“What’s the matter?” asked Mercedes, Rocío’s mom. Her hair was dyed black, but her roots were flaxen blonde. She was already seated at the kitchen table by the time I trudged out of the bedroom. “You look tired. Didn’t you get any sleep?”
I shrugged as I entered the kitchen. “I’ve just been having weird dreams.”
“She tosses and turns and mumbles in her sleep every night, Ma,” Rocío revealed, throwing me under the bus. I threw her a scowl, which she ignored.
It was square, with no partitions or bracings. The window hovered ahead without the help of a wall, and a dim light spilled through the glass, a dusty bone-white glow that fell off the bottom of the window like a waterfall at the edge of the world. I had expected the light to stretch on for eternity, but the emptiness swallowed the rays. Captured them.
Snuffed them out.
How… Awkwardly… Romantic?
For the past several days, I had the same recurring dream. In it, I stood a little over two meters from the red door, and in each dream I took a step closer. The last thing I wanted was to go near it–to see whatever the door had to show me. I wanted none of it, but I didn’t know why.
Why does it make me feel this way? I asked myself when I woke up last. It’s just a door.
The door opened.
Shadows crept in, scaling the walls and slithering across the ceiling.
He took a step in.
Who is that? My body asked.
My mental presence shook her head, panicked. I-I don’t–
He took another step in.
Ever since Monty moved out, I’ve been attending the human school in the Savannah colony. Since it was my first time in that kind of environment, they placed me a couple of grades under my age requirement and assigned me a bunch of remedial classes to help me catch up. It took a year for me to learn enough to be dismissed from the “catch up classes,” and another year before I was finally allowed to join my designated grade. I’ve met lots of humans around my age, and I even have a few friends.
I think it all started with Gavin Moore. We met when I was still enrolled in a lower grade, and he invited me to sit with his friends during lunch hour. Before that day, I had basically kept to myself; I only ever hung out with Mona and her angel friends, so interacting with other humans sounded so plain. Gavin and his friends were far from plain–they’re all so funny and quirky. I had never met anyone who could make me laugh like that… Not since Monty and his friends.
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More shrieking and mock snarls from the hallway. Rubén had actually scared Mirenita; the five year old had begun to cry.
I let out an annoyed sigh. Seriously? I ignored my aunt and cousin, pushing past them as I ran out to the hallway. I expected to see my step cousin chasing Mirenita, but he was nowhere in sight. My little sister, however, was already over her tears, running through the kitchen and cackling.
“Miren–” I called out to her, but the sound of my voice only quickened her pace. My legs were much longer, considering our twelve year age difference, so I power walked after her, easily catching up. We had traversed the dining room space and were passing the living room when I reached out to grab the back of her shirt–
I shot a peripheral glance at the man sitting on the couch, and my heart began pounding against the confines of my rib cage. My eyes had widened so much, I thought they would fall out if they stayed that way. Mirenita out of sight, I sprinted back down the hall to my room, slamming the door behind me.
That was not my uncle.