They stood together in the basement. The light bulb dangling from the ceiling pushed the shadows to the corners, but Rick still felt uneasy.
“You are ridiculous,” Em said. “Seriously, how old are you? Monsters in the basement?”
“I never said monsters,” Rick replied. He glanced around the room again, at the washer and dryer and the plastic table they used to fold laundry on before dragging it back upstairs. His bike was in one corner, banished to the basement until spring. In another corner stood a stack of plastic totes filled with Christmas and Halloween decorations. “I just said I'm kind of weirded out.”
She waved her small hands around the room. “Nothing here. Maybe if you got a job and left the house once in a while you would have better things to do than make up stories about the Boogeyman Man in my basement.”
Her basement. She never let him forget that it was her basement, her house, her job that paid the bills. A year ago they had been soul mates, but that was before he was fired from his assistant manager position at Cheddars. Before she realized that he was a 17 year old in a 30 year old's body and there was nothing she could do to make him behave otherwise. Before he realized that if she couldn't change him with subtle hints she would belittle and insult him in every way possible. His friends went from “artsy” and “interesting” to “lazy” and “useless”. His tattoos were no longer “intriguing”, but “stupid”. His beard went from “sexy” to “Why don't you shave that thing off? No one wants to hire a guy who looks like he's homeless.” At this point he stayed because he never wanted to be the bad guy in a break up. It was also easier than finding another place to live. He didn't know why she let him stay.
“Let's just go back upstairs,” he said.
“No,” she said, flipping her dark hair over her shoulder. He used to love that hair. It was black and shiny and smelled like lavender. “Where's the monster Rick?”
“I never said there was a monster,” he repeated.
He never did say there was a monster, but the basement had been really creeping him out the past few days. There were noises, like whispers from far away, and shadows in places where shadows shouldn't be. And just this morning he had seen one of those shadows move.
Of course he shouldn't have told Em about it. She had immediately rushed downstairs just to prove him wrong.