It Was Nothing
By Leanne Dyck
In pink flannel footie pajamas, Petal crept onto her mother’s bed, eased back the covers, and curled up.
The lamplight cut the darkness.
“What’s the matter, Honey,” her mother asked.
“I want to… I want to sleep with you.”
“Oh, Petal, we’ve been over and over this. You’re a big girl. You have your own room.”
“No, I can’t. It’s under my bed.”
“I’m sure there’s nothing there, but I’ll go with you, and we’ll look.”
Armed with a flashlight, together Petal and her mother entered her bedroom.
No, we shouldn’t be here. No, don’t wake it. Please. Petal prayed silently as her mother scanned the area under her bed.
The beam of light hit something. It moved.
“It’s there. It’s right there.” Petal covered her eyes.
“See, it’s nothing.” Her mother held something in her cupped hand. Petal stared at the dust bunny.
Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.
“What’s that?” Petal wrapped her arms around her mother’s leg.
The flashlight’s beam fell on the window. “See. It’s nothing—just a tree branch.” Her mother frowned. “Now, please, it’s late. We both need to get to sleep. Don’t wake me again.”
Reluctantly, Petal crawled into her bed.
Her mother left the door open a crack. “Remember, it’s nothing. Just your imagination playing tricks on you.”
Clutching her teddy bear, Petal laid her head on her pillow, pulled the covers up to her chin, and forced her eyes shut. It’s nothing. It’s nothing.
Scrape. Scrape. Scrape.
"Mommy says, you’re just a tree branch. But you sound so close. Like you’re under my bed."
“I’m going to get you.”
"Mommy says, you’re nothing—just my imagination. But I can hear you breathing, talking, waiting."
A furry, brown arm reached out from under the bed.
The next morning, Petal’s mother called, “It’s time to wake up. We have to hurry.”
Walking into the bedroom, she flicked on the light. Petal wasn’t asleep on her bed. She wasn’t in the kitchen, bathroom, living room, or outside playing on the lawn. She was gone.
Barely breathing, she desperately returned to the bedroom, hoping and praying, but all the mother saw was the abandoned teddy bear. Her face wet with tears, she cradled the toy in her arms. “But it was nothing.”
Author Leanne Dyck is the author of flash fiction, short stories, and The Sweater Curse, a knitting-themed thriller. To learn more about Leanne, visit her website.