Twenty minutes

The silence wakes her. Eyes open, she remains still in her bed until she remembers where she is. The house is so quiet. She pads out of her bedroom, dragging her fuzzy blue pillow, and walks into the empty living room, lit by the soft evening light. She expects they are in their bedroom, but the room is empty, dark. Not in the kitchen. Not in the bathroom. Maybe out back? She isn’t allowed outside alone. Maybe she will check, just real quick.

The back door is locked. She can’t see them outside the window. Where are they? They wouldn’t leave her alone. Not when she was asleep! No, something must have happened. Now she is worried, and becoming frightened. She will sit on the sofa until they come back. No matter how long they are gone.

She climbs onto the sofa and sits, surrounded by scratchy tweed cushions, clutching the pillow. Her mouth finds her fingers. The light dims as the sun sinks below the rooftops. She hides under a dining room chair, waiting. They return in a rush. Hot tears fall.

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