We join Tori and her mother at the window. Ayn was trying to reassure her that the figure below her window last night was just a trick of the storm.
Ayn reached over and played with a curl that had fallen in Tori’s face. “Even into full-grown men in cloaks.” She pecked Tori on the forehead before rushing to the door. “I’m sure it was nothing.”
But Tori thought she had detected caution in her voice. Like, perhaps, she suspected what her daughter had been saying was true.
Alone once more, Tori turned to the window, but only blue skies and drying puddles greeted her this morning, none of the menace that she had faced only hours before. “He was real,” she repeated, as if to set her mind at rest. “I know he was real.”
The storm has ended. A new day arises. Tori hastens to the sill, but the man she glimpsed the night before has vanished. Perhaps it was as her mother said, just a dream. But what if it wasn’t?
Ayn joined her at the sill, glancing over Tori’s shoulder at the promise of a new day. “There’s no one out there, sweetheart,”” she said.
“Well, no . . . not now.”
“And not last night either. Shadows twist themselves into all sorts of shapes during a storm.”
Tori wasn’t convinced. “Even into full-grown men?”
“Even into full-grown men.”
“In cloaks?” Tori added.
The smile on her mother’s lips faltered. . .
Continuing on with Once Upon Nowhere, I skipped ahead a few paragraphs for today’s snippet. Twelve-year-old Tori, already restless because of the storm, is now faced with something even more frightening. Surely, this can’t be good.
Breathless, Tori anticipated the next illumination, her forehead pressed to the cool glass. For a fleeting moment, night became day. She peered through a tangle of limbs to a patch of ground beneath her window.
That was the first time she saw him, his cloak so heavily drenched that it clung to his slight frame. He stared at the house, motionless, as though he were simply another stone statue in the city park.
The light failed. Tori’s legs were heavy with fear, her mouth bone dry. Her feeble attempt to call her mother ended in a croak. Still, Tori’s eyes remained fixed on the veiled figure below her window.
Continuing with the first chapter of Once Upon Nowhere, Tori confronts one of her biggest fears — a lightning storm — and allows her mind to wander. Her mother has reassured her that this time they’ve found the place where they will be able to settle down. So why would she rather be anywhere but here?
When their station wagon had turned onto a rutted road leading up to a dilapidated farmhouse, Tori knew in her heart it would never be the case. And no amount of coaxing, then or now, would convince her it was all for the best.
She buried her face in a pillow, pulled the covers over her head and squeezed her eyes shut. But her attempts to block out the night’s symphony were futile. She bolted straight up at the next deafening crack.
As Tori fretted the edge of a blanket, the beats between lightning and thunder decreased. It was close. The pounding of her heart melded into the steady sweep of rain on their farmstead.
A nearby strike lit the night sky for one brief second. Shadows scuttled to the forgotten corners of her room, which remained much the same as when she had crossed its threshold three months earlier.