I stop. I stand in the middle of the room.
Something is not right.
I look around. I feel a strange creeping sensation at the back of my neck, icy fingers. Possibly Icy Fingers of Doom. At the very least, Lukewarm Fingers of Possible Disgruntlement.
I feel as if I am not alone in this room.
I glance around, increasingly nervous. Everything looks normal. The menagerie of stuffed animals on the bed looks normal, not a bear, bunny or penguin out of place. Books are stacked on shelves, arts and crafts supplies spilling off Mini-P's work table, as usual. Nothing seems out of the ordinary.
And yet... I feel a sense of foreboding.
The closet door is closed. Is it usually closed? No? Is that why my spidey sense is tingling? Is that why my parental instinct to protect and/or run away screaming is starting to bristle beneath my skin? Could it be possible that... someone is hiding in there? Some sort of Ghostface-esque invader who likes to enter rental houses in nice neighborhoods at 2:00 in the afternoon, the perfect danger hour, since no innocent resident would ever expect a butcher-knife wielding maniac at such a time?
That's just silly, Pirate, I say to myself. There's no one hiding in my daughter's closet, crouched behind that gigantic pile of laundry and leotards with a big knife.
I open the closet door, a quick yank. My breath catches.
No one there.
I drop Mini-P's clean jeans onto the shelf and close the closet door behind me. Of course there was no one there. That would be ridiculous.
Under the bed, though... that's very different.
Mustering every thread of bravery I can pull from deep within my SOUL, I hunch over and peer under Mini-P's bed, ready to see an evil leprechaun, or a demon clown doll with glowing eyes, grinning at me.
I stand again, surveying the room. There's nothing out of the ordinary here. Truly. Everything looks the same.
Yet different. The more I gaze around, the more it feels like my daughter's room is actually a movie set made to look just like her room, to fool me. That if I push away the props and knock over a couple stage flats, I'll find a diabolical new setting, maybe an evil mastermind creature lounging in a Director's chair, rubbing his hands together and laughing at me.
That's what it is. This feeling, I realize. Someone is watching me.
I slowly turn, 180 degrees. And when I do, that's when I see. Right there, on the wall. It's eyes have been boring into my back the entire time, while I unsuspectingly looked everywhere else, like Drew Barrymore in the beginning of the first Scream movie. Poor, naive, stupid, stupid Drew. Now I know how she feels, the scream that caught in her throat when she saw the face of pure evil staring at her.
I see the face before me. He has invaded my daughter's room, her life, and all our lives. We are the last household in America to fall, I realize. He looks right at me, ready to laugh his maniacal laugh, tear his way right out of the poster taped to the wall, and forcibly enter the room:
He's in the house. He has finally come for my daughter.