About this Short Story
Alone at home, hearing all kinds of sounds.
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There it was again. The sound that had woken her from deep slumber just a minute before. The scratching, rustling sound in the darkness, just outside the window. And it definitely wasn't a branch this time. Dan had cut that back last week. Sarah was comfortably snuggled under her blankets, in bed in the dark lonely room. Her eyes already adjusted as much as possible to the darkness, while she was lying still on the spot as if frozen in time, staring at the window. She could feel her heart beat rising, and she was sure it was beating so hard that she could feel it pounding on her nightgown. She cursed under her breath at herself, why did she have to insist on staying at home while Dan helped her sister with her car. Always everyone's handy man and it was starting to take a toll on her patience. She needed him here with her. Another scratching, rustling sound…
Short Story: Silent Night
There it was again. The sound that had woken her from deep slumber just a minute before. The scratching, rustling sound in the darkness, just outside the window. And it definitely wasn't a branch this time. Dan had cut that back last week. Sarah was comfortably snuggled under her blankets, in bed in the dark lonely room. Her eyes already adjusted as much as possible to the darkness, while she was lying still on the spot as if frozen in time, staring at the window. She could feel her heart beat rising, and she was sure it was beating so hard that she could feel it pounding on her nightgown. She cursed under her breath at herself, why did she have to insist on staying at home while Dan helped her sister with her car. Always everyone's handy man and it was starting to take a toll on her patience. She needed him here with her. Another scratching, rustling sound found her ears. Her body went limp while a cold shiver ran through it. She was sure if she didn't force her lungs to move she would suffocate. She needed him here now. She could not get herself to stand up and look out the window.
Was her mind playing games with her? Was she imagining things? Why did she have to watch that scary movie before bed and alone?
The film had not help her in this situation nor had the glass of red wine. Reading the newspaper online daily didn't help her fears any more, with all the murder stories nor did Mary's gossip about all the people she personally knew affected by the crimes. Her neighbor Mary was a sweet old lady, snow white hair glowing in the sunlight, while her small glasses hung low on her nose. She never could muster a rudeness, not to ignore her busy schedule, instead she would stand and listen to her stories. However times like now she wished she'd never listened to them. Come to think of it, Mary sure does know a lot of people affected by crime or was it the way she managed to get involved in life, stranger or not?
Something fell on the floor with a loud crash in the other room and the noise made her body react on its own. She was sitting up straight now with the blankets pulled up to her face. She could not make her hands reach for her cellphone. That sudden thought made her remember that her cellphone was in the living room. She was sure she could hear footsteps on the wooden floor coming closer to her room. Innocently and casually Solfie, her white Persian cat came running into the room. Jumping onto the bed with a purr, she made herself comfortable in front of Sarah hoping for a tummy rub.
"Solfie, was that you?" Sarah managed to whisper, indicating to the crashing noise from before as if the cat could understand her. ‘Insanity is not far Sarah, you are talking to your cat,’ she thought to herself.
After a long silent moment Sarah was almost sure she could hear the wind howling while Mary's favorite ghost story popped into her mind. Sarah closed her eyes and released a long held breath in a sigh, hoping it would help calm her, so that she can be ready and react when needed. She suddenly remembered how sensitive Solfie was to visitors and could sense them long before one could actually hear them.
Her gaze fell upon Solfie where she lay peacefully purring in front of her.
‘If she is not worried then I don't have to be,’ Sarah tried to convince herself.
Before her nerve could calm down, the cat hissed, and stormed away, slamming into the door first before bolting again. Only after the cat had bolted did the sound come. The scratching sounds like before and worse, footsteps breaking the dry leaves on the grass. Unable to breath, with eyes closed, Sarah's mind rushed over flashes of images. Images of her life, how happy she truly was even though she always had something to moan about. How fortunate she has been all these time and everything she took for granted. Images of all the things she still wanted to do in her life, things to accomplish and unfinished business to deal with. A thought of her mother and the fight they had just a few days ago over the phone struck her right in the stomach.
Will she have the chance to make amends?
All of these were hard to bear and even worse, to face. Sarah knew she had to do something. The last thing she wanted was to be caught in a corner. She would fight for her right to live. That very thought made her snap back to reality and somehow she managed to move out of bed and run to the living room, past a broken vase on the floor. She did not bother to turn on any lights. More noises could be heard and they were coming closer to the front door. In that instant, the thought of why they would bother to use the front door while a window would be easier, did not last long in her mind. Falling over a pillow on the ground, crawling the rest of the way to the couch where her cell phone last was. Sarah swears under her breath when her attempt to find her cell phone failed and the footsteps was getting closer.
She knew she was starting to panic hysterically when her eyes caught a beam of flash light coming through the window. The window that was just next to the porch that leads to the front door. Whoever it was - was coming and she sure was going to give them a hell of fight.
Sarah struggled up and on to her feet. Running to the kitchen she grabbed the nearest object she could use as a weapon. A pan still full of leftover scrambled eggs Dan left untouched before he headed out the afternoon. The footsteps were on the porch now, and the flash light was shining through the keyhole.
Now or never, Sarah thought as she ran towards the door. Element of surprise would be her first tactic, scrambled eggs in the face her second, while a massive blow to the head would be her knock out round. This one she will win she was confident. A victory of bravery she would accomplish.
She took a split second to take a deep breath while running her plan over in her mind.
Turn on lights, open door, throw eggs and swing your best one like hitting for that homerun.
She heard the door knob turn. Panic set in. Time slowed. She turned on the lights, the door swung open. Sarah lifted the pan high and was ready to swing for all that live was worth until she looked into shocked eyes. Dan’s eyes that now glittered in the flash-light near his face.
A long silent moment.
“What?" Dan asked in confusion as he looked her up and down.
She looked terrified, breathing fast and completely white in the face. This reaction was not what he had in mind when she would see the puppy for the first time. A puppy she wanted for so long and he thought it would make a perfect surprise gift.
"You look like hell," he stated honestly as his eyes fell on the pan she was holding with a stern grip in the air, eggs on her hair, while a frown formed on his brow.
“I forgot to throw the eggs first,” was all Sarah managed to say. Dan didn’t answer, he knew better when it was time to keep his mouth shut and this was one of those moments.
Minutes past. Dan stood in the living room quietly, puppy still in his arms, as he watched Sarah walk past him with pillows and blankets, throwing them on the couch. He was at a loss for words and knew it was still time where no words were welcomed. Sarah returned to their room and slammed the door behind her with a loud bang. He stared at the door for a long moment, while the words 'their room’ stuck in his mind. He walked to the couch and made himself comfortable, placing the pillows in place and opening the blankets. Turning off the lights, Dan made himself at home on the couch and under the blankets with the puppy sleeping in his arms.
"I guess I shouldn't have said she looked like hell," Dan whispered to the puppy.
"I guess tonight it's just you and me, it will be like camping out," and the word camping sounded like a good name for the little one.
Good thing I didn’t mentioned the rose plant I accidently ran over while driving up, he thought to himself. He still would have to camp out for sure, but he would have lost his pillows and blankets privileges. Thankful I am indeed, he thought with a smile as he drifted off to sleep.
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