She Said to Hide

Mommy said to hide, so that's what Everett did. He hid under the bed in his mommy's bedroom with his stuffed Mickey Mouse and his bright green frog pillow, being as quiet as he possible could. She said that he was brave and that he could show how brave he was by hiding under the bed until she came back, but that had been so long ago. "You're a big boy now, already four years old, so you can do this for Mommy. Find somewhere to hide and don't come out until I come back. No matter what, don't come out." When she left, there had been a bright yellow square of sunlight on the bedroom floor. Everett spent a long time watching the dust sparkle and dance in the otherwise still room, but it was dark now. There wasn't any sunlight coming through the window and he was scared. He'd never been alone this long before.

He was hungry and sleepy and still she didn't come back. He climbed as far back against the wall as he could and wrapped his arms tighter around his Mickey and fell asleep. Sometime later, he wasn't sure how long, there was a loud banging at the back door that woke him up. At first he was scared because he forgot where he was and why he was sleeping under the bed. The banging noise continued and it occurred to Everett that maybe it was Mommy. Maybe she needed him to open the door. Sometimes when they went to get groceries, she would say to him, "Everett, hold the door open so Mommy can carry the bags in." He'd hold the door open and when she put all the plastic bags on the counter, she would tell him how good his manners were to hold the door so well. Maybe she needed him to hold the door now.

She had told him to hide and to stay hidden, but the banging noise at the back door kept going, so he decided that he really should go and see if it was her. He crept out from under the bed, and stood beside it for a minute, wiggling his toes and twisting his foot back and forth. It had fallen asleep and now felt weirdly weak and full of pins and needles. After it felt normal again, he made his way out of her bedroom, peaking around the corners in the hallway.

The nightlight in the hallway was turned off. It was never turned off because Everett didn't really like the dark and it helped him find his way to the bathroom if he had to get up at night. The hallway looked really different in the dark. It was scary. There were blue and black shadows that waved back and forth across the floor. They looked like claws scratching across the carpeting. After this, he would go hide again. He just had to cross the living room and then the kitchen was right there. He could see the doorway from where he stood in at the very end of the hallway. He made his way across the room, stepping over toys that he was supposed to have put away earlier, but hadn't. The distance seemed twice as far as it normally did. By the time his feet hit the linoleum in the kitchen, he was so scared that he was crying. The back door was just across the room and he could see that there was someone there.

For a moment he was excited, he was right about coming out to the door. But he took a few steps closer and realized that it wasn't his mommy at all. This was a man that he didn't recognize. "You never ever ever ever talk to strangers, Everett. No matter how nice they seem, never ever EVER talk to people you don't know," his mommy had told him after she'd seen him talk to a stranger in the playground. He had seemed so nice, but she'd looked scared. He promised her that he wouldn't ever do it again.

This man didn't look nice, though. He looked really scary. He was rubbing his face and hands against the glass door that led out onto the deck. When he caught sight of Everett, he let out a hoarse groaning sound and started grinding his teeth against the glass and smearing something dark with his tongue across it. He slapped his hands awkwardly against the glass and pushed against it, trying to get to Everett.

Many many times, he'd been told not to run in the house, but he ran through the house back to his mommy's room. He slammed the door shut behind him and dragged the blanket off the bed with him as he scrambled under the bed. He should have stayed hidden, like he promised he would. He was going to stay there until she came back, and he wasn't going to come out, no matter how long it took. He was going to be quiet, and be still and he was going to wait right there. He pulled the blanket up tight around himself against the wall and waited.