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Footsteps in the Night
Maggie relaxed downstairs with her dog, Charlie, watching her favorite movie, Cool Runnings. The giant dog was sound asleep next to her, his breathing even and steady. Maggie checked the time on her phone. It was eleven thirty.
She sighed, “I could be out with my friends, but no, Mom and Dad won’t let me.” Not that they would have found out if she had gone, they were in Indianapolis until Monday.
Maggie turned her attention back to the movie, trying not to think about the party that her friends had gone to. She soon began to drift in and out of consciousness, no longer paying attention to the movie. Maggie’s eyes fluttered open when she was awakened by a strange unknown noise. “Probably the house creaking,” she whispered to Charlie. “Nothing to worry about.”
She heard it again, and this time, Charlie picked up his head and looked around. Usually when he was slept, he awoke only to the racket of someone entering the house. Maggie’s heart was beating fast and uncontrollably. “It’s nothing, nothing at all” she assured herself.
Suddenly, the front door began to creak. The door squealed only when someone opened the door slowly. Maggie grabbed onto Charlie, burying her face into his soft, fluffy fur. Her body was shaking, and she didn’t know what to do.
“Maybe some of my friends are playing a trick.” Her words were soft and muffled as she spoke into Charlie’s fur. “No, that can’t be it. The door is locked and none of my friends know where the spare key is hidden.”
She said a quick prayer, hoping that the intruder would take what he wanted and leave. Maggie was close to tears, unsure of what to do, or what to think. Then she heard footsteps. They were light and quiet, but she could still hear them through the ceiling. The intruder was headed toward the pantry. Her mouth went dry and her whole body tensed up. She couldn’t move; fear was radiating through her. The barely audible footsteps seemed to resonate within her ears.
Maggie had an idea. Her brothers’ old room was downstairs and he had a metal bat in his closet. She walked silently to his room, Charlie at her heels. She found the bat easily and tip-toed to the staircase. No lights were on, so seeing who the person was, or where they were, was going to be difficult.
She slipped up the stairs without making a peep. Charlie stayed downstairs. “Some guard dog,” Maggie thought to herself. She crept to the island in her kitchen and crouched behind it. She peered around the corner and spotted someone looking through the cupboards. It was a man. She could tell by his outline. He had broad shoulders that fit tightly into a tattered old jacket. His jeans were covered with holes and looked like they needed to be thrown away. He had shaggy hair, and need to shave. Maggie swallowed hard, and smacked herself for coming upstairs. “What was I thinking? Like I could actually defend myself!”
The man opened a bag of chips and began to eat them. The sound of the crunching chips was loud in Maggie’s ears, making it hard for her to think about what she should do next. He walked out of the pantry, and walked right past the island. Maggie caught a glimpse of his shoes. She recognized them, but couldn’t remember who she had seen them on. She racked her brain, hoping that it would come to her.
A hallway light flipped on. Maggie began to panic. She crawled around the island to see if she could get a glimpse of the man. His back was to her while he was looking at the baby picture of herself and her brother Jason. The man was chuckling at some of the pictures.
“What do you want? Please just go away!” Maggie whispered a little too loud. The man whipped around and caught sight of Maggie, and a big broad smile covered his scruffy face.
A sigh of relief flew from Maggie as she stood up from her hiding spot, still grasping the metal bat. Her heart slowed from its racing speed. A grin spread across her face.
“Jason, you scared me to death. What are you doing home? You’re supposed to be in Chicago,” Maggie sighed.
“Well, I’m so sorry to disappoint you, but I needed to get away and I have Monday off, so I figured I would come home and surprise everyone.”
“Surprise?! I’m home by myself at midnight, and I thought you were some robber who was going kill me!” Maggie said while pointing at him with his bat.
Jason roared with laughter. “I’m sorry I scared you so bad, but I see you have yourself well protected,” pointing at the bat and then at Charlie, who had just ambled up the stairs to see what the commotion was about.
“Yeah, some guard dog, doesn’t even come upstairs till after the murderer sees me.” Maggie spit back at him sarcastically.
“Will you ever forgive me, baby sis?” Jason asked as he engulfed Maggie in a big bear hug.
“I believe that can be arranged,” Maggie answered. “I’m glad you came home. I was beginning to forget what you looked like.”
“I missed you too,” Jason replied while messing up her hair, his normal way of aggravating Maggie.
“Yeah, yeah.” Maggie replied, swatting away his hands. “I was watching Cool Runnings before I was so rudely interrupted. Would you like to join me?”
“Yes! I haven’t seen that movie since forever.”
The two walked slowly down the stairs, talking about college and high school. Jason had several funny stories about his crazy roommate that he gladly shared with Maggie.
“He is so weird,” Jason stated while laughing. “He leaves his toothbrush lying on the bathroom floor while he showers. He doesn’t seem to care about all the nasty feet and other things that have touched the floor.”
Maggie and Jason laughed until their stomachs hurt. They didn’t really watch the movie; the voices of the characters hummed in the background. They swapped stories about life and how much had changed now that Jason lived four hours away. They stayed up well past three, catching up with each other. Charlie and the bat lay at their feet, just in case.