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It was a dark and cloudy night. Perfect for a night of scaring and screaming.
And here I am babysitting.
“Amie get over here! Gale and Percy, stop fighting!” I yelled.
No one was listening to me. So I tried a different approach.
“SHUT IT!” I screamed as loud as I possibly could.
Everyone stopped. Amie stopped running around like a crazy person. Gale and Percy stopped fighting.
“Ok. Let’s calm down. How about I…read you a bedtime story?”
Percy rolled his eyes. “We’re too old for bedtime stories.”
“Well….how about a scary story?” I suggested.
“I’m ok with that.” Gale muttered. Amie nodded in agreement.
“I guess that’s okay.” Percy said, looking defeated.
“Ok. Let’s see… I’m going to read The Raven.” I said, as I got out the book.
“It was midnight. And while I looked repeatedly over books of forgotten works of literature, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping. As if someone was gently rapping at my bedroom door.”
“What was that?” Gale suddenly said, looking around.
“I heard it to!” Amie whispered.
I strained to hear what they were talking about.
“I don’t hear a thing,” I said, shaking my head, “I think the story is getting to you.” So, I went on with the story.
“‘It’s probably just a visitor tapping at my bedroom door. That’s probably what it is, and nothing more.’”
Then I heard it. A faint tapping coming from the door leading to the hallway.
“Do you hear it now?” Gale asked.
“Yeah. I hear it now,” I said.
I slowly inched towards the door. As soon as I got there, I yanked it open. I gasped. No one was there. All I heard was the wind. It sounded like it was saying, Lenore, Lenore. No. Don’t think that. Wind can’t speak.
“Who was tapping?” Amie asked, with a scared look on her face.
“It was probably just a tree branch tapping on the window,” I said, trying to convince everyone that the noise was totally normal.
“Keep reading then!” Percy excitedly said.
“Ah, as I remembered it was December, and the fire was slowly dying. I wished eagerly for a day with no sorrow. For the books I am reading bring me sorrow. Sorrow for the lost Lenore- a radiant and rare woman whom the angels named Lenore.”
“And the moving of each purple curtain thrilled me-filled me with horrors I have never felt before. So that now, to keep myself calm, I stood repeating, ‘It’s probably someone knocking on my bedroom door, some late person knocking on my bedroom door. That’s probably what it is, and nothing more.”
“Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer, ‘Sir,’ said I, ‘or Madam, your forgiveness I am looking for.
The fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my bedroom door,
That I was unsure I heard you’- here I opened wide the door; -
and darkness was all I found, and nothing more. And the only thing I heard was the whispered word, Lenore, Lenore.”
Something stopped me from reading further. The tapping. No one at the door. The wind almost whispering Lenore, Lenore. Everything that happened in the poem is happening to us. No, I told myself, I’m just imagining things.
But then I heard the tapping. I looked around. Where was it coming from?
“The window,” Gale muttered, as if he read my mind.
Percy, being the oldest, then took charge.
“Amie, come here. Let’s go sit away from the window.” He grabbed her hand. All three walked to the opposite wall and sat down.
I inched, this time to the window. It will probably be a tree branch. I kept repeating this to keep myself calm.
I opened the window. Nothing was there. I leaned out looking for something to blame for the tapping. There were no trees. No nothing.
Except for footprints. Leading up to the window. I gasped. But none leading away.
Oh my god. It’s in the house.
No. I’m sure I’m imagining things. But those footprints. The footprints leading up to the window but not back. Those are real.
This is so confusing.
Just then, I realized something. Here I am thinking about how confusing this is, when three kids are probably scared to death about what’s happening. I’m so stupid. I turned around to see Amie on Percy’s lap, her eyes wide with fear. Gale was leaning on Percy’s shoulder. Percy was looking at me. His eyes were somehow asking, what is going on?
“Kylie, who was tapping?” Amie asked me, timidly.
“I don’t know.” I muttered.
Suddenly, the lights went out. There was a scream and the lights flickered on. Percy looked around. Kylie. She was gone. But something had taken her place. A handsome raven, black as coal.
“Nevermore,” the bird crowed.
Percy was the first to understand.
“Percy? Where is Kylie?” Amie asked.
“I don’t know,” Percy said, as pain lashed through his heart. I don’t know. Those were Kylie’s last words.
“What is the bird talking about?” Gale asked Percy.
“It’s saying…it’s saying we’re never going to see Kylie again.”