SIX

LIGHTS IN THE NIGHT

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Sammy let herself in through the front door. She wondered if her mum was back from her night out. Hopefully she was in bed asleep. She’d kill Sammy if she found out she’d walked home alone.

At the top of the stairs, she took a right to her bedroom, ditched her rucksack, put on her pyjamas and left her bedroom again. She’d climb into bed with Mama. After Dad left, she had always appreciated the company and never told her to go back to her own room.

Back on the landing she noticed a faint pale green glow radiating from the gaps around her mum’s bedroom door. She’d forgotten to switch the telly off again. Sammy put the hall light on, crept to her mum’s bedroom door and pushed it open.

Light from the hall threw a tapered rectangle into the room, coming to rest over her mum’s sleeping figure. A zig-zagging clothes trail ran from door to bed. Her mum’s too-mini miniskirt laid closest to the door, then past that a sequined top, then underwear, stockings and high heels. Crossing the room in a straight line had been a struggle.

The red digits of the bedside clock said 11.55. Her mum was home early. She must’ve had a skinful and hadn’t made it to the club this time. Sammy could jump up and down on the bed while rocking out to AC/DC on the stereo and it wouldn’t wake her now. That wasn’t such a bad thing; her mum would often keep her awake wittering on about how much she loved her. Which was nice, but then she’d get emotional and talk about being lonely which wasn’t so good. She preferred it when Mama didn’t drink. If alcohol gave you superpowers or some heightened sense of reality then she could understand it, but all it did was make her dad angry and her mum upset.

She pushed the door closed behind her. As the room grew dark, the green light returned. She froze as an eerie dread descended over her. The TV wasn’t on. The light was coming from under the bed, flickering. Her heart was beating hard, she needed to calm down, think rationally. Early Christmas present? The light could be coming from the lightsaber she’d asked for. She actually wanted Obi-Wan’s blue lightsaber, but she supposed she could live with a green one as long as it was Luke’s from Return of the Jedi and not Yoda’s from Attack of the Clones. Sammy’s excitement faded. It was months before Christmas, and would her mum really have switched it on? She hated sci-fi, fantasy, anything like that, and she had told Sammy numerous times that sixteen-year-olds shouldn’t be playing with toys. Besides, there wasn’t the buzzing hum that she would have expected to accompany a lightsaber.

She wanted to forget about it and climb into bed, but that would be the sort of behaviour her dad would call cowardly. A corner of the duvet hung over the edge of the bed, obscuring the mystery beneath. She knelt on the floor by the bed, and rubbed her sweaty palms on her pyjamas. She was ready to whisk up the duvet, but didn’t. Because it might be an alien! It wasn’t an alien. She was making excuses. She glanced at the red display on the bedside clock again as the time flicked to 11:56.

 

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