By HC Edwards
The thunderstorms came. They shook the house with their booming voices, howled at the edges of the windows like banshees, and when the flashes of lightning came she imagined them striking her mommy and daddy, twisting them around and wringing them like sponges.
When she woke, it was to the residual traces of the dream, a scary dream, what her daddy would call a nightmare. She lay there in the dark and tried to recall more, but in doing so she was inevitably brought back to what happened before she fell asleep.
Little Bird thought about YaYa and wondered if he was all right. She worried for him, especially if he had been hidden somewhere dark. He didn’t like the dark.
She was angry at Mommy and Daddy. That’s what the fight had been about. YaYa was her best friend, and had always been her best friend since she could remember. She liked to pretend that he was her brother but she knew it wasn’t true. In her heart, however, she felt it. They were twin souls, the two of them, and in the dark nights when the wind howled and the thunder rumbled and the flashes in the sky were like bright screams, she would hold him and he would hold her and everything was better for it.
Except Mommy was tired of YaYa. She told Daddy that he was her ‘crutch.’ When Little Bird asked her daddy what that meant, he only made the upside down smile and told her that she should listen to her mother.
That was when the real fight began.
Little Bird had just finished brushing her teeth and changed into her pajamas. She had changed YaYa as well, because his hands didn’t work so well. He gave her a smile, the same smile he always had for her, and she loved him for it. She hugged him and planted a kiss on his cheek.
That’s when Mommy came in. She saw them together, and a look came over her face like the thunderclouds coming in before a storm. Little Bird knew that look, what it meant. She stepped in front of YaYa protectively.
“You leave him alone,” she said, but that was the wrong thing to say.
Mommy’s lips grew very thin, her cheeks blooming like the roses in the garden. She walked over and grabbed YaYa by the arm and picked him up. Little Bird screamed, screamed like she’d never screamed before. She rushed Mommy and started to hit her anywhere she could reach, on the legs, her arms, using her fists and her fingers and finally her nails.
When she scratched Mommy, that was the last straw. Little Bird got several swats on her behind for that one, but that wasn’t the worst of it. After, when she was still stinging and the tears were not quite dry, her mommy told her that she would never see YaYa again, and then left the room with him.
Her daddy put her to bed. Lying there, she pleaded for him to save YaYa, but though his face grew soft, he only shook his head.
She cried herself to sleep, and that’s when the dream had come.
Little Bird sat in the silence and darkness of the house and thought about YaYa. She left the bed and tiptoed down the hallway to her parents’ room. It was so dark. She felt along the wall until she heard the click of the light switch. A dull glow cast from the bedside lamp illuminated the room.
She sucked in a hissing breath.
On the bed were her mommy and daddy. They were crooked in all the wrong places, bent at angles she knew weren’t possible, curls of smoke rising from the singed hair on their heads, making her nose wrinkle from the acrid smell. Their faces were frozen in screams but with no sounds coming out, and everywhere was the red stuff, on the bed, the floor, the walls, running and dripping like the syrup she put on her waffles. She would have run, but the moment she started to turn away she saw YaYa’s arm sticking out from beneath her mommy’s pillow. Creeping forward slowly and quietly, she reached out a trembling hand until she grasped her friend firmly. She tugged and pulled until he slipped free.
Little Bird held him tight to her chest as she turned away. As she left the bedroom, she started to feel better. Looking down at YaYa, he gave her the smile that told her everything would be all right.
She started to hum.