That Didn't Happen


When ever things happened that Mike couldn't explain, or bothered him, he'd tell himself "That didn't happen".  Like the time he asked pretty Melinda Sue out and she laughed saying, "Me? Go out with YOU!? Don't be ridiculous," he told himself, "that never happened."  Or the time in the school showers, when that stupid Scott, who thought he was hot stuff being on the wrestling team, stole his clothes while he was showering after gym. Then had the nerve to say, "What's wrong , Dough-boy?"  Mike just kept telling himself that it didn't happen. He had never really been like the other kids growing up, in all his 16 years, he had just never fit in with anyone or anywhere. He didn't know why. The mirror assured him he was of average looks, and he got average grades. There wasn't anything to set him apart from anyone else. It was as if his averageness is what made him a target for everyone around him. Then there was the stuff no one knew about.  Like at home, when items would fly across the room and smash into the wall of their own accord, he'd say to himself, "that didn't happen." When the TV and radio would go on and off and lights would flicker, "that didn't happen." And when he saw things that no one else could, he'd simply tell himself 'that didn't happen".  It was his mantra, his way of coping.  It wasn't as if he had anyone to talk these events over with, and he wasn't sure he would if he did. He was already an outsider, if word of these events got out, they'd make him an outcast as well. Although Mike wasn't certain how much difference that would make. Except for when they were bullying or taunting him, he may as well be invisible as far as school was concerned.

     Things were no better for him at home. His parents weren't mean to him or anything like that. There was no abuse perse, they simply ignored him, except for the pefunctionary civil "good morning" and "night", with sprinklings of "pass the potatoes' at dinner. On occassion he'd be asked how his day had been, but then would be cut off by his parents talking to each other.  Of course there were reminders about various chores or being asked to run to the market after some item, but overall, it was as if he was constantly watching their lives through a glass window. He could see and hear them, but never really participate in it. If Mike had to describe his life in one word, it would be 'lonely'.

    One particularly lonesome night, Mike heard music coming from the basement. He listened to it a moment, definitely piano music, and not from the radio or TV. He muted the sound on the television show he was watching. Yes, it was definitely coming from the basement. He frowned a bit, telling himself, that it didn't happen, he was imagining it. But the soft, lilting tune persisted. His parents had gone out and he was alone. Except for the now silent, TV nothing else was on to make the sound. Mike had lived in that house most of his life, and knew there wasn't a radio in the basement.  In fact, there wasn't much of anything in the basement, except for the small laundry area, boxes of Christmas decorations, and the usual stored items of a family that had lived in a place for awhile. Mike frowned; there was an old upright piano back in a far corner. It was there when they moved in, some of the keys didn't even make sound anymore. It would have been hard to move it out, so they had left it there covered with an old sheet, just the way they had found it. "It couldn't be," Mike thought to himself, as he walked to the basement door and stood there a moment debating. Slowly he opened the door and flicked on the light. Abruptly the music stopped. He decide to go down and have a look see anyway. Maybe his dad had put a radio down there. He was always saying they needed a portable for emergencies anyway. He walked down the stairs ' the light fading as it passed beyond the washer/dryer area, leaving deep shadows in the corners.  The corner where the piano stood was dark and gloomy, with a notable chill to it. Mike rubbed his upper arms as he felt the chill, then flicked back the sheet covering, staring at the piano. The cover over the keys was still closed, but the wood seemed to have a warm glow to it. He lifted the lid and ran his fingers over the keys. Yep, still out of tune, with several dead keys. He closed the lid, and pulled the sheet back over the piano. He turned to leave saying to himself, "that didn't happen", and heard the tune begin again. He felt the color drain from his face as he turned back to the piano and pulled the sheet off. The music stopped, but not before Mike had seen several of the keys move. His mouth went dry. "Ok, " he whispered half aloud, "that didn't happen." Then he spun on his heel fleeing the basement. As he reached the top of the stairs, he thought he heard someone whisper, "don't go," but he didn't stop. He barely flicked the lights off before closing the basement door and leaned against it, saying "that didn't happen. That didn't happen..."   Silence. No light strains of music drifting up the stairs, only the hum of the kitchen clock, and droning of the refrigerator. Mike relaxed a bit, and closed his eyes, with a final 'that didn't happen", he pushed himself away and sauntered back into the living room, turning the volume up.

    Over a period of weeks the activity increased to the point even his parents were noticing. The piano was heard in all hours of the night. and Mike began hearing voices. A voice to be more precise, at first it only whispered his name, but now it spoke to him. The voice was that of a young girl, at first Mike tried to ignore it, telling himself that didn't happen it was just his imagination, and he was much too old for an imaginary playmate, but he was just so terribly lonely. So one night, when the voice spoke, he answered. The girl told him she was lonely too, and that her name was Miranda. Soon, they were having nightly chats, and Mike felt that at long last he had a friend. Miranda expressed anger over the way he was treated by his classmates, and the way his parents ignored him. In turn he became more and more obsessed with her.

    His parents worried over his appearance, the long nights of visiting wth Miranda were taking their toll. Circles played beneath his eyes, and he spent more and more time, behind his bedroom door. His mother wanted to know if he felt well, and who was he talking to all hours of the night. His father demanded to know if he was taking drugs. Mike put them off with 'that never happened".  One day things came to a head, and an argument issued. Mike told his parents he was talking with Miranda, and they all but called him a liar. He didn't even have a phone in his room, or own a cell phone, so how was he talking to a girl all night? He told them she was a ghost. His mother stared at him, and his father declared ghosts didn't exist, and he'd better straighten up! Mike insisted she was real and that he loved her. His father told his mother to make an appointment with a shrink, as it was evident Mike was delusional.  "Well," his mother began, "it would explain the piano music, Howard."

   "Not you too!" His father grunted in exasperation,"well if it's a ghost playing that cursed thing, we'll just be rid of it!" With that he stormed down into the basement, and soon he could be heard dismantling the piano. With a yell of "no!" Mike ran down to the basement and tried to stop his father. The piano was Miranda's, he couldn't destroy it! Father and son struggled over the heavy hammer, his dad had been using. His dad shoved him away and brought the hammer down hard splintering wood. Mike yelled and charged at his father again.  He tried to wrestle the hammer away , and his father shoved him away again. Now Mike cried out in anger, and leapt upon his father, punching him full in the face and wrestling the hammer from his grasp. "Do it, Mike," he heard Miranda say.

    Upstairs, his frightened mother heard a cry then silence. She crept forwards to the basement door. "Is everything alright?" she called down.  Mike appeared in the circle of light at the bottom of the stairs, and she could see he was covered with blood. With a cry she slammed and locked the basement door, then called the police.

     When questioned all Mike would say is ,"That didn't happen."






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