What You Won’t See (Story by Risa Peris)

It’s not what you see but what you don’t see that terrorizes you.

We moved to Laurel Lane in my ninth year with my grandmother. Papa wasn’t happy grandmother was moving in with us but Mama said she had to take care of her and “besides, isn’t that what family is about. Taking care of one another?”
My room was on the second floor and grandmother was on the first floor. Mama and Papa were down the hall from me in a large bedroom with a walk-in closet and a large window overlooking our backyard. I had no brothers and sisters.

The terrors started quickly. Something kept pulling my blanket off me. There were thudding noises. My closet door would swing open and there was the tapping at the window. I itched to look out the window except fear kept me from doing so. It was such a horrible feeling to know monsters surrounded me but I couldn’t look any of them in the eye.

Papa moved out two months after the terrors started. He winked at me and then lugged his suitcase to his car. He left Mama the station wagon.

Grandmother said, “Good riddance.” Mama cried for several days and barely ate.

“I loved him. I really did.” She blew her nose on a tissue.

The terrors stopped until one night I heard a tapping at the window several months after Papa left. I refused to be terrorized. I opened the curtain hastily and saw a flash of my Papa’s face.


It all flooded back to me. His touching. His kisses. The exploration of my body.


Now I see. Papa committed a crime against me. Now I remember. I threatened to tell Mama and he left.


I wish I could unsee my Papa’s face in the window. However, seeing it was less traumatic than not seeing it and the haunting perpetrated against me.

I crawled in bed next to Mama. I pulled on her nightshirt. “I have something to tell you.” She said nothing but sniffled. “I am haunted. Papa’s face…Papa’s hands…I know what haunts me. I’m not so afraid anymore. Mama hold me. This house isn’t haunted. My mind is though. I think it always will be.”

Mama didn’t hold me but her body shook and I knew she was crying. I cried too for the horror I would always experience. However, knowing my tormenter eased the trauma.