The window panes leaked a bit, so water dripped incessantly down the wall. There were so many repairs to be made to the house that some of them remained ignored. While the small river running down the eggshell sheetrock was hard to ignore, the sound of the summer shower was a more reassuring presence. It lulled the drowsy girls into a somnambulistic sense of safety that fooled them into believing they were alone and safe on their hillside plot in its remote location.
Whoever had paid them an unwelcome visit before, the one they spied from a darkened living room crouched behind a bulging old couch, was apparently lurking outside again. The uninvited “guest” out in the rain made enough noise to not mask his or her location behind the smaller trees and brush along the western wall of the sun porch. Its wire mesh gave no sound barrier, revealing someone was out there, and provided little camouflage of the coward’s hiding place.
They could hear a faint rustling of the leaves, more of a damp brushing of clothing against the dense limbs, that gave away the close proximity of the intruder to the house. Silently chastising herself for not automatically going for Grandpa’s dusty rifle hidden at the ready behind her bedroom door, Thea herded Paula behind the island in the kitchen. “I know you’re scared, but let go of my wrist – dang,” Paula whispered between clenched teeth.
Thea loosened her grip but remained frozen, as if the slightest move might spring a trap on them. They listened intently for any more movement outside their open windows, the soft patter of the raindrops providing a backdrop to the otherwise silent surroundings. Thea’s shoulders began to stiffen at the muscle strain of hunching down in her huddled position. She looked at her friend, whose eyebrows raised to question their next move.
With the unacceptable reply of a shrug, Paula began to unfold herself from the cramped position behind wooden shelving where they cowered. She muttered, “Errr … will not stay here like a sitting duck,” in a scramble to rise and finally huffed out, “Who’s out there?” Her voice resounded through the sun porch entryway, its door fully ajar, and penetrated the porch walls’ webbed wiring. Paula slammed her hands down on the island counter top for full effect of her anger at the violation. There was no response.
Moments drug by in a seeming vacuum, save for the tick of the fireplace mantle clock and the sluggish drip of water running off the porch’s guttering. Any other time Thea may have joined in her friend’s vehemence at the situation. She instead grappled for Paula’s arm when the young woman shook off her stillness and began to stomp around the side of the counter.
She pleaded with her, “No, Paula, wait …” A leery fear kept Thea pinioned in place. Paula wasn’t going to stay frozen in fear cowering beneath the pine counter, much like paper plates stashed behind its plaid cotton curtains.
Knots in the wood were like eyes that stared at Thea accusingly in her submissive position below shelves of pans and other service ware. The frightened girl flinched from self-doubt, pinched her eyes shut, and scolded herself for her inaction.
She took an extra-deep, cleansing breath and blew it out … loudly … exhaling it into an exclamation, “Yeaaah! Who’s out there?” She and slowly rose up to standing and stepped around the counter to join her friend in the doorway. Their view was obstructed by the deepening darkness and its veil of precipitation, but solidarity strengthened their resolve to fight a mutual fear. They stood together against what was hiding there in the shadows, threatened mainly by an imagined danger.
Paula yelled, “We know you were here before and are back again!” The girls clasped hands to solidify their intent to fight back.
Thea projected her wavering voice into the lingering rain, out into the cover of wet leaves, of tree trunks and limbs. “This is my house — not yours!” She cleared her throat to regain composure, and clamped her left hand into a tighter entwine with Paula’s right. She yelled, “Get the hell out of here, whoever you are! We’re not scared of you!” Thea grabbed the door with her free hand and slammed it shut, the sound echoing across the property.
She said softly to her friend, “I wish I really meant that.”
This post generated from the Studio 30+ writing prompt shower.