We have got to talk about the kids in all those Goosebumps books.
For example, if your family vacation is to an amusement park called HORRORLAND, and your station wagon explodes in the parking lot upon arrival, maybe shrugging it off, buying an extra large popcorn, and heading straight for The Deadly Doom Slide is not your best possible course of action.
Or, if you steal a weird camera from your creepy neighbor’s basement and every picture you take shows bad things happening, like decapitation and Tofurkey, and then all the bad things from the pictures start happening, stop taking pictures.
Or, if you move into your new house and there are a bunch of small children already living in your bedroom that your parents cannot see, maybe, don’t just grab a juice box and go play in the cemetery that is in your backyard.
Or, when I tell you of the ghosts that live inside my body; When I tell you I have a cemetery in my backyard and in my front yard and in my bedroom; When I tell you trauma is a steep slide you cannot see the bottom of, that my anxiety is a camera that shows everyone I love as bones, when I tell you panic is a stubborn phantom, she will grab hold of me and not let go for months– this is the part of the story when everyone is telling you to run.
To love me is to love a haunted house– it’s fun to visit once a year, but no one wants to live there, and when you say, “Tell me about the bad days,” it sounds like all the neighborhood kids daring each other to ring the doorbell, you love me like the family walking through Horrorland holding hands– You are not stupid, or careless, or even brave, you’ve just never seen the close-up of a haunting.
Darling, this love will not cure me. And this love will not scrape the blood from the baseboards, but it will turn all the lights on, it will bring basil back from the farmer’s market and it will plant it in every windowsill, it is the kind of love that gives me goosebumps, when you say to the ghosts, “If you’re staying, then you better make room,” and we kiss against the walls that tonight are not shaking, so we turn the music up and we dance to Miles Davis, and you say, “My god, this house. The way that it stands even on the months that no one goes into or comes out of it.” How reckless, the way that I love like the first chapter of a ghost story. Like the gentlest hand, reaching out of a grave.
Adapted from Brenna Twohy, a Portland-based performance poet who competed at the 2013 and 2014 National Poetry Slams. She really likes magic tricks and dad jokes. You can check out more of her work on her Tumblr and Facebook page.