The closet door rattled, gunshots echoed from wall to wall, sweat streamed down her face … and she was scared – petrified. Her limbs couldn’t move. She desperately wanted to jump out of bed and run.
She was shaking, trembling, too frightened to cry – or scream. And it was too late … she had done it now and there was no way out.
Maybe I can sneak under the bed and they won’t see me.
She lay curled and still, hugging her silky pillow, barely breathing as she listened with her whole body tight with fear. The door rattled. She shot to the floor and scrambled under the bed dragging a blanket tangled in arms and legs.
Why did I do it?
Puffs of panic heaved with each breath so she tried to muffle the sound by covering her mouth. She wanted to hide, not let them hear where she was!
Steps? Were those… steps? No!
She squeezed her eyes shut and gritted her teeth anticipating the doom that was coming.
I promise. I promise! Never again!
The steps stopped at the door to her room, the handle turned, a sliver of light reached Katie’s eye – she curled away … the blanket pressed against her lips.
“Katie?” someone barely whispered, “Katie?”
“Daddy? Daddy!” Katie kicked the blanket and scooted herself out to a sitting position. Dust bunnies clung indiscriminately along her locks coating her cheeks and eyelashes. She jumped into her father’s arms. “Oh daddy.”
He held her steady and secure. “I thought I heard something up here ‘sweet cheeks’ – a thump or something. What’s going on? You should be sleeping,” he said, as he tried to brush the dust off her face. “What are you doing under the bed?”
“I-I-had a bad dream.” By now, tears had made their tracks through the veil of dust left behind.
“But baby, “Mulan” isn’t scary. It’s your favorite funny one.” He rubbed his stubble beard on her neck and chuckled, “I ain’t bitin no more Hunny buns.”
Katie squinched up her neck and shoulder and chuckled back, “Would you stay here?”
“Sure baby, let’s pray again too.”
After dad shook the remaining dust bunnies from the blanket, tucked in Katie with her silky pillow, and was saying the second prayer of the night for a peaceful sleep, Katie was saying her own prayer.
She promised; really, really promised she would always stay in bed after night-time fun with mommy and daddy, it always felt good then … and she’ll never, ever sneak down the stairs – to that one step – and watch a scary movie again.
Ever again … to that one step. Nope, not ever. Not even down to that other step.
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