by Rachel de la Fuente
Many moons ago, during the height of Blockbuster’s popularity, Saturday nights were movie night for my family. Each Saturday, we’d go to Blockbuster and we’d each pick a movie. I always picked something from the kid’s section, my mom’s taste varied, and my dad either chose action or horror.
This particular story happens when I was around seven years old on the fateful day my dad decided to rent Poltergeist.
I’d been put to bed, and my mom and dad had settled into the La-Z-Boy and sofa, respectively. My parents didn’t close the door to my room once I was in bed, so I could hear what went on in the living room.
I don’t recall, now, just how long I waited, making sure they weren’t going to get up to go to the bathroom, or grab a drink or snacks. Finally, however, I deemed it “safe”. I carefully crept out of bed, ensuring I didn’t make a sound, and put on socks to keep my feet from making noise on the linoleum flooring in the kitchen. I thought I was so clever.
Like a sloth, my path to the kitchen was slow, but determined. My house was laid out in such a way that if I stood at the juncture of our kitchen and dining room, I could see the TV, but my parents couldn’t see me.
I reached the little breakfast bar, and stood, eyes wide. I didn’t dare sit down, as that wouldn’t give me enough time to run back to my room if one of my parents stood up.
I’ve long forgotten at what point I started watching the movie. What’s fixed firmly in my memory is that pilfered steak crawling across the counter and exploding (for lack of a better term), that chicken leg covered in maggots. I watched, in open-mouthed, wide-eyed terror as a man began ripping his face off.
You often hear about the fight or flight instinct, but the third option, freeze, gets left out. I froze. I couldn’t make myself move at first. But when his hands clawed at his skull, I turned tail and ran. I didn’t care if my parents heard; I didn’t care if I got in trouble; I just knew I never wanted to see something so scary ever again!
I jumped in bed and pulled the covers over my head, shutting out the world in a safe cocoon in the way only children can. Every time I closed my eyes, that horrible scene played out again and again, scaring me anew.
But, at seven, you can only stay awake for so long, and I drifted off into a fitful sleep, plagued by dreams that would haunt me for years to come.
In fact, it wasn’t until I worked up the courage to watch Poltergeist in its entirety (nearly fifteen years later) that my nightmares finally ceased completely. If only I’d stuck around for another couple moments to see it was only an illusion, I might never have suffered from the nightmares at all.
The experience was just one of the many times my “brilliance” got me in trouble as a child. What movie gave you nightmares, and how did you finally get them to go away?
I hope you enjoyed this brief glimpse into the silliness of my childhood. If you’d like to learn more about me, you can check out my website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. If you like my writing, be sure to keep an eye out for my first book, The Most Special Chosen being released March 3, 2018 by Burning Willow Press.