Thursday, August 29, 2013

Root Bound by Tanya Karen Gough


It was her father, and the sound of his voice brought her heart rate down a notch. He tapped again at the door, then cracked it open.

“Honey, you ok?”

“I heard …,” Emma paused, not really knowing how to describe what she heard. Her father entered the room and sat down on the bed next to her. He wrapped his arms around her, and she nestled into the safety of his warmth.

“I’m sorry for all this, Emma.” He spoke quietly, and she could hear the sadness in his voice. “I know how hard it has been for you. Always moving. It hasn’t been much of a life.”

“It’s ok, that’s not why …”

“They’ve promised me a six month contract this time. I know it’s not much …”

She squeezed him hard, still not knowing what to say. They stayed there for a while, in silence, until Emma forgot the crazy nonsense about the house sneezing. Finally, he got up and tucked her back in. He paused and placed his hand on her cheek. He smiled and closed the door behind himself as he left. A few moments later, the light in the hall went out, and Emma was alone in the darkness again.

Emma peered out from under her worn bed covers into the darkness of her new bedroom. She listened to the rhythmic whoosh/slap of the blinds as the breeze passed in and out the way it was supposed to.

Minutes passed, and nothing changed.

She began to feel silly. What on earth had I been thinking, she scolded herself. Houses don’t sneeze. It was just the wind. She was so tired her imagination had gotten the best of her. Yes, that’s right, she giggled to herself, feeling pretty goofy and tired to the point where silly things seemed hysterically funny. She started to laugh, trying to stay quiet, but she only succeeded in giving herself the hiccups. She tried to stifle it, not wanting to wake her father again, but that only made the giggling and the hiccups worse.

She hiccuped again, then giggled. Then hiccuped, then giggled. Finally, she couldn’t control it any more and burst out laughing. She laughed so hard, she didn’t notice a sprinkling of dust fall out of the air duct. It caught in her nose, right in the middle of a giggling hiccup, and for one horrible moment she didn’t know if she would hiccup, giggle or sneeze.

She sneezed. She sneezed again. Then the house sneezed.

She froze, another monstrous sneeze trapped in her nose. Everything around her seemed to freeze, too. Finally, she couldn’t hold it any longer, and she let out the most enormous sneeze she had ever sneezed, and at that same exact moment, the house sneezed too. And before she was able to even wonder what was happening, she heard a sudden clatter, like a bag of marbles rolling down the vent shaft. It clinged, it clanged, it stopped with a hard thud and a chorus of very small voiced “oof”s.

Just then the wind flung the blind so hard it rolled open all by itself. The city lights lit up the room with a weird glow. Emma looked up fearfully at the iron grate covering the air shaft.

Three sets of tiny, shiny eyes looked back.

Root Bound

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Genre - Middle Grade Fantasy Adventure

Rating – G (ages 10+)

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