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One night, a noise woke me up.

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I wriggled around to free myself from the blankets that Nagymama tied to the mattress with shoelaces, and climbed over the fortress of chairs that my family put around the bed to insure that I wouldn’t fall out of bed.

I looked around and realized that I wasn’t at home at all! I was in an old spooky castle with brown stone walls that climbed for miles and cobwebs that blanketed every corner. I tried to peer out a window, but I wasn’t tall enough to reach the ledge. All I could see was hints of a dark purple sky and the sliver of a moon.

“Anyu?” I called, as my voice echoed down the empty corridor.

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It was coming from behind a closed door.

I slowly crept towards the door, my bare feet chilled by the bumpy stone floor. I slowly turned the doorknob and peered inside. It was nothing but a closet full of Nagymama’s doilies and tablecloths embroidered with hundreds of flowers. I shivered as a breeze blew by.

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I grabbed one of the tablecloths, wrapped it around myself, and waddled down the hall towards a large red door.


I put my ear to the door and heard nothing. I opened it and suddenly, there was a terrible “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” A misty white ghost jumped out from behind the door.

I bolted the opposite way, holding on to my makeshift tablecloth shawl as hard as I could. I opened another door, praying for an exit.

“WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” Two more ghosts reached out for me.

I ran past them up through a corridor light with torches, only to stumble upon set of rickety wooden stairs. I desperately clutched the railing and tried not to look down as I ascended the treacherous staircase. I could hear the ghosts below me.

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At the top of the stairs, I reached an open-air balcony. I ran towards the ledge and saw my family right below. I tried to call out to them, but I had no voice. Their backs were turned and they were walking towards something glowing n the distance. I looked up in horror as I realized they were walking towards a Big K-Mart.


I stat straight up, screaming. I woke up and was surprised to see that Nagymama was sitting right next to me. My mother ran into the room.

“Stephie! What happened?”

Before I could even tell my mother about the haunted castle, a knowing look washed across my mother’s face.

“Oh, Nagymama was cutting your hair and nails in your sleep again.”

I reached up to my head and realized she was right. The clipping sound must have been her cutting, and the woo-woo was the sound of her wheezy breathing.


I hoped that I was still dreaming, but alas, that nightmare was my real life. I would have to live another day, with another Bowl Cut, and an anxiety around the sound of scissors for many years to come.

Photo by Cormac Scanlan