Intrepid Reader, this is a (somewhat imperfect) continuation of yesterday’s effort (now known as “Things in the Dark pt 1”), so if you haven’t yet read that, I would recommend doing so. Go ahead. I’ll wait. If you’ve already read that, and this, and want to keep reading, click here.
About 15 minutes after I left Liv’s room, I was curled up with a book and a cup of hot tea. I must have dozed off, because a scream awoke me. I jumped out of the chair and ran upstairs and down the hall, heart pounding, to Liv’s room. Thinking back now, I remember the sound cutting off abruptly when I was about halfway down the hall. Of course, memory is unreliable, so I would not swear to it. When I got to her room, the door was locked. Had she ever locked it before? I didn’t think so. “Liv,” I said, “are you okay?” Silence. No crying, no post-nightmare heavy breathing, nothing. The lock was just a privacy lock, the kind you can pop with a straightened paper clip or toothpick or, if you are the kind of person who keeps track of those things, the actual brass pin that came with the doorknob. The girl’s mother was that kind of person. I reached up and ran my fingers along the top of the door frame and grabbed the pin. It took a few tries to pop the lock because my hands were shaking. Probably she’d just had a nightmare, but a scream in the night is always unnerving, isn’t it?
I opened the door slowly, not wanting to startle her, and walked over to the bed. Liv’s eyes were closed, her breathing regular, teddy bear tucked under her arm, blankets smooth and pulled up to her chest. I’d expected to find her awake and probably crying, but here she was, sleeping soundly. Whew. I’d turned to go when I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and jerked my head around, only to see the white sheers blowing in the breeze. Yeah. Scary. Liv might be sleeping like a baby, but I guessed I was up for the night. It was cool in the room, even though it was late spring, so I shut the window, glanced at her once more, and headed back downstairs.
The microwave clock read 3:18. I was wide awake, unfortunately, so I started a pot of coffee brewing. Laura and Dan were easygoing about that kind of thing and had always told me to help myself since I started babysitting for them a few years ago—and they meant it, which I appreciated. I had worked for some parents who I would swear counted the ice cubes after I left.
Two cups of coffee later, it occurred to me that they hadn’t come out of their room when Liv had cried out in her sleep. Surely they must be home by now. I was staying over because they knew they’d be out late, but 3:30 in the morning is well beyond what most parents mean by late. A glance out the front window told me both cars were in the driveway, so they were definitely home. Odd. Well, they must have been asleep themselves, I supposed.
The next morning, Dan drove me home. He didn’t talk as much as he usually did, probably because he was focusing on driving through the fog that had settled overnight. We were almost at my house before he said anything. “How did everything go last night?” he finally asked.
“Oh, fine,” I said. “Although I think Liv had a nightmare. She screamed.”
“Interesting,” he said, though he did not seem particularly interested. “I suppose Laura and I must not have heard.”
That, I thought, was an oddly detached way to put it. But then Dan was sometimes odd. “Well,” I said, “it was only the one time. And when I got to her room, she was sound asleep. I think she didn’t even wake up.”
“Probably not,” he said. “Well, thank you for handling that, Raven.”
“You mean Rachel?” I said and smiled. He really was absentminded and forgetful at times.
“Oh, right, Rachel. Sorry. Long night.”
We pulled up to my house. “No worries. Thanks for the ride. Tell Liv I’m sorry she wasn’t awake by the time I left, and that I’ll see her soon.”
“Yes. We will see you again soon. Very soon.”
Basically, today I just wanted to see if I could work on something I didn’t really feel like working on and continue a story I hadn’t really intended on continuing. Apparently I have the potential to be an adult. Who knew? Also, I didn’t edit this one AT ALL. (I’d been writing at night and then doing a quick polish in the mornings, but this was published as soon as I finished it.)
EDIT: to keep reading, click here.
Photo credit: Flickr user extranoise by way of BillionPhotos.com