Prompt #3: A piece about an unwelcome surprise
I’m a notoriously light sleeper. I toss and turn merely trying to fall asleep, and when I finally crash, it takes only the slightest noise from all the way across the house to instantly wake me up again. It’s always been that way. I envy the people who can pass out in thirty seconds and sleep a solid seven or eight hours with nothing but sweet dreams running through their heads.
My brother Charlie knows this, and yet he called me this morning, lightly whispering, “Hey. Hey, are you at home?” What the fuck, where else would I be at 3:32 a.m.? “Can you come downstairs? I’m in your lobby. I have a, umm, situation.”
Well, I’m awake now, I thought grudgingly, and hung up with a grunt. The moon was barely a sliver outside my window, providing the only light creeping into my room as I pulled on yesterday’s jeans and the closest shirt I could find. This had better be good.
Charlie had a knack for overreactions. When he was 11 and I was 15, he was convinced our neighbor was a serial killer. He’d get off the bus with me and tiptoe absurdly all the way down the road in case Mr. Sanders was outside and knew he was there.
“For god’s sake, Charlie, let’s go home! Mom’s waiting.”
“Shh! Did you hear that? It sounds like screaming.”
“All I hear is a lawnmower.”
Meanwhile, he would drop belly-first into the ditch in front of Mr. Sanders’ house, using his cheap plastic binoculars to peer in the windows. “Come on, Charlie, we’re going to get in trouble!”
Every week without fail this happened, until finally Mr. Sanders moved away. Charlie insisted on going to the open house — to his embarrassment, and probably disappointment, no mass-murder weapons were discovered anywhere on his property.