The Little Girl
He hadn’t been able to sleep for a long time, but finally he drifted off.
When he began dreaming, at first he felt as though he were still awake. He felt as though he were still gazing into the laundry room that sat across from his open bedroom door. The light in the laundry room had come on, and a little girl stood underneath it.
She was dressed in a frilly, checkered dress – blue and white, with a little white apron. Her hair was dark blonde and tied into two dainty braids on either side of her head. She was about eight years old, and her child’s face was sweet and bright. She smiled a radiant smile, and her arms lifted toward him as though she were asking to be picked up. She began to move closer to him.
He felt an incredible joy welling up in his chest – he had never experienced anything so blissful. He wanted nothing more than to pick up the little girl, and hold her to him as he would his own child. His arms rose too, and his hands spread out before him, beckoning her.
She wasn’t walking; she was floating, drifting a few inches above the ground. She left no shadow as she glided out of the laundry room and across the hall to his bedroom door. He was overcome with the thought that she brought peace and love, that all he needed to do was surrender.
Surrender. His arms reached out further. Surrender.
Suddenly he awoke.
His heart was pounding so hard that his chest hurt. He couldn’t even tell the difference between the beats. He couldn’t catch his breath. He sat drenched in sweat, and shaking from an overwhelming dread and panic. What was that? he asked himself. He felt as if he had just escaped a tiger. What was she?
She had been a trick, he thought. She hadn’t been connected to love and peace at all. She had only been pretending … and he had been falling for it. He had reached out for something that his body clearly recognized as dangerous. She had almost made it to the room. She had almost been able to grab him.
He got up and went to the kitchen for a glass of water. His sister was already there, finishing up a late supper after her closing shift at the restaurant. She watched him as he pulled a cup off the shelf and filled it up at the sink.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” she said, chewing a bite of her sandwich. “Are you okay?”
He nodded. “Yeah,” he said, and chugged the water. “I had a nightmare. About a little girl. She seemed like she was good, but she wasn’t.”
His sister raised her eyebrows. “The girl in the blue and white checked dress?” she asked. “That’s no nightmare.” She shook her head and took another bite of her sandwich. “Don’t talk to her, whatever you do.” She finished the sandwich and put the plate in the sink. “Good night,” she said, patting her brother on the shoulder. She left him standing by the sink, the empty glass in his hand.
He decided he wouldn’t go back to bed just yet.