My cousin dared me to bang on the windows of the old house at the end of the old dirt road. He'd heard rumours about it at school and he was in the mood to scare me and so he took me on this little adventure. He told me that if I was brave enough, if I could get close enough to look inside, all I had to do was bang on the window three times. Three solid bangs. I got out of the car and I did it.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
And then he could brag to his friends about how brave I was compared to them. They were all chickens and wouldn't go near the place. So I did it. I did it because I always did everything he dared me to do whether it was dangerous, stupid, or illegal, or any combination of those three things. I did just about anything he could dream up. If he dared me, I would do it. Every time.
This time was no different. I couldn't seem to resist proving to him how confident I was. How cool I was. How I could do anything, absolutely anything, if I put my mind to it. I banged on the windows three more times to prove my point. I was not scared.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
At the end of the third bang, my fist crashed right through the glass. Blood sprung from a series of gashes all up and down my wrist and it ran down my arm, hot and wet, and very bright red. All of a sudden, I was very scared. A sense of terror welled up in me and I was freezing cold. I turned back to the car where my cousin was waiting. He took one look at my arm and his whole face went white. As careless and stupid as we could sometimes be, neither of us ever wished an ounce of harm upon the other. As he saw the blood run down and as he saw the swoon that was washing over me from the sight of all that blood, he jumped out of the car and ran to the trunk, searching for something, anything, to wrap my arm with.
"Hold it up above your heart," he barked at me.
I didn't know what he meant at all. I just kept walking towards him.
"Hold it up!" he screamed.
"Your arm! Hold it up! It helps slow the bleeding!"
Of course. My arm. My arm. My arm was bleeding.
The next thing I remember I woke up in a bed in a hospital room. My arm was wrapped all the way up to my shoulder. It hurt like hell. My cousin was standing outside the door, taking a very serious scolding from the doctor who was an older man with saggy blue eyes and grey hair. He looked very tired. He looked totally defeated.
"You must tell me where she got those marks," I heard him say.
"I told you already. She banged on the window and it broke and I guess her arm went through the busted glass. It happened really fast. I don't know what else to tell you," my cousin said. He sounded so weary and still very scared. He sounded rattled.
"Well," the doctor said. "I wish I could believe you, but that doesn't explain the nature of her wounds."
He was practically hissing at my cousin. I listened in more closely as tears started to stream down the sides of my face while I lay there, helpless to stop them. I had no idea why I was crying. I felt like I had been touched by death itself. I felt darkness flowing through my veins.
"I could believe you, young man, if those wounds didn't look like something bit her!" He raised his voice near the end. He was getting angry, it was obvious. "I am telling you, it looks like she was bitten by a god-damned animal! With extremely large teeth. And sharp!"
My cousin sank to the floor. My cousin passed out.
I watched the nurse change my bandages later on that day and as she did, I got a good view of the mangled mess my arm was in. For sure, it looked like something had practically ripped my arm off. But I know all I did was punch through the glass. That's all that happened. Nothing could explain this.
We drove past the house again about three months later. We didn't talk about what had happened. We just left it alone because neither of us could explain any of it. My arm still ached in weird places. I had suffered permanent nerve damage. The scars were horrendous. A weird depression settled within my mind. I was not the same person at all.
As we drove passed the house, I looked to see the window where I had broken the glass, but as we drove by and as the sun glinted off the panes, I could see that there was no broken glass. The window looked like it hadn't even been touched. My cousin and I looked at each other and then we looked back at the window. Neither one of us knew what to say.
"Let's get out of here," I said. "Let's just go and never come back."