I slip out into the night, the moonlight making shadows creep along the lawn. The scraggly tree in our front yard reminds me of the monsters in one of my mother's stories. The rocking chairs on our patio creak in the wind, making a shiver slip down my spine. I pitter-patter gently down the walk to our driveway, careful not to make too much noise.
This isn’t my first walk in the night. I do it around once a week, to let my mind clear from all of the chaos in school and at home. It helps me to let my mind flow freely, and let me allow myself to think about how I want to think, not how others make me think.
As I start along the sidewalk of the main street, I notice some of our almost-dead grass has been teared up. It looks like maybe a wild animal or dog has pulled the grass clean of the dirt. I can see some claw marks, too, but I don’t think much of it.
I shove my hands into my pockets as the wind whips at my blonde hair and my raw skin. I look at the moon in its glowing glory, it’s shape reminding me of a banana. Clouds hang in the sky as though trying to stay up there and protect the moon, and stars speckle the sky with their blinding white gleam. I try not to get mesmerized and focus on the walk, not my thoughts about the world.
“Hey,” a voice says behind me, making me jump. I turn to find my older sister, Alina, staring at me. “Thought I’d join you on your walk.”
“Just trying to clear my head,” I mumble, letting the wind push my hair in front of my face. “How’d you find me?”
“Eh, I’ve seen you do it before,” she responds, shrugging. She falls into stride beside me, and we walk the street together. Now, you’re probably thinking this is weird how I just jump out of the house and start walking without permission or anything! But my parents know, and they may not approve, but they don’t disapprove either.
I look at the duplexes lining the street. All identical, but each one has little things to identify them. For example, the Rushes have a Pride In Being You sign hanging from their door, a rainbow flag, and even their mailbox is painted rainbow! But if you look at the Maslins, you can see how dreary it is over there. They have a Beware Of Dog sign hanging from their door, a Go Away doormat, (probably their kids choosing.) and their yard looks like that one spot on ours, teared up and dirty.
“We should probably turn back soon,” I advise, but Alina just shrugs. I sigh, and my hair blows away from my face.
“C’mon, just a few more houses,” she says, but her eyes say that we should turn back. We turn around reluctantly, and we strike a conversation about mom and dad. They’re good parents, but they sometimes neglect us. And I get so caught up in our conversation that I don’t hear the noises from behind us.
“Do you hear that?” Alina finally says, and I listen. I hear a sound like panting, heavy and almost slobbery. There's also a soft clickety, like the sound of claws against pavement. I try to shrug it off, but the noises get louder and louder. And as we reach the halfway point back to our house, I finally look behind me.
A huge rottweiler is running after us, panting heavily and claws making a soft clickety against the sidewalk. It’s big brown eyes blend in to it’s black coat, making staring at it look even more creepy. And to add onto that, the night gives it look like it’s melting into the shadows. I tap Alina’s shoulder, and we start to break off into a run to get away from the dog.
I try to keep up with my sisters long strides, but she’s on the highschool track team. I begin to fall behind, and I can hear the dog’s heavy breathing behind me.
“Chelsi!” Alina cries as the dog gets closer to me. My legs burn with the pain of running, even though we haven’t even been running for a full minute. “Hurry!”
“I-I’m trying!” I manage to get out, my throat is hurting with each word. “I’m n-not as fast!” Alina turns to face where we are going, her brunette hair flowing like a river, wavy and smooth. Even though we’re running hard, she doesn’t even break a sweat, unless you count nervous sweat. Me, I’ve got both.
The houses we normally look at to see the details about each one, we zoom past to avoid becoming this dogs next meal. I glance back, and the dog’s black coat has blended into the darkness, and the only thing that seems to be noticeable are the brown eyes, twinkling a little with every stride the dog takes.
“We have to confuse it!” Alina suggests, and she starts taking wild twists around lamp posts and bushes, and I follow. My eyes blur and get teary as the wind claws against my faces bare skin, and I almost feel like letting the dog attack me. But I do my best to follow my sisters moves of weaving back and forth through the night.
“Are… we… almost… there?” I ask, stumbling on my words. Alina gives a cry from the front.
“Just half a block more!” Alina says, but she suddenly veers to the right. I follow as we hide behind one of the duplexes.
“What are we- mphhh” I try to say, but Alina clamps her hand over my mouth.
“We’re hiding,” she whispers, and I see the black blur runs past where we’re hiding. “We need to wait.”
The minutes feel like hours as we wait silently, our backs pressed against the house. The grass tickles at my ankles, not having been mowed in a while. I look up to see a window to a bedroom, left open to allow the fall breeze sweep into the room. I can see the edge of the bed where a young girl is sleeping, her face centimeters away from the window.
Oh, how I wish I could be that girl.
“Let’s go,” Alina finally says, and she tiptoes out from the hiding space to check if the coast is clear. She nods her head and motions for me to come, and I sneak along with her, going slow and steady. Alina looks back at me and then breaks into a run. I run alongside her, and she smiles at me. “Looks like we outsmarted the dog this ti-”
A loud barking interrupts her sentence, and we don’t even have to look back to know it’s the dog again. Alina stays in stride with me as we finally make it to our lawn.
The dog, now about a foot away, lunges at my ankle. I pull my foot away just in the nick of time as its jaws snap. Alina holds the door open for me as I dive into the house, door slamming behind me. The dog claws at our door, and I let a shiver I’ve been holding back run down my spine.
“Chelsi, are you ok?” Alina says, putting her hand on my cheek. “The dog nearly got you.”
I shudder. It would have been awful, that dog’s huge fangs hitting my skin with enough force, like the knives my father sometimes uses to cut meat. I try my best not to think about it, but the thought creeps in.
“I’m ok,” I mumble, and Alina kisses my cheek. “Really.”
“Well, then, off to bed,” she orders, but in a soft tone. I shakily stand and then make my way up to my room, where I slip under the bed covers. I pull up the quilt my grandparents made, the reminder of them making me feel safe. I vow to myself to never go out into the night alone, or let my sister get hurt from my own problems.
As I slip into a deep sleep, I look at the bedcovers. The deep, dark blue reminds me of the night sky.