I slid under the half-made bed as soon as I heard them kick in the door, the frame splintering from the impact. The bedskirt rippled–tattletale–and I prayed it would stop before they saw. I scooted to the uppermost part of the bed grimacing as Kylie’s toys scraped my ribs and thighs. When I folded myself in fetal position, I believed I was invisible–for a moment.
Angry boots stomped against the hardwood floors. Furniture grunted as they were shoved and a lamp cried out when it crashed. I held my knees and willed my heart to silence, but its panic swelled in my ears and made them pop.
“Check up there,” a muffled voice commanded, and heavy footfalls up the stairs indicated compliance. Black Timberlands, men-size 9 stepped one way, then another, then back again uncertain. They finally took a breather right in front of the bed. If they had eyes we’d be looking at each other.
A whimper escaped through my teeth and I thrust both hands to my mouth to restrain any others. Tears burned my eyes. Wrong time to cry. Blinking hard, I pleaded with my head to uphold the levy. Oh God! I left my cell phone on Kylie’s nightstand. Another tattletale. While I cursed myself for the oversight, the black Timberlands turned and stomped out the room and down the hall.
Now! my brain commanded, Get the phone. Call the police. But my body protested convinced invisibility was the wiser plan. I agreed.
More grunting furniture and screaming lamps amid muttered curses, pounding fists, and scuffling boots. Some fluttering papers, vibrating floors and slamming doors.
My heart swelled so big, it felt like it was pouring out my ears. My chest tightened, stars danced in front of my eyes, and my nose clogged. All found relief when I removed my hand from my mouth and snatched air into my lungs.
I waited and waited till I didn’t hear anything or anyone, till I saw the shadows of late afternoon across the floor, till the call of my name searched me out in the silence. My phone sang, the first time all day and familiar footfalls, quick and determined, raced straight to me like hound dogs. My limbs creaked and complained when I unfolded them, and my mouth was sticky, voice thick when I answered.
When I rested my head upon my husband’s shoulder, I moaned in his embrace. I felt safe in his arms. But I was safe under the bed.
© D.L. Lunsford