I am scared.
I am scared.
Mandy writes the lines in the spiral notebook she uses for a journal, and smiles at the way her jet-black printing looks on the faintly cream-colored paper with its crisp green college-ruled lines. She’s using one of Mommy’s special Onyx roller-ball pens and the ink shines wetly for almost a minute, and she must be Very Careful not to smear it before it’s completely dry.
(Mandy stopped using pencils when she was six, except for math. She moved beyond wide-ruled paper when she was seven, and they sent her to Special Education to learn cursive because the Advanced Reading workbook had bits of cursive in it. She likes writing in cursive, but some things have to be printed.)
I am scared the sun won’t come back.
I am scared the world will stop spinning.
I am scared that the spiders and snakes will come out of the shadows.
I am scared that Daddy won’t come – No! Dr. Morrison says she mustn’t think of such things.
She looks behind her to where Ferguson is sprawled on her bed. His tail is twitching and his big paws are paddling and that means he’s Dreaming, and she isn’t supposed to wake up a Dreaming dog, but she really wants to feel his warm doggy breath on the back of her hand, and see in his big brown eyes how much he loves her.
Dr. Morrison is the one who told Mandy to write it out when she was afraid or angry. To put it in print so she could see it was only words and feelings.
Sometimes it helped.
In school on Friday, Mandy’s teacher promised the class that when the sun went dark tomorrow, it wasn’t Magic. It was only Science that made the moon move in front of the sun and turn day into night for a few minutes.
But on the bus on the way home, Billy kept teasing her that werewolves could come out during Eclipses, just like they could on Full Moons, and Siobhan kept taunting her about how her Daddy must be one of the Dark Ones because they only ever saw him on Skype or Facetime, and that when Noon turned to Midnight they could walk on the earth and come back to claim their kin.
The thing is… Billy lies a lot.
And Mandy is pretty sure Daddy isn’t ACTUALLY a Dark One. A Creature of the Night could never look so handsome in his uniform with all the fruit salad on his chest. (Except it doesn’t look like fruit salad. It looks like ribbons.)
After all, Mommy says that it’s normal for Mommies and Daddies to do bitey things sometimes. (She says it was the way grown-up people kiss.) And Daddy isn’t dead or anything; he was on the Other Side of the World doing his job in a place they call the Sandbox. And that time she’d seen him looking all foamy and frothy coming out of the steamy bathroom, he’d smelled nice, like mint.
So… maybe Billy and Siobhan were just trying to scare her because they were Stupid Idiots who didn’t know any better.
Mommy will be there to hold her hand when the sun went away. And Ferguson will always be her protector.
And Daddy’s deployment will end before Christmas.
Mandy looks at the sentences she’d written at the top of her page. Then she trades her black pen for a red Magic Marker and draws bold lines through them all.
She isn’t scared anymore.