The closet door handle turned slowly in Kate’s hand. She had made it this far without detection. One more turn. She prayed the door wouldn’t squeak as it had before, betraying her attempt to hide, causing her to be busted. Since then, she had found other hiding places, but Kevin always managed to find her. Maybe he won’t think to look here again.
Ever so slowly, she pulled the door open and breathed a sigh – no squeak – the WD-40 spray must have worked. Quickly, she slipped inside, holding the phone close to her body. She pushed aside jackets and coats, tunneling between them like a mole burrowing itself to a safe haven. Fearing this to be her only chance, Kate decided it was worth the risk to make the call. She punched the first few numbers and paused. Lord, please don’t let him hear the tones. Holding her breath, she pressed the final digits and prayed again. Keep him distracted, please, just long enough. . .
“Hello,” The sound of her mother’s voice gave Kate hope.
“Mom.” she rasped.
“Kate? Is that you? I can barely hear you.”
“Yes, it’s me.” she whispered as loudly as she dared. “I don’t know how much time I have. . .”
“Kate, speak up. Do you have a cold? Where are you?”
“I’m home – in the closet, so he can’t hear me – so he won’t know I’m
calling anyone. I can’t talk out loud. You know what happens if he hears me. . .”
“Honey, you have got to do something. You can’t let him terrorize you this way.”
“I know, I know, Mom. But, he’s not this way all the time, only when. . .wait! I think I hear footsteps. . .I may have to hang up.”
Kate’s heart raced as she strained her ear toward the door. Nothing. False alarm.
“Kate, are you there? Did he find you?”
“No, not yet.”
“You need help. This is ridiculous. You’re like a prisoner.”
“I know, Mom.”
“Pretty soon you’re going to run out of places to hide – first, it was the bathroom; then, it was the pantry; now, it’s the closet. Honey, you can’t go on like this. I wish I weren’t so far away. I know you’ve tried to reason with him, but you’re going to have to take more drastic measures.”
“He won’t listen to me. He promises every time not to do it again, but they’re
just hollow words”
“Have you thought about just getting out of the house?”
“Yes, but do you think that’s wise? I’m afraid he. . .uh, oh! Gotta go – he’s coming!
Kate knew it was no false alarm this time. The footsteps were relentless and quick, gaining momentum as they approached. Like a bloodhound, Kevin had sniffed her out. She took a deep breath as the door flew open; she flushed red and slumped against the wall of the closet. Busted. . .again!
Kevin pushed the clothes apart, uncovering her. His blue eyes narrowed, sweeping over her countenance with conviction. He crossed his arms, his lips tightening into a brief, smug smile, but he couldn’t contain the pleasure of his discovery. He doubled over in derisive laughter.
“Caught you again! Who were you calling this time? You can’t hide from me – I always find you!”
Kate hung her head, half in shame to the accusing voice and half in deference to it. She stepped from the recess and knelt down in front of him. Perhaps someday she would be free, but, for now, she knew she must succumb to the person with the steely blue eyes, the person who held sway over her life.
“O.K., I give. You’re probably hungry. How about a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich? I can talk to your grandmother another time.”
Kevin clasped his arms around Kate’s neck and squealed with delight. “You’re the best mom in the whole, wide world!”
“And you, Mr. Sherlock Holmes,” Kate sighed, as she stood and clasped his hand, "are the most skilled five-year-old detective in the world - especially when I’m trying to talk on the phone.”
Kevin giggled as they skipped their way to the kitchen.
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