He is staring at the ceiling. Silver streaks of moonlight and dust shimmer over the artex. The curtains twitch. Muffled voices are whispering outside his window. With a tattered teddy bear clasped to his chest, he holds his breath and screws his eyes tight shut. Stars glitter beneath eyelids. Did mother close the window? Sweat prickles his forehead and dampens his hair.
Scarping now, like a lion’s claw on bone. His toes curl and fists clench. A cool breeze ruffles cotton sending curtains billowing into the room. Head filled with tales of ghostly children he bites his duvet to prevent a scream. He is shivering despite the heavy covers and warm night. The mouse-shaped moneybox begins to rattle, coins jingling as it judders along the windowsill. He shuffles deeper into his bed.
A howl. A crash. Pottery shatters, sending jagged shards and rolling coins over naked floorboards. A voice calls out.
Eyes spring open. The duvet is on the floor. The mouse on the windowsill is sitting still, belly heavy and full of coins. Courage regained he slides from his bed. Tiptoeing to the window he dares himself to look out. Nervous hands are shaking as he swishes back the curtains. A pigeon is on the fence, gnarled yellow feet scratching at wood and neighbours voices drift over the fence on the summer’s breeze. His mother calls again.
“I had a bad dream,” he replies.
(C) 2011 Liah S Thorley, all rights reserved