Sara flopped down on the bed and tried to ignore the 'just from the store' smell of the bedding. She stared up at the ceiling high above her head and sighed as though her life was fading away.
"Why did daddy have to move us to a town in the middle of nowhere?"
Her mother paused in the doorway and shook her head. "Sweetheart, you know that daddy moved us here to give you the kind of life he never had. A life full of fresh air and sunshine… rivers and a home that wasn't surrounded by concrete."
"Oh brother," she groused, "I'm living in Frontier Land."
"That's one way to look at it, sweetie… better to laugh then cry." With a wink her mother disappeared down the hallway.
Dara looked up at her father as he followed her down the hallway. "Papa, I can tuck myself in you know."
Jimmy switched the candle to his other hand so he could tug on one of her braids. "I know… but pretty soon you're goin' away with your uncle Cody for a bit… and I'm gonna miss this." He swallowed around the knot that slipped deep into his throat. "So, just humor me."
"Alright, papa," she took his hand in hers and continued down the hallway, "I think I'm gonna miss it, too."
The room was dark and Sara tried to blink away the sleep in her eyes and ignore the ache in her tummy. A quick look at the window told her all she needed to know. She'd slept through dinner. "Moooom." She swung her feet over the side of the bed. "Why didn't you wake me?"
The house was quiet. Really quiet.
The sound of her voice fairly echoed off the walls. The silence surrounding her was un-nerving. Where were the car horns and loud passer-bys on the street? 'That's right,' realization was slow, 'we're in the middle of no and where.'
"You're acting like you'll never see me again."
Sara froze in place, her feet dangling off the bed as chills shivered up her arms to the back of her neck. The voice sounded so close.
"Oh, I know I'll see you… I just want to remember you, just like this." The voice rumbled low and Sara's eyes misted at the longing in his words.
It had to be the TV, maybe her mother had turned it on while she'd been sleeping. Turning to look at her dresser she saw a tall wooden cabinet in its place. The front was carved in scrolls and flowers and looked 'nothing' like her furniture that they'd purchased in some big store with only initials for a name.
Sara thought she was crazy. Where had her things gone? Where were those voices?
A little girl walked right into her room as though it was hers; followed by a man holding an old-style candlestick like the ones she'd seen in some old movie.
The man knelt down beside the girl and held her in a tight embrace. "Just promise me that you won't grow an inch until you get back so I can watch it all happen with you right here."
The little girl took the man's face in her hands. "You're silly. I can't not grow up… that's impossible."
"Daddy?" Sara could barely hear her own voice over the pounding of her heart. This wasn't real. It couldn't be real. "Daddy?" Sliding to the floor she skirted around the room, her back to the wall and eyes on the two figures near the bed. When she reached the door, she ran.
She ran smack dab into her father.
"Whoa there, baby. Where do you think you're going?"
Sara's mouth moved but she knew she couldn't seem to get a single word out, let alone a syllable.
"Sara? Sweetie? Are you okay?"
She shook her head and grabbed his hand to lead him down the hall to her room, pausing in the doorway.
"Uh, Sara?" Her father knelt beside her peering into the room. "What's wrong?"
The room was empty, the furniture… 'her' furniture… was right back where the movers had put it. The room was still dark, but there was no candle and no people.
"I thought I saw…" the voice crept from her lips as she struggled to understand them herself, "I thought I saw people in my room."
"Oh boy," her father chuckled softly, "I've always told your mom that you have a wonderful imagination." Standing up he ruffled her hair. "Now I know I'm right."
There 'had' been people in her room, right? Sara leaned over to look at the spot where she'd seen the two and swiped a hand through the air.
"Ohhhkay." Her father took her shoulders and steered her toward the dresser. "Let's get you changed and into bed. I think the long hours that we've been driving hasn't been good for you."
She didn't argue with him or try to explain. She didn't even really understand it herself.
He tugged her nightgown over her head and pressed a quick kiss to her forehead. "You better get back in bed and tell me all about those people in the morning, okay?"
He paused at the door as Sara dragged her blanket up to her chin, smiling down at her. "I know it's tough, honey, but you'll get to like Rock Creek and everything will be great."
A moment later the doorway was empty and Sara started to close her eyes, sleep rolling over her before she could struggle against it.
The bed beside her sagged slightly as someone sat beside her, fingers brushing through her bangs.
"Good night, daddy." She barely whispered the words as she drifted further into sleep.
"Good night, Dara."