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Charlotte ran through the house, stumbling in the darkness. She moved through the dimly lit hallway at a quick pace - he was coming. Her heart pounded like a drum echoing throughout her whole body. She focused on bouncing on the balls of her feet, trying to make as little noise as possible, to minimize the screeching sound her tennis shoes made when they came into contact with the wood flooring. It was only a matter of time until he would come after her.
Slowing herself down and holding her breath, she turned into the house’s master bedroom, scanning the area for a place to hide. She knew this house like the back of her hand, but he did not. Charlotte held the advantage, but it did not stop her from relaxing. As her eyes darted back and forth through the room, she bounced lightly where she stood. She was pressed for time, and the longer she stood here, the more of it she was wasting. She felt herself grow hot, although the atmosphere of the old house was quite cold. Suddenly his voice ran through the entire building - a playful warning of his intent.
With no other choice, she turned on her heel and dashed into the bedroom’s large private bathroom. It was a nice bathroom; aquamarine tiles lined the wall and a green leafy plant sat in between the twin sinks embedded into the counter. The marble tub and matching shower were around the corner, hidden from her view. Without the lights on though, the room was only a mere outline of black and blue. She put a hand on the wall to guide her and tiptoed her way towards the end of the hall. Her hand ran over the light switch and twitched, for she wanted nothing more in that instant than to switch on the lights and illuminate her path, but that would only mean exposing her exact location to him. It was better this way.
She could hear footsteps. Small gentle footsteps which tapped the ground lightly and gave Charlotte a clear image of him - hunched over and creeping with a smile on his face.
Her heart and her feet began to move quicker.
Trailing her hand against the wall, she felt it transition from the bumpy drywall to the smooth, polished wood of the sliding closet door. Without even stopping to take a breath, she hauled the door open and slipped inside, closing it once again. It was pitch black. She could not see anything at all. Groping hurriedly in the dark, she was able to feel her way to the corner of the closet. Her hands came in contact with something light and leathery; her mother’s clothes. They were long, silky and hung low to the ground. Above that row of hanging clothes was another, and although Charlotte couldn’t reach them, she knew they were there. She quickly dropped to all fours and fumbled her way through the dresses, feeling each one stroke her back lightly as she passed underneath them.
The footsteps were growing louder. The person making them began to call her name in a melodic, taunting tone: “Charlotte, where are you..?”
She sat in the small corner behind the dresses, yanking them so they would cover her legs. After she was sure she was well hidden, she brought her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them.
All was quiet. She strained her hearing. She couldn’t hear his footsteps anymore.
Then they started again. He was running. In her direction. Fast.
Her breathing slowed. Her heart was beating violently in her ribcage, and she began to feel as if it might give her away to her pursuer. A small bead of sweat fell from her forehead. He was in the master bedroom.
“Charlotte...come out, come out wherever you are…”
She silently put and hand over her mouth and closed her eyes, not daring to move in the slightest. He’s going to find me, she thought. I should have known better I should have…
The light in the bathroom flicked on. Through the bottom of the door, bright rays of light had squeezed their way through the crack, startling her. She could now see a faint outline of the fabric in front of her. Splotches of shadow appeared in the crack of the door. They were his feet. Her eyes went as wide as saucers. He’s here.
The closet door began to rumble and slowly slid out of the way on its rollers. The light from the outside flooded the small cluttered space.
Charlotte didn’t dare breathe. She began to slowly tremble. It was over for her.
He stepped inside. Charlotte could see the bottoms of his shoes on the carpet. He turned slowly in place, surveying his surroundings. Charlotte closed her eyes in silent prayer, full on sweating.
Just as quickly as he came in, he left, turning on his heel and continuing his hunt. The footsteps retreated down to the other end of the second floor.
Charlotte let herself go loose, letting out a breath that should have been let out a minute ago. He was gone. She was relieved. He was now on the other side of the house, searching her bedroom. Heart still racing, she shifted into a more comfortable position, propping herself upon the wall, sitting straight up. She put her left hand on an object to help her achieve comfort in the small cramped space. As she removed it, she took a breath in and felt something small and tickly go up her nose. She rubbed her fore finger and thumb together, feeling something light and soft brush away.
Not only that, but she had just breathed in a lungfull.
Her breathing came quicker and her nose began to sting. She looked frantically around the room in hopes that she would be able to find something there that would mask her, but the last thing she wanted to do was clamber out of her spot. Her mouth opened instinctively, and she clasped both hands over her mouth.
Her efforts were futile. She sneezed loudly, throwing her head forward out of habit.
The sound of walking in the other room stopped abruptly. Then footsteps began to grow louder and faster.
Charlotte knew it was over. There wasn’t even any point in trying anymore. She choked back a sob. No, she thought. She wouldn’t end this with crying.
She could hear his feet slapping against the wooden floorboards, echoing throughout the house. He turned into the closet quickly, once again turning in place, staring at all the cracks and crevices, trying to detect any sign of movement. Charlotte could see him right above the bar where her mom’s clothes hung but only through a small crack between the clothes that hung on a second bar directly above it. On his face was a giddy grin. He was so close to his prize.
His eyes swept around and met Charlotte’s. She felt a sickly feeling of dread pass through her.
His grin grew wider.
He scrambled over to where she was hiding and wrenched the clothes in front of her to the sides violently, some even falling off their hangers from the sheer amount of force.
He stared directly at her. His nose was a couple inches from hers. His grin went from ear to ear. Charlotte brought her knees to her chest and put her palms flat against the opposite ends of the wall, trying to push herself back, but there was no where to go.
He reached out a hand. It got closer, and closer, and…
“Tag! Your it!” his index finger came in contact with the middle of Charlotte’s forehead, then he squealed and hopped back.
Charlotte got on her feet and shuffled out of the closet, arms crossed in defiance.
“John!” The way she said his name was long and drawn out, like she was annoyed and enraged at the same time.
“That doesn’t count! I sneezed! Re-match!” she said
John stuck his tongue out at her. “It does too count. I found you fair and square.”
“No you didn’t, I want a re-match!”
“Charlotte, stop being a baby. I win. You ruin everything.”
“No...I...DON’T!” She yelled, punching him in the arm.
He punched her back, laughing. “If you want a re-match, then you better come get me!” With that he dashed down the hall. She wasted no time following him. Peals of laughter came from every corner of the house as the children ran around, happy in each other’s company.