She feels a cold hand rest on her leg, worming its way along at a ravenous pace. The little girl softens and turns over to face the hand in question. It belongs to her father. His clean shaven appearance hides a fractured existence, held in check by the girl sleeping in front of him. His hand is firm in its touch, the thumb massaging back and forth. She knows better than to move. She has been here before. The little girl simply begins a conversation by saying clearly, "Morning, Daddy." It’s 9 o’clock at night. He has been watching her nap for some time.
The man’s hair is cut short, finishing its descent just above the ears. Its black shine reflects the moonlight beaming through her window. His features are gaunt. Each expression that he makes tells a different story. Each expression that he makes tells a different lie. Glancing upwards, his eyes meet his daughter’s. They are beady; brown from outset, but all she can see is the black. He says, "Morning, Sugar." There is a glimmer in his face that makes the little girl wonder if she is still dreaming. She finds herself wiggling her toes around her sheets to try and pinch some kind of reality out the situation. His hand eases slowly from her leg and back onto her mattress. She can see the struggle present in this motion. His chin drops back down. He says, "I got you something yesterday, but you were asleep when I got home. I been up here for a few hours now. You look so cute when you’re sleeping, like a little angel."
The little girl perks up immediately with her back against the headboard behind her. Squealing, she asks, "What is it!?" She has a kind of excitement in her voice that one can only hear from children, innocence partially spoiled. The grin on her father’s face is broad, showing two rows of perfectly aligned, white teeth. One would think he was the face of an advertising campaign at first glance.
"Just a friend to keep you company."
"Another!" She screams in response, half with joy and half with reluctance. She knows better than to show disappointment in his gifts.
As she says this, her eyes scan the wall adjacent to her father. A large shelf holds over a dozen stuffed animals; they are a dozen rejects, a dozen bad friends. There are twenty-four eyes with no life behind them, and they all stare at her. "Daddy! What is it?"
She has an excitement seen only when her daddy gives her something. He turns to her and removes a stuffed bat from behind his back. Her expression is puzzled. She didn’t have any bats up there on the shelf. Maybe that’s why this one struck her as a little out of place at first. A thin strand of hair rests over her left eye. The father’s hand gently brushes it away before he says, "It’s a bat. Tag says its name is Ghost, but you can name it whatever you want." "I know it’s a bat, daddy. You have one on your tummy."
The father rubs his stomach, caressing the abdomen as if summoning forth an entity from its slumber. He pulls his daughter’s hand to his tattoo and rubs it gently up and down. He drags his stained wifebeater up above his bellybutton to reveal a dark bat. "Just like it, actually." He licks his lips and continues. "So I can be here at night kind of, when you’re all alone, a part of me and all. I hate the thought of you being alone here by yourself with no one to protect you."
She thinks for a moment before realizing what he is implying. She screams "No! You can’t go to work tonight! That man’s still on the loose. What if…" There is a tear rolling down her cheek. She has quickly lost control.
"What dear? I can’t stop going to work just because of some guy. Would you rather we didn’t have a house?" As he says this he brushes the drop off of her cheek.
"Well, no. But, daddy…"
"Baby, I won’t hear it. We’ve been over this already and the answer is still the same. Stop filling your head with this stuff about killers. The bat can take your mind off it, put you to sleep and keep watch since it’s awake at night."
It takes a moment for the little girl to truly register the connection. She barely hears his attempt at symbolism, as she sits fixated on the large black ears and beady eyes of the creature sitting before her. Her collection of previously given animals glares back at her as if to say, "What about me?" This one is different for her, but she can’t place the reason. She thinks Is it that I don’t have one of you? Maybe it’s the eyes. It’s an itch crawling across her neck that she can’t scratch. She turns her head sharply, breaking her gaze with the animal. It bothers her. Its fur is the shade of light grey.
The father says, "I have to go to work, so you two will have some time to get acquainted. I just wanted to say goodnight. When I get home I might come in. Is that alright?"
She responds like she always does. "Of course."
He smiles like a man with nothing to hide. "If you get scared, well now you have the bat. Just remember I don’t want you watching the news. I know that man scares you and I know that’s all they have been talking about. Nothing bad is going to get to you while I’m not here. If something scares you, I want you to take the bat and come up here; lock the door if you have to. I’m the only one with the key, remember?"
She shakes her head and stands out of her bed to follow her daddy downstairs. He is talking about the murderer on the loose in their county. He had been on the loose for some time now and somehow had avoided leaving any evidence. If there was one thing that truly scared her, it was a real life killer. She wasn’t much for the imaginary boogeyman. She knew better than to be scared of what she couldn’t see. Alone at night, she couldn’t count on her stuffed animals for protection.
Pausing, she peers into the mirror at her barren, bruised arms. She quickly pulls a long sleeved shirt on and puts the black and blue mass out of her head. She likens one of her fading bruises to the color of the new stuffed animal. She shuffles behind her daddy, careful not to get too close. She wheels around to see her bedroom door wide open. The unrest causes her to backtrack and close the door. He slings on a black hoodie over his narrow, drooping shoulders. His security uniform is tucked under his arm. The little girl sets her new friend in a chair placed squarely against a wall on the right. He takes a few steps back towards his daughter and holds her in his arms.
He says, "I’ll be back before you know it. Remember I want you to be asleep when I get back. It’s for your own good." His hand is moving along the small of her back. It travels further south, encompassing the hem of her right buttocks. She can’t move.
She says, "I know."
The man turns his back on her, sliding his arm along her back before walking towards the front door, setting the alarm as he exits. He looks at her one last time before turning to go.
"Daddy!" she hollers after him just as he reaches the door, "you forgot your badge."
The shining star reads Westport Mall Security. It shines against the fluorescent bulb above, appearing almost bronze to the untrained eye of the little girl. To her, it just looks murky yellow.
"Thank you, honey, you saved me."
She replies, "Always do."
The emptiness in the house creeps in around her. Shadows feel longer as they stretch out toward her. She turns to her new friend and says, "Daddy works a lot at night, so most of the time I have to stay home by myself. He is a security guard down at the mall. It used to be that he would be home during the day and Mommy would be home during the night. About two years ago, Mommy left and I ain’t seen her. There was a fight, something about another girl. Mommy was crying and then she was gone. Daddy came in my room early in the morning and said Momma left, said he cut her pretty deep and I wouldn’t be seein her no more. I miss my mommy now, especially when I’m here by myself. She used to read me stories, used to teach me a lot about different sounding words and how they went together. You see, Momma was an English teacher. Sure she’s doin it somewhere better now. I was six then, and we lived in Middleton, just south of Rockport. This town is Cyrusville and we been here about two years."
Curiously, the girl examines the animal as it lounges in the chair. The large tag on the animal reads "Ghost." She says, "Well, I’m gonna keep your name Ghost on account of you bein at home in the dark, like a ghost I spose."
Since she was a little girl, her daddy always told her how the bat had come to symbolize so much for him within his own life. He always tells her about how watchful he is, and that he could hear that alarm from anywhere. She believed it too up until about a year ago when the security company had to come turn it off because he didn’t know how to. He tells her that no matter what she is safe. However, her Daddy said he himself was a creature of the night. Perhaps it was in that idea that he knew what it meant to be vulnerable or hunted. She never really understood why. She just simply chuckled, nodded her head, and referred to him as batman whenever he revealed his tattoo to someone new. She sees qualities within Ghost’s eyes that are similar to her daddy’s, in the pupils.
"See, it’s just me and you tonight, Ghost. I spose it’s better than bein by myself. Daddy says he’s so proud of me though. Says he was left by himself when he was ten, so I survive the same. He says I’m more mature than most girls he knows my age. He says the reason I struggle to make friends at school is cuz I’m more grown up than the other girls. That’s no matter though right now, Ghost, cuz I got you. Right?"
The bat says nothing back. The girl just smiles to herself and holds the animal close to her chest. She walks across the orange carpet towards the black couch. Sitting on the cushion, she nearly sinks all the way to the ground. Her bottom scrapes across the coarse floor beneath her, and she remembers the night it happened. The little girl feels guilty, like telling the story will sway her new friend’s opinion of her. She feels the imaginary hand of nervousness creep across her shoulders, tingling down her back. There is an air of awkwardness emanating from her demeanor. Jumping up, she breaks the silence and says to the nocturnal creature beside her, "How dare you call me fat!" She still feels reluctant. She says aloud, "He wouldn’t want you talking to me like that ya know? He doesn’t like anyone talking me down like that."
There is a hush about the room for a moment, and she can hear the ticking of the clock in the next room. Reluctantly, she caves and explains the couch’s condition to the guest before her. "Oh that," she says, nodding towards the cushion and shifting her weight around in a circle. She resettles her weight on her left cheek and continues. "Well, there’s a story behind the sag in this couch you know? I mean it’s my fault kind of. One night after Daddy left for work, I snuck in his room because I saw that his closet was open. I’ve always been wondrin’ what he keeps in there. Door’s never open and all. I mean, he locks the door all the time. It was a little over a year ago, so I was smaller, didn’t know any better. So just as I get inside, he flies in the door. There was a look in his eye, one that I never seen. They just weren’t normal. For a moment, I forgot about his brown eyes, and I just sat there waitin for his next move. Next thing I remember, he’s chasin me around, and he reaches for me over the couch. He ends up fallin’ into it, and the springs just went. Meanwhile, I’m in the next room hidin under the table. When I heard his laughter comin’ from the next room, I tell you it was the best sound I’ve ever heard. Before that, I couldn’t tell if he was jokin or not. It’s tough to tell sometimes. He just laughed and laughed at what he did. You’ll love that about him. He can get real angry, and then all of a sudden, he can just calm down and play with me. He’s so fun. Sometimes it’s like playin’ with another kid. You see, I shouldn’t have been in there in the first place, and I understand that lookin back. He’s real fair ya know. I thought for sure I was gonna get the belt, but this here couch was the difference I guess."
She moves the bat’s mouth and says, "The belt?"
The little girl then makes the stuffed animal look confused by cocking its head to the side. She says, "Yah. Sometimes when I do something real bad, he takes a belt and lays it hard against my bottom. He says kids need to be punished. That’s how they learn. I guess it makes sense."
She nods the animal’s head up and down in agreement. She says, "You don’t think less of me do you?" The bat’s head is moved from side to side. Relieved, she shouts, "Ghost, me and you are going to be fast friends."
She feels a connection with this particular pet that she hasn’t felt with the others. For the first time, she feels that there may be a chance for a new beginning. For the first time, she wants to savor something given to her by her father, rather than forget it. She sees in this toy the same unclear gaze present in her father’s eyes. She feels safe with it. She thinks to herself, It’s in the eyes, those focused pits in the center. She recalls the same emptiness in the middle of Ghost’s eyes that she saw when her father looked inside his open closet, prior to bearing down upon her, slouching on the ground. She remembers not waiting for words to flow from his mouth. She could see in his face what his next move was, and she reacted. She has no regrets and no thoughts as to what may have happened had she stood still.
"You see, Ghost, I wasn’t afraid of him. He’s so gentle. He’s never hit me with his hands. His hands have always been so kind to me." Her voice drifts off as she says the last part.
Ghost says, "Well then, what would he have done if you didn’t move?"
"How’d you know I was thinkin’ that?" She pauses for a moment before continuing. "I don’t know. Nothing. He wouldn’t have done anything."
Her friend says nothing. It just sits there, gravity slouching it down toward the right as she speaks. "It’s just that sometimes there’s this side to him that I don’t like. He don’t like it neither, tells me he just loses control sometimes. I don’t know what would have happened. I doubt he would hurt me. He probably wouldn’t have." Flustered and red in the face, she utters, "Change of subject?"
Reaching forward, she motions the beast’s head up and down.
After embracing the beast once more, she exclaims, "Let’s watch some television." She reaches forward for the remote control. The remote is cold at first, causing her to withdraw. Upon further contact, she wraps her hand around the long, body before turning on the box in front of her. It bursts on with the familiar buzzing sound that sends the little girl into a relaxed state.
"So what do you feel like watching?"
A seemingly appropriate amount of wait time passes by with no answer. She wants an answer, needs one. Cautiously, the little girl scans the room around her. She sees no one, hears no one. She is alone in this illuminated home, away from the darkness outside. The little girl is worrying once more about the appearance of her house. She thinks, All the friends I ever done brought over always notice that darn couch.
There is a flicker behind her from the chandelier in the dining room. She bites her upper lip, trying to ignore the electrical malady. It flickers again, this time more pronounced. She picks up her friend and glides across the living room towards the annoyance. She points up at the light fixture declaring, "See?"
Ghost is silent. The little girl says, "Okay. The sixth light in the sequence is broken. See? One night the bulb, she just popped. Now the light flickers. There are six lights in a row and the last one is broken."
She notes the animal’s paw pushing down to the ground. There are ruby red spots, barely visible along the orange carpet. They mix so closely that the little girl is shocked her friend could notice. She asks, "How did you see that?"
She forces her friend to answer, "Dear, blind as a bat is only an expression."
Getting down on her knees, she examines the rug. She counts six specks running along the shag carpet, towards the table. She had almost forgotten where it came from. She sits down on the rug and rolls backwards. Lying on her back, she eyes the chandelier and the bulb in question, stating, "Maybe it didn’t pop. It just needed changing and he made a mistake. I’m sorry I lied. I honestly thought it popped when I told you that. I’m no liar."
"Could have fooled me," says the new friend, still standing upright.
Getting up on her right elbow, the girl snaps, "You don’t even know me! Maybe I don’t like you as much as I thought." A moment passes in which both parties remain silent. The little girl says in a hushed voice, "He cut himself you know. That’s where these came from." She points to the spots along the carpet. "I was just watching the television when I heard laughing, and I saw him drop down from the table. He didn’t fall, just jumped right down like nothing was wrong. I figured the bulb was fixed. Next thing I know, those red droplets were falling down to the carpet. He didn’t even look down. He didn’t even make a move. Course I yelled and ran over there. By the time I got there, he already had the tablecloth wrapped round his palm. I had to wrestle him to go to the doctor. He said he didn’t have no insurance, but I made him go. The whole time he just laughed about it. That night, he just put me to bed and went to the hospital. Never did fix the light. He’s just so tough. I woulda been crying, he just took it." Looking up, she sees the cracked bulb, switching her memory back to the present.
She doesn’t know what to say, but feels she must change the topic in order to keep her guest entertained. A creeping feeling of loathing slides its wretched hand along her insides. A look of disgust dances across her face, paired with a blank stare. The two emotions turn each other over in a whirlwind of thoughts. She bites her lower lip and pinches her shoulders closer together, wondering what her father is doing right now. Maybe he is out catching bad guys and making them pay for their crimes. Each creak or groan in the house is met with a cold shiver. The little girl shuffles from side to side in her seat before leaning forward and resting her thumb underneath the bat’s mouth. In a low, gargling voice she says, "I have been out of the news recently, being cooped up in that toy store. Can we watch some news?" She is surprised at the chilling voice she has produced from her friend’s mouth. She modifies it to a high pitched murmur and repeats, "Can we watch some news?"
The little girl thinks, That’s better. She says, "Sure we can." Immediately she remembers what her daddy said about the news. She feels a rush coming around her as her heartbeat increases. All she can think about is that man on the loose. She knows it’s going to be on the news if she puts it on. She knows that the rest of her night she won’t be able to stop thinking about it. She can’t stop herself from knowing. Above all else, she must appease her only friend.
Flipping through the channels, she passes sports, comedy, and sitcoms before finally landing on the Channel 4 News. The clock strikes eleven, and the little girl smiles because she is just in time for the start of it. She thinks silently, Ghost will be pleased. There is quiet in the room. She can almost hear the lavender of her shirt against the haunting moans of the home around her. The aging Victorian house had stood for years, bought cheaply due to the bad neighborhood. Every house in the area looked like it was about to fall down.
The shadows emanating from the dining room chandelier dance against the wall behind the television. The once constant shadow is now marred by the one missing bulb. Though these new shadows are familiar, they should never have been altered in the first place. When the chandelier was brand new the shadows were pleasant. As a younger child, she would see the chandelier’s stretching shadows as crystals and peaks against the white walls of the living room.
Sometimes, she thinks she is the only one who notices the bulb since her daddy never talks about it. As it hangs there, its diminished output is only visible at night, when the light of five is distinguishably less than that of six. The chandelier manages to keep on working. It just features a glaring flaw that is hidden from the world outside the house. The dining room exists now too dim for her daddy to eat in; to live in. Nonetheless, she is still holding her new friend tightly, flush against her side, awaiting the end of the opening theme song and the rush of human voices. The longest thirty seconds of her night come to pass, and Suzanne Norwich, the local newscaster, appears over the screen.
Her eyes are fixed on the screen. The little girl says aloud, "Daddy says it’s real important to watch the news. Funny that you wanted to watch it cuz I was gonna put it on anyways. I’m glad we have the same interests." She gives a nervous glance toward the chandelier again, remembering with a sigh how the sixth light was broken. She sees that the breaking of the sixth bulb ruined the light fixture. It ruined the house and her daddy just moved on. She looks towards Ghost and feels she has no need to explain.
The little girl stutters, "He says it’s important for a person to know what’s going on in the world around them. Says if you mean something to the community then you’ll find yourself on the news someday. Says it’s how you know how you’re doin, if you’re justified. Says he’d be real proud if I were on the news someday." The little girl stares right into Norwich’s bold, brown eyes. There is some story on the screen with a sign stating week twelve. The little girl already knows what it is and turns it up to hear the update.
The newswoman is saying, "For weeks now, the culprit has been free and running amok throughout our community. After nearly being caught in week three, the person responsible for these horrific crimes has been almost invisible." The girl watches the TV intently as the newscaster continues. "Police have offered nothing on new leads, only the same warnings they offered in week five: 1. Parents with daughters in the age range of eight and thirteen be advised, 2. Children are not to be left alone at night from the hours of nine to one, 3. Keep as many lights on as possible and please arm home alarm systems, 4. Parents with children attending latchkey or after school programs be advised, 5. Children are not to engage in outdoor activity after dusk."
The little girl just shakes her head. In front of her, the woman continues, "This menace has been active in our county for three months now. There is still no admitted connection to the crimes in Rockport. By adhering to the aforementioned warnings, we can help the police with their investigation and help ourselves by not offering any new victims." While saying this, a picture of the apparent last victim is displayed on the screen. The woman summarizes with, "Alexis Duchamp, twelve years old, found just two days ago in the swamp behind Henry Farm. She was abducted from her home on March twenty-third. Police say she was bound, raped, and murdered. Whoever is responsible for these heinous crimes must be stopped. Don’t let your child become another victim. If you have any information, please call 1-888-543-8765."
The news goes on another commercial break. The little girl looks to her stuffed animal. She hears it say, "Jeez, I leave the mainstream for a couple of weeks, and I miss a story like this." The girl is thinking about what she just heard. She is thinking about her present situation of being alone in this house with nothing but shadows. She sees them dancing and envies their togetherness, their mutual dependence on the lights. She feels akin to them in her seeming non-existence without the lights around her. Her head is fidgeting from side to side. She is caught in thought. She has heard this news segment before or something similar. She turns to her friend, surprised, stating, "I’m fine you know. You have nothing to worry about, Ghost. Daddy says that he had some friends from work come down and put up a security system that will keep anyone out; he’s the only one who has the code. He says I have nothing to worry about at night, that he would never let anything happen to me. Says he knows this house is safe. That man has killed five little girls in this county. He says the sixth is gonna be soon. Still I feel safe here, with you."
She moves the lips to say, "I feel better already."
The little girl says, "As well you should. Daddy has been working security for a long time. I know nothing’s gonna happen because he said so."
The bat says, "What about that girl? Isn’t that awful?"
"No, Ghost. Daddy says those girls had it coming. Says it’s the parent’s fault for not watchin after their daughters. He says a person can’t feel sorry when the blame falls so heavily and justly on a responsible party. Its okay to feel hate for the parents, but don’t feel sorry."
"Your daddy sounds like a good man; I sure do wish I’d got more time to talk to him."
"But you live here now, Ghost. Of course you’ll get the chance to talk with him. He’s a very good man!"
"I certainly hope so because there are some things I’d like to say to him."
The little girl cocks her head to the side in nervousness, unsure. She responds, "Like what?"
"I’d like to tell him what a great daughter he has."
The little girl blushes. She giggles to herself, pleased with her friend’s answer. She returns, "I’ll be sure that you get a chance to tell him tomorrow. He usually gets in after I go to sleep. What do you say to turning in a little early? I’m pretty tired."
She nods the bat’s head up and down in agreement. The little girl stands and picks up the stuffed animal. While walking into the kitchen, she accidentally knocks over a stack of papers on the table. Scattering across the floor, they spread out to create a colorful display, delighting the little girl. For a moment, she almost leaves them, but thinking of her daddy’s long night at work, she thinks better of it. Leaning over to pick them up, she counts a bundle of ten papers: three white, three green, three yellow and one pink. Placing them back on the tabletop, she leaves the pink piece on top, feeling for its lack of representation.
Walking up the stairs, she trips over a zipped up duffle bag that her father has left outside his door. Peeking inside the room, she views a sheet less bed and a closed closet. Her father’s room is a stark contrast to her animated bedroom next door. The white walls of the little girl’s bedroom act to illuminate even when all light is gone. However, despite the shining moon glaring through her curtains, a nightlight still spreads its shimmer across the room. The little girl gently places the stuffed animal on the edge of her bed, facing the wall across from her bed, now featuring a closed door to the hallway. The shelves filled with stuffed animals is to her right, growing more menacing in the moonlight. As she changes, she knows there are no real eyes on her, and she feels safe. She exchanges lavender for lavender as she puts on her pajamas and discards her previously worn garments. She turns her friend around and says, "That’s better right?" She exhales loudly as she looks around the ground floor one last time before she goes to sleep. All appears to be in order when she turns the light switch off. The darkness rampages through the room, encompassing all objects she held in her vision. Turning with a quick step, the little girl runs up the stairs, down the hallway, and makes a sharp left into her room. The door shuts behind her, standing as a firm barrier between her and the empty house.
Moving her thumb along the bat’s mouth, she says, "Well, I can’t tell the difference."
She confidently replies, "The difference is in the comfort."
The bat is silent as she crawls into the bed alongside it and pulls the covers up around her shoulders. Her breathing is steady as the sheets move up and down—inhale, exhale. The stuffed animal lies motionless to her left, nestled closely underneath her arm. She says aloud, "Ghost, I’m really glad to have you with me."
The bat says nothing back, and the silence is felt. She remembers a time when the dark in her room bothered her so much. Her daddy used to just climb into bed almost every night because she couldn’t sleep. The rain beats down outside, creating a drip from the gutter outside her window. There is a scratching on her bedroom window from the tree just outside. She envisions the branches beating the window pane, trying to get in. This vision ends with her imagining her daddy outside chopping the tree down. He was her hero. She did whatever he told her to. She thinks to herself, Where are you, Daddy? She has no answer for herself. Lying in thought, she perceives for a moment that she hates the work he does. She feels malcontent for her being left at home all the time. Each night this thought opposes against her minted image of her daddy that she holds to be real, and each night she shoos it away as quickly as it comes. She doesn’t really want him to come home. But tonight is different for some reason. She thinks to herself, It must be because we stayed up so late. Thinking better of it, she pushes away the thought, believing this would only make her more tired. It takes her a moment to realize what is different about tonight, to recognize that Ghost’s beady, unbelieving eyes are making her uncomfortable. She thinks, He is just another animal. Trees outside of her bedroom window are slapping their branches against the glass again. Shadows creep along the little girl’s dresser. Before long, her covers are pulled up above her head. She can see the murderer’s face in her head and for some reason it is oddly friendly looking to her. She curls up under her sheets and rips the image away from her mind.
"I suppose I’ll just let you sleep, sorry." She fancies the bat as not being able to understand her muffled voice. She turns her back to the bedroom door and throws her right arm over the animal next to her, pulling it underneath the sheets with her. Every noise in the house is magnified by her solitaire. The water drip from the kitchen sink can be heard all the way upstairs, but it’s familiar. The groan from the water heater in the garage is voiced every twenty minutes or so, but it’s familiar. It is the noises that she cannot explain that keep her awake. Opening her eyes, she scans the room from left to right. She thinks to herself, Closet door, chair, overalls, basketball, belt, bedroom door. Nothing to be worried about. She leans over from her bed and searches beneath the bed, the last checkpoint in her pre-sleep ritual. Nothing there either, she thinks to herself. There never is. She ponders why she even looks if there’s never anything there. She looks around the room once more and finds her mind drifting to the news report she witnessed before. She says to her friend, "Isn’t it amazing what some people can be driven to do?"
There is no answer again as Ghost is unresponsive. She says, "I guess some people are just made that way. No sense. No boundary. Daddy says sometimes that it’s good to give into your emotions cause they make you who you are, but you can’t lose control. What do you think of that?" There is no response.
She continues, "I think it depends on the person. I can’t see myself chasin someone around the house over a closet door. Then again, I suppose it relates to the contents, just like Daddy says, contents make you who you are. You can be whoever you wanna be on the outside but you can’t ever get away from who you really are. So in a way we’re all closets?" The last part of the statement causes the little girl to laugh a high shriek of glee at her conclusion.
There is a rustling of leaves outside the bedroom window, and the little girl can hear her neighbor’s wind chimes blowing back and forth. They stop abruptly and she cannot understand why. The melody of clanking metallic tubes was soothing to her racing mind and now gone, she misses it. For a moment she forgets the news, she forgets the night, she even forgets about her new friend. She just feels her eyelids grow heavy. There’s a noise downstairs which causes her to stir. Her eyes open, fixing themselves on the bedroom door expectantly. She whispers to her friend. She can hear footsteps, and judging by the time on her clock, she still feels safe. She whispers to her friend, "Daddy’s home." The door behind her creaks open. She has forgotten to lock it. Her heart begins to race with the anticipation of what she will find when she turns over. She lies still, clutching her friend to her chest. She decides that it is better to pretend to be asleep like he wanted her to be. She feels so safe. She inhales sharply, feeling a cold, wet hand run along the inside of her leg.