The floorboards snap as the footsteps get closer. I dare not breathe. My eight year old frame is tucked behind battleship gray work pants, the kind Mom dries on stretchers. Dad’s only suit, protected by the dry cleaner’s plastic bag, is pushed to one side. I’d be in big trouble if I wrinkled it.
Doors open. Doors close. I’m hunted. My mouth feels like it’s stuck with peanut butter.. I’d run, but they’d catch me before I got to the stairs. We live on the second floor because the first floor pays more rent. I hate it because the girl downstairs gets to play on the big porch and I don’t. But, I get even. When Mom and Dad aren’t home I roller skate in the house, over their heads.
They just searched the bathroom closet on the other side of the wall. When the door opened, I heard water running. I think this one’s next. Good thing this old house doesn’t have a light in the closet. My heart hurts. I hope they can’t hear it pounding.
They’re heading for my hiding place. I think I’m going to throw up. My legs ache, but I pull them closer. I wish I were invisible.
The door creaks open. Daylight floods the closet. I close my eyes and hold my breath. “Go Away,” I shout in my head.
A claw-like hand grabs my knee. My eyes pop open.
“There you are. You almost made us late for church,” my mother scolds.
“Do I have to go?” I whine.
“Get in the tub. There’s no more time to horse around.”