My heart caught in my mouth for a moment and I backed up against the wall. I reached toward the door handle and gave it a little pull. It opened, not locked as I imagined. I could hear moving air echoing around the room. A hollow sucking sound with a whistle in the background. The whistle drew my gaze to a handle in the wall a foot above my head.
I reached for it, grasped it, pulled down. A small door slid out and down, pivoting on its lower edge, like the chute on the postal box. The roar of moving air startled me with its violence. The handle was cold and slipped out of my fingers. The door slammed shut cutting off the sound.
I reached for it again. I pulled myself up by the handle, straining to get a peek over the lip of the chute door, seeking the source of the sound. Suddenly the door to the room opened. "What are you doing in here little girl?" The voice was rough but gentle.
"Just exploring, sir," I answered. "I didn't mean anything."
"This is no place for you. Do you know where that chute leads to?"
"No," I ventured.
"It leads to the incinerator in the basement. Do you know what that is?"
"I don't think so," the man, who's face was hidden in shadow, didn't seem mad. I relaxed a little.
"An incinerator is a big furnace that is very hot. There are a lot of things in this hospital that must be burned after they are used. That is were they go. If you ever went down that chute we wouldn't even find your bones. It's that hot there." Now I was scared. "You come on out and I'll help you get back were you should be. Are you here with your parents?"
I remembered what I had been told about strangers but this man seemed kind. As I entered the light of the hallway the black sheen of his skin surprised me. His face was leather but there was satin underneath. I asked him his name and gave him mine in exchange. My hand slid easily into his and I told him why I was at the hospital. As he walked me back to where mom was, I thought of a wonderful plan.
I was scolded for being where I wasn't supposed to be but it didn't bother me. I was thinking of other things. I had to make sure I came with mom when she visited tomorrow.
I hardly slept that night. I waited for the sound of the slippers in the hallway although I knew they could not get me from where they were. Their time was up. They would not be able to hurt me anymore. I knew I could stop them before they did worse to me.
On the way to the hospital, I couldn't sit still in the car. Mom scolded me several times for not staying in my seatbelt and for rolling down the window. I felt free, out of danger, alive. Then we walked into daddy's room.
His suitcase was on the bed and he was dressed. "Hi dear," Mom greeted him as he emerged from the washroom hands full of toothbrush, paste and men's stuff, "almost ready to go?" She had known all along and hadn't told me dad was going home.
"Yes, just waiting for my prescription to come up from the pharmacy. It should be here in a few minutes."
What was I going to do? It had to happen today or the slippers would get back home. I couldn't stand that anymore.
Daddy's slippers were tucked in his suitcase. I feigned enthusiasm and pulled them out. Dancing around the room, waving the slippers I sang "Daddy's coming home, daddy's coming home." They believed my act but my skin crawled from touching those vile things. I wasn't happy at all that he was coming home.
"Isn't this a nice surprise Jennifer?" Mom asked me. "I wanted to keep it secret."
I agreed and put the slippers on over my shoes. I wasn't touching them with my skin but now my feet were right in their mouths. Right were they wanted me. I skipped around the room and then announced I was going to the TV room. "We'll pick you up there on the way out but for...." I didn't wait for the rest of what mom was saying but did hear "slippers away" as the door came between us. There was no way I was going to let them get the slippers from me. As soon as I was out of their sight I ran.
The slippers seemed to know where they were headed and they tried to trip me up. They began biting my ankles but I wasn't about to stop now. If I failed it would be too late. I gritted my teeth and ran.
It seemed miles but I made it to the incinerator door. Hoping it wasn't locked I tugged on it. The slippers grabbed each other and I almost fell. The door swung open and I stumbled inside. Shadows surrounded me.
Not waiting for my eyes to grow accustomed to the dimness I ripped the monsters from my feet. "We are in the dark!" They stared at me. "Our domain!" I grew scared of touching them again. Then I thought about them coming into my room, touching me, speaking to me and I grabbed them up, opened the chute and stuffed them in. I heard their surprised scream as flames licked at them. Their yells were long distance and hollow. They were cut off when I let go of the handle.
I was in the TV room when mom came to get me. I expected her to ask about the slippers and I wasn't sure what I was going to tell her. She didn't even mention them. I got to push the elevator buttons. I felt pretty good as we stopped for dad to sign papers before leaving. I sat and looked through a magazine until we were ready to go.
"Lets go Punkin." Dad spoke as he passed me.
I dropped the magazine onto the table and followed.
I looked at him and mom, holding hands, bums swaying together. Then I saw the bulging plastic eyes peaking out of the pocket on dad's shoulder bag. Grinning and hungry, the slippers smiled above the edge of the pocket. They grinned toothily. The walls closed in tight and my vision clouded. I yelled and dad turned and looked at me with bulging plastic eyes.