Author’s note: In the following encounter with a Black-Eyed Kid, the name Beth Stringfield and Ellen are pseudonyms. The woman requested anonymity because she’s worried for the safety of her children.
The knock on the door was strange.
On a day in early April, Beth Stringfield, a stay-at-home mom in Lawson, Mo., was in the kitchen making lunch when she heard a knock on the front door. No one comes to the Stringfield’s front door.
“We usually use the back door and everyone we know knows that and we hardly ever get visitors at the front,” she said. “I opened the door and there was a little girl standing there. I did not recognize her.”
Lawson is a small town of about 2,354 people where everyone knows everyone.
“She was about seven years old and she was starring down at her shoes,” Stringfield said. “She had blond hair and was dressed in an antique-type dingy white dress with blue embroidery birds at the edges.”
Stringfield opened the screen door and knelt to talk to the girl. She was worried the girl was hurt or in danger.
“She looked at my hands and said, ‘I need help. Can I come inside, please?’” Stringfield said. She was so polite and spoke so well. She did not sound as if she was from around town. I suddenly felt very afraid.”
Stringfield looked up and down the street, but no one was around.
“I looked past her thinking the fear I felt must be someone after her or that her parents or someone must be upset with me talking to her,” she said. “Thoughts raced through my mind quickly and I somehow could not think very clearly all of the sudden.”
Stringfield looked back at the girl preparing to ask where her parents were and where she lived when she noticed the little girl’s eyes.
“She looked at me and I immediately noticed that her eyes seemed wrong or something,” she said. “Like they were ink. Like someone had poured ink in her eyes. They were not normal kids eyes. They were coal black and black from rim-to-rim just staring.”
The girl again demanded to come inside.
“I could hear a kind of fake sweetness in her voice. She had a little girl voice but had an adult vocabulary and force about her,” Stringfield said. “I immediately stood up and knew I needed to protect myself and my girls inside and started to close the door.”
The girl asked Stringfield what she’d done wrong; why Stringfield wouldn’t invite her in.
“That is when my five-year-old daughter came into the living room and I knew that she should not look at her,” Stringfield said. “I closed the door on this little girl and I locked it. I scooped up Ellen and ran to the back door in the kitchen. I locked it and sat down at the table. My 16-month-old was sleeping upstairs and I needed to check her.”
Stringfield ran upstairs on shaking legs, holding Ellen tightly in her arms. The baby was still asleep.
“I got my cell phone out and called my husband and told him about it,” she said. “He thinks my story is crazy.”
But Stringfield knows the little Black-Eyed girl was on her porch and she knows the terror she felt.
“This little girl was real. I had started to feel sorry for her because she had bad breath and really dirty hair,” Stringfield said. “But I somehow know that she meant harm to us. I am not sure if I want to talk too much about it anymore. I would rather forget that it happened at all, but I worry that she will return.”
Hours after the encounter with the Black-Eyed Kid, the fear remains.
“I won't let the girls play outside now,” she said. “I have not gone out by myself to the store or anything. I still feel that dread, that sense of fear I felt emanating from the girl on my porch. I somehow knew that if I had let her in, that I would have regretted it and my girls and I would have been in some sort of real danger.”
Copyright 2009 by Jason Offutt
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