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In the foyer, at the bottom of the stairs, sat a rather large suitcase. For a moment, the enormous weight of guilt on my shoulders was lifted as I just stared in confusion at them. They were completely nondescript, their hard covers an anonymous black. They didn’t have any colourful tags or straps to identify them. I didn’t recognize them at all.
I wondered if someone had come to visit. Perhaps my dad, or maybe my aunt? I didn’t have any other family. Had one of them planned to come for a visit, and my mother had forgotten to tell me? I wouldn’t be surprised, actually. That sounded like something my mother might do.
Completely forgetting the fact that I was was supposed to be in school, I tried to call out to her and ask… but I didn’t get the chance. At the very moment I opened my mouth, my mother burst out of her room on the upper landing. She was rushing around, flitting from the bathroom to the guest room, like she was desperately looking for something.
My heart suddenly jumped to my throat. What was she looking for? And what if she tried to look in my room, where Victor was hiding? Just as the awful thought crossed my mind, she emerged from the guest room, the room right next to mine, and headed straight for my door.
“MOM!” I shrieked, in absolute terror.
She stopped dead in her tracks, just as she had gripped the door handle. I gasped and then sighed, thinking she had heard me… but then I heard the rattle of my door knob and saw her arms shaking as she wrestled with it. She was still trying to get in, but she wasn’t able to. The door to my bedroom seemed to be locked.
Despite my currently strained relationship with Victor, I was incredibly thankful to him that he had thought to lock the door when I wasn’t around.
My mother was still franticly fighting with the door; the lock on her daughter’s room did not seem to deter her at all. She paused only to toss frenzied glances from side to side, looking around for something… something to force it open? Did she actually intend to break into my room? Why was she so desperate to get in there?
Another horrible thought snuck into my mind. What if she realized that someone was in my room? What if she had heard Victor moving around? My heart leapt wildly around in my chest as I raced up the stairs.
“Mom! What’re you doing?” I screamed at her, hoping to grab her attention before it was too late.
She jumped, span around and then stared at me. “What’re you doing, Lenore? Why aren’t you at school? I just dropped you off!”
“I-I’m not feeling well again,” I muttered, suddenly acquiring a slouch to make the story more believable. I figured that, plus my drowned-rat look, would make the story believable enough to convince her of another sudden onset of poor health.
Luckily, my mother didn’t question me about it further, but she also didn’t look very interested in my excuse. She seemed to be extremely distracted. Her eyes had turned back to my door.
I could not allow it. I wedged myself in between her and the door.
“Why are you trying to break into my room?”
“Why is your door locked?” she twisted my accusation back on me. Her eyes bore into mine, like she was trying to scrape secrets from inside of me. I froze for a moment, still scared that she might realize something was up.
Why was she so suddenly suspicious?
I quickly rolled my eyes in an attempt cover my guilt. “Nothing. I just don’t want you in there.”
My mother scowled at me, our pleasant exchange from this morning forgotten. But there was something else beyond her usual annoyance… she seemed extra jittery, like she was late for something. What had changed in those since then?
“What trying to find in there, anyway?”
“Well—” My mother paused awkwardly. “…have you seen my blue hoodie? My baby blue hoodie? The one with the gold embroidery?”
God, this was just about her stupid sweater? I should never expect my mother to think of anything other than herself; she’s way too self-absorbed to realize that I was hiding someone in my room. “No. You know I don’t wear your clothes,” I snarked back, as even though we were pretty close in size, I wouldn’t touch her clothes with a ten-foot-pole. She was fond of pastels. I preferred black. You’d never catch me in baby blue.