“‘This must be so difficult for you, Meredith.’
Best-selling author Rachel Neville wears a perfect fall ensemble: dark blue hat to match her sensible knee-length skirt and a beige wool jacket with buttons as large as kitten heads. She carefully attempts to keep to the uneven walkway. The slate stones have pitched up, their edges peeking out of the ground, and they wiggle under her feet like loose baby teeth. As a child I used to tie strings of red dental floss around a wiggly tooth and leave the floss dangling there for days and days until the tooth fell out on its own. Marjorie would call me a tease and chase me around the house trying to pull the wax string, and I would scream and cry because it was fun and because I was afraid if I let her pull out one tooth she wouldn’t be able to help herself and she’d pull them all out.”
Paul Tremblay, A Head Full of Ghosts - 2015
Last night, when I made sure I knew where my copy of A Head Full of Ghosts was, I popped open the first paragraph and read the first paragraph again. Tremblay's novel is an exquisite scare, and I haven't been subtle about the fact that this is my favorite horror novel, but I found myself a little disappointed by those words, as if it didn't live up to my memory.
But then I kept thinking about them. And kept thinking, all day. Those words stuck with me, because they are so perfectly sinister. Your senses are assaulted right off the bat: it opens with a question from a woman who's apparently perfectly put together...in a place that's been ravaged by time. And the story we're told, it seems so innocent, a tale of childhood games. Except that it ends with the fear of torture. Even the illustration of the stones as loose baby teeth, it's a strange mix: babies (people think those are adorable!) teeth (ew body parts). But, ultimately, it's a cute story right? Which makes those last few worst strike all the harder.