Rain slammed against the windows and Alice froze.
“Alice, dear, finish up your meal,” Clara, Alice and Nathan’s mother, whispered as she wiped her mouth with a napkin. She got up and put her plate in the sink. “Tonight’s movie night, remember?”
“But Dad isn’t here,” Nathan groaned as he tackled the sofa and turned on the TV. “What we whatchin’?”
Jonathan (Alice and Nathan’s dad) worked for nine hours in the nurse’s office, while Clara only worked until twelve in the afternoon at a yoga studio.
Alice picked at her last bite of fish. “How about Black Panther?” she suggested, chewing on the salmon. “Uncle Sifin had always said it was a must for us to watch.”
“Nice idea,” Clara called from the sink, where she was scrubbing the plates. She made room for Alice to wash her hands and place her plate in the sink, and then Alice jumped on the sofa next to Nathan. “I think your father’s home.”
“Dad!” the sibs squealed together, hopping into Jonathan’s arms. His eyes looked tired, so they pulled him over to the sofa.
“Jon, have you eaten anything?” called a worried Clara from the kitchen. Jon sighed.
“Bean salad,” he whispered.
“Hey, Al, instead of watching the movie, I have to show you something,” Nathan whispered to Alice, and she rolled her eyes. She knew that Nathan was up to nothing but mischief.
“And miss out on a family movie? No way.” Alice’s brows shot up and her and Jon burst into a fit of laughter. Nathan groaned.
“Come on, don’t you want to see Black Panther?” Jon asked Nathan, jabbing him in the ribs.
“Oh, it’s on,” Nathan sneered, his eyes narrowing. Jon and Nathan went back and forth, jabbing each other’s ribs until Alice and Clara shrieked, “STOP!”
Clara sat down on the sofa next to them and they all laughed.
“Okay, fine, but just for a second, and then we’re coming back down here,” Alice felt defeated. Nathan took her wrist and dragged her up the stairs. “Where–what are we going to see?”
Alice gasped and clasped her hand over her mouth when she saw what was in front of her eyes. Nathan held a sly grin. “Well, you can thank me later–”
“I wasn’t going to.”
Alice’s jaw was held in place and she took a step into her brother’s room. “How is this possible?” She breathed.
There was wax spilled all over furniture, broken plates and cups, but there was a statue of a girl in the front of the room. It was a human-sized statue, and not that detailed… but it was a great piece of art. “Who is this?”
“I was sanding in art class, and brought this home yesterday. No one saw it.” Nathan’s cheeks burned red. “She’s… she’s a girl in our class.”
“Umm… who is she, Risha?” Alice asked. She cocked her head. “Spill it–we are in the same class.”
“You’ll have to guess.”
“Whoa, your cheeks… I think you’re getting sick.”
“Stop.” Nathan looked away, but he was grinning.
“Sarah? Angelica? Fiona? Rosette?”
Alice’s jaw dropped. “You like my bully?” She shrieked.
Nathan jumped back a step. “I didn’t know she bullied you,” he whispered. “I didn’t know you even got bullied!”
“Well, that’s just because you never get bullied.” Alice huffed and stomped out of the room. “Way to show respect.” she whispered under her breath as she slammed her bedroom door behind her. She sank into her bed, tears gushing down her face.
“Nobody likes me,” She cried. “I’m so lonely in the world!”
Fear trickled down her spine. She gasped and grabbed her back. “What is happening?” she whispered.
A strong tingling sensation tickled through both of the sibs’ bodies, and they sat on their beds. They ran for each other’s room, nearly bumping into each other. “Are you…” Nathan whispered.
“Yeah, I feel it, too,” Alice whispered back, forgetting her horrible feelings.
“Is this how you feel like when you’re dying?” Nathan laughed, but a serious expression lay on his face. “I don’t feel so good…”
“I’m gonna go do something,” Alice whispered, but Nathan followed her. “Stay here!”
“I can’t leave you alone, this might be dangerous,” Nathan bit his lip. “Where are we going?”
“I don’t have time to explain.” Alice took Nathan’s hand and they ran down the stairs, swung open the front door, and ran out. “Okay, now pretend you’re a tree.”
“What?” Nathan whispered, wide-eyed. “You have got to be kidding me.” But he raised his arms and glared at Alice. She giggled. “Oh, so you’re making fun of me?”
“I would have done it myself, but you insisted to come,” Alice patted his arm. “Now, just a second…”
Two birds landed on either side of Nathan’s body. He groaned. “Seriously?” he whispered. Alice pressed her finger to her lips.
“Trees don’t talk,” she whispered. Nathan groaned again.
Alice ripped one feather from each bird. Startled, they fluttered away. “Why’d you do that?” Nathan shouted. Alice glared at him.
“Quiet,” she said softly, brushing a feather up and down her arm. “Here.” She handed the other one to Nathan. He did the same, making cooing noises.
“Feels better,” He whispered, then stared at Alice. “Where’d you get that brilliant idea?”
“Umm, I think everyone knows about it. When your foot is asleep, it’s a feather that does the trick.”
“Well, I’m surprised you don’t have any friends.” Nathan wished he could suck those words back into his mouth. I just bullied my sister, He thought to himself. Nathan looked away. “I mean, you’re so smart and–”
“That’s the problem. People think I’m a nerd. I think of doing so many things and people who want to be friends with me hear rumors, bad rumors about me. All I have is you, Dad, Mom, and Noah.”
“Who’s Noah?” Nathan asked, eyeing Alice suspiciously as they made their way into the house.
“A friend of mine,” Alice whispered, heading into the kitchen to drop the conversation. But before she took step into the hard-wood room, she fell backwards into Nathan’s arms.
“What, so now we’re doing trust fall?” Nathan sneered, but his smile disappeared when he realized that Alice’s eyes were shut. “Alice? Alice! Wake up…” But it was too late. His eyes were closing, too, even when he was urging it to stop. “Stop!” He screamed.
But he and Alice toppled over and onto the ground, into a deep, deep, sleep.
Until they felt themselves falling.