Underneath the sheets, my foot finds Dean’s. I press my little toe against his.
“You okay?” he asks.
“I’m worried about Finn.”
He slips his arm around my waist. “The nightmare?”
I nod against his chest. The recurring one where the adoption agency tells us they made a mistake. That our little boy belongs to another family.
“Mama,” a voice whispers in the dark.
“Finn?” Dean snaps on the lamp.
Finn stands at the end of the bed.
“I want to go outside,” Finn says.
“It’s in the middle of the night, bud. Climb up here with us.”
“I’m going outside!” Finn shrieks. He stomps his foot. “Right now!”
In his five years on this planet, he has never thrown a tantrum.
“Finny, calm down,” Dean says.
“No!” Finn screams.
I get up, scooping him into my arms.
“What’s wrong? Do you feel sick?” Finn squirms. His eyes brim with tears. I stroke his hair until his head lowers onto my shoulder.
“Mommy, she calls my name. She wants me to come to her.”
I hold him tighter.
“Who are you talking about, bud?” Dean asks.
“Please, Daddy, can we go? I want to see her.”
“Did you see someone outside your window, Finn?” Dean doesn’t wait for an answer. He grabs the baseball bat from the closet. “I’m going to check it out.”
“Be careful, babe,” I say, sitting down, Finn in my lap. I rub his back, recalling the many talks we’ve had about stranger danger.
“She won’t hurt me or take me, Mama,” he says into my neck.
“We’ll never let anyone hurt you or take you, baby,” I say.
The front door opens and closes. My arms become a vice grip of fear and ferocity around Finn. He wriggles. “Too tight, Mama.”
“There’s no one out there,” Dean calls.
I stand, hefting Finn up on my hip, carrying him down the hall.
The bat hangs from Dean’s hand. “He must’ve just heard the coyotes.”
I shudder. Howling in packs, they sound like demons laughing.
“She’s not a coyote,” Finn shakes his head. “She says ‘Please come out, Finn’.”
“Then we’ll go out,” Dean says.
“What? Absolutely not.”
“We’ll take him in the yard. Both of us, together. Show him no one’s out there.” Dean leans close and says, “I think it’ll give you some peace of mind, too. No one’s out there, babe.”
I put Finn down and take the bat from Dean. My arms numb, my chest tight, my breath heavy, I follow them onto the porch. Dean and I flank Finn, each of us taking one of his hands as we step onto the grass.
Silence. No coyotes. No crickets or frogs. Not even a breeze.
A sideways wink of a moon peeks from behind a cloud.
The back of my neck tingles. I need to be back inside, the doors and windows locked.
I gaze down at Finn.
When I glance back up, another cloud obscures the moon. After a moment, it drifts into view again, now full, its glow illuminating the lawn.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement behind a pine tree. “Dean, something’s over there.”
“Get back inside. Both of you. Now,” Dean says, grabbing the baseball bat from me.
I watch as the figure emerges. I wiggle my toes, but can’t make my feet run. Terror spreads through my insides, from one organ to the next like an infection in my bloodstream.
Finn pulls at my arm. “It’s her!”
‘She’ is thin and at least 8 feet tall, half of her height legs. Hairless. Opaque like a ghost. No facial features, except black slits where a human would have eyes.
“Get back inside. Go! Take Finn! Now!” Dean says.
I can’t move.
I yell, “If you come near my child, I will kill you!”
“My mother won’t hurt you,” Finn says. He looks at me.
Whatever the creature or monster or thing is, it neither comes closer nor backs away.
“I wanna go to her,” Finn says.
“Finnegan, no,” I squeeze his little fingers tight enough to maybe break his bones. I will not let him go.
With no mouth, the thing speaks, though not in English or any language I’ve ever heard. I yelp when Finn repeats the words without hesitation or flaw.
Dean grips the bat like a man whose dying wish is to hit a home run.
We all stand frozen. We watch it. It watches us. It blinks several times, and then raises its arms. Finn mimics the gesture.
Then it’s gone.
Still holding Finn’s hand, I tug him back into the house and after climbing the four steps; my heavy legs and weak knees tremble like I’ve scaled a mountain.
Dean deadbolts the door, before lifting Finn into a hug with one arm and pulling me into an embrace with the other.
“What did it say to you, baby?” I ask.
“She said she’s missed me.”
“Let’s go, bud,” Dean says, still clutching us both. “You’re sleeping with me and Mama tonight.”
Once Finn’s soft snores begin, I ask, “What was that?”
“I don’t know,” Dean says, his voice thick. “An alien?”
“Finny’s obsessed with Mars,” I whisper.
“All little boys want to be astronauts when they grow up.”
“Finn’s not like all the other children. He never has been.”
“No one knows who his biological mother was. We don’t know where he came from. You don’t think…”
“No,” Dean says.
Finn tosses and turns between us, mumbling words that are not English in his sleep.
“What if she comes back for him?” I ask.
Dean’s foot finds mine underneath the sheets, pressing his toe against mine.
There is no other answer he can give.
Kathy Jeffords is a cool cat who likes doing cool things because she is cool. She likes playing video games with her magnificent niece, who is even cooler than she is. She also draws sometimes. She definitely wrote this biography. She 100% did not recruit her prodigy niece to do it for her. Kathy loves dogs. She likes wearing clothes, specifically graphic t-shirts with sarcastic sayings and weird yoga-sweatpants. Her beautiful niece wears better shirts, though. Kathy enjoys making up silly songs, the most famous example being “The Pee Pee Song”, which has helped to potty train at least one toddler. She hates having her picture taken, believing she always looks drunk when she smiles. (She has never actually been drunk.) Also emojis are terrible and children nowadays need to stop with their stupid dance trends.
Kathy Jeffords loves writing, but is horrible at writing about herself and the above is what happens when you bribe a 12 year old with chocolate to write your biography. Kathy is a self-employed artist. You can find her on Twitter or Etsy.
Author-in-hiding, Digital Artist-in-training, Student-in-perpetuum