by Max Tyrone
One of those experiences that will haunt me for the rest of my life.
The Hand at the Window
There are always those moments in a person's lifetime where something out of the ordinary happens that changes the way they view things, like the world, life, or the afterlife. These moments can come at any time in our lives, and they can affect us in different ways. One of these moments occurred to me when I was seven-years-old, and it affected me in a way that has spurred the belief of the supernatural in me. This tale that I'm about to tell will always haunt me, no matter how many times I tell it.
When I was seven, my parents would have me go to a babysitter near downtown McAllen, in a relatively quiet neighborhood. If you would ask me to take you there now, I probably wouldn't remember where it is. I don't know if Mari still lives there--Mari's the name of my babysitter at the time. She had two girls, Aileen and Sheila, and a husband, Juan; however, Juan was not "Juan"; I called him Papi.
I fondly remember this family... Mari, who, unbeknownst to me, was blind, took great care of me. She could only speak Spanish, a language I hardly know; but it did not hinder her love for me. Aileen and Sheila were two beauties. By the time I left McAllen, I believe Sheila had already entered college; Aileen in high school.
Papi, who was a red, calloused man, had a shop somewhere downtown. He made faux flower arrangements for special occasions, like weddings or quinces; he would also create little knickknacks and figurines out of wood, the types you would see at the flea market. Papi put everything in his job--so much so that he dedicated a whole section of the house to it. We all called it his workshop. This area of the house opened from one door that connected to the long dining room and inside contained all of Papi's creations on shelves, four or five standing, making aisles, like a library of flowers that never died and wooden monitos whose hands and feet sometimes stuck out like those of prison inmates.
To light the central walk place between two towering shelves hung a light bulb and the yank to turn it on. Once on, the light bulb, dusty and usually weak, emitted a burnt orange; a hue I felt fit the ambiance of the workshop.
Across from the doorway stood a wall with high rectangular windows, long-side down; and outside those windows, you could see the arms of branches outstretched by orange trees. The orange trees, at that time, had grown about twelve feet from the ground. I figured that when I remember Papi was near six-feet tall and thought that two of him could meet the trees' eye-level. Anyway, since the trees were so tall and planted so close to the side of the house, the branches would knock on those rectangular windows every generous breeze; and at the evening time, the sun would cast its reddish light upon them, and thus the branches would cast their shadows on the windows. Despite the strong reddish glow of the summer sun, you could still make out the leaves of the branches.
One summer evening, whilst I ran around on a sugar-rush burnout off too much Nesquik Mari made (and MY GOD she could make the best Nesquik), I somehow ran into Papi's workshop. Knowing that it was vacant since Papi was in the living room, I decided to play with some of his monitos to calm myself down.
The wind had been very generous that day, so the branches knocked on the high windows constantly; I could hear them immediately as I entered the room. All of the oranges had been picked months prior.
As I reached the middle of the walkway and tugged for the light, the bulb gave a few spurts of orange shine and quickly died out. I had to rely on the redness peering from outside; and I remember vividly the colors and textures of my surroundings. Most of all, I remember the thing outside the window, in that sea of red and shadow.
It was a hand--a devilish hand--a claw of a hand, white like chalk, its creases outlined in black, darkened flecks of red across the palm, the color of old blood. I saw it there outside the window, its figure starting from the bottom of the window, in front of the orange tree leaves. Its fingers with long, jagged nails moved like spider's legs or a menacing puppet master's control. For a while, it stayed like that, me frozen in fear, watching for what could have been a lifetime. My eyes began to water, like they still do when I get stirred, although at that moment, I did not wish to cry. I did not wish to scream. Somehow, I thought none of that would matter in the hand's petrifying sight. It commanded my attention, my sentiment; and it slowly crept into the workings of my actions.
All of sudden, as if finished with mesmerizing me, it turned and extended one finger with its palm leveled and beckoned me.
The next thing I know, I'm running outside the workshop, frantically calling for Papi. I find him in the living room and run into his big belt buckle with my forehead. It didn't hurt as much as I was frightened out of myself.
I would have told him what had happened in his workshop, that I had seen the devil's hand calling for me at the window, but all I could articulate was how scared it had made me. I imagine the same thing happens when anyone sees something they shouldn't see or weren't meant to see. You have to take it and leave it as it is.
Although I tried to rid myself of the nightmare I had just witnessed by squeezing the hell out of Papi's waistline, that moment will forever haunt me until the day I finally decide to confront the hand at the window.
Word Count: 1008