Friday, December 24, 2010

"First Picture"

It might be my first memory. Any other has evaporated.

Bells jingle. Bulbs flash. A woman in green cavorts for crying children. The fat man pats his red lap. My turn. A white-trimmed sleeve rides up, skin beneath sore-slicked. His lips part in a grin.

My parents tell me I barely slept for a week afterwards. Now mid-November on I avoid malls, newspapers. I try to rationalize. Just an indigent man earning pay. Children disappear in every season.

But I remember what I saw in that smile. The dark gullet, the teeth lining it -- sharp, gleaming, endless rows receeding.

Postscript: To listen to audio of this and other stories, please download Season One of the I Saw Lightning Fall podcast here.

18 comments:

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

That's very creepy! And even better when it's read by you! I didn't think of offering sound, but I might do that in the future. :)

AidanF said...

I like how it takes a common fear and then twists it with the fearsome rows of teeth.

Phil W said...

Bad ghosts always have nasty teeth. This is good stuff, Loren, and I love your voice.

S.D. Smith said...

I LOVE your reading performance, Loren. Very creepy.

B. Nagel said...

Creeeeeeeeeeeeeepy.

Nice job. and the audio too!

Donna Hole said...

My mother used to tell us stories about the Hobo's around town; how they stole children and packed them off in their sacks. I was scared of Santa's read bag for a long time as a child :)

Well done Loren.

.......dhole

Yvonne Osborne said...

This was awesome! One of my favorites....that row of teeth. I, too, wrote of missing children. Whoever knows what happened?

ganymeder said...

Great story, so much told with so little! And the reading was incredible too. Very creepy.

Merry Christmas!

Loren Eaton said...

Michelle,

Thanks! Isn't audio fun? Podcasted fiction has just about taken over my iPod.

Loren Eaton said...

Aidan,

I actually based this one on watching my child's reaction to sitting on Santa's lap for the first time. Then I started wondering what would happen if a mall Santa was really something much stranger. Enter the teeth.

Loren Eaton said...

Phil,

They do, don't they? Shark teeth absolutely freak me out.

Loren Eaton said...

S.D.,

Thou art too kind, sir!

Loren Eaton said...

B.,

I remembered your audio from last year's entry and thought I had to give it a try myself.

Loren Eaton said...

Donna,

Wow, that's a seriously freaky childhood memory. I think you have next year's story all lined up already!

Loren Eaton said...

Yvonne,

There's just something so truly terrible about missing children, isn't there? It makes for such potent horror.

Loren Eaton said...

Ganymeder,

Thanks, and thanks for stopping by!

Anne R. Allen said...

I was terrified of Santa when I was a little kid (not as scared as I was of Mr. Peanut, but pretty terrified.) This puts that fear in words. Excellent story.

Loren Eaton said...

This one's actually based on my child's first experience with Santa. I found it rather funny, but my little one certainly didn't!