Sounds in the Night
Andrea sits up in bed with a gasp. Something has woken her. She listens to the sounds of the night. She hears the soft tinkle and pitter-patter of Goliath, the noisiest cat alive. He’s found something and is playing with it all over the house.
Andrea lays her head back down on the pillow and stares at the ceiling. Soft moonlight streaks across her bedspread. Something is wrong, she knows it, but sleep is heavy and soon her eyelids close and she dozes off into an uneasy slumber.
Andrea kneels inside a gothic church, the vaulted ceilings high above her, the crucifix enormous and imposing. Statues of angels with swords in hands surround her, as if ready to protect the sanctuary and those within it. Footsteps approach, yet no matter how hard she tries, a soft, yet firm vise does not allow her to turn.
“Who is it?” Andrea utters with distorted words. She knows those footsteps, they belong to someone who’s missing, someone she yearns for and wishes were with her. The church nave is long and Andrea knows the footsteps will soon be upon her. Chills crawl up her spine as she waits. The footsteps have changed and are now ominous and discomforting, and Andrea wonders she should feel so afraid in a church.
A rough hand clamps down on her shoulder and Andrea screams, gasps and awakens to find Goliath sitting on her chest, gazing at her.
“Goliath, you scared me!” Andrea reaches out from under the covers and strokes him between the ears. Goliath purrs and closes his eyes into tight slits. Andrea is dozing again when Goliath stands up, ears back, spine arched and stares at the doorway.
Andrea’s heart races and the hair at her nape stiffens. She listens. She hears the tinkle-tinkle of someone rummaging around the kitchen, familiar footsteps and the opening and closing of the refrigerator. Andrea gazes at Goliath, stiff and immobile. The footsteps ascend the stairs and a tall mass appears under the open door. Andrea screams, Goliath hisses. A car whizzes by and casts its moving lights upon the wall. When the light reaches the doorway, it’s empty, save for the glint of a something draped around a bloody neck. It’s a fleeting moment, but Andrea sees a beloved smiling face missing in war and destruction. The face vanishes, and Goliath relaxes, he sits, folds his front paws beneath him and cuddles next to Andrea.
Andrea puts her arm around her cat and silent tears fall down her cheeks, recalling the sound of Peter fixing himself a midnight snack. She lays still until sleep overcomes her.
Sunlight streams through Andrea’s window when she opens her eyes. She has a vague recollection of the night. Goliath is asleep on the empty pillow beside her. A knot forms in her throat. She reaches over to stroke the cat, it brings her peace. Her other hand is in a tight fist. As she opens it, Peter’s dog tags fall out. Andrea gasps and sobs, clutching them to her chest.
The doorbell rings. She knows what the sergeant on the stoop will tell her… Peter is found. Peter is dead.