Noises in the Night
She was six years old and alone in a room that had noises in the wall. She would curl up into a tight little ball under the covers and concentrate on the friendly sounds––the tapping of the pendulum of the clock which hung on the wall beside her bed and the water gurgling through the heating pipes. The muffled voices of her parents down below in the living room. She liked these noises. They made her think that she wasn’t alone.
But she could hear other sounds of the summer night–– the sudden loud popping noise that she thought was a gun until daddy told her that it was only houses settling, or the sound of the elm tree outside her window scraping against the brick on the chimney or the wind as it whined through her screens, making the venetian blinds scrape against their wooden window frames. She could hear things in the walls, too––noises that sounded like people walking and high shrieking noises that daddy said were just mice and not robbers.
The sheet felt muggy on her bare legs and she kicked it off and rolled over. She lay on her stomach and slipped her hand beneath the pillow, sliding it back-and-forth against the trapped coolness of the percale. She glanced at the noisy pendulum clock Santa had brought her for Christmas to help her learn to tell the time. It was her first real clock and it was in the shape of a Shmoo. She could just make out where its hands were from the light of the streetlamp shining through her window. It wasn’t very late.
She flipped over and slid her legs over the side of the bed, feeling the slight stickiness of the linoleum on her feet as she walked to the window. The air had cooled a bit and it had started to rain. A slight breeze tickled the hairs on her arm and sifted the rain onto her nose as she pressed it close to the screen to smell the mustiness of the wet night grass.
She wondered when her older sisters would get home and come up to bed. It was lonely in a room all alone in the upstairs of a house that had robbers in the walls.