Below is the first chapter of The Babysitter, a horror comedy novella.
The sour smell of my dad’s whiskey wafted over to me as Janet breathed heavily, staring down at her phone with absolute concentration. I watched her fingers fly over the keypad as she texted one of her friends.
“I’m bored,” I informed her for the third time.
“There’s nothing on.”
“Play video games.”
“That’s boring.” That wasn’t true. I loved video games. I just wanted Janet to pay attention to me. She was my favorite babysitter, even though I no longer needed one. I was twelve after all. Far old enough to take care of myself while my dad went out on a date. I didn’t have many other options, as far as babysitters went. Besides Janet, the only other regular babysitter my dad hired was old lady Johnson three houses down. Her house always smelled like cat piss, and she hated watching me, constantly reminding me of that while I was there.
“Then, go play with your toys. I’m busy.”
I felt the sting of hot tears hit my eyes. Not wanting her to see me cry like a baby, I jumped up from the worn, leather couch and stormed out of the living room, muttering loud enough for her to hear, “I don’t play with toys, damn it.”
“Watch your mouth,” she called out dispassionately. She didn’t care about me cursing. She always chuckled when I let the F-bomb slip.
Janet used to be fun. We used to stay up late, play games, tell scary stories and have a good time. I used to crash against my pillow near two in the morning with the scent of her flowery perfume floating in the air to lull me to sleep. Now, I had a nine o’clock bedtime. I tried to defy her curfew a few times, and she always greeted me with a shrill, berating diatribe, which always left me feeling small and insignificant. After a while, I just stayed in my room, listening to the cheerful mumbling from below as Janet invited her friends over.
I dashed up the stairs, but stopped at the landing. It was only eight thirty, and I wasn’t about to go to my room before she made me. I wasn’t about to give her another reason to see me as some dumb kid. I wanted things to go back to the way they used to be, when she treated me like an equal, as if she enjoyed being here, instead of it being the chore she now thought it to be. I could still hear the echoes of her whispering words as I drifted off to sleep, “Billy, I’m so lucky. How many girls get to say they get paid to hang out with their buddy all night?”
I lay down on my stomach, keeping my body out of view from downstairs. Sticking my face in the corner where the staircase met the ceiling, I watched her. Her bright, fiery hair cascaded over her shoulders. Underneath her unwavering green eyes, a splash of freckles dotted her alabaster cheeks. I watched her breasts swell underneath her white spaghetti strap top. Her nipples jutted out against the thin top, and fire spread across my cheeks. My mind reeled. She wasn’t wearing a bra!
Giddiness consumed me, as if she had let me in on a tightly guarded secret. As she concentrated on her phone, her thin lips stretching into a smile, I tore my eyes away from her barely concealed breasts and let them travel down her body, down to where her tight cutoff jeans met her slender thighs.
I knew that it was wrong to spy on her the way I was, but it was exciting. Goosebumps rose along my arms and a shiver went up my back when she spread her legs, tossing her left foot up on the coffee table. Squinting, I could see a hint of her white panties. It was forbidden fruit, and I couldn’t tear my eyes away, no matter how much trouble I would be in if she caught me spying.
I made up my mind as I watched her. I wouldn’t let her treat me like a kid anymore. Just because she had turned eighteen didn’t mean squat. She didn’t magically mature overnight on her birthday. She had no right to look down on me just because she was technically an adult. She was only six years older than I was; the same six years older that she was a few months ago when it didn’t matter.
An idea was forming in the back of my mind, a way to prove that I was just as mature as she was, if only to prove it to myself. I jumped up, emboldened by my newfound determination, and I stormed down the stairs, my chest puffed out and my head held high. Without a single glance from Janet, I crossed though the living room and entered the kitchen. I fished out a glass from the dishwasher, and then I made my way back into the living room, ignoring her as much as she was ignoring me.
Stopping behind the couch, I took a deep breath. My heart was hammering against my ribs. The wonderful scent of flowers drifted into my nose, almost soothing my jumping nerves. I could close my eyes and be transported into a garden. I loved that smell; I always had. Yet, I refused to allow myself to melt into the scent of her. I had a plan, and I was going to stick to it.
I ducked down and opened the liquor cabinet. One by one, I removed the bottles of liquor, Jack Daniels, Jameson, Jim Beam, Patron, E&J, and poured a small amount of each into the glass, so my dad wouldn’t notice that I had taken any.
Closing the cabinet, I stood up, my head already swimming from the fumes rising from the glass. I gripped it with two shaky hands and strode up to my room. My heart still pounded, but it no longer did so with apprehension. Now, it banged out a rhythm of support as I marched toward my initiation into adulthood.
I closed my bedroom door and sat on my bed. My hands trembled as I peered down at the smoky brown liquid. I took a deep breath to calm the butterflies that fluttered against my insides in a desperate attempt to escape. I was about to get my first taste of maturity. Soon, Janet would have no other choice but to see me as her equal. Soon, we would be friends again. I would no longer be the obligatory burden for which she was paid to suffer. Maybe, I truly believed, we could even progress beyond friendship.
I set the glass on my nightstand and knelt next to the bed. I breathed in deeply, lowered my torso to the floor and reached underneath. As far as my arm could reach, near the wall, my fingers brushed the smooth cover of a magazine. I smiled, dug my fingers down and slid it out.
Three months ago, when my dad forced me to clean the garage, I stumbled on a preteen’s wet dream, a trunk full of adult magazines, ancient relics from a time before the internet. Though I didn’t understand the purpose of having a trunk of magazines when internet porn was so readily available, one particular magazine made me thankful of finding the buried treasure. It was a Hustler’s Barely Legal. It creeped me out a little, knowing that my dad looked at pictures of naked teenagers, but to me, they were older, experienced women. One of these mature ladies happened to look exactly like Janet. Well, her nose was a little straighter, her forehead slightly more sloped and her lips were fuller than Janet’s, but it was close enough for my imagination to run wild. I had spent that whole day in the garage, but I left it just as dirty as when I began, minus one magazine.
I hopped on to the bed, eagerly flipping through the pages until a familiar face greeted me. Her name was Christy P. Her turn-ons were long walks on the beach, men who enjoyed a good book, and men with a firm hand. The latter confused me. None of it mattered though. To me, she was Janet. I ran my fingers over the cool page, imagining the contours of her body swelling and concaving under my touch. She stood in front of her bed in a colorful room wearing absolutely nothing. Her fiery pubic hair glowed under the light, contrasting with the blue and pink decorations. The next picture showed her hugging a teddy bear, her left leg kicked up behind her, her right sparkling green eye closed in a seductive wink.
I had done some embarrassing things with this magazine while alone in my room, but tonight, I simply wanted inspiration. I sat the magazine on its end against the lamp on my nightstand, propping the pages open with my alarm clock. Smiling at the two-dimensional Janet, I grabbed the glass of lukewarm liquor.
I stared down at it, concern keeping me from bringing the brim to my lips. How bad could it be? The highlight of my dad’s night was sitting in front of the evening news with a tumbler of this stuff. It was pertinent to his unwinding after a long day at work, or at least that was what he always told me. Janet drank it whenever she came over to baby-sit. She was downstairs drinking it right now.
I swallowed a lump in my throat and forced the glass up to my mouth. I took a deep gulp, and sourness coated my taste buds as the liquid rolled down my gullet. Before I could pull the glass away, hot fire erupted in my chest as if I had suddenly turned into a fire-breathing dragon. I coughed and gagged, dropping the glass as I jumped up in a panic.
“Shit, shit, shit,” I repeated, a garbled mantra, as I clutched my chest. “That’s fucking disgusting!”
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