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Her eyes snapped open as the upper half of her body shot upwards towards the ceiling. Her eyelids opened and closed frantically in a desperate attempt to clear their grogginess. As the yellow wall slowly came into focus, and the blurriness subsided, she was able to see again. Her head wheeled around to face the alarm clock sitting beside the bed. 7:40am, it read. She was going to be late.
She grabbed the uniform out of her cupboard and threw it over her naked body, entirely forgetting to put a bra on in the process. Her Mother could be heard downstairs, humming quietly to herself while no doubt making breakfast. The all-too familiar smell of homemade waffles floated up through the old, wooden floorboards, and invaded the room like a sweet-smelling army. She decided to brush her hair later.
She ran down the wooden stairs, her dress half-on and half-off her body, and also missing an item of underwear. Making a right down the entrance hall and into the living room, she passed her Father sitting on the couch and reading the morning newspaper. He smiled at her, and she warmly smiled back.
“Morning,” she called to him, and he set the newspaper in his lap.
“Morning, sweetheart,” he replied, “You’re up awfully early this morning.”
“Early? You can't be serious. It's a quarter to eight!” she chortled back, laughing in nervous confusion at his comment.
“Sweety, it’s Saturday,” he said, and she could see him stifling the laughter beneath his bushy mustache.
“...Seriously?” she asked him, “...you’re not being funny?”
“No, Sarah, it's Saturday honey. I wondered why you had that dress draped around you like that,” he responded, picking up his newspaper again as her shoulders sunk towards the floor.
“You mean I got up early? On a Saturday?” she asked, completely bewildered as to how something like that could’ve slipped her mind. Her Father chuckled to himself quietly, and she began to re-trace her steps back up the stairs and into her room to put away her uniform.
She stared into her wardrobe, considering her choices, and ended up choosing a plain t-shirt and black shorts. Trudging back down the stairs, she walked sullenly into the kitchen. The smell of the homemade waffles washed through her nose with their tidal wave of warmth, and suddenly she was happy again.
“Morning Mother,” she said, her frown quickly becoming an eager smile as she awaited the familiar ping of the waffle machine to let her know her breakfast was ready to be eaten.
“Morning Sarah,” said her mother in a sing-song voice, happy as always. Sarah’s father entered the room shortly afterwards, and walked straight over to her mother. Giving her a peck on the lips and adjusting his glasses, he turned to Sarah and smiled. They really were the perfect family, Sarah marveled.
A few minutes later, as she was downing the last waffle with maple syrup and ice-cream, she breathed a sigh. The incidents of that morning were but distant memories as she sat there, soaking up every last delicious mouthful of the doughy treat.
Clambering back up the stairs for the second time in that same hour, she flopped onto her bed and held her now full stomach. Sarah began to feel a bit sick. Waffles smell and taste good, but four of them in your stomach don’t feel so good.
Suddenly, Sarah noticed the silence beginning to close in around her, like it was alive. It was deafening. Why weren't her parents talking anymore? She eased herself off the bed, and slowly began her trek down the stairs for the third time. Cautiously, she crept as quietly as she could down the creaking wooden staircase. Could it be that time already?
“Mum?” she called out, trying to be as quiet as possible. “Is everything okay?” Next thing she knew, a figure darted past her and grabbed her hand.
“Come on. Hurry now,” said a hushed and urgent voice. She recognized her mother immediately. Immediately obedient, she followed her mother hurriedly up the stars. She knew all too well the horrors which lay before her if she didn't hide herself fast enough.
After their frantic dash up the stairs, which she now counted as her third time up and fourth time down the stairs altogether, they entered the hallway. Her mother flicked off the light switch delicately with a flourish of her hand, and they were plunged into darkness.
Their shadows intertwined with the surrounding darkness, taking on forms of their own and casting an eerie gloom across the purple hallway. Her mother guided Sarah into a big wardrobe upstairs. She swiftly closed the door and entombed them both inside. Sarah crossed her fingers and hoped they wouldn't be found.
Sitting there in the wardrobe, Sarah began to realize that this was their hiding spot from last time. It was like they never moved, never left.
A minute passed. Two. Ten. Half an hour. Sarah could hear the rumbling outside their quaint house, and had dared not speak until this moment. But she soon worked up the courage to open her mouth.
“Why does she do this to us, mother? I don’t understand,” Sarah whispered, barely audible through the solid darkness which floated around them. She couldn't see, but she could feel her mother shake her head in consolation.
“Because she can dear, that’s the way it is,” her mother breathed back to her, again a faint whisper amidst the blackness. “That’s the way it always is with people.”
“It’s not fair, mother. We’re alive! We talk and breathe, and feel pain. Why doesn't she understand?” Sarah asked, tears now painfully pressing their way forwards and out of her eyes.
“I’m sure she does, Sarah. I’m sure she knows. She just doesn't see us the same way we see ourselves, dear. But as long as we stay in here, she won’t find us. Now hush, child, or we will be found,” her mother responded. And at that, their conversation ended. The sheer terror that was brought on by the threat of being found was one to make a person go mad. Sarah tried not to think about it. Another minute passed. More painful seconds as they awaited her departure. But she would not go.
Now there were noises outside of the wardrobe, and Sarah tried not to breathe. Although, it was all in vain. The wardrobe flew open, and an enormous hand grabbed Sarah, dragging her away from her mother. Sarah screamed, as tears flowed from her eyes and she was carried out of the house.
She was bumped into the stairs, the walls, the ceiling. Her mother followed suit quite quickly, screaming and carrying on herself. Sarah was thrown outside by the enormous hand, and she landed on the neatly kept grass. Her father ran out, hearing the noise, and tried to pull her back in before a second hand was pinning him to the grass.
Sarah’s mother was pulled outside by the first hand, and now they were all there, together on the grass. And she was there too. That horrific creature. She knew they were alive, and she knew that they felt pain. She had to have known it. How could she continue to constantly inflict such torture on them if she didn't? No, she knew. And she enjoyed watching them suffer.
Sarah lay below her mother, her father being held close by. She stayed perfectly still, and cried a single tear which landed in the grass below her. “I love you, mother,” Sarah said, rigid with fear. Her mother was the same, and her father tried to look up and blow a kiss goodbye, but the hand held him tightly and would not let go. Sarah smiled at her mother, another tear rolling its way down her cheek, and prepared herself for what was next.
“Don’t worry, mum. I found them,” Lucy said as she picked up her Sarah doll and began to spin her around the room. When she got bored, she threw her against the wall, and picked up the mother and father dolls. Pressing them together hard, she made them ‘kiss’. Then she grabbed Sarah and brought the whole family together.
They really were the perfect family, Lucy marveled.
Written by Natalo