Well, this is awkward. Yesterday I left you in my grandpa's basement. Calm down. I'm coming back for you now. There's no reason to be scared, even if you didn't know where to reach the pull-strings for those light bulbs. Uh huh. The switch by each door only turned on the closest bulb. You'd think a guy who was an electrician might have remedied that situation, huh? But it was only a basement to him. Not a personal playground.
I was never scared in that basement. No headless men appeared to me. I heard no footsteps or unexplained sounds. No, I was never scared. But I did have an eerie moment. It must have been a weekend. My grandpa had been in and out, and had left the light on over his workbench. I liked looking at the pegboard on the wall behind it, seeing the tools arranged on their hooks. Of course there were always works in progress on the bench itself. Greasy shop towels, chunks of motors, odd cans in varieties of shapes containing lubricants, dissolvers, cleaners, paint, and varnish, with brushes in various stages of cleanliness laying across their lids.
On this afternoon I felt drawn to the workbench. It was like that light was a spotlight, pulling me towards one certain section. I crept closer, my bare feet cool on the concrete, coated with a thin layer of reddish-brown dust that could never be swept from the basement floor. I don't know why I felt the need to move with stealth. Nobody ever yelled at me for playing in the basement. Grandpa had let me stand next to him at the workbench many a time. I was the oldest grandchild on that side of the family. I could do no wrong.
As I got closer, I saw a metal plate laying flat on the wooden workbench. It glowed like a penny in the reflected light. It was not too big, not too small. About the size of my baby-blue plastic rectangular pencil box with the corrugated opaque plastic cover that slid open and closed like a roll-top desk. I loved that pencil box.
There was writing on that shiny metal plate. IT WAS MY NAME! Valerie Sue Thevictorian! And there were numbers under my name. Dates. IT WAS A HEADSTONE NAMEPLATE! But I wasn't dead! I was standing right there, in the cool dim safety of my grandpa's basement.
Oh, yeah. I was named after my father's little sister, who had died in early childhood of an infection. I knew who I was named for, but I really didn't dwell on it. It was not a matter that was ever discussed around me. I backed away from the workbench and went outside.
The basement had lost its charm for me that day. But I would be back.