In the Wake of Night

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Chapter 1

In the beginning - 1991

“I can’t believe no one heard anything!” Francis explodes.

My parents are quieter, “Shhh. Lucas is still asleep. I don’t want to scare him.”

My ears prick up at the sound of my name. What’s going on? I roll out of bed and rub my blinking eyes. One of my pyjama legs is uncomfortably rolled up higher than the other. I hate it when that happens. I head to the landing and lean quietly over the stairs to get a better listen.

Someone sobs, “We need to call the police. Francis, don’t touch anything. You might damage evidence.”

It sounds like my mum. Why do we need to call the police? I tip-toe down the stairs, careful not to make a sound. Peeking through the spindles on my descent, I notice that my mum, dad, and sister huddle together in the sitting room. Except, the room doesn’t look like it normally does. Papers, drawers, and cushions litter the floor. My mum’s bag sprawls open and empty on the varnished coffee table. Our TV no longer perches on the corner cabinet. To the side, I spot a discoloured, faded square where a radio once lived. None of mum’s favourite figurines stand along the mantlepiece, as they had done the day before. As I scan the room, something catches my eye. In front of the window, the curtains billow. The window is wide open.

They don’t hear my approach. “What’s going on?” I ask.

Their eyes flash in my direction, “Oh Lucas! We’ve been burgled,” my mum motions me to her, “don’t touch anything.”

I run into her arms. Someone was in our house. A thought worms its way into my subconscious. Did they come to my room?

My dad’s hand strokes my matted hair, “Did you see or hear anything dear?”

I think back to the night. A dreamless sleep. Uninterrupted. I lift my head to look dad straight in the face. “No, I didn’t.” Would they come back?

After the police had been and taken statements from each of us, I go back to my room. My sanctuary. Opening the door, a flood of comforting aqua fills my vision. Light pours in through the window. The odd chugging of cars can be heard from the street outside. My matching blue single bed is pushed up against the wall, right under the opened window. I nestle in and peer out, trying to imagine how different the road would have looked last night. No one would know such a crime took place. People cycle aimlessly on their bikes up and down the slick pavement. Children laugh on the corner as they play games like hopscotch. Older kids likely remain indoors glued to their Sega. Typical, humdrum Roseville suburbia.

I know the stealing part is terrible. Now I am over the shock, I keep coming back to the idea of someone lurking inside unnoticed. Undeterred. They floated silently through my house like a ghost. Evading the capture of my mum, who catches me in a lie without even taking a second breath. Eluding my dad, a man who knows someone’s feelings with a single glance. Francis on the other hand sleepwalks through life. In the day, she doesn’t care what people do, so it makes complete sense she didn’t hear a damn thing. At sixteen, her interests consist of two things: which boys like her and how she can best maintain her appearance to keep it that way. I nearly forgot, make those three things. She also plays 'I Like the Way' on repeat. Best put Hi-Five on the list too. If they robbed us, she would know.

I, on the other hand, have hardly any hobbies. Nothing that people my age can relate to anyway. As much as I tease my sister, at least she is a normal girl who does normal things; hang out with her friends at shopping malls, gets giddy over the lead guy in chick-flicks, or has a tantrum when she can’t have the latest fashion craze.

I just don’t fit in. I know at eight years old I have plenty of time to grow, but I just don’t feel like the rest of the boys in my class. I find it hard to make friends, always have. There is so much pressure. Just thinking about it accelerates my heartbeat. Emotions aside, the chitchat doesn’t even interest me either. All their concerns seem so mediocre, so boring. I don’t like football – or any other sport. I don’t do comic books or superheroes. Pop music is horrendous and don’t get me started on the TV shows people my age enjoy. I’m like an adult in a child’s body. Perhaps I was somebody else in another life? Maybe from the 1920s. Something I do enjoy is Ernest Hemingway and F.Scott Fitzgerald. My favourite book though has to be The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger. I identify so much with Holden. In fact, I think he’s my hero. He’s just so honest.

I fling my head against the softness of my pillow and continue to ruminate. Whoever did crawl through the downstairs window, was stealthy and brave – like Holden. They must have been seasoned burglars. How long would it take someone to learn a skill like that? I don’t want to steal anything, no, but I can’t escape the curiosity building inside me. What would it feel like to be able to invade someone’s home without capture?

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