Sorry this is a day late but here is part one of “A Conversation at Night.” Part 2 will be posted by the end of this week. Thank you for taking the time to read my work. Please enjoy and let me know what you think of it so far.
Part 1 | Unedited
“A Conversation at Night” © January 9, 2017 by christina15bk (Christina/The Bookshelf Corner)
Another flash of lightning cut through the darkness of the bedroom, allowing for a couple of seconds objects to be cast in a white light. Deformed shadows stretched and reverberated across the walls before settling, then disappearing.
Soon a chorus of thunder joined the chaos symphony of heavy rain drops pelting the window pane. Gusts of wind hurling through the air on an unrestrained rampage. The dark beauty of the night penetrated by the cacophony of sound.
There it was again. A flash. A boom that rattled the foundations of the house.
For Mila, the world endlessly shook as she cowered underneath her blankets. Surely a centimeter thick wool blanket would protect her from a hot electrical bolt of lightning and the tumultuous sounds of thunder?
It had been storming for ten minutes now. There seemed to be no end to it anytime soon much to her deep disappointment. She felt frozen in place, huddled in the fetal position. Her lungs held tightly by iron fists, trapping the fear inside her and barely allowing air to break free.
Perhaps this was penance for past transgressions. Maybe this is what someone like her deserved. Alone in a dark room with a storm raging just beyond her windows, Mila wished fervently for the torture to end or for sleep to take her away into a blissful state of unconsciousness.
Mila screamed, clutching herself tighter. Of course this would be happening to her. She deserved it. If only she had been a better person, then maybe things would be different.
If only…if only…if only…
“Mila?” a voice projected on the other side of the door, followed by a series of knocks. It was Cameron, her older sister. “Mila, are you okay? Can I come in?”
Mila hesitated, stalled between wanting to be by herself and wanting someone to hold her and tell her that everything is going to be okay. “No. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.”
A pause. “I heard you scream.”
“That was the wind.”
“Go awa-” Flash! The sky roared more thunderous than before. Mila screamed, the sound ripping from her throat. The room was saturated with the bittersweet scent of fear so substantial and palpable. Eyes pinched shut, she curled in on herself, protecting her head with her arms as if the world was about to come crashing down. This is what happens to girls like me. It’s all my fault.
Her shield was cast aside. Her room became bathed in the soft white glow from the table lamp beside her bed, extinguishing nearby shadows. The change in light snapped her out of her terror as the bed sank and warmth encircled her. Instinctively, Mia turned in her sister’s arms, calmed somewhat by the familiar aroma of cherry blossom shampoo. “Don’t worry. I’m here,” Cameron said.
Mia’s eyes snapped open and she gazed up at her sister, miffed. “I don’t need you here. Go away.”
One of Cameron’s perfectly manicured eyebrows raised. “Oh, really? Then why are you still holding onto me like a prized stuffed teddy bear?”
Mia looked around. She was indeed clutching onto her sister like a scared infant. When exactly had that happened? She scuttled away from Cameron as far as her twin bed would allow and turned to face the wall in a huff. “There. You can go now.”
“I’m not leaving, especially right now.”
“Not even if I said pretty please?”
Cameron smiled. “Not even if with sugar and hot fudge on top.”
Mia rolled her eyes. “Leave. I don’t need you here.” A blast of thunder elicited a squeal from her to which was met by barely suppressed giggles from Cameron.
“Piggy says what?”
“S-Shut up, C-Cameron.”
The elder sister sat up against the headboard. “C’mon, Mila. You and I both know you’re terrified of thunderstorms. Anytime there is one you’d be instantly in my room. You need me.”
“N-Not tonight I d-don’t.”
“Fine.” Cameron swung her lungs over the side of the bed. “I’ll just be going now.”
“Wait.” Mila quickly grabbed her sister’s arm. “Stay,” she pleaded, too ashamed to meet her sister’s eyes. The rumbling subsided.
Cameron got back in bed and the two sisters sat close together against the headboard not saying anything. Mia wrapped her arms around her legs, her chin resting on the tops of her knees. In truth, she was glad her big sister was there. Now more than ever she didn’t want to be alone. She’d been afraid of thunderstorms for as long as she could remember. For just as long, she would always go to Cameron’s room and snuggle up with her. It made her feel safe like when her sister combated the spooky monsters lurking under her bed when she was a child. She could always count on Cameron to protect her.
“You know this is the first time in a few weeks we’ve been in the same room for more than a minute.”
Mila said nothing.
“I was thinking I might have done something to offend you. Did I?”
“Actually, you haven’t said a word to anyone lately as if something’s been on your mind.” Cameron sighed. She already knew the reason for Mila’s behavior, why she’s been so quiet and distancing herself from everyone. Mila was only thirteen years old, so it’s understandable that she’d be taking the news the hardest. Mila always took things to heart, always wearing her emotions on her sleeve. “I know you’d rather not talk about it, but you need to talk about it. If not with mom or dad, then me.”
“You’re gonna have to do better than that to convince me.”
Mila huffed in annoyance. “Can’t we just sit here and – ”
“And talk? Great idea! You first.”
“No, I…” The words were there, ready and clear in her mind. But Mila just couldn’t bring herself to voice what’s been bothering her. To do so seemed taboo as if the very act would make things all too real. That should would have to acknowledge that change was happening.
Mila never liked to complain. Things were good if everyone was happy. Because when everyone was happy that meant nothing was wrong.
And if nothing was wrong, that meant she could ignore whatever pain lurked inside her.
But when Cameron gingerly placed her arm back around her sister, Mila felt hot tears slip down her face.
“It’s my fault.”
“It’s my fault,” Mila sniffled. “It’s my fault…”
If only I had been a better person, mom and dad wouldn’t be getting a divorce.
It’s my fault.