Someone was in her bedroom and Amy sat up with a gasp. A stranger stepped from the closet, going to the bedroom door. Amy started to yell, but he put his finger to his lips. A person in the hall turned the knob, but hesitated.
Amy and the boy locked eyes as they heard footsteps. “It was your stepfather,” the boy whispered. “He wanted in, but not tonight.”
Putting her hand to her mouth, Amy thought it was a nightmare. The youth came to sit at the end of her bed. In the moonlight she recognized him as Brian Cooper from the last house at the end of her street.
Thinking back with a shiver, she knew her stepfather, Ray, had been eyeing her. Intuitively, she sensed Ray’s intentions, made worse when he drank.
The girl pulled the covers up to her chin and cocked her head. What to do?
“We have to kill your stepfather.” Her visitor whispered.
Three months later, Amy cajoled her mother to visit the Coopers. Amy explained she had recently met Brian Cooper and he had been a comfort after the tragic death of her step-father. Her curious mother agreed to meet Amy’s new male acquaintance.
Brian’s house at the end of the street was small, in need of paint, and obscured by unkempt trees and shrubs. Amy knocked on the door and a woman in a shapeless dress partially opened the door. Her hair was gray and a wizened face peered between the crack of the entry. Amy explained they were neighbors and she was Brian’s friend.
Mrs. Cooper brightened and bade them enter, pointing to a faded, brocade-covered couch against the wall in the dim living room. Taking a worn arm chair across from them, she waited in anticipation. Amy’s mother explained that she had lost her husband, Amy’s step-father, in a terrible accident three months ago. Mrs. Cooper interrupted, saying the postman had told her about Ray tripping on the cellar steps and landing head first on the concrete floor…”head cracked like an eggshell”. She cackled.
Taken aback, Amy’s mother took a breath and then continued to relate how Brian had provided solace and comfort to Amy, and now she wanted to meet Mrs. Cooper’s son, thank him for being kind to her daughter.
Brian’s mother stiffened, the color draining from her face, sitting still as a mannequin. A cloud of silence hung over the trio. Finally, Amy leaned forward, “Brian was such a friend to me. I want my mom to meet him, but I haven’t seen your son the past few months and I feared Brian might have had a mishap or something.”
Mrs. Cooper was silent, then slowly nodded. “There was an accident.”
Amy put a hand to her mouth and her mother grimaced.
“A fatal motorcycle accident.”
The two visitors sat stunned, absorbing what Brian's mother had just told them.
“Brian’s been dead for more than a year.” Mrs. Cooper said.