I started with excuses after the leaves turned, feigning fevers, inventing injuries, anything to stay inside. No excuse, though, could outlast the winter. Eventually my parents would push me outside, coated and scarved, to play.
It never moved past the woodline. It would stare, scabrous with frost, clutching a cracked broom, the wind trying to sweep the tattered top hat from its head. Its coal-black eyes cut me to the marrow.
I didn't know why it always returned. Perhaps it envied the house’s warmth. But I knew the gin on mother's breath, father's nights away. There was no warmth there.