The last notes of the lullaby caressed my ears and tried to settle my mind. My aunt sat on the bed next to me rubbing my head. She didn’t know her attempts to soothe me were ineffective, but I played along and closed my eyes.
“Get some sleep,” she whispered before she kissed my cheek and stood up.
The door closed behind her and I turned my head to look around.
There’s nothing to be afraid of.
I tried to rehearse her words in my mind, but it wouldn’t silence the fears that seemed unfounded. I had no evidence, but I knew something was wrong. There was someone or something coming to get me. I could feel it.
The banging on the front door startled me. I opened my bedroom door and joined my aunt in the hallway. Wrapping herself in a robe, she looked out of the peephole first before opening the door.
“Mr. White?” she greeted him.
“I know it’s late,” he responded, “but I’m afraid it’s time.”
“Time for what?” I asked. The urgency in his voice caused me to lose my place. I knew it was wrong for children to cut in on adult conversations, but something was wrong. They both looked at me, but it wasn’t to scold me for talking out of turn. Whatever it was time for, it must have included me.
“She’s not ready,” my aunt told him.
“I know. We thought we had more time.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. I’m sure it wasn’t heavy, but the weight of his announcement caused her to stumble back.
“Somehow they found us.”
I looked back and forth between them. I listened, but I didn’t understand. What was it time for? Who found us? Were we hiding?
A flash of light is all I remembered seeing before Mr. White fell forward. My aunt closed the front door and we ran to the basement.
I tried to focus on her words, but the sounds above distracted me. She placed a bag on my shoulder and a kiss on my cheek before she shoved me into the bathroom we were never allowed to use.
Whoever they were, they’d found us. My aunt glanced at me and then at the intruders. She closed the bathroom door and I closed my eyes hearing the commotion outside the door. If my eyes were open, I would have noticed everything around me had disappeared.
“She’s here,” someone announced.
I opened my eyes and blinked several times to confirm my vision wasn’t deceiving me. I found myself standing on a platform. A man dressed in clothing I’d never seen before stepped forward and bowed. Others around the platform followed his example.
Clutching the last thing my aunt gave me, I found my voice, “Where am I?”
The first man that bowed stood up and replied, “Home.”
by Angelique Grey