Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Chapter 4

    Mom and I left the hospital after midnight. Exhausted, we climbed the front steps of the house. It was even spookier looking at night.
"You think Mr. Thomas would have left a porch light on," Mom said, fumbling with the keys. "I'm so tired I can't seem to find the right one."
    "Give me the keys," I said.
    After I opened the door, I felt for a light switch and flipped it on. The ceiling light bathed the room with a weak yellow light. Our suitcases had been moved next to the staircase. My green sweatshirt sleeve hung from one. Someone had opened the case and was careless putting things back. I moved to hide it. Mom had enough worries for one day.
    "Where are we going to sleep?" I asked.
    "The guest bedrooms are on the second story. Grandma Charlotte called it her Rainbow Floor." Mom picked up a small suitcase and started up the stairs. "Just bring up what you need for tonight. We can get the rest in the morning."
    "It's already morning," I said as I followed her down the second floor hall.
    Mom smiled, but her eyes were tired. She opened a bedroom door. "Why not take the yellow sunflower room. It's across the hall from my room."
    I peeked into my mother's room and giggled. The room was painted a bright pink and filled with stuffed animals. "Your room looks like a little kid's room," I said and burst out laughing. 
    "The pink panther room was always mine. Grandma Charlotte fixed it for me when I was about your age. Back then he was cool." 
    I picked up a stuffed pink panther from a chair and threw it in the air. It somersaulted to the floor.
    She looked at me for a moment and then started laughing, too. She picked up the toy and swatted me. I grabbed a heart-shaped pillow and hit her back. Suddenly everything was funny and we couldn't stop laughing until our faces were wet with tears.
    "Enough," Mom said, suddenly Mom again. "You need to pick your room and we both need sleep. Tomorrow’s going to be a full day. I've got to sort though their financial papers."  She rubbed her forehead. "Do you want the sunflower room, the purple palace, the green jungle, the blue lagoon, or the red Chinese dragon room?"
    "Dragons sound more exciting than sunflowers."  
    "Suit yourself. But it's the room farthest from the bathroom." 
    She pointed down the hall to my room with one hand and with her other to the bathroom, the first door off the stair landing. Next to it was a linen closet. Mom handed me a set of sheets and a couple of pillowcases.
    She yawned. "You'll have to make your own bed." 
I stuffed the sheets under my arm with the scrapbook and carried my suitcase down the hall to my room, bumping into the wall as I went. The bedroom door was ajar. I kicked it open. 
    Light filtered in from a full moon low in the sky. I dropped the suitcase on the floor and reached for the bedside lamp. Two bright gleaming eyes stared down from above the headboard.
    I gasped, jumped back, and then laughed when I realized it was a large carved dragon mounted on the wall over the bed. Its eyes reflected the moonlight and shone like the eyes of an animal caught in the headlights of a car at night. I switched on the bedside lamp.
    "Well, Mr. Dragon, you get to share your room with me."
    I stripped the blankets from the bed and remade it with the clean sheets. By the time I finished, the toilet flushed and it was my turn to use the bathroom. I scooted down the hall. It was too late to take a bath, but I brushed my teeth and washed my face. They say having a clean face keeps the pimples away. It better work. I wash my face three times a day.
    The minute my head hit the pillow, I was sound asleep. I don't even remember turning off the light. I dreamed I was swimming in the ocean towards a cliff.  Grandmothers' house perched over the ocean like a huge bird. On the roof sat a large red dragon. It waved and called my name. I dove under a wave and swallowed bitter salt water.
    Coughing, I surfaced and heard thunder crash. Another wave picked me up and then pulled me down. Seaweed clung to my arms and legs. I woke up thrashing in my covers. For a moment I forgot where I was.
    A loud thud sounded overhead. I kicked my legs free from the tangled sheets. There was another thump followed by scraping. Something was being dragged across the floor overhead.
    I sat on the edge of the bed and wrapped myself in the bedspread. Another crash.  Whatever fell this time was large and had been made of glass.   
    Should I wake Mom? I looked at my watch. It was 3:00 a.m. No. She needed her sleep or she'd be a real grouch in the morning.
    I slipped on my jeans and a sweatshirt over my pajamas. It looked a little funny, but I wasn't planning on seeing anyone.      After creeping past Mom's room, I tip-toed up the stairs and wished I had a flashlight. 
    I inched my way to the third floor, stopping to listen every few steps. Soft lights lit the third floor hallway. 
    "Strange," I whispered.
    Furniture and boxes were piled on top of each other, taking up most of the hallway. I'd have to squeeze to get by them. Should I? Or should I go back to bed and wait until morning when it was light, to investigate? I'd make some excuse to come back in the morning, but could I go to sleep if I didn't know what was going on?
    Probably not.
    The last door on the left opened. I jumped back into the shadows of the staircase. An awkward pile of boxes sat opposite the open doorway. I didn't see any broken glass.   Whatever had fallen must be in the room.
    Mr. Thomas emerged holding another large box with a toy train engine on top. He balanced the box on top of the cardboard tower.
    Something touched my cheek. I brushed whatever it was away with my fingers. I glanced down and saw the daddy long-legs spider clinging to my hand. I gasped. I really don't mind spiders as long as they're not on me. I shook my hand and my fingers hit a wooden framed mirror. It rattled.
    Mr. Thomas turned. He bumped the stack of boxes and the whole pile tumbled down. He swore.
    I fled down the stairs.

Be sure and come back next week to find out what happens in 
Chapter Five.

To read the whole book at once, or make it a part of your personal library, 
find it in paperback on 


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