(Based on an Actual True Story)
(With only Minimal Exaggeration)
(…And Mild Plagiarism)
You’ll fancy me a madwoman. But the event in question I am about to relay has sharpened my senses–not destroyed–not dulled them.
Above all was the sense of acute hearing. Even prior to this dark episode, my ears have long been able to detect a baby’s snuffle during the darkest parts of night, suss out a dog preparing to vomit on the only carpeted room in the house, and predict the utter destruction that is about to occur in the sudden space of a toddler’s silence.
Alas, it was upon the happy occasion of my youngest child’s 6th birthday that this ability of mine took a nightmarish turn. My beloved, in the throes of a celebratory whimsy, purchased a musical flower candle to place atop our daughter’s traditional confectionery treat. One small flame, and the candle burst into abundant light and song, mesmerizing us all with its electronic birthday tune.
A short while later, our faces besmirched by frosting, we went our separate ways, mine to the kitchen to confront the towering heaps of dishes that were in dire need of a soapy hand. I had yet to even roll up my sleeves when I first heard it. The familiar song sung by the unfamiliar electromechanical voice. It was the candle, now darkened, now purposeless, waiting for me while still robustly wishing many more upon a child who was now absent.
My blood ran cold. I searched, searched again, oh how I pursued the button that would end this tedious melody sung by no one. Swallowing my panic, I brought the accursed object to my good husband, who had no better luck than I turning it off. On and on it sang.
Cautiously, oh so cautiously I carried it back into the kitchen.
What to do?
You should have seen how wisely I proceeded–with what foresight–with what dissimulation–I went to work. Oh, you would have laughed at how cunningly I hid that candle inside the fridge. Behind the milk, to the left of the spicy pickles. Ha! Would a madwoman have been so wise as this?
That night, however, the devil’s hour itself and none other, there came to my ears a high-pitched cheery sound, such as a haunted candle would make when enveloped by refrigerator staples. Slowly, the sound became more distinct. ‘Ere long I felt myself getting pale. It continued and gained definiteness. I gasped for breath yet my family heard it not.
For seven long nights this continued, keeping me awake, frantic. It grew louder and louder! Every night, louder than the last! And yet my children would not let me throw the demon torch out for they had grown attached to the unnatural artifact. I even began to hear its sinister song during the day, my children’s endless foraging for snacks (as is the custom during the summer season) bringing fresh sound waves of horror to my senses.
Upon the eighth night, I discovered what I must do. Never before that night had I felt the extent of my own powers. I could scarcely contain my feelings of triumph. That it would all end soon. That I could MAKE it end. To think that there I was, slowly lowering the knife, no one in the house even dreaming of my secret thoughts or deeds. I fairly chuckled manically at the idea, which is perhaps how my husband heard me and upon seeing my form bent over the still singing candle, and knowing my personality intimately, immediately figured out what was going on and grabbed the knife from my hand.
“What the hell are you doing?” quoth the husband.
“Making it stop,” quoth I.
“How do you even stab a candle?”
“You can stab anything if you’re sleep deprived enough.”
“I’m getting worried about you.”
The husband led me gentle back to the bedchamber, assuring me the battery would run out soon. By morning he proved correct, the unholy candle making sound no more. I heard it not that day.
But as darkness fell, there it was again. Plain as day. (But at night.) How the candle mocked me. Have I not told you that what you mistake for madness is but an over-acuteness of the senses? It grew louder, I say, louder every moment. Oh god, what could I do? I foamed, I raved, I swore! A LOT. Still my family continued living as though nothing was amiss. Was it possible they still heard not?
Now a new anxiety seized me. It would never end. Thus, I dug out the waxy corpse from the trash, removing it, examining it. Yes, it was stone, stone dead. And yet…
“Nevermore…” I whispered to myself.
“Where the hell did you get a crowbar!?” quoth the husband when he found me with the crowbar.
“NEVERMORE!” I shouted gleefully, still hunched over, trying to figure out how a crowbar actually worked. Because anything was better than this agony. Anything more tolerable. I must bury it beneath the floorboards!
“Here, honey, have some wine,” quoth the very handsome, smart husband.
Swiftly I gave in, dropped the crowbar and had a glass (two). For what else could I do?
Alas, I can still hear it. That cursed thing. That melodic device from the bowels of Hell itself. Even now, three (four) wine glasses in, I hear it.
Perhaps I am a madwoman afterall.
But at least now I hum along.
Happy birthday to you.
Happy birthday to YOU ALL.
*laughs in demonic voice*