Creature of Unknown Origin


we sat in our usual places, with me having a view out the window and Spencer with his back to

the solid wall. “Speaking of nightmares… did you want to talk about it?”

His voice was quiet, like he didn’t want to startle me, but it was too late for that. Even with

the gentle and cozy appearance of the routine Spencer tried to instill, there was always that itch I

couldn’t scratch, that puzzle I’d lost the pieces to, and the creature I couldn’t outrun.

I reached for the syrup, my share of bacon already safe and sound on my plate. “Not really.”

He nod ded, humming quietly. “Pass the syrup when you’re done?”

All conversation died with the crunch of crispy bacon and the tick of the clock. As the

minutes dragged on, each bite was a fight to swallow as the kitchen closed in around me. I steadied

my breathing. The nightmare crept up on me no matter how hard I fought to occupy my mind with

the sweet picture of peace beyond the windowpane. My thoughts had betrayed me, and maybe

airing them out was exactly what I had to do to get rid of them.

“It’s the same. The monster, the old house, the… reality of it all.” I picked at the pancake

remnants on my flooded plate, licking my sticky lips. “I don’t know… and even though I know

that monster isn’t real… I feel like it is. It…”

“It what?” Spencer prompted , his full attention on me now. But as he stared expectantly,

my gaze wandered back to the window and the woods beyond the yard.

“I don’t know.” Glancing down at my lap, my heart constricted . “I think I’ll go for a walk…

clear my head.”

“Okay, just be careful. Bring t he —”

“I know, Spence, I know.”

I left Spencer to clean up the breakfast dishes, something I was all too glad to avoid. He

kept reminding me that it was the little things that mattered, but they didn’t, especially not when I

didn’t get the luxury of choosing between the ‘little’ or the ‘big’ things. That was taken from me,

and I couldn’t even remember why or how.

My disgruntled thoughts faded away with the creak of the screen door and the deck treads

beneath my booted feet. Sunshine warmed my face as I descended the deck steps and strode toward

the wooded trails beyond the yard.

The scent of pine and dirt greeted my nose. Birds chirped sweetly, like a smile on the air.

I tugged the jacket Spencer’s friend Delia had helped me pick out when we went shopping together

tighter around myself. The steady beat of my own footsteps droned on in my ears. That day seemed

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