Unnamed Journal Volume 2, Issue 3 - Page 37

Lost in the Strange, Cold Pleasures of the Night Emily's mother was sitting at the kitchen table, sipping her coffee and watching the morning news. She glanced at Emily as she walked into the room. "Up a little late this morning," her mother said. "I had to feed the chickens." "I'm sorry, mom. I don't know what happened. Hopefully I'm not getting sick." Her mother motioned for her daughter to come closer, and put her hand on Emily's head. She nodded absently, staring at the TV. "You don't have a fever. Maybe it was just a heavy sleep for you." She muted the TV as the station went to commercial. "Did you hear that lighting last night with the snow? One of the trees on the Parson's lot got hit." "Woah, really?" Emily was sluggish enough in the morning that her surprise sounded genuine. She took a seat at the kitchen table. "That's right. It's kind of blackened now. Your dad thinks it might recover; don't know if the Parson's will do anything with that tree." Her mother sipped her coffee. "Well, fix yourself some breakfast. Don't miss the bus. Your father will have a fit if I have to call him back to the house so I can drive you to school." "I know, mom. Don't worry." Emily stood up, put bread in the toaster, and poured herself some coffee. She ate breakfast quickly, then got dressed for school. Despite the haze, she pushed herself to move through her morning routine as fast as she could. Emily said goodbye to her mom, and left for school. Before walking out toward the road where the bus would pick her up, she went up the hill to see if the scarecrow still stood there. Sure enough, he stood exactly where she'd left him. Down below, on the neighboring lot, the oak tree stood blackened from the lighting strike. She looked back at the scarecrow and shook her head, then walked back down the hill. She walked up the farm's snow covered gravel drive toward the road. Emily reached the road right as the bus pulled up. At least she'd only have to deal with school and not her parents, she thought. Not that school was great. *** T he school day was tedious but finally ended. Emily was back on the bus heading home. She hadn't really paid much attention in class today. She was distracted, and now stared out the bus window at nothing in particular. Emily caught the reflection of another kid's face behind her in the window. She turned, ready to scream at whoever was trying to sneak up on her, but no one was there. She looked at the other kids on the bus, most of whom were talking to each other or staring out the window. No one seemed to be paying any attention to her. The bus stopped at a traffic light. Emily cast a blank stare at the hardware store out the window. It looked like someone was waving to her from inside, but she couldn't see who. She strained her eyes to get a better look, but