My daughter crept down the stairs just as she had almost every night for the past few weeks. Her wispy, blonde hair disheveled, her tiny hands rubbing at her eyes, her pajamas rumpled from turning over in her bed over and over again.
“Mommy.” Her angelic voice squeaked with uncertainty. “I had a nightmare.”
I scooped her up with a smile, planting a comforting mommy-kiss on her chubby cheeks. “It’s alright. It’s over now.” I promised, rocking her tiny body in my arms.
“Do you promise?” She clung tightly to my neck.
“I promise. What was your nightmare about?” I sunk onto the couch in the living room, letting her curl up into me.
“A monster came and took me away. And I never saw you again.” She sniffled, and I felt two tiny drops of moisture soak through my t-shirt.
“Hey.” I cooed, wiping the rest of the tears from her eyes. “You’re not going anywhere. I won’t let you.”
“Do you promise?” She always asked.
“I promise. Now, let’s get you back to bed.” I stood from the couch and carried her up the stairs. She was starting to relax a little.
“Will you stay until I fall asleep?”
“Sure. I’ll stay.” This was a new normal for me. I’d fallen asleep in that rocking chair countless times already.
“And if a monster comes to get me?” She hiccuped a little, still trying to fight tears.
“I’ll protect you.”
“No matter what?”
“No matter what.”
“Do you promise?”
I opened the door to see something in her bed. Actually, someone in her bed. My daughter was lying there across the room on her bed, tied and gagged, pleading with bright, terrified eyes for me to rescue her. For me to do anything to save her. My heart dropped as the thing in my arms whispered: “Liar.”
Copyright © 2017 Bridget Melley. All rights reserved.