by Liliane Grace
It is Tara's first night in her own bed. She shares the bedroom with her sister Amy.
She lies in bed with her eyes and ears wide open.
Mummy has kissed her goodnight and tucked her in tight. But, after her cot the bed seems very big and empty. She moves her leg, just a little bit... then more. Her foot doesn't kick the bars. There are no bars. This is a Real Bed. A Big Girl’s Bed.
Tara lies very still and looks and listens.
She sees dark shadows – a bear, a witch, a monster! Do they see her? She doesn't dare to breathe.
She hears voices and bangings and laughter. They sound loud but very far away. Sounds from another world. Not daring to move or breathe, Tara lies still and quiet in the dark room in her big bed.
Suddenly a light floods in. She hears Daddy's voice whispering, “Sssh... don't wake Tara.” As she turns her head towards the door, the light cuts off and the door shuts, ‘click’. She hears footsteps, then feels warm breath on her face. Tara sees her sister Amy looking at her.
Amy has seen Tara's eyes wide open and staring in the dark. She pats her hand. “It's me, Pipsqueak. Aren't you asleep yet?”
Tara shakes her head no. She lies on her back and looks up at Amy.
“I'm going to bed now, in my bed, just over there,” Amy explains. “Sweet dreams.”
Tara makes a funny little noise and scrambles her feet bit under the covers. Amy understands.
“Are you a bit scared? Your first night in a real bed?” she asks kindly. “Here, scoot over and I'll snuggle with you for a while.”
Tara moves quickly and very happily. There is so much room in this bed!
Amy pulls out the blankets Mummy tucked in tightly. Then she climbs into bed. She snuggles down beside Tara and takes her hand.
Tara begins to feel warm, safe. The squeezed-up feeling in her stomach begins to settle.
She looks around the room again. The great bear moves slightly, and she gasps. Tara clasps her hand. “Don't be afraid. It's just the party balloons bobbing about. See?”
Tara looks at the witch. Amy follows her gaze. “That's my pyramid. I used to think it was a witch's hat.” She giggles.
Tara laughs too. She turns to look at the monster, and so does Amy. “That's the big pile of mess I was supposed to clean up today. The poking-out bit is a mobile. Daddy is going to hang it up – you'll like it.”
Mmm. Tara snuggles close to Amy...
Somewhere an awful whistling noise begins.
“Oh! The kettle's boiled,” Amy says. “Now someone will turn it off and they'll have a cuppa.”
Sure enough, Tara hears footsteps and the whistling stops. Then a little bang.
“That was the fridge door. They're getting milk.”
Some clinking. “Cups and saucers and tea spoons.”
Scraping noises. “They're sitting down. The walls are skinny in this house, Tara. You hear everything.”
Tara nods in the dark and closes her eyes. She is so tired...
A rackety-loud ringing noise jerks her awake. What was that!
“The telephone,” Amy murmurs. “Who's ringing now...?”
Oh. Tara closes her eyes again.
“Good night, Pipsqueak. Sleep tight. Sweet dreams,” Amy says drowsily in her ear.
But now a horrible shrieking noise begins and makes her sit up in a fright and stare outside.
“It's all right, Pipsqueak,” Amy reassures Tara from beside her. She puts an arm around Tara’s shoulders while another noise continues. “That's possums. Did you get a shiver down your back?” She gives a little wriggle. “Those old possums give me the shivers when they do that. Be quiet!” she commands outside.
As if they hear, the possums stop their shrieking.
The room is quiet and still.
"Lie down, Pipsqueak,” Amy whispers. “It's time to sleep...”
So Tara lies down and nestles into Amy who strokes her hair very gently. Then Tara feels all melty-soft and safe and sleepy... and goes to sleep.
*** This story placed in the Vicks Vapour Rub competition and was published by them in a soft copy book. ***