|Posted on August 18, 2013 at 11:30 PM|
It had only been a week since the movers had brought all their things up from their Manhattan apartment. Boxes were on the floor everywhere, some open, others stacked up. Books and papers sat on the desk where Karen had set up a temporary work station for herself. She looked at the clutter walking over to the desk. Ignoring the mess on the table, she clicked on her computer. As it hummed to life, she sat down, watching the blue glow of the monitor as the windows logo came up. Her mind went back to the conversation she’d had with Reggie earlier. She looked around the room again. “What kind of mother would buy an eight-bedroom house for just her and her child?” She thought. “Maybe she was going to have more kids before she got sick and Reggie ended up being her only child.”…“All the damn windows are closed and I can still hear the crickets outside!” she muttered to herself. Karen really hated the suburbs.
Growing up in Alabama she had always yearned for the city life. Karen would watch TV as a kid and dream of being in a big city like Chicago or San Francisco, or even New York. Her parents were so country to her. Her mother would say, “Karen, why would you want to go to the city? There’s nothing there but murderers and rapists. Do you wanna die, honey?” her mother would ask in that southern drawl that irritated Karen so much during her teenage years.
Her father would also chime in: “You gonna git kilt in the subway if you go to New York City.” Karen knew her parents were smarter than that— her dad was a well-known banker in town, and her mother was an elementary school teacher. She thought they were just saying things like that to keep her close to home, and saying things like that would keep her from running away to a big city. But it did just the opposite. It pushed Karen to prove them wrong. By the time Karen was seventeen, she had graduated at the top of her class in high school becoming Valedictorian, and had even received a full art scholarship to Penn State—moving her far away from her parents and what she thought was their ass backward country ways. Not long after getting a degree in architecture, she found a job with one of New York’s best land development firms. Then two years later, at the age of twenty-five, she met the man of her dreams, a young defense attorney with his own private practice named Reginald Billings.
Karen shot right up in her chair. Her ears perked up, listening to the quiet of the house. She could hear shuffling coming from upstairs. It stopped for a second then started again. She rose slowly out of her seat and entered the foyer. She listened, not moving. The sound was definitely coming from upstairs. Karen crept up the stairs slowly, trying to focus on where the sound was coming from. At the top of the stairwell she looked at all the eight closed doors. The bathroom door was still open, but the night light was off. She heard giggling; it was coming from down the hall. Karen walked cautiously, trying not to make the old wood floor creak too much. At the third door she stopped and heard more giggling. Karen opened the door. It was Rebecca’s room. She saw Rebecca lying on the bed with the blankets up to her chest, just the way Karen had tucked her in a few hours ago.
Rebecca turned her head, smiling at her mother. “Hi Mommy,” she said. “Becca, why are you up, honey?” Karen asked, coming over to her bedside.
“I dunno just playing,” she said in her little girl voice and shrugged her shoulders.
“Well, it’s late and you should be sleeping, little miss.” She brushed Rebecca’s hair with her fingers and kissed her head. Karen tucked her in again then walked to the door. Karen turned around to look at her as Rebecca snuggled into the bed, trying to go back to sleep. “Becca honey, did you turn off the night light in the bathroom?”
“No Mommy,” she answered sleepily.
“You sure, honey? You didn’t go to the bathroom tonight at all?” “No mommy.” she replied even more groggily. Her eyes closed and she was already asleep before Karen could ask her one more time just to be sure.
Karen turned around and closed the door slowly, making sure she did not wake Rebecca. Karen looked down the hall towards the bathroom— the night light was on, but this time the door to the bathroom was closed. She could see the light coming from under the door. “I could have sworn that door was open and the light was off,” she whispered to herself. Karen pulled her watch out of her robe pocket and looked at it. “12:36.
Hmm…might as well go to sleep. Reggie will be up before I know it, wanting breakfast before work.” Karen shoved her watch back into her pocket. As she turned away from the bathroom door, she could see it open slowly out of the corner of her eye. Karen jumped back, startled. It swung open fully, exposing the empty restroom. “I’m losing it, I’m just tired,” she laughed to herself, trying to convince herself, she was just seeing things. Karen walked down the hall to her bedroom, not looking back.