The Closet by Doug Dawson

The Closet

by Doug Dawson

He listened to the sound of rain on the roof. It sounded to him like crackling, and he imagined a raging fire above his head. He couldn’t catch fire himself because he was soaked in perspiration. He’d run until he was out of breath and ended up where he thought they wouldn’t be looking for him – the one place he couldn’t stand – a closet. There he sat, breathing hard, back against the wall, his legs tucked up against his chin, his hands flat on the floor, cold sweat running down his forehead and back. His breathing was so loud he imagined that anyone who stopped outside the door could hear it. He pictured himself as a steam locomotive, making that “chhh chhh chhh” sound he remembered from an old Western movie. His heart was pounding so hard he feared it might burst, and it seemed his blood was boiling, like a soup in a cauldron that witches dump bats’ wings into. He hated being alone this way and trapped, but there was no other choice. He wondered how much time he had until he was caught.

The day had started well enough. He did a few chores, stopped to talk to his closest friends, even had lunch with one of them. How had it come to this – running away, forced to hide in one of the enclosed spaces he feared so much? Pride and his big mouth had been his undoing. He’d never joined that group before, had always stuck with people he could keep up with, people his own speed. It was when they teased him that he made his fatal mistake, told them he’d give it a go. Maybe he did it because he was small, because he felt he had to prove himself. Whatever the reason, he regretted his mistake.

He was also afraid of the dark, but now it seemed like the lesser of two evils. He imagined himself lost in the vast darkness of an old mine for days on end, everyone he knew crying for him, begging him to come out. In spite of his fear he longed for a total darkness he could disappear into, never to be found, but beams of yellow light flooded in through the keyhole and under the door. His heart beat louder now, and he wondered how much more he could take, how long before he started to cry or became panicky and ran out, sure to be caught. He moved his head slightly and saw the table lamp, its light streaming through the keyhole, hitting him in the eye like a bullet. He leaned to look out the keyhole, felt something wet dripping onto his hand and pictured himself hiding under a table, the blood from a dead man’s head dripping off the edge of the table, onto him, like another scene from a movie. He heard footsteps. Somebody said “I think he ran into this room,” right outside the door, then “he wouldn’t hide in there, would he?” The door swung open and a figure nearly twice his size reached in, feeling blindly among the long coats hanging there. The hand found his face and his older sister said “Tag – you’re it!”


Doug Dawson has written for car magazines (“Vette Vues,” “Corvette Enthusiast,” “Corvette” magazine) and has had short stories published by Academy of the Heart & Mind, Ariel Chart, Aphelion Webzine, Literary Yard, Scars Publications in the U.K., Scarlet Review, HellBound Books, LLC (story accepted for an anthology), Goats Milk and others.