“I dare you!” one child said.
“No! I dare you!!” said another.
“No you go first!!
“No you go!!
“Let’s go together.”
“I don’t want to go at all!”
This was the game the children would play when they passed by the dilapidated blue framed house. The wood porch sagged on one side, like a lop-sided grin. It was missing most of its steps. It was a snaggle-toothed porch. The house’s windows were boarded up and those on the second floor were open. Tattered curtains, weathered yellow from the sun, flapped whenever the crisp October wind blew. One of the curtains flicked slightly, seeming to hide someone peeking out.
“That’s the scary house,” the children would whisper.
There had been stories told about the house. Tales about murder. Tales about death. The children would pass and dare one another to walk up to the porch and touch it. That is how the game began. As time wore on, the children began to dare one another to not only touch the porch, but to climb the snaggled-toothed stairs and knock on the door.
There was a new girl in the neighborhood. A little black girl. She was a sienna brown and wore her hair in two braids alongside her head. She was seven and being the new girl, had no friends. She walked to her new school with the other children, but she followed behind. She listened to them laugh and talk and dare. She would stop at the house and look at it. She took in its lopsided snaggle-toothed grin. She felt sad for the house and would stand there a minute or two longer than the other children, then she would turn and walk quickly to catch up with them.
She wondered what she would do if anyone dared her to touch it. She knew children could be mean and would probably dare her to go even further, up the steps, over the porch and into the house. Into the house. She shivered. She hoped they would never dare her.