Alisha wiped her hands on the dishcloth as she watched the dirty water drain from the kitchen sink. Dinner was now over and she could take a breath before bed. Turning off the kitchen light, she made her way into the quiet living room.
This was her favorite time of the day. The two boys were tucked in bed and drifting off for their adventures with the Sandman. Silence grabbed at its chance to settle down on the house, and she welcomed it.
Settling down in her favorite chair, she reached for the remote. She paused and narrowed her eyes to the closed curtains that covered her large windows in the living room. Blinking, she sat forward. A few seconds went by until she sat back and sighed. It must have been her imagination.
Ever since her neighbor had found a nest of spiders behind her bed, Alisha had been seeing a lot of things that just weren’t there. She really needed to chill, and a TV show was just the ticket.
Her hand had barely surrounded the remote again when she heard footsteps thundering down the stairs. She jumped up, expecting to see fire chasing the young boy who burst into the room.
“What is it, Chad?” She reached out for the boy who was winded and wild-eyed.
The boy pulled away and looked around the room. His frantic eyes looked in every corner. Very slowly, his face calmed down and his eyes focused on his mother.
“Uh, nothing.” His voice came out hesitant.
“Come on, now. What’s wrong? A nightmare?”
His eyes continued to move around the room. “No…no. I just need a drink of water.”
“You know the rule about drinking after bedtime.”
“I…I know, but I’m really thirsty. Can’t I have a little bit? Just a little?”
“Okay, just this once.”
Chad raced into the kitchen. Hearing the cupboard doors opening and closing drew Alisha to the kitchen door. She watched as he opened door after door and searched inside.
“Forgot where the cups are?”
Chad raised his head in surprise and hit it on the cabinet. “Wh…at?” He stood up and rubbed the bump already starting to rise on his small head.
“What are you doing in my cabinets?”
“Oh.” The young boy looked around while at the same time looking nonchalant. He ran his hand along the counter while his eyes continued to move around the room. “I…ah…thought I heard something.”
He paused again. “I…I…Must have been still a little asleep.”
Alisha nodded. “Sure. I’ll get you a glass.”
Chad moved back for his mother to get to the glasses. From the corner of her eye, she watched him looking furtively around the room. It didn’t take her long to get the glass of water for her son, but she lingered in doing the job just so she could watch him. Something was up. She just wasn’t sure what it was.
Her son took the glass and gulped the water down. “Thanks.” He stood by the sink, not making a move toward his room.
“You’re welcome. Is there anything else you needed?”
“What? Oh, no. Nothing. I…I guess I’ll go back to bed.” He didn’t move his body aside from his head as his eyes still scanned the room.
“Chad, are you looking for something?”
He froze. Very slowly, his eyes cut over to her. “Why?”
“Fess up. What’s going on?”
“I thought I left something down here.”
“It’s time to go to bed, Chad.”
“Okay.” He trudged out of the room and up the stairs. Alisha followed him until he was out of sight and the sound of his door closing echoed down the stairwell.
She allowed herself a small laugh as she settled back down into her chair. Life with a young son was never boring, she had to admit to herself.
A few minutes had gone by when she heard a small sound. Looking over to the small table next to her, she screamed. A small white mouse sat on her coaster, staring at her.
Footsteps thundered down the stairs. Chad burst through the door. Seeing the object of his mother’s horror, he rushed forward and snatched up the mouse. Holding it close, he consoled it. “It’s okay, Henry.”
“What is that?”
“It’s my mouse.”
“Yes. the teacher lets one of us bring the mice home each weekend.”
“Yep. Though I haven’t found Henrietta yet.”
“Yep. She’s going to be a mamma and she got out yesterday. I can’t find her.”
Promptly, his mother collapsed to the floor in a faint.