The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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Jesse says he has an easily forgettable personality and can’t take his own advice. He lives in Pennsylvania, and enjoys the summer nights when the wind howls and shakes the trees. He is fascinated by the paranormal, but that doesn't mean he can’t be scared.  His friend Krysta knows that very well.

“…It turns out the truck driver had been following her and flashing his headlights to keep the man from popping up until she could get to a safe space,” Krysta trails off with an expectant look on her face.

I examine the way the flashlight reflects on her dark brown curls. “Yeah?” I say, “So what? Everybody knows that legend isn’t real.” Krysta sighs and drops the flashlight dramatically. It falls on her sleeping bag, light shining on the nylon tent walls.

“Fine, whatever,” she says disappointedly. I can see the black rings around her bright blue eyes grow darker by the minute. Everything’s quiet except for the wind as we lie in our sleeping bags. It’s howling through the trees and spreading leaves all around our backyard campsite. “Let’s just go to bed then.” Krysta flops her head down on her pillow.

We’re “camping.” Not really. We’re sleeping in a tent in my backyard. So it’s more like a boy-girl sleepover, but outside.

Once we’re comfortable, I reach to turn off the flashlight. Everything is dark, with only the faded streetlamps and forgotten moon to offer any solace. My eyelids slip closed. It’s quiet except for the wind, but…

But there’s this scratching.

“Jesse,” Krysta whispers after a while, and I open my eyes. I can barely make out her petite figure in the dark.

“Yeah?” I ask, my voice groggy.

“Shh! Turn around, okay?” Her voice is so soft it’s hard to understand.

“Why? Is gullible written on the ceiling?” I ask loudly, and her arm reaches out to hit mine.

“Be quiet! Turn. Around.” And I roll my body to the other side, and immediately shift my sleeping bag closer to hers.

There’s this arm brushing against the tent door. I can make out five fingers and a long slender arm. I press my foot against the closed zipper, as if that will help deter the monster. It could just as easily rip through the thin fibers of the fabric.

I can hear my heartbeat. I can hear Krysta’s, too.

“Wanna run for it?” I ask quietly. She nods vigorously.

“But what if it catches us?” Krysta answers. I stay silent. I grab the flashlight and flick it on. I reach forward and slowly unzip the door.

Slowly, slowly. And then we’re running so fast I can’t even feel the grass under my feet. Krysta’s right behind me as I stumble trying to get the backdoor of my house open. I pull the lock and we run inside, slamming the door behind us.

The next morning, when we see the tree branch hanging in front of our tent, Krysta starts to laugh. I just sigh and go to collect the camping gear we left in the yard.  

Jesse

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