“I know you can hear me…”
“Quiet!” My father shouted, slamming the closet door closed. We stood in the darkness, my father, my mother, and I among the dusty coats and worn out shoes we never used. He locked the door. I clutched my stuffed dragon tightly.
“But,” my mother held me close. “We didn’t say anything sweet heart,” she spoke softly.
She was worried, as was I. She couldn’t hear the voice that pestered daddy all the time, making him pace and shout at the walls for hours on end. But the stranger couldn’t hear daddy. It could only hear Uncle Mark… at least, when Uncle Mark was alive. Daddy listened, Uncle Mark talked. Mommy and I stayed out of it. I didn’t like the voice either, so I always kept quiet. It never spoke to me anyway.
“I bet you wish I could hear you…” the voice persisted. “To have a Whisp tell me what you have to say, my little Listener…” it sounded playful. “I bet you have a lot to tell me…”
My father’s breath was ragged. Today was a bad day. The voice hadn’t let up since breakfast. Now it was past my bed time.
“Do you know I’m in your house right now?” The floor creaked, as if to confirm the voice’s presence. “That I finally found you…”
“Leave my home! You’re not welcomed!” My father’s voice was hoarse. If I could see his face in the dark, I knew he’d look panicked. I could only see the shadow of him, outlined by the sliver of light between the cracks of the door. He was a tall and broad shouldered man. I used to believe nothing could scare him…
“Daddy…” I reached out for his shirt, grabbing it. “I’m afraid…” I could feel mother hold me tighter in support. She didn’t believe in the voice father protected us from. I heard them argue about it late at night when I was in bed. They thought I was asleep that night. It was one of too many.
“Lawrence, please…” she begged. “Enough of this,” mother pushed me aside and my father’s shirt slipped from my grasp. I pressed my dragon to my chest. “Let us out of this closet-”
“Come on out, Lawrence… I want to play.”
“I CAN’T!” My father yelled, at the voice or my mother, I wasn’t sure. I felt my face get hot, the tears slipping over my cheeks. They were going to fight… I was sure of it. I couldn’t hold back my whine. I started to cry and pull on my dragon’s soft tail.
“I’ve had enough of this, you’re scaring our daughter!” My mother barked. She used to be patient, but not anymore. “Get me out of this closet,” I heard her shuffle over the pile of shoes.
“She’ll be good enough for me…” the voice chuckled. Something blocked the light from the cracks in the door. The voice was right outside! It was going to get mommy! We couldn’t let her out!
“Mommy!” I cried hard, trying to get her attention.
“No, Margaret-” my father blocked my mother from the door. “It’s not safe!”
“This is ridiculous, Lawrence!” My eyes had adjusted to the dark as best they could. I saw the shadow of my mother shove my father. “I am tired of this, I can’t stand it anymore! Up all night and day shouting at the voices in your head, it’s exhausting!”
“Come out, come out, I want to play…”
“Margaret please, it’s not in my head, I swear it!” My father pleaded, but this was something he had said to her before. It wouldn’t change her mind now. “Don’t go out there!”
“Mommy please,” I grabbed what I thought was her hand, and instead got her waist. I felt her grab my wrist in response, but her shadow didn’t turn to me. She pulled me towards her, and I almost tripped over my old winter boots.
“I’m done Lawrence,” her voice was so final. “I’ve done what the doctors said, I’ve been supportive, but I’m done. I’m taking our daughter and going to my mothers.”
The words fell like rocks in my gut. I didn’t want to go to grandma’s house… I didn’t want to leave daddy here alone with the voice again. I didn’t want our family to break a part. My father was only protecting us, and it wasn’t fair! The voice was separating us, and I didn’t want that to happen. We had only just gotten back together!
“GO AWAY!” I screamed as loud as I could and hit the door with my dragon.
“Lucy!” I felt my mother jump. She pulled my arm, “don’t scream like that-”
“YOU’RE A BAD VOICE AND I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! LEAVE MY FAMILY ALONE!”
Silence… if only for a moment.
“Lucy…” my father breathed. “You… can hear…”
“And she can speak,” the voice said with wonder. “A Listener and a Whisperer…”
All was quiet, until something slammed against the door.
“NO!” My father shouted.
It felt like the whole house shook, and I fell to the ground from the force. Again, something was thrown at the door, so hard I could’ve sworn the whole house had shifted. My mother’s familiar hands found me and suddenly she too was on the ground, holding me, crying with me, as father braced his body against the closet door.
“I can hear you little Listener…” another slam, and I hid behind my plush dragon. “I hear you Whisper, and I’m coming for you.”
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Hey, I'm Maryah Stevens, a 25 year old, self-published, college graduate, married, 1st time mom! Phew!