From the dark covers of my yellow and white four-poster bed, I woke up breathless and terrified. I could hear their far away voices like a lighthouse, a tiny light shining in the fog of a 4 year old’s bad dream. The peals of muffled laughter and the clink clink clink of the ice whirling in the eddies of a grown up drink grounded me to the safety of my home.
I knew I wasn’t supposed to come back out of my bedroom. Teeth brushed, I made my rounds earlier, twirling in my rick-rack nightgown before mama & daddy’s friends, and then a cascade of sticky kisses shuffled me off to bed. Now, I pressed my ear to the door and my cheek to the cold brass doorknob, and felt my hand start to turn it silently. I watched my feet pad down the long parquet hallway and when I got to the living room, I hesitated slightly with a tiny exhale, enough to get her to turn her head.
“Amy Suzanne! What’s wrong, sweet dumplin’?”
The sound of her voice set free the frightened tears I had been holding in, and she put her hand out for me. Without another word, she uncrossed her legs and settled back into the chair, and I climbed up and pressed my body into a tight ball, my shins parallel to her thighs, bare toes grazing the tops of her knees, her hand rubbing my bony spine. With my head on her chest, and hearing the familiar creak of the old rocking chair where she nursed me just a few years before, my eyes got heavy and I faded away to sleep, safe, warm and loved.