I was eight but I lied and told everyone I was nine.
Not that anyone from Brody Creek believed me since my age was like a fiery cross I had no choice but to tote around for eternity, alas. It wasn’t them I cared about anyway, it was the summer people. The droves of kids who magically appeared every summer and just as quickly disappeared after labor day. It was those cool kids who I wanted to impress and to make friends with since no one here wanted to be my friend. At that time, at least.
I followed a group of the summer kids down a path near the lake.
In retrospect I should have realized they would never want to be friends with me for reasons far beyond my age. In short, they were older, male-er and rich. I was just a scrappy little girl with less than a penny to poke a stick at. They also had no interest in the types of things kids who grew up around here cared about like catching frogs, climbing trees or hunting for ghosts in the forest. The summer kids only cared about their phones and who had the most points on some stupid game. Not about crappy little girls with worms in her pockets.
Needless to say when they found out I had been following them they laughed at me.
Then they called me names and when that wasn’t enough, they threw stones at me. Now, don’t get all ‘wah’ and feel sorry for me, because this is definitely not a situation where anyone’s sympathy should be directed at me, for two reasons: one; I wasn’t upset and two; because of what happened after.
One of the stones bopped me in the head.
And yeah, it did hurt a little but not that bad. And like I said I wasn’t mad, so I really don’t think what happened was because of me. Anyway, I walked away but instead of leaving me alone and carrying on with their dumbass phone games, they started chasing me. I didn’t want to run. I always thought people who ran looked so stupid; their heads bobbing, their butts sticking out and the dumb look on all their faces. So I climbed a tree instead. It was something I was really good at and I figured since those assholes barely acknowledged the existence of trees they definitely wouldn’t know how to climb one.
I was right, but it didn’t stop them.
They just kept throwing rocks, and unfortunately for me, that was something they were really good at. So I just kept climbing and climbing until I was so high and the branches were so thin I became one of those cats who firefighters had to get down. I felt an unusual urge to cry–but I swear, I wasn’t mad at them–when the biggest rock yet smoked me in the cheek and knocked me out of the tree.
I remember suddenly falling, then nothing.
I don’t remember anything that happened between that and waking up, so I never saw what actually happened to them. Only the aftermath and It, of course. I opened my eyes and saw It’s–I don’t think you can call it a face, it was long and angular and not dark but almost void of color. Void of light, it was shadow colored–if that is even possible.
And It was smiling.
Smiling like it was horny or something. So I screamed and it disappeared. I jumped up and that’s when I saw them, the boys. Well, I mean, I saw what was left of them; scraps of flesh and bone like their bodies had been put through a wood cutter. I don’t know how long I stared, or even what I was thinking at that exact moment. All I remember was running away as fast as I could and the one thought–the strangest part of everything–nagging away at me: why wasn’t I hurt from the fall? Not even a scratch.