Liza was glad that she picked up the flannel sheets at the mall. She felt warm and sleepy as soon as she lay down. A minute or so passed when she became aware of something lurking by the foot of her bed. A small lamp on top of her bureau shed dim light across the room. Nothing was there. Liza had a lifelong terror of someone breaking into her house or coming into her room while she was asleep. When her parents died and left her the house, she replaced all the bedroom doorknobs with levers so she could see if they were turning. Hers hadn’t moved, but she knew something was there and that it meant her harm. It was close, right by her feet. She couldn’t move. Fear, real fear, not paranoia, washed over her. Her arms and legs wouldn’t move. It was still there. If she didn’t do something, it was going to hurt her. Her neck would move slightly, that was it. She turned to where Bruce was sleeping next to her. “Bruce, Bruce. Wake me up. Bruce! Wake me up!!”
Either he heard her, or she woke up on her own. Her reflection was staring at her wide-eyed from across the room. Liza got up and checked inside the closet and underneath the bed. Nothing was there. The door was locked. She was still shaking when she opened it to peek into the hallway. Should she check the basement door again?
“Is everything OK?”
Liza jumped and started to slam the door, already mentally locating the closest weapon. It was Bruce. “Jesus! What are you doing?!” she asked.
“Checking on you. I thought I heard you scream,” said Bruce.
“No,” said Liza. She could tell by the way he was looking at her that he didn’t buy it.
He continued to stare at her, then shrugged. “Ok. Goodnight.” He walked back downstairs. Liza wanted to tackle him and…what? Ask him to sleep in her room? Yeah, he wouldn’t take that the wrong way or anything. She closed and locked the door, took two steps toward her bed, and froze. The fear was creeping back, only this time, she was positive that she was already awake. She knew that she wasn’t going to get any sleep in this room tonight. At least tomorrow was Christmas and she didn’t have work. Liza pulled her blanket from her bed and hurried down to the living room after Bruce.