FEVER PITCH – I

Sophia Mozzachio, Staff Writer

JUST A NIGHTMARE

From a small corner of a big city, Hannah grew up in shoes a size too big for her. 

An only child of divorce, she was almost completely alone in growing up. Her father remarried, to a twenty year old, and her mother was still living in her missing teenage years, barely home enough for Hannah to see her regularly. 

If it wasn’t for her grandma, a devout catholic who only spoke in a quiet voice, she would’ve had nowhere to turn. Even with the soft whispers and kind words, her presence was always bigger than her words. She’d take Hannah everywhere if it meant she got out of the small apartment in Brooklyn. She taught her everything that elementary school didn’t teach her, from safety to how to cross the street. Holding onto her grandma’s hand, Hannah knew she would have that one parental figure in her life who wouldn’t let go. 

The day after Hannah’s tenth birthday, she had her first nightmare. 

Tucked away in her bed, Hannah stared at the far wall, listening to the harsh whispers through the thin walls. Her mother was home. On the wall, was a painting of a pasture with light clouds and a bright blue sky. Hannah had often turned to this to help her forget what happened outside of her four walls, imagining the feeling of grass under her feet and the fresh air around her. Tonight was different.

Tonight, the painting was changing. Right before her eyes, Hannah watched it begin to rain. The clouds darkened, the blue sky turned gray. The cows fled, the grass was flooded. Seized by horror, Hannah held onto her blanket with a tight grip, watching the frame begin to shake against the wall. Outside, something fell to the ground, causing Hannah to jump in place. 

Slowly, surely, a dark figure emerged from the darkness of the painting and crawled to the edge of the frame. Before she could stutter any words, the monster was grasping and ripping the canvas to get free, reaching a wet arm out and touching the edge of Hannah’s bed. 

The figure didn’t have a face, but it did have claws, and they were making their way towards Hannah-

A scream split through the apartment and a large thud broke the contact between the shadow and Hannah. She looked away from the painting to the door, and when she looked back, they were gone. The painting was ripped, black oozing out of the tear. 

The door thumped from Hannah’s body against it, sweat from her fingers smearing the wood as they slipped when she tried to grasp the door handle. A heartbeat was raising to her sound level, and she couldn’t fight it off, no matter how much she slapped at her ears with terror. It got louder and louder, thumping through Hannah’s head until she fell backwards and hit the floor unconscious. 

The next day, Hannah’s grandma died from a heart attack. When she returned home from the hospitals, the bags under her eyes purple  and her cheeks rosy from crying, she found the frame stitched up, the black liquid cleaned up messily. The wall below it was smeared with faded ooze, and when she approached, the heart beat pumped back into her veins, louder and stronger with each step.