I once woke to find Mia tucked snugly beside me in my twin bed, with most of the covers and most of the space. When I tapped her on the shoulder to point this out, she rolled over (our noses nearly touching), blinked, and groaned, “Anne, what are you doing here?”
“You’re in MY room.”
Looking around briefly, she rolled over again (taking the remainder of the covers with her) and, giving me a swift backward kick, sent me to the floor; where I lay, bewildered, but slightly in awe of her sleep-walking pluck.
We never really know when or what to expect from Mia’s nocturnal wanderings.
And so, returning home late one night, noticing that the light is still on in the den…
“Crap,” I mumble into the open fridge, that must mean Dad’s waiting up.
I begin to formulate one-word responses to his inevitable interrogation. With munchies in hand and alibis at the tip of my tongue, I open the door to the den, only to find Mia on the pumpkin orange sofa, sitting up and staring at the paneled wall ahead.
“Meem, it’s late. Coming up to bed?”
Nothing. Not even a blink. So, I shrug and turn for the stairs.
“Where’s my friend?” I hear from behind.
Turning back around, I ask, ”What friend?”
“My FRIEND!” she replies sharply.
“What friend, Mia? I don’t who you’re talking about.”
“My FRIEND!” she repeats for the third time.
“Look, maybe if I knew what friend you’re talking ab-”
“Shut up, Anne.”
“All-righty, then,” I say as I head toward the stairs and bed.
Passing the boy’s room, I notice that the television is blaring and Mark is still lying on the sofa, face down, with a cat on his shirtless back and a dog at his feet. I turn the T.V. off and gently tap him on the shoulder.
“Kid, you should head to bed,” I whisper, and then start for my own.
Mark raises his head suddenly and calls out, “Anne-Anne-Anne… Would-you, would-you, would-you…open-the-open-the-open-the-open-the-“
Then nothing. He simply collapses back onto his belly and into his dreams.
“Open the WHAT?” I scream from the inside, fearing that if I turn around I’ll likely see Rod Serling, cigarette in hand, furrowing his thick, dark eyebrows as he begins to explain the strange tale of the my sudden plunge into madness.
“I’m way too stoned,” I mumble as I head to the comfort of my room.
Before I get there, however, I notice the lights on in Mia’s bedroom and feel compelled to investigate.
Damn you, Rod Serling.
I find Mia sitting on her bed, doused in light, with a drawing pad in her lap and a peculiar look on her face.
But what I find even more disconcerting is how quickly and stealthily she made her way from the den to her bedroom – up the creaky stairs and down the equally creaky hallway, just feet from where I was in the boys’ room – without my noticing.
I glance up to the mirror above Mia’s desk, where I find instant comfort in seeing both our reflections, and enough cool to ask Mia about her missing friend.
She looks up, but says nothing.
“Your friend,” I’m tortured to press. “The one you were looking for earlier?”
She scrunches her face and tilts her head, slightly.
“Where’s my pink purse?” are the next words out of Mia’s mouth.
I don’t know how to respond. We just glare at one another.
“My pink purse!” she repeats unhappily.
“Okay… now you’re looking for a friend whose name you don’t know AND a purse that’s pink… Am I getting this right?”
“Shut up, Anne.” is all she has to say. And all I can take for one night.
The following morning, both Mia and Mark deny any knowledge of the previous night’s events.
But we know the truth, don’t we, Rod?