Amelia kept vigil at the window late into the night and soon fell asleep there. I had to move my sister from her spot in the window seat to her own room down the hall, as I’ve done many times before. Amelia has always been tiny, which is why she gets tossed in the air during basketball games, but to me she’s always just been my baby sister that I need to protect.
Gently placing her in her bed I make sure to pull the covers up around her shoulders and shut the door as I leave. It was on the return trip to my own room I heard my father come home, my mother waiting at the door for him; they spoke in hushed tones that only I could hear. I chose to remain hidden behind the wall and not go out onto the landing
“It was another,” dad says calmly, his tone tinged with sadness and anger.
“What?” mom gasps quietly. “Who? How?”
“I don’t know,” dad replies. “But I’m going to find out.”
“I don’t understand I thought there were precautions, protections in place to prevent this,” mom whispers.
They move to the kitchen and I listen; a plate is placed in the microwave and the timer is set. The hum of the appliance makes me refocus; I need to block out the machine and focus on the voices of my parents. In the few moments it took to adjust I missed a few words of their conversation but not much.
“They will not come for us,” dad states. It’s a firm promise to my mother, it’s a promise to protect us but from what I’m not sure. We live in suburbia, nothing happens here but the occasional egging on Halloween and maybe a missing bicycle or two.
“You can’t really promise that anymore though can you? This is the third one this year, Amelia …”
“She’s coming of age I know.” Dad sighs; I can picture him loosening his tie in my mind and slouching in his chair.
“You must protect her,” mom pleads. “I couldn’t stand it if …”
“Marguerite I will not let anything happen to Amelia.” His voice is firm and determined.
The microwave timer alarms making me wince with the sudden piercing in my ears. One of my parents stops the chiming and the plate is moved from the microwave to the table, my father’s leftover dinner.
“I know it’s irrational and I don’t get to keep her forever. But she’s my baby.” Mom’s voice is wavering and my heart goes out to her, my sweet, sweet mother who’s affectionate but rarely cries.
“It’s not irrational Marguerite and I will protect her for you. I will do whatever I can to keep her safe.”