To Forgive: A Second Glance

Girl hurried her brother into their mother’s dim bedroom contentedly.  She saw that their mother was sleeping atop the covers of the bed.

“You’re not in trouble,” she said to her brother, again.

Then they passed the tall mirror, and Girl jerked to a stop in shock.  She brought them back before the mirror and stared.

Girl turned and looked at her brother beside her.  He was there.  She was holding his hand.  But in the mirror, there was only Girl, no one was beside her, and she was holding empty air.  And she knew that no one could see her brother but her.  Girl sat down abruptly where she was.

“Sis,” said her brother, frightened, and he sat down too.

“It’s alright,” she said.

There came a quick, quiet knocking at the bedroom door.  Girl’s brother ran and hid behind the tall mirror.

“Sis?” said her uncle, and poked his head into the room.  He saw that Girl’s mother was sleeping and then he saw Girl, sitting on the floor.  He gestured for Girl to come out into the hallway.

“Come here, Girl,” he said.

In the hallway, Girl’s uncle bent down and said earnestly, “Don’t bother your mother, Girl.  Let her sleep.  Seriously.  I’ve got to make some phone calls.  It’s so early—please go back to bed.  Don’t panic.”

Girl nodded uncertainly.  “Yes, Uncle,” she said.

Girl watched her uncle leave, and then she went back into her mother’s bedroom.  She tried not to look in the mirror and she tried not to look at her mother’s sleeping face.

“Come out,” she said.

“No, I don’t want to,” said her brother, and then he came out from behind the mirror.  Girl put her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes at him.  Her brother squirmed under her gaze.

Girl took her brother to the special medicine chest and then she found a big spool of strong red ribbon.  She measured out and snipped a length as tall as herself and she bound one end to her brother’s wrist and one end to her own wrist.  And she put the spool in her pocket.  But she could not convince her brother to give up his flashlight.

“It’s day,” she protested.  “You don’t need it.”

“I like it.  It’s my monster flashlight,” he explained, and Girl sighed.

Girl took her brother past the clear glass doors of the study.  Her uncle had his back to them and he was talking on the phone.  Girl saw that he was pulling on his hair as he talked.

At the front door, Girl took her brother’s hand in her own.  She was frightened, but she was also determined.

“Where are we going, Sis?” her brother asked.

“On a journey.  On a—a quest,” she said.

He looked at her.  “An adventure?” she tried.

He thought about this.  “Okay,” he said.

Girl reached for the handle and she opened the door.

Light in Darkness (Monsters Devour…Cookies)

Hours later, Girl had cried many tears.  And she felt that her tears had changed her, made her different than before.  She crept through the shadowed house to where she and her brother had been playing, before she wished him invisible.  It was a time of night that she had never known, and she felt like she was the only person in the world.

Girl turned on one lamp, and one lamp only.  Then she lay on the carpet in the middle of the room and covered her eyes with her hands.  She lay very still.  And her heart wished a wish, silently.

Girl opened her eyes to the sound of munching.  It was very quiet munching, as if a mouse were eating somewhere.  She was still lying on the carpet, but the lamp she had turned on was contending against the grey light of morning.  Girl jumped up and ran into the big bathroom with the blurry glass, to the sink they did not use.  She threw open the little cabinet doors.

Girl’s brother froze in the act of eating crackers and stared at his sister.  She stared back at her brother, hiding under the sink.  She saw that he had his little flashlight stuck in the loop of his pants.  Girl refrained from screaming or falling over backwards, although she felt like doing both.  She simply yanked on her hair until she was calm again.  Girl’s brother watched her and then hid the crackers behind him.  Girl reached under the sink, pulled out her brother, and held him.

“Why were you hiding?” she asked, calmly.

“Everybody was yelling,” he complained, turning in her arms.

And Girl’s heart pounded with triumph.

To Forgive: Invisible Wishes

Girl was sitting on her bed, looking to where her brother slept every night—except tonight.  He was not there tonight, and the bed was empty.  The house felt very wrong to Girl, and she could not sleep.

Her mother had called many people, and people Girl did not know had come to the house and left again.  Her uncle had come too.

“He’s such a quiet kid.  Maybe he’s just hiding?” Girl’s uncle had said at first.

Girl’s mother had said nothing.  Girl’s mother had cried.

Girl sat on her bed and listened to the beating of her heart.

Girl’s mother opened the door, startling Girl.  She looked wild.

“Girl, try to get some sleep.  Everything is alright,” said her mother, calmly.

“Yes, Mom,” said Girl.

“Just stay here.  I mean—stay in your room.  You get to sleep in tomorrow, okay?” said her mother.

“Yes, Mom,” whispered Girl.

Girl’s mother closed the door very quietly.  Girl touched her face and found that it was cold too.

Girl’s uncle opened the door, startling Girl.

“Girl!  Are you okay?” he asked, not calmly.

“Yes, Uncle,” said Girl.

“Everything is fine.  Just—just stay right there, okay?” her uncle said, yanking on his hair.  Then he said, firmly, “We’ll find your brother.”

“Yes, Uncle,” said Girl.

Girl’s uncle closed the door behind him.  Girl told herself not to cry.

You Can Never Go Home Again (Constant Change)

One evening Girl wished aloud that her brother was invisible, and her wish came true.

“Oh, I wish you were invisible,” she had cried, and cringed when her voice bounced off the bare walls of their new home like a ball.  When she looked again, her brother was nowhere to be found.  The top of Girl’s head went cold with fright.

Girl’s mother came into the room and asked, “Girl?  Where is your brother?”

Girl opened her mouth, and she closed it again.  And she could not say a word.

Girl’s mother walked through the house, and then she ran through the house.  And then Girl’s mother ran into the street.  Girl sat still where she was and did not move.  And then Girl jumped up and ran through the house too, but her brother could not be found.

Dreams of Spinning Money (Unexpected Knock)

doorwayListening to your latest slutactress twicedivorced stilldating herkidwill commit suicide, I wonder—Is that all?

But at the peak of houseyard carsundriven husbandrevulsion televisionaddiction, I worry—That is all.

And all the harm meant for others has harmed—No One—but you.  And the sofa Iwasafraid to sit on—shoved against the door—trusted barricade—Listens—for the Knock of the King.