Click, click, click. My father is switching off lights. He is full of words: waste, conservation, budget, money. My mother sits at the kitchen table. She doesn’t look up from Good Housekeeping. I carry picture books from the living room into the kitchen and sit beside her. Click. The living room goes dark.
I’m lost in an unfamiliar house, feeling my way through the darkness. A cautious shuffle--right, left, right. Knees bang against something hard. Table? Couch? Fingers recognise plush faces and button noses. It’s my bed. The closet door creeps open with a horror movie squeak. A figure lurches towards me. It’s my grandmother, her outstretched finger taps a beat. Bad, bad, bad.
Everything is grey. Not black, as I wanted it to be, the afternoon sun is too bright. My hand skims along an uneven wall. I follow a curve and turn down the corridor. When my mother grabs a shoulder, I open my eyes. ‘Are you a little blind girl today?’ She laughs and releases me. Lids down, I continue my journey.
A gas lantern hisses on the picnic table. Beyond our yellow circle, I see light spots dance in the trees. My father turns off the lantern. I hold my breath and the light spots come closer. Fingers slipping between boards, I grip the table. A firefly lands on one hand and pulses green.
I’m stumbling again. Arms outstretched, I move them from side-to-side in an arc. There is only emptiness and gloom. I squat, touch the ground, feel grass. Five steps forward. There is only emptiness. I am falling, falling. Wind rushes into my open mouth, scattering the scream.
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