Mica doesn’t need to open her eyes to know that it’s midnight. For the most part of her 17 years, 11 months, and 29 days on this earth, she has always known that it was 12 midnight. Every single night. It’s not that she has an internal body clock that is pretty much accurate. It’s not that she counts the hours or minutes from the minute she closes her eyes. It’s because of him. Or her. Or it. She may be sure about the time, but she has no idea what he/she/it is. Only that ever since she was born, it has always been there, right outside whatever window it is that is nearest her. And only every 12 midnight. Every single night. She doesn’t know how long it stays because as much as she would try to stay awake, she would eventually fall asleep and when she wakes up, he/she/it isn’t there. But every single night, he/she/it would be there, just standing by the window, like a statue. Except that it was alive and breathing, but not moving.
She was probably around 3 years old when she first became aware that there was a weird, dark figure outside her window every midnight. Somehow, she knew that even before she became aware of its presence, that it has always been there. But like most 3 year olds, she was more curious than scared. She clearly remembers fearlessly going to the window and whispering “Hello? I’m Mica. What’s your name?” When she didn’t get a response, like most 3 year old little girls, she persisted and asked the question every night. "Who are you? What ya doing? Do you have a mommy and daddy? Would you like to play with my dollies? Do you have a booboo? I have a steposcowp, I can listen to your heart!” Eventually, when she got no response, she got bored and stopped asking and just had a staring contest with the figure. Except she couldn’t really see any sort of form to its face, so she didn’t know if he/she/it was staring back at her.
By the time she was six and she was slowly learning that there were scary ghosts and evil creatures lurking under the bed, she started to dread the approach of 12AM. She started hiding under her sheets, praying that whatever that thing is, it would just stay where he/she/it is. She started imagining her window opening, long tentacles slowly slipping into her room until she felt its cold tentacles wrapping around her feet and dragging her from her bed. She kept expecting a silhouette to suddenly appear near her bed and a big scaly hand slowly touching her skin until she became a scaly, swamp creature herself. She started worrying that the creature outside the window had a friend under her bed, just waiting to pounce on her when she least expected it. She kept listening for shuffling footsteps or chains or ghostly moans because she didn’t dare open her eyes every midnight. But none of those things ever happened. And still he/she/it was there. Every single night.
By the time she was 11, she outgrew those fears and was back to being curious about her 12 midnight visitor again. And by this time, she was also starting to figure out that there was no one in school or her neighborhood that understood her interests and feelings and thoughts and they all made her feel weird. No one understood why she didn’t like talking about boys (they were still gross and not at all “hot” as the other girls constantly said) and why she would rather bury herself in a book than go window shopping (too many people in the malls!) and why she liked making up stories in her head rather than talking about who wore the ugliest clothes during last week’s wash day (who cares?). But what Mica suddenly discovered is that she could talk to him/her/it all she wanted and he/she/it wouldn’t complain that she talked too much or that she was too unusual. And so she looked forward to 12MN when she could finally let out all her crazy. She created a nook near her window with her favorite bean bag, a blanket and her favorite stuffed toy and as soon as the creature appeared, she would talk non-stop until she fell asleep from talking too much. And no one knew that her best friend in the whole wide world may be a ghost or a vampire or a figment of her imagination. And she didn’t feel the need to actually have a friend in school anymore, especially if they would make fun of her for knowing how to speak Elvish or that she could recite all of the Sherlock Holmes novels or that she thought Paul was the cutest boy in school even if he wore bottle cap glasses and their classmates found him weird too.
By the time she was 14, she suddenly felt like the world was slowly going crazy and maybe she was going crazy and so she started becoming angry every time 12MN approached. She would turn up the volume of whatever music she was into, and just scream and rant and sometimes even punch the wall near the window. “Why won’t you talk to me??? Am I such a loser that even someone or something like you would not want to get to know me??? Why won’t leave me alone??? What do you want from me???” There are nights when she was angry at the creature itself. But there were also nights when she was angry with Katie who was going out with suddenly-hot-after-vacation Paul (I liked you when you were weird and now that you’re all hunky you like her who made fun of you all the time??? What is it about me that you find so unlovable??? I’m great, why can’t you see it??? I’m so ugly, I want to die!!!”) . Or furious at her parents for being so perfect and yet so cold and why won’t they just leave each other or have an affair or something, anything other than this constant passive-aggressive-lets-pretend-that-we-are-okay-but-we-really-are-not crap that they’ve been pulling off for the past few years. Or she really, really hates her teachers and school in general because she’s not good at math and science and so they make her feel like the stupidest person in school even when she knows she’s still kind of smart but that she just hates math and science. So much anger and bitterness and sometimes rage courses through her body almost every day and the only way she knows to let it out is by verbally abusing that creature outside her window. And still he/she/it does not speak or even move.
By the time she turned 17, there was less anger (although some traces are still there), more emotional stability, but still a certain kind of sadness, especially every time the clock strikes midnight (well, her cellphone turns to 12AM, since she didn’t really have an actual clock). She keeps wondering why she won’t tell anyone about her 17-year visitor, not even her parents who she’s now closer with (but who are divorced now by the way, but that’s a whole other story that she told the creature when she was 16), not even the small group of friends that she eventually made (turns out, there were other weirdos in school, who knew?), not even Paul (who eventually matured enough to realize that Mica was so much more his type than Katie, even though he’s even hotter now with the return of his bottle cap glasses), and especially not her therapist (who is partially responsible for the aforementioned emotional stability) who would probably tell her parents to start medicating her or let her stay in a mental ward for a few months until she starts realizing there is no creature outside her window. So yeah, she has managed to survive 17 years of midnight visitations without anyone knowing about it.
Now that she’s almost 18, she feels even more restless and antsy and well, even a little bit excited. There’s a certain tingling in her blood (wait, blood can tingle right? That’s what you get for not paying attention in science class, Mica) and a certain electricity around her that makes her feel like something momentous is about to happen. Well, she is graduating from high school (barely at that, because, see math and science comment) and she is planning to go backpacking to Europe (such a first world rite of passage but still so excited) and she thinks Paul is finally proposing that they be officially boyfriend/girlfriend (what took you so long, dummy), but it isn’t any of that. She just feels like something major is about to happen and that her midnight visitor may have something to do with that.
So at 11:50 PM on May 7, she sets up her special nook near the window, and she brought a small cake with a single candle. Her parents and friends wanted to throw her a midnight birthday bash because you don’t turn 18 every day, but she gave a feeble excuse and said she’d just party with them tomorrow and she had something important to do. So now here she was, stupidly waiting for 12AM and her constant companion for the past 18 years of her life.
11:55...“So will you finally say hello to me?"
11:56...“I really was a talkative girl back when I was younger, yes?"
11:57...“So about all the things I angrily told you when I was a dumb adolescent, sorry about that."
11:58...“Please don’t tell my therapist I talked about her to you!"
11:59… “Seriously, Mica, are you expecting that it will suddenly talk to you?”
12:00..."Hooray. Happy 18th birthday to me!”
TO BE CONTINUED…