Humor Magazine

Light as a Feather, Still as a Board

By Pearl
I honestly meant to write more about Liza Bean and Fuzzy (see yesterday), but my attendance was required at The Planning of the Second Annual Chili Invitational, stayed up way too late for a school night, and talked about the following.

Reader discretion advised.  (Not really.  I just like to say that.)
We were not allowed to play with Ouija boards as children.
It was never my idea anyway. I was a wary, superstitious child, worried not only about whatever lived under my bed but how, if necessary, I would get rid of the vampires, werewolves, demons, or various other creature-feature types that may attempt to come through a window while our parents were gone.
The werewolves I thought I could handle – surely there was a gun somewhere in this trailer court? – and a vampire could be avoided entirely with garlic, something we always had plenty of; but I was always particularly concerned about demonic possession. My younger brother and sister – especially my brother! – looked like prime candidates for that sort of thing to me, and I kept a close eye on both of them every time my parents went out.
The odds of finding a priest in some of these trailer parks were pretty slim, after all; and have you met my brother?
He once tied me to a tree and left me there.
Everywhere we lived it seemed someone was staring into a mirror in the dark. “Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody –“ Of course you’d have to be crazy to finish that, wouldn’t you? I don’t even recall the point of the whole thing. Why were we saying that?
All I remember is that those two words, repeated three times in a row, were enough to send pre-pubescent girls all over rural Minnesota screaming hysterically toward a light switch.
“But Mom, why can’t we play with a Ouija board?”
“Because a friend of mine had a friend who used it once, and the board told him that he would be killed by Time; and of course he laughed. But sure enough, one day he was out walking and a large clock fell off a building and killed him!”
Had she been smiling when she said that, my mother? Looking back, I can’t help but wonder if she was pulling my leg. All I know is that I’ve never looked at a picture of Big Ben without imagining someone crushed under it, their last thought being “well, I’ll be danged. That lousy board was right…”
I tried to explain this to a nephew once, the delicious-ness of fear, the dark room, a friend lying on a table, everyone gathered around with their fingertips under her body, chanting “light as a feather, stiff as a board” over and over until – oh, for cryin’ out loud! – the body began to rise, not seeming to weigh a thing...
“Why would you want to do that?”
“What? Why? Well because, see, there were only four TV stations and you had to go to the theater to see a movie…”
“So you turned out the lights and tried to scare yourselves?”
Hmm. Well, yes. Something like that.
We were just playing around.
And I’m still not allowed to use a Ouija board.

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