Part 1 of 5
Her daddy had put Emma to bed when it was still light out. He had hugged her tight and tucked her in with her stuffed rabbit.
“Stay in bed,” he said. “And don’t get up no matter what. Even if someone knocks on your door. Pretend you’re asleep.”
“Yes, daddy,” she nodded.
He wasn’t her real daddy, but he liked it when she called him that, and he hugged her again. He was the only one of them who really hugged her. His friends would give her hugs her too, but not real hugs.
It was too early for sleep. There was still light behind the blinds.
She closed her eyes and after what felt like forever, she opened her them. Still light out. She rolled onto her side, closed her eyes, opened them, looked back, and pouted. She wished he had given her one of those candies that made her really woozy and sleepy but that only happened when a lot of friends were over.
She woke up hours later in the dark to her stomach growling.
Sitting up, she grabbed her rabbit and tip-toed to the door and listened. All was quiet. She opened the door and peered out into the hallway. There was a light on downstairs and she crept to the landing.
Her stomach gurgled again and she shushed it to no avail. She took the steps one by one, pausing on each one that creaked to listen for movement.
A light had been left on over the sink in the kitchen and she eyeballed the cookie jar on the counter. One of the ladies always kept it full of cookies that came in a plastic container. They would give her one, two if she didn’t cry, and they would play with her hair and tell her how cute she was as she sat at the kitchen table to eat them. She liked the ladies and their pretty outfits and makeup. She hoped she could be as pretty and wear fancy outfits and makeup someday.
She pulled out one of the drawers, pulled out a second and climbed up onto the counter.
She would take two; one for her and one for her rabbit and, as an after thought, put a third in her mouth as she put the lid back on and climbed down.
Something crashed downstairs. Her foot slipped on the second drawer and she fell, the cookies scattering in different directions. The house was silent again.
She grabbed the half eaten cookie and shoved it into her rabbit’s apron and reached for the second one closest to her.
Footsteps ascended the basement stairs.
She panicked, left the cookies to the floor as she opened a cabinet and squeeze inside amongst cans of sodas and bottles of wine. The wine bottles clinked as she held her breath and pulled the door closed.
In the dark, she could see a sliver of light and something move past.
The light was extinguished as someone settled in front of the cabinet.
Another crash came from downstairs and the light reappeared as the person moved away.
She breathed in.
The cabinet doors flew open and she lost the breath before she could scream.
The woman on the other side looked just as surprised to see her; eyes widening showing more whites against the black halos. She was dressed in all black with the exception of the crimson streaks under the black circles.
“Shouldn’t you be in bed?” the woman asked in a man’s voice that vibrated inside Emma’s chest.
Emma just gawked at her.
The woman reached into the cabinet. “Come on.” She lifted her out and carried her upstairs. She turned on the dresser lamp and laid her on the bed. “Let Ms Rabbit have some,” she said, adjusting her rabbit so its head was also on the pillow before pulling the blankets up to their chins.
“Her name is Ms. ButterflyCuddleMuffin and she’s my rabbit mother,” Emma said.
The woman blinked slowly. “Oh.”
“I don’t have a mother,” Emma clarified. “I only have daddy, sometimes lots of daddies.”
“And what name have they given you?” she asked.
“I’m Emma Rose and I’m eight years old. Not seven,” she said. Everyone guessed she was seven.
The woman smiled. “Eight is a much better number,” she said as she stood up.
“Hey, um, Miss? Mister?” she looked back. “Can you keep the light on?”
“And the door open, just a smidgen?”
She pulled the door so it was just barely open. “Good night.”
Emma waited until she heard the footsteps go away then leapt out of bed and rushed to the door just in time to see the woman jump over the banister. She gasped and crept out onto the landing.
Down below there were people in the foyer, most of them wearing hooded coats and carrying people who hung from their arms like ragdolls. The woman was standing in the center of them, arms crossed in front of her chest. Then a blue light came out of nowhere and in a flash they were gone.
Emma Rose sat down on the cold landing, eyes wide with wonder.
She wanted to be like that someday.
She wanted to disappear.
Edit 5/11/18: Part 2 — S.M.