I woke up to the cold, flat mattress of the foot of my bed, in the darkness of early morning. I knew it was morning because I heard Dad in the bathroom, getting ready for work. I think I slept down on that end because there is a tall lamp at the head of my bed that I slapped off the nightstand in my sleep once. So there I was, on the flat, cold mattress with my head propped and eyes searching in a squinted gaze because I never could sleep without my pillow. Then it occurred to me that I probably pushed it off given that this end of the bed is not positioned against a wall. So I peered over the end and confirmed my guess. There it lay on the cold, tile floor. I reached, hoisted it up, shook it violently in case any critters had stumbled upon it and made it a cozy bed and pulled it under my head. I snuggled deeply beneath the covers, trying to get back to sleep. There was about an hour left before it was time for me to get ready for school. I faced the open door of our bedroom just opposite the tall, wall heater. I could see the blue fire at the bottom, glowing and dancing in the bleak hue of predawn that cast its shade throughout the house. My sister in the full-sized bed across from me “called hogs” as usual. I could not wait for Friday. She and I stayed up late on Fridays, watching scary movies and eating snacks. I loved her company – I think she was my best friend besides Mom.
Her snoring stopped. I saw her roll over and sit up in bed. She swung her legs over the side, one by one and just sat there a few minutes. Her hair was wildly tousled. Her face blended into the blackness of her silhouette, in the gloom of the room. She stood and slipped into the dull, hot-pink robe that she wore around the house all the time unless she was going out. The edges of the robe barely grazed me as she swung the long garment around her body (I felt the light breeze that followed). She left the room and planted herself in front of the heater, facing it. She folded her arms (I could tell because her fingers clutched her triceps) and began to sway from side to side. The warm flame was still visible, that is, when it peeked from behind the swaying tail of the robe. Her movement was rhythmic – back and forth, left to right, left to right.
Mom came into the hallway and snapped on the hall light and my sister was nowhere to be found.
I blinked. “Momma,” I said.
“Oh, good mornin’, Babe,”
“Good morning – where’s Lynn?”
“She’s not here, Baby.”
“Uh-huh…I saw her, Momma. She was right in front the heater before you turned the light on.” I sat up in bed.
Momma stopped her activity in the linen closet and cocked her head to one side. “No Baby…” She hesitated. “Lynn is at Tiffany’s birthday sleep-over.”
My mouth gaped in fright and wonder. But I saw her. I thought.