Charlie waved goodbye to her husband and two kids as they backed out of the driveway. She would miss them while they spent a few days visiting her in-laws, but secretly, she was looking forward to having a quiet house for a bit. She needed the rest of the afternoon to finish up her presentation that was happening tomorrow. Then, Charlie intended to soak in a long, hot bath before heading to bed. No one else to feed, bathe, or get up with in the middle of the night. A solid eight hours of sleep is exactly what her mind and body craved.
Slipping her tight shoulders beneath the hot water felt sublime. Charlie could feel her muscles relax as she sipped her wine and closed her eyes. No one knocking on the bathroom door. No one asking for another bedtime story. Just the soft ticking of the hallway clock to lull Charlie into a blissful slumber.
Charlie popped up out of the ice-cold water, shivering with goosebumps cascading along her arms. She had not realized that she had fallen asleep in the tub until something jarred her awake. Ears perked, Charlie listened for what woke her, but she only heard the ticking from the clock. After a few seconds, she chalked it up to her mind alerting her to the cold water, and she grabbed the towel hanging from the rack next to the tub.
Charlie crawled beneath her bed covers already looking forward to returning to her dreams.
Sleep would come soon. She just needed to shut off her brain.
Charlie repeats in her mind, “Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep. . . “
The ceiling fan whirls quietly. The hallway clock continues to tick. Charlie knows she needs to sleep, but as she flops over for the tenth time, she realizes that she misses the buzz sounds from her husband. It is too quiet.
Ugh! Charlie throws the covers back in frustration. She knows sleep is not coming anytime soon.
Charlie grins. She thinks about the other perk of being home alone. No one will know if she indulges in her smoking habit that she has been pretending to give up for the last three months.
Charlie slipped on her house shoes and padded down to the kitchen where her hidden cigarettes called to her.
Charlie grabs the doorknob on the back door and flips on the porch lights. She turns her eyes towards the windows in the door to find two steely black eyes staring into her soul. As the doorknob slowly turns in her hand, Charlie remembers that she never locked the back door. Her husband always took care of locking the doors at night.
Charlie races down the hallway frantically trying to reach her bedroom door. Her phone sits next to her bed charging. She just needs to lock the door and call for help.
Charlie feels a crashing blow to the back of her head that sends her hurtling face first into the wooden floor. She feels a pop in her nose and wetness dribbles down her lips and chin. As she looks for her phone that sits only two feet away, massive strong hands toss her onto her back. Charlie closes her eyes as she begins to scream, kick, and scratch.
Her body is limp, and Charlie refuses to open her eyes. She refuses to look into those steely black eyes.
Those massive strong hands grip Charlie’s neck as she pictures her husband and children as they drive away. Slowly, slowly, she begins to drift away. . . finally able to asleep.