The summoning hitch-hiked on the night wind as it had done so many evenings past. The breeze moved the curtains ever so slightly, billowing them upward as the message sailed past the open doors of the balcony. The gentle intruder swirled through the room, flipped through the pages of my journal and read the entries in record speed before crawling across the bed and waking me with soft kisses. I breathed in deeply, taking in an enchanting breath of the night jasmine blooming beneath the terrace. The fragrance was stimulating, rousing me from slumber. I rolled over and opened my eyes. The white glow of moonlight lit the wall like a spotlight, showcasing the shadow of the juniper tree as it danced to the tune of my wind chimes. The branches moved back and forth, like bony fingers scratching out a cryptic message. I pulled my blanket higher, bristling at an unseen presence in the room. “It’s just the wind picking up.” I comforted myself. Probably a thunderstorm brewing. It would be good sleeping weather. I flipped my pillow, and rolled over, giving the performance my back. The hollow song of the windchimes was hypnotizing, serenading me back to sleep, when the call whispered in my ear, waking me and prompting me to sit up fast this time. “Gunner, are you in here?”
Silence followed my question. Frowning I pulled the delicate chain on my tiffany lamp bringing light to the room.
“Gunner, I swear, if you are in here.” I threatened while taking a quick scan of my surroundings. Nothing was out of place. My bedroom door was closed and from the comfort of the bed I could see that the lock was still secure. Leaning over, I peeked under the colossal frame. It would be just like Gunner and some of his pubescent junior high buddies to stake out underneath. Empty. Nothing but dust bunnies scampering across the hardwood floor and cowering in the corner at my sudden intrusion. I decided to shrug it off. Could be I just thought I heard the whisper. Maybe I was asleep and dreaming. It’s happened before. Often, I’ve often woken to the sound of someone knocking on my bedroom door only to stumble out of bed and discover no one is there. The scenario occurred often enough to warrant me researching strange nocturnal happenings. The only explanation was lucid dreaming. I knew that wasn’t the case, so I settled for the logical explanation of dreaming someone was knocking and waking up thinking it was real.
The hour was late, and I desperately needed rest. There were only two hours of sleep left before the alarm would remind me that I decided to get up early and study for the economics test. I had put it off until the last minute and at this moment did not know the difference between microeconomics, macroeconomics, or positive, normative, and applied economics. God, I hated the subject.
The sheer curtains rose upwards, swelling with the breeze like phantoms materializing right before me. I refused to give into the eeriness invading the room. “I’m too old to sleep with the light on.” I reprimanded myself as I yanked the chain, turning off the lamp. I’m also too smart to let my imagination get the best of me. Lord knows I’ve practically raised myself and been my only source of comfort more than I cared to remember.
Damn it! There it was again. A soft whisper. Where was it coming from? Tilting my head, I leaned an ear towards the open doors of the terrace, but the clanging chimes made it impossible to hear. The door to the room began to shake, rattling as an unseen force tried to push its way inside. “What the hell?” I jumped up and jerked the chain with such strength the lamp toppled over and knocked my glass of water over, soaking my study notes. The light flickered and then went out.
“Shit!” I bolted for the bathroom and switched on the light. I grabbed a towel and mopped up the water blurring the ink on my papers and dripping off the nightstand onto the hardwood. What a mess!
A soft rap at my door sent me over the edge. The unexpectedness of it caused me to scream and when I did, I heard Della cry. Leaving the towel on the floor I ran for the door, opening it as quickly as I could. Spiral curls covered my sister’s face but even beneath her bed head hair I spotted her big brown eyes glistening up at me through tears. She didn’t wait for an invitation to come inside. Instead, she scurried across the floor like a frightened rabbit and hopped in my bed. “I’m scared. Can I sleep with you?”
“Of course, you can.” I assured her. “Did you have a bad dream?”
“No.” She hugged her knees and looked apprehensively toward my open balcony.
“Then why are you afraid?” I asked her while scooping up the wet towel and tossing it in my sink.
Della buried her head in her knees and whimpered. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
I want to know what frightened her. I wonder if she heard the whispering too, but I dare not press her for answers. If I do, I will only send her further into her corner of withdrawal.
“Okay, you don’t have to tell me. Just go back to sleep.” I picked up my lamp and examined the intricately sculpted glass to make sure nothing had chipped. The blue wisteria shade was one of my favorite pieces.
“Are you coming to bed?” She asked, refusing to lay down until I joined her.
I sat the lamp back upright before turning off the light in the bathroom.
“Can you close them?” She looked apprehensively toward the open doors.
As much as I love fresh air, I complied and lassoed the dancing curtains before closing the double French doors. “There,” I said, bringing an end to the chimes incessant clanging. I crawled under the covers and when I did, she scooted her warm little body close to mine. Her soft curls tickled my face and by the smell of her breath I know she ate Doritos before bed.
“You okay?” I wrapped my arms around her and pulled her close.
“Uh huh.” She yawned. “I heard music.”
“You heard music?” Her admission surprised me. “It’s just the wind chimes outside. They clank pretty loud before it rains.”
Her little voice rose from the covers. “It wasn’t the chimes. Somebody was playing music in my room. They woke me up.”
Her declaration was disturbing but I dared not show it. “Maybe Gunner left his TV on again.”
“Maybe,” she yawned and fell back asleep.
I stared at the ceiling. She’s just a kid but I know she’s not making it up, because for the past few nights, I’ve heard it too.
To be continued...