I'm being followed - but I don't know by what...
Frowning, Sylvester lets his spoon fall back in his cereal and stirs. "Who's following you?" He asks, Big Brother Mode activated.
I sigh. "It's less of a who and more of a what," I say, already regretting bringing it up.
He squints at me and shoves a spoonful of Coacoa Puffs in his mouth.
"You remember when I came in out of the rain Wednesday?"
He nods, still crunching through his mouthful of cereal.
"I came in because there were two footprints standing next to mine. Like, two dry human footprints with the toes pointed toward the edge of the porch like mine, just revealed slowly as the porch got wet around them."
"Yeah, it had me thinking maybe there was wax or oil footprints or something that were just water resistant or something, you know, but I went out later and they were gone. There was some other weird stuff, too, but I don't know. I'm probably just imagining things."
Sylvester's eyebrows shoot up, but he's cudding on more cereal. His eyes twitch and he becomes overly interested in last month's calendar still hanging on the wall.
I go ahead and flip it over to this month and obligatorily cross off all the days that are already past.
"Weird stuff?" He asks, his disinterest decidedly fake. "Weird like what?"
"I don't know, mostly just little things that are possible, but incredibly unlikely - like a monkey typing Shakespeare, you know? - but- you're gonna think I'm weird, but it's always almost in the shape of a kid.
"Like Friday, I swear, I was-"
"You didn't draw that smiley face on the window, did you? Yesterday?"
I shake my head, "Where?"
"Living room. It was clearly done on the inside. I thought it didn't look like your handiwork. "
"That good, huh?" I tease, trying to ease some of the tension as thunder rumbles.
"Something like that." He wasn't smiling.
"Well the house isn't haunted," I say, reassuring myself. "They built the place when we were little."
Sylvester doesn't look convinced.
There's a rattling, maybe in the living room? Maybe in the hall? I see Sylvester's eyes dart that way, too. There's something different in his eyes, though; is not fear.
"Besides," I continue, pretending like the rattling wasn't getting progressively worse, "it can't be the house because it happened while i was out with Cherie. We were out picking up her prescription and there was this g.i.joe action figure sitting in this empty toothpaste aisle shouting 'danger' at us when we had to be the only people on that side of the store. Cherie about had a heart attack."
Sylvester put his cereal bowl down. "And it can't be you because I found the smile yesterday morning when you were still at Cherie's."
"That was in mom and dad's room." Sylvester says, holding out his hand. "Come on, Becca,I think this is meant for both of us."
"Yeah," I say, taking his hand but keeping my feet planted, "but it's that a good thing or a bad thing?"
"One way to find out."
I pause, desperately tempted to send him off by himself, but I can't. Not knowing what I know.
We walk with our hands clasped together tighter than they have been in years.
Mom and dad's door is shut. They always leave it that way. Their happy compromise when mom refuses to have her room seen as sloppy and dad refuses to make the bed, claiming he needs every last second of sleep he can get.
Nothing looks amiss, but one picture frame lies shattered on the floor. Sylvester leans over to pick it up, his grasp on my hand still strong.
The second crash is so much worse. The whole house trembles with the thunder.
I find myself in Sylvester's arms, huddled against him as we duck from the raining bits of drywall.
"You ok?" He asks.
I check him over and it doesn't look like he's bleeding anywhere. With how hard my heart is beating I can't even begin to tell if I'm hurt, so i say "I'm good."
Renewing his grasp on me, he pulls us through the door to see the tree branches breaking through thr rubble that used to be our living room. The entrance to the kitchen isn't even visible through the foliage.
Sylvester pulls his phone out of his pocket. "Hey, man. Could you come pick up me and Soph? Don't be a degenerate, man, our house just caved in. Ok. See you in five."
Sylvester hands me the picture frame, then takes my other hand as he proceeds to dial 911 and then or parents.
As he explains that as survivors of a near death experience, we aren't responsible for getting photos for the insurance claim, I look at the frame in my hands.
It's the photo of us and Tyler.
Tyler who died when he was eight and Sylvester was five and I was four, as he was chasing after Sylvester across the street. Whose death sparked the need to move in our parents. Tyler who played in the rain with me and who always let Sylvester play with his soldiers. Tyler, who complained that Sylvester got up too early and who loved drawing. Tyler, who was going to save people when he grew up.
"He did it," I whisper, tears streaming down my face.
Sylvester squeezes my hand.