To have your challenge entry recorded, please write your piece as a reply to this thread.
As a central theme of Consistency is the existence of time — ensuring that you are writing on a timely and daily basis — the theme of this month’s prompts will also be about time.
Today's prompt: [Bedtime]
Definition: the usual time when someone goes to bed.
╰┈➤ Write a piece about this concept.
Word Count: Minimum 250 words, no maximum.
I am always called the monster under the bed.
Many children have the inevitable curiosity to pop their heads under their mattresses, and our eyes meet, both panicked. They shouldn't be able to see me, but I fear that toddlers are immune to my camouflage.
Except for one, a young girl in bright red pajama shorts with wild hair and onyx eyes that seemed to somehow grow darker in the night, the only one to have ever smiled at me.
I've spent five long hours waiting for this child to walk through the door and fall asleep. The full moon outside the window gives me lesser room to move comfortably, as if I do not already feel my limbs numb under the weight of the wooden frame.
It's two more before he comes in, dressed in his navy pajamas with ridiculous prints of a smiling crescents and stars. An older woman comes in to sit on the bed with him, and I hear the cloth of his blanket unfold.
Her familiar tune hums around the walls of the room, guiding the boy to sleep like a boat through calm waters. By the end of the song, soft snores sound from above me, and I stretch myself awake.
Before I can crawl out, the woman's face nearly smashes against my forehead in haste. She's upside down. We stare at each other for a while.
Even in the shadows, she looked amazed, curious even. Most especially, she looked familiar to me. One smile and I am taken back to three decades past. Did she remember me?
She mutters something I cannot understand. These creatures never made sense in their words, but, her eyes tell me all I need to know, and all she needs to say.
Rest. It's night. It's late. You should be asleep, but it's as if your phone holds you captive. Holds you still, holds you to keep staring in front of it. You don't feel imprisoned at all, because you know fully well you can just put it down and promptly fall asleep after. It's once more, because you don't want to bother doing anything about it. It feels too tiring to do. You heave a sigh as you continuously press the letters on your screen. You feel empty, still. But that's okay. Nothing. You remember nothing today. You recall but little moments and glimpses, and that definitely isn't normal. You don't care though, so it's definitely alright. Alright doesn't mean to have normal anyway. The brightness of the screen kind of hurts your eyes, but if it's too dark, you feel like you barely see anything, it's kind of soothing though. Bedtime. What even is that? When does that happen? Is it when you go to bed, or when you go to sleep? You find yourself sat, thinking rather too deep about it. But the moment your train of thought got disrupted you forgot what label was on the said train. You shrug, keeping yourself warm and cozy, wrapped by the thin blanket. The electric fan is directed at you, at the lowest intensity yet it feels like freezing cold, so you turn it off.
The weight of drowsiness and exhaustion is felt in your eyes, as you feel them slowly harder to open each time. And yet you still continue to entertain yourself with your device, as usual. Bedtime, what a silly concept. You thought. Does it really matter, when people can just bend around their days to fit in schedules while sleeping at times such as, 2am? 5am? You don't know. But all you know is, you fall asleep, when you fall asleep. You lay down? Not asleep? Alright, back to the phone. But once you've laid down, and you feel like hands are holding you down, against the bed, you know you're in for a cozy, warm and absolutely blissful sleep.
You once told me you wished nights lasted longer.
You said that whenever the sun peeked from the horizon and sunlight blended into the night sky, you wished the dark would push the sun back to the ocean and let midnight stay inside your bedroom. You wanted the dark to stay and paint your bedsheets gray to hide the stains you never bothered to wash. You wished for the hours to stretch out longer so you could stay up and watch the clouds disappear from the sky and unveil a sea of constellations—patterns of stars you’ve memorized by heart and drawn a million times. The moonlight was your blanket when days felt too hot on your skin and at night, the dark and silence was your sanctuary.
Past the small gap of your open window, you stepped outside your room and fell into the night and came to me, alert of unfamiliar eyes that may have lingered. On a night buried so deeply in my memories, in a whisper, you confessed your secrets to me. You told me on solemn nights, the moon heard your woes; on days you felt that the world was too cruel, the stars wiped away your tears; and the sky embraced you when pain felt plenty to bear on your own. The grip on your cotton-knit sweater was tight and you held onto your sleeves to contain the excitement you never could. Then you spoke of stories written in the sky. You retold stories of an immortal winged horse tamed by a hero, of a man whose cup gifted by the gods promised eternal youth, and many more tales I can’t recall. Your eyes sparkled like the stars that comforted you in your wake, and when you shared the stories you’ve read in books, I struggled to find the right words to say, distracted and captivated by your satisfied smile.
How does the moon reach out to you and erase the frown from your face? How could shadows of mountains and forests, and city lights blinking on the horizon bring comfort to your troubled mind? How does the breeze, even sharp and cold, warm the empty corners of your heart?
We talked for god knows long. Under the curious moon, two bystanders sat side by side, hushed laughter filled the air and drew our faces with smiles that hid our eyes. When our voices faded into silence, the night eventually lulled you to sleep and you were laying down beside me, your knuckles against mine, your head on my shoulder. You didn’t know yet but the sun would come up an hour later and the night you so loved had gone away but I know, to you, it never did. You captured the nights in your heart as many of the happiest memories you replay over and over in your daydreams, and there’s a permanent red on my face. These nights were once a secret between you, the stars, and the moon—but ever since you shared that part of yourself to me, I bear your secrets with me too. Now, I stay with you whenever time passes under the moonlight reserved for two.
“Come on, now, it’s time for bed.”
The child brushed his teeth and put on his pajamas, and his mother came to tuck him in bed, kissing him on the head, and then turning off the lights, leaving him in the dark room.
Glow in the dark stars were plastered on the ceiling, stars and moons and galaxies, planets of every shape and size. A nightlight shone in the corner of the room, emitting a soft light throughout the bedroom. Toys and book neatly arranged on the shelves, the hazy streetlight shining through the window…
The wind blew, and a tree branch creaked. The boy huddled under his covers, then sat up. His closet door was open…
Whispers from the darkness filled his ears. There were eyes, staring at him from within the void that was in the corner of his bedroom. The child got up, pulling out his trusty flashlight from underneath his pillow, and crept towards the closet. A monster, staring out at him…
He shone his flashlight within, and there was nothing there, only the regular items that were stored inside. He shut the door firmly, and, after some deliberation, moved one of his dressers in front of the door. No monster would be able to get out now…
Feeling satisfied, he climbed into bed, but still the tree branches creaked, and still something whispered at him from the shadows.
Something was staring at him from the window…
“Why are you awake? Too scared to sleep?”
“Yes,” the boy replied, shining his light into the glass. “I’m not afraid of you! I have a weapon!”
“It’s way past your bedtime, kiddo. Go to sleep.”
Why is it so hard to fall into a good work routine? Yeah, old habits die hard, but *still.* God damn. Maybe if Fallon had done this earlier, she wouldn't be up so late doing her work like this! And she sorely regrets not taking time out of the rest of her day to get some of it done, too! Her only excuse is that it was intimidating her. She thought she was going to fail if she tried, so she didn't try at all up until now, and now she's *really* gonna fail. It's a self fulfilling prophecy and it will only keep happening until she does something about it. And she has no idea what to do about it. General chemistry. It has around a 50% pass rate, or so she hears, and she truly hopes it's just hearsay because that thought alone is terrifying! You mean to tell her that one of every two students passes? You mean to tell her that she has a 50% chance of failing!? This is not good. This is not good at all. Fallon hurriedly looks through the files on her computer, trying to find that literature review that she'd abandoned up until this point and is abandoning the rest of her normal Things That She Does In The Evening for now. Why! Why must it all be so disorganized! Curse this organization! Curse this setup!! Curse *her!!!* She hasn't even showered, and there's so much else that has to be done, but that can wait. All her other responsibilities are going to have to deal with sitting on the back burner for now, because this paper *must* be completed and posted to that forum *or else.* It is, quite literally, a matter of life and death for her future career in the field of genetics!! She isn't going to let her years of research and hard work leading up to getting into this college go to waste because *someone* didn't want to do their chemistry assignment in freshman year!!! Ugh!!!! ***UGH!!!!!*** Fallon eventually finds it -- thank God -- and barely glimpses over the words before frantically adding on, fighting for her life to reach the word count. 1,000 words. That's not that hard. You can get to 1,000 words, right, Fallon? Right? ... Fallon? She jolts back, shaking her head. God. She's tired. She's normally in bed this time an hour ago ... Maybe two hours ago ...? Whatever the case may be, she's staying up much later than normal. And she definitely doesn't want to. It'd be so much easier to just give up and go to bed now, but she does NOT have the time for that. Short term gratifications are temporary. Schoolwork follows you **forever.** Time passes much faster than she wants it to, and the race against the clock that she's grown so accustomed to has never stopped being so nerve wracking. Have you ever gotten to the point in rushing through something where you can hardly copy the words or numbers down that you're thinking of? Where your hands start to shake and it's hard to get through anything further than what you have? Yeah. She's at that point. But she perseveres, and eventually, Fallon finally, *finally* finishes the paper. And it is SO bad. But she doesn't care right now. Fallon can deal with the feedback later, but right now, at this moment, what matters is that she got it done. 11:56 PM is the registered time in the system that she turned in the work. It could not have gotten *any* closer than that. It may not be pretty, and it may not be the best thing she's ever written by a long shot. But it's her work. And it's done. And once it goes through, she immediately crashes on her bed. One day, she'll make better study routines into a habit. One day, it'll get a little easier. Today is not that day, though, and something tells me it won't be tomorrow, either.
◢◤◢◤◢◤◢◤◢◤◢◤◢◤ happier times today :)
The lights had turned off a bit over an hour ago, leaving the long hallways illuminated only by the faint night-lights on the corners of the floor. I made my way down the quiet corridor, hands behind my back as I basked in the silence of the ship.
All the way out here in space and my crew still adhered to such things as bedtime. It was admirable, really, their dedication and steadfastness. And as far as they were considered, I was the same.
“Captain.” The familiar voice spoke from the speakers that surrounded me. Ah yes, all save for one.
“Cove” I smiled, arching an eyebrow. “Not sleeping?”
His tone instantly shifted to one of annoyance. “Shouldn’t I be the one asking you that?”
I stifled a laugh. “Not tired” and with that I stepped into the cabin, looking out the large window before me giving view to the empty space we travelled through.
“But captain, it is your bedtime”
“Says who? We’re in space, Cove– there’s no such thing as ‘bedtime’ here. There’s no day, there’s no night. We’re not bound by social constructs like that”
My companion went silent for a moment and even in silence I could tell how done he was. Imagine even getting on an A.I’s nerves– “Humans require a consistent sleep schedule in order to function properly. According to my data, it is fourteen past eleven on Earth, making it exactly one hour and fourteen minutes past your usual time of sleep. If you continue to do this, I’m afraid it will have severe effects on your health”
He nagged more than my own father did, but it was endearing. I suppose at least he cares. “Let me be rebellious just this once, hm? It’ll be our little secret” I smiled.
“If you insist,” he sighed. “Shall I play some jazz?”
“That’d be nice”
CW: Blood and graphic death.
Now I know.
In my family we prayed every day, all day, but there were two times when it didn’t matter what was I doing, I needed to pray. The first one was right when we woke up, the second one, just before going to sleep. For as long as I can remember, that two singular prayers were exactly the same.
"I cover myself with the blood of Christ, from head to toe. I don't see anything outside my ordinary reality. I love my ordinary reality."
It's not so bad, is it? No, but when you accidentally forget it one day in the morning and have to say it quietly at school, suddenly everyone thinks you’re weird.
One day I asked my mom why we said it, and her answer was that "it protected us".
From what? I insisted, my whole life repeating a routine I didn’t even knew why. She didn't answer me anymore, nor anytime after.
I had no problem keeping up with the odd familiar ritual, it had become a habit, almost a part of me, but apparently being slightly different from my peers had attracted so much attention, that a group of clearly bored people formed behind me.
While I was surprised to be invited to a sleepover, I didn't want to stop trusting others just because of that, so I accepted. After the rumor that I was crazy and part of a secret cult, a lot of people had turned away from me, and I wanted to believe that there were people who weren't swayed by that.
To be honest, it was my first sleepover, and the thought that I would have to wait for everyone to go to sleep before I could pray made me a little weird, but I wasn't going to let this opportunity pass me by. My mom agreed warily, and asked me to be careful, she could come pick me up at any time.
I wish I had known what they were trying to do. I wish I had stayed with my family. I wish I had.
Just when I thought the girls were asleep, and I began my quiet prayer, one of them surprised me from behind, covering my mouth with all her might. When I noticed that my voice didn't come out, and that the girl didn't even let go of me, a terrible shiver ran up my back. Although the prayer was 'before bedtime', the truth was that it had to be done before midnight.
I struggled with all my might as I felt the time passing, but I was outnumbered, and in addition to covering my mouth, they tied both of my hands behind my back. Unable to do anything, I continued to struggle, and I saw one of the girls turn on her phone and start recording.
I was so scared I couldn't think clearly, my breathing so labored that for a moment I thought I would drown. I didn't know how much longer until midnight, and I tried to pray mentally, but the fear inside me kept growing. A feeling of danger like I had never felt before invaded every inch of my body.
Midnight passed silently, and although I could not see the time, I felt my surroundings changing little by little. The girls began to laugh out loud when they saw that I stopped resisting, and I was sweating between tremors. They uncovered my mouth and mumbling through my teeth, almost sobbing, I uttered my prayer. But it was too late.
"I cover myself with the blood of Christ, from head to toe."
The room became cold, so cold that gradually the girls stopped laughing. The windows fogged up, and our breath could be seen as steam.
"I don't see anything outside my ordinary reality."
The silence of that night was interrupted by the sound of something crawling across the ceiling, followed by scratching on the walls. The girls began to shake and shake me, yelling at me to stop what was happening, but I didn't understand either.
My mother never talked to me about what we were protecting ourselves from, but she once told me, if there came a time when I couldn't say it, not to close my eyes under any circumstances, and so, with my whole body trembling with fear and terror, I kept my eyes open, in tears.
"I love my ordinary reality."
The girl who had tied my hands had had enough, got up from where she was and ran to the door of the room, but she didn't get far. In front of us, the girl was lifted like a broken doll, and thrown against the wall. We all screamed, louder and louder, as we watched her limbs being ripped off one by one, disappearing into thin air as if someone was feeding on them.
Still, without closing my eyes I couldn't help but look away, bile rising in my throat, since my stomach could not support it. My gaze ended up focusing on a mirror on the other side of the room, its reflection showing that horrifying vision in a slightly different way.
A shadow-like figure with teeth and a bloody jaw could be seen smiling in the reflection. I bit my lips to stop myself from screaming, and with all the strength I could muster, I kept my eyes open until the last of the girls was devoured.
When the city was asleep, I was awake. Waiting for him. The beautiful, enchanting man with those blue green eyes and long silky hair. Who could forget him? He even won in my own game. It was the first time I lost ever since I got into this business of scamming. As I sat in the barely lit alley, rethinking our brief meeting yesterday. Now that I remember, I think I felt magic.
Magic has a unique tingle. For example, when there is a rune that’s activated in a place, it feels like small waves of energy are lapping at you. When someone is casting a spell, major spells especially, you’d feel warmth, the closer you are to the spell caster. But this tingle I felt with him yesterday… It was like walking through a blizzard in the Koolir Desert. I wouldn’t claim to be a witchologist, but that was a very unique tingle.
I’m broken from my reverie when I feel that tingle. I shiver. “Akavan! I see you’re here as you promised. Love the shirt behind that robe. Did you… practice?” There it was again, that sweet voice and beautiful smile. I felt heat rushing to my face and thanked the gods for my dark skin.
“I did! No more magic. I know you’re a witch. I have one of those rare genetics when you can sense magic’s tingles.” I don’t know why I said that. It was a secret I harbored my entire life. It felt weirdly nice to tell it to someone I met only yesterday. Nevertheless, my comment made him smile. Wait, smile?
“I know. I have one of those rare genetics where I can sense magical-non-magical humans. Yeah, that’s what you’re called among witches. Regardless, handsome, I promise to not use magic. You can do your magic.” He said with a pat on my shoulder. Standing this close to him, I realized he was a few centimeters taller. Why did I feel embarrassed?
I pull my cards from the crack between on the left wall and shuffle them. I thought he would move farther when I shuffled the cards but he came closer. I quickly finished shuffling the cards and fanned them out. He tapped the card I wanted him to tap. This time, I didn’t feel the magic. I reshuffle the cards and pull the card out from the deck. “Is it this?” I asked, displaying the Two of Hearts.
Instead of nodding or saying yes, he tips my chin up and our lips connected. He tasted of summer and river water. He was slow, giving me time to pull away but I kissed him back. We kiss for a few more seconds before pulling away to draw breath. He slips a new card into my hand and walks out of the alley. “That’s my name and number. Call me sometime?” That was all I heard before he slipped into the dark shadows of the sleeping market.
Dear gods, did I fall in love?
Word Count: 1k
Akira didn’t sleep anymore.
Some feelings stayed with him, even a year later.
Akira didn’t sleep anymore.
It wasn’t that he couldn’t, but rather, he wouldn’t. Takuto thought the bags underneath his eyes were leftover from the first few nights of adjusting back to a proper sleep schedule. And Akane thought he needed some time off from working cases with her father, Zenkichi.
Neither of them realize they were wrong. They didn’t understand how Akira’s head raced with disjointed and fragmented thoughts. But they weren’t there in an interrogation room. They didn’t need to put in the effort to find out at the moment.
Yet Zenkichi did. He knew Akira didn’t sleep on some nights, and he knew it wasn’t because of the nightmares of his past.
Akira didn’t sleep because he couldn’t bring himself to close his eyes.
Some drugs were still in his system, unable to be flushed out completely because of the high doses. It neared life threatening, always able to send fear coursing through him without pause. It still had its tendrils wrapped tight around Akira's heart, veins, and lungs. But more than that, it still had his mind in its clutches. Zenkichi knew that now, after being interrogated himself the previous summer.
When Zenkichi found Akira sobbing silently outside of his Kyoto home, having only his phone between his fingers, he didn't have anything to say at all. Akira did all the talking.
"It still hurts," he murmured. He was taking in heavy breaths, worn out from running from Tokyo all the way to Kyoto. It surprised him how he managed to do so, and he always found himself thanking his instincts for keeping him alive.
He was seated at the couch, whilst Zenkichi brought him a glass of water. The older man took the other side of the couch, and let the teen vent out what he needed to.
"I know it's been two years now, but I still feel the pressure on the side of my head. I want it all to go away… I just want to go to sleep in peace."
Zenkichi didn't make any comments, or responded to anything. Instead, he let Akira lean on his shoulder, hugging the exhausted teen until he was calm.
Zenkichi could barely move, but he didn't mind. It was a task only fit outside of the cognitive world, then again, it was neither task nor service. It was a father lending a teen his shoulder to cry on, and an ear to listen to.
It was one of those nights. When it was hard because Akira merely wanted to fade away. Fade away into nothing, leave it all behind, instead of holding onto Zenkichi's chest like it was the only anchor while he cried his heart out in a quiet house. He could only hope that all the crying he was doing would exhaust him enough that he could actually get some sleep, maybe he would even fall asleep still in Zenkichi's embrace.
Every night after that, for two weeks, Zenkichi helped Akira adjust to his normal routine, and his day-to-day activities. He attempted to ease the aches of that night, of his rehabilitation and his sadness, starting with a pot of tea. Turns out, Zenkichi had learned to brew something else than coffee in the months after the summer.
Akira didn't usually drink it, but it filled the Hasegawa home with a lovely aroma that helped the teen to nod off on the couch. Or when he had school the next day, eased his nerves before Zenkichi drove him home.
It was the simple routine that aided Akira to keep his sanity. It had to, because he was far from weak. He was the strongest teen Zenkichi knew, one that managed to punish gods, and challenge fate time and time again. And yet, beneath all the pain, pressure, and will of rebellion, was a young teen trying to make the best of his short time alive.
Despite Zenkichi's insistence on lending the guest room, Akira stuck with using the couch. Although it wasn't as comfortable as a bed, it was miles better than a thin mattress on empty bottle crates. And the peace of mind that came with it was a godsend. The Kyoto atmosphere was a plus as well, a new environment he didn't mind getting used to.
Because Akira didn't like sleeping. Not when he was alone.
He would lay awake for hours—Zenkichi knew, since he caught Akira still awake whenever he came home from a late shift at work. He had also counted those hours whenever he was also unable to sleep. Akira's breathing was light and faded as though panicking, and relying on himself to bring ease. He twitched sometimes as well, cursing as he fought to control the involuntary muscle spasms.
His body ached. It stung, and it hurt.
However, he couldn't do anything because there was only emptiness. The feeling was describable, when he was able to connect his thoughts to coherent descriptions. It was as though his soul outgrew his skin, discarding it and throwing it away. Except, he was stuck in that husk. In the shell. With his insides buckling under the pressure.
And it was okay, Akira told Zenkichi, because the pain of not feeling was better than the pain of feeling. If he couldn't feel, then he couldn't hear the judgement on him. He couldn't hear the comments of weakness, of inadequacy. The sensations of drugs and substances flowing in his system wouldn't be there. The taste of his own blood and sweat on his tongue wouldn't exist.
If he couldn't feel, then she could pretend the night of the interrogation didn't hurt him.
And yet, he refused to sleep. He forced himself to stay awake until his body gave out. It only happens on bad evenings, but those were all too common in the past two weeks.
And the nightmares return to him as vivid as they were a year ago. They arrive in sporadic bursts, and manifest through shivering and crying.
Neither Akira nor Zenkichi knew when it changed for the worse. It only happened. But on those nights, Akira would curl underneath the blanket Zenkichi gave him. Zenkichi kept an eye on him, until the teen stopped trembling and his tears had dried.
Akira was going home tomorrow. He didn't like sleeping alone. But that's okay. He didn't have to.
:O Major Warning: Cute as Heck Shifting his weight, the young father glanced at his daughter who clung to him in her sleep. The little one had drifted off in his lap during their movie night, but it was nearing her bedtime and he knew she’d wake up when moved. “Hey, Char, can you get up for me? It’s time for bed.” “Mm, no wanna. Comfy.” She pressed her face against his chest and tightened her grip on his shirt. “Carry me.” “Bossy, aren’t you?” The father shook his head and lifted her into his arms as he stood with ease. Charlotte moved her head up to lean against his shoulder as he brought her to her room for the night. They had a standing rule that she’d go to bed without (many) arguments if he checked the room for monsters and read her a story every night. “Check for monster? Daddy’s good — no, no, he’s the best protector.” The little girl giggled as she was placed into her bed and carefully tucked into mint green sheets. He flashed her a tired smile and picked up the flashlight that sat on her bedside table for this very purpose. It was covered in a myriad of metallic and colorful stickers — her contribution to warding off the monsters lurking in the room. “Be carefuls!” “Aye aye, Miss Charlotte. The monsters will never know what hit ‘em.” He inched towards the closet, flashlight gripped in one hand as he opened it with the other. The light flicked to life as he shined it into every nook and cranny of the girl’s closet. “Coast is clear, Boss. Next up, Operation: Check Under the Bed.” Charlotte let out a trill of laughter as her father lay across the ground and army crawled towards the underside of the bed, shining the flashlight the whole way. The light moved side to way in rapid succession before he popped up and saluted her. “Clear as well, Boss. What are my next orders, Miss Charlotte?” “Story, story, story!” “Aye aye, Boss.” He winked at her as he pulled a book from the shelf and knelt beside her bed, holding it up for her. “Once upon a time…” The words fell from his lips with ease as he crafted voices for each character and recounted their story from memory. Charlotte’s eyes began to drift shut as the book neared its end, and light snores sounded from her when the book shut. “Goodnight, darling.”
“Timothy! Time for bed,” Mom called from the TV room.
I took that as my cue to pack up my Lego and get to brushing my teeth. Building the greatest house ever would have to wait till tomorrow. “OK, Mom!”
This was our new house, and this was our first night spent at it. Well, not new. But it’s new to us. It was creaky and had horrendous wallpaper but we could fix one of those two things. Most important is that it was in our budget.
I unzipped my bag in the bathroom and found my toothbrush. As I brushed, I recalled what George said before I left.
“We’re buying a house,” I had told George. He’d asked all sorts of questions and was relieved to hear that it was close enough that I could still hang out with him. But then he had asked why the house was being sold. “Eh, the old homeowners thought it was haunted, or something like that. They’re just crazy, though, ‘cause ghosts aren’t real; you’d think they’d know that….”
“Timmy…” George’s face had gone paper-pale. “What if there are ghosts? They might not be as friendly as Casper, you know. What if they take you?”
I’d laughed, right then, and rested my hands on his shoulders. “Ghosts. Aren’t. Real. Besides, dude, where would they even take me? Like, the Spirit Realm?”
George’d pouted. “No…Maybe. I don’t know. But be careful. Burn sage. Keep safe. I don’t want my best friend disappearing on me.”
I rinsed my mouth and ran upstairs to my new, quaint empty bedroom. Mom joined me, deflated air mattress in hand.
“Alright,” she said, “time to blow this thing up.”
I giggled. “It’s an explosive, is it?”
She eyed me, but a smile broke out across her face. “You know what I mean.”
Mom went to get the air pump while I laid the air mattress out in the middle of the room and found the plug. When she came back: “Can I blow it up?”
I did, and she found me some sheets and a pillow and tucked me in. Kissing my forehead, she told me, “Night night. See you tomorrow, bright and early.”
And then the door shut behind her, leaving me in an eerily dark room, alone with the silence.