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It was an hour after closing time and I was walking home on my way from work. Eric made sure that I locked the doors carefully this time after leaving them unlocked the night before. Dark clouds scattered were scattered over the sky, shielding the silvery glow of the moon.
Mom had called me just an hour before my shift ended, reminding me that I had to babysit our neighbor’s kids Brady and Emma. Normally I wouldn’t mind staying over but it was the first time I was alone with Brady. He was probably the most annoying toddler on the face of the Earth. Emma was the only one from her family that seemed to keep him in line. I climbed up the last hill on the block and shivered under the cold gust of wind blowing at my fast. I pushed the zipper on my jacked as high as it could go and quickly tucked my hands into my pockets; hoping the temperature wouldn’t drop any further. The old street lights flickered on and off until they finally fused out. Perfect. Just what I needed.
I ducked my head trying to fend off the wind but it was just too powerful. Panic started to form inside me as I moved my way through the lone and dead street. Why did I have to be so alone? Couldn’t someone else babysit Brady for a change? I silently cussed myself after tripping over some weird object lying on the ground. It was all mom’s fault. She was the one who had planted all these weird stories of rape and murder on teenage girls inside my mind. There was not a single car or being anywhere. Behind me I heard slight click-clacks of footsteps. I tried to convince myself that the footsteps were just a part of my imagination and nothing else. Think of happy things Beth. Like mom’s special chocolate tiramisu. The thought of food sent my stomach growling.
Then all of a sudden my muscles twitched as I heard the vociferous ruffling of leaves behind me. Panic overwhelmed me and I stopped to take a look back. A dark shady figure stood behind me standing still as a rock. My eyes scrutinized every detail but could only make out what seemed like a plump belly and shaggy hair that appeared red under the moonlight. I didn’t dare look at the face of the man before I sprinted down the street. I didn’t know who the man was or why he was tailing me but I knew that I had to get out of there.
I stopped abruptly wondering which path would take me home the fastest. The sound of footsteps became louder as I turned onto to Burtner Road, hoping I would get there fast enough. My breathing became uneasy and I felt a slight pang in my stomach. My legs began limping as I tried to walk further down and eventually gave out. I laid motionless on the cracked pavement as the footsteps got closer and closer. The man had finally caught up to me and pulled a shiny metallic object out of his pockets. After that’s my eyes fell into a null void.
“Wake up! Wake up Beth!” Brady yelled, his hands gripping the empty water bucket. I stood lying on the wet carpet until my eyes finally adjusted to the light. My body felt stiff as I tried to sit up.
“What happened…? And why am I all wet?” I asked rubbing my aching forehead.
“You were supposed to watch me while my mom and dad went out, but fifteen minutes in and you fell asleep. I was planning on letting you sleep so I could watch some TV but then I got hungry so I threw water on you.”
“So it was all just a dream,” I said out loud, finally realizing what happened.
“What are you talking about? What dream?” Brady dropped the bucket on the floor and ran back into the living room. “Can you make me food now I’m hungry,” he yelled.
I stood up and headed toward the kitchen. Everything was tidy and clean just the way Mrs. Paxton liked it. “I’m making pizza. Want some?” I knew it was Brady’s favorite.
“Extra cheese and sauce please!” a voice spoke from the behind me.
“Yeah! I know,” I fired back.
“Oh by the way,” Brady said peeking through the doorway, “You look pretty when you’re asleep.”
I smiled and gave him a thankful nod. After three hours of spreading and waiting for the dough to rise we both sat down and ate. Brady talked nonstop about his mischievous acts while was asleep. I stood there smiling and laughing at every one of his little jokes.