They approached in hordes and masses,
screaming in throaty, strangled jubilation.
A cloud of dust in the outer rim
of our vision, the edge
of our flat, bare world.

Meanwhile, we pattered through the halls,
looked with moonlike faces up at the drafty rafters of the roof,
the airy rooms, the gray light, the seagrass aroma.

The grown-ups told us to hide under the bedcovers.
Through the sheets we could still hear the screamers panting,
drawing closer.
Still, we could see the steely light, smell the sea wind blowing
through the fragile walls.

The screamers thundered up to us and were gone.
Gone, into some ether, never existed, apparitions
conjured up just to have a face to blame. We hadn’t believed in them,
Had slipped out of bed when they told us to hide, and seen the doorway,
and past that, the bare empty plain stretching out, and out, and out.

Eventually we left.
Left the seagrass cottage to its wind chimes and hollow frame,
the gulls still flocking on the shingles,
the porch swing still swaying in the salt breeze.
The adults hadn’t seen the way those faceless enemies vanished,
supposed we’d hidden like they’d told us to,
hidden while they sipped cocktails and LaCroix on the porch.
Understandably we unnerved them with our private glances,
the way we checked
over our shoulders that everything was still in place. They noticed.
They moved us along, imagined a harsh new breeze,
watched the grasses whip and tangle around our feet like they always had,

convincing themselves: evil.

Zadie McGrath is a writer living in San Francisco. She is a high school student studying creative writing at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. She enjoys reading fantasy novels, spending time in nature, and practicing martial arts.