Chapter 4 - A Sleepless Night
That night, I slept in my new bedroom. The bed frame would remain wood until I could get something a little sturdier. The mattress, which I got from the market, was the softest I had ever slept on before. The Greeks sure knew how to make a comfortable living.
But despite the softness of the mattress and the silence inside the house, I couldn’t sleep. Lately, every time I slept outside, the grass was too wet or I felt something crawl in places it shouldn’t be. Nocturnal birds and insects chirped and hooted throughout the night. But eventually, I got to sleep.
I was considering going outside when I heard a knock at the door. I looked up to see Fern standing there in the doorway to my bedroom. “Hey,” she said tentatively.
“Hey,” I said, sitting up. “Do you need anything?”
“Icouldntsleep,” she mumbled.
“Huh?” I asked.
“I said!” she said loudly before talking normally, “I couldn’t sleep.”
“Neither could I,” I admitted. “I...don’t suppose...you want to...,” I indicated my bed. I was so glad for the darkness because I could feel my face burn so bad it could have lit a forge. “Not like that,” I hastily added. “I’ll sleep on top...er...of the blankets or even on the floor if you want!”
I didn’t realise I was speaking loudly until I finished. “Um...okay,” Fern said, making her way over.
I cursed myself silently. “Sorry if I was...you know...”
“It’s okay,” she said as she reached the bed. “It was kinda funny.”
I quickly got out of bed and waited until she had crawled under the blankets before lying on top of them...just the blankets! Nothing else!
Soon, I could hear Fern’s slow breathing. I looked over and studied her face in the moonlight. I had come to realise that her skin wasn’t just a light brown, it was oak wood. I thought about how easy it would be for a fire to catch and eat its way through her.
I fell asleep looking at her closed eyes. And I fell into dreams of fire and screams and terror. But then it changed to something different...something lighter. Soft hands and tiny giggles. Running streams and laughter.