Sarah, Returned--Chapter 32 (A Steemit Original Novel)
We stay, but we do not get any sleep. We don’t say it, but we are both concerned the suspect will return. If that happens, there will be either a bad scene with the officers, who are set up at every possible entry point to our house and yard now, or they will slip past the police and break into the house. Neither one of us feels like we can let our guards down now that we know the person who tried to hurt me is out there, and willing to go to such lengths to make a second attempt on me. No, sleep is out of the question tonight.
The one good thing to come of it Matt's exoneration; since he was in the house with me when the perpetrator tried to break in, he is completely off the list of suspects now. Sgt. Baker confirmed it when I asked. That’s something to celebrate, anyway. So, celebrate, we do, in our own, weird way.
Matt makes us both some more of that heavenly coffee I had at dinner, and, even though I feel like I haven’t slept in a million years, we sit up together on the couch facing the breezeway between the formal and casual living rooms, which also gives us a side view of the back door. If anyone tries to come inside, we’ll know it.
Neither of us owns a gun, but we both have large kitchen knives within easy reach; I also grabbed a can of pepper spray from my purse in my room, accompanied there and back every step by my freaked out cousin. He can’t understand why anyone would want to hurt me. Then again, neither can I. Other than Karen, I don’t have any enemies, at least none I know of. I’ve always had a lot of good friends here in Dover. I’ve also been involved in charity work and community events, and I’ve never hurt anyone, as far as I know. I still think the person behind all this is Karen. I mean, who else could it be?
We sit up all night like this, side by side on the sofa, only getting up to refill our coffee or go to the guest bathroom located just across from the kitchen (and when we do, one of us stands guard outside the door, because there’s a window in that room). We must have gone through three or four cups each by the time the sun comes up, yet I still feel like I could nod off at any moment. Even with our talking all night long about Karen, Grandma, Great-Uncle Jacob, my disappearance, his teaching job--which he quit upon getting his inheritance,--my school, our hopes, dreams, and ambitions, the pull of sleep just keeps getting stronger. I’m going to have to get some rest sometime, and soon. My body is demanding it, and is going to enforce it whether I’m in a safe place or not.
Eventually, daylight comes, and as the sun goes high in the sky, waking up the world around us, Sgt. Baker knocks on our door once more. There were no more sightings of the suspect, and the officers searching the town saw no one suspicious; without a good description, it was always going to be unlikely they would find someone walking the streets, but they had to look anyway. He’s going off duty, but Lt. Daniels is back, and she and another officer will guard our house today during daylight hours, one officer stationed at each door. He recommends we continue to avoid going outside, even to check the mail, but I don’t think this is going to be an issue. As soon as he leaves, I go back to the sofa and drop down on it like a falling piano, gradually stretching out across its entire length.
I’m vaguely aware of Matt fluffing up the decorative sofa cushions for me, and I hear the distant creak of the door on the hall closet before he returns with a real pillow to put under my head, and a blanket, which he lovingly tucks around me. I try to open my eyes and mouth to thank him, but fail miserably at both. He kisses me on the cheek, and I manage a brief smile at him as he flops down on the sofa opposite me. Once we're both settled, it doesn't take long before I’m pulled down into the deep slumber that has been calling to me ever since I left 1699.
It’s a glorious sleep, sound, restorative, and, I think, dreamless. If there is such a thing as too tired to dream, that describes me to a "t" right now. It’s like dreaming would take energy, and I don’t have any left to devote to it.
I don't think I dreamed, but I must have at some point, because later, in the deep, heavenly darkness of rest in which I’m enveloped, I begin to feel like I’m shaking, and a familiar voice calls my name from far away. I’m in another world, a whole other dimension made solely of sleep, but eventually, Matt’s beckoning makes its way there, and I come back to this reality under duress, opening my eyes with some difficulty. The lids feel so heavy, like they're made of stone.
“Sarah. Sarah, wake up,” Matt murmurs in my ear, over and over. He’s all blurry to me, since my eyes are still half closed. Where is my tongue? I could swear it was there when I went to sleep. No, not there. Not there, either. Ah, there it is. I wiggle it, testing its strength and willingness to obey my commands. Emboldened by those successes, I use it to speak, my voice coming out in a hoarse crackle.
“What is it?” I mumble, my words only partially resembling English. “Did the cops find the bad guy? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Matt soothes me; I notice he's kneeling down in front of me, on the floor. “It’s you I’m concerned about. Did you know you were crying in your sleep?”
Was I? I don’t remember anything after closing my eyes on the sofa after the sun rose. But, wait. Yes. My cheeks do feel wet, and there are droplets of water plopping down on my arm. Do people do that, cry in their sleep? I’ve never heard of it. What would cause such a thing? Maybe it's just what happens when you've gone two steps past exhausted.
“No idea,” I mumble, and make a halfhearted attempt at wiping away some of the moisture on my right cheek. As my hand comes to rest on the sofa, I notice part of it is wet, too. Drops from my face, I guess.
“You were also calling out for someone named Joshua,” Matt says, lifting a stray lock of hair out of the puddle on my cheek. “Who’s Joshua?”
And, just like that, I’m wide awake and sitting up on the sofa. Joshua? Was I dreaming about him? Why can’t I remember? And, how am I going to explain this to Matt?
“It’s nothing,” I insist, brushing away the remaining tears from my face. “Just a dream. That’s all.” I turn my head toward the door so he won’t see my trembling lower lip.
God, I miss him so much. I was too tired to realize it this morning, but this is the first time I’ve slept without him by my side since we were wed. I haven't been back in 2017 a full 24 hours yet, but it's already been way too long. Today has to be the day I locate my portal-opener and find the professor. No more wasted minutes without my husband and children. Every moment I’m away from them is one too many. I must devote the day to finding what I need.
There has to be something I can use somewhere in this house. If not something of Grandma's, then an item in the construction of the house itself. Unless Grandma at some point had the place stripped of every antique building tool, like handmade nails and ancient boards--which I wouldn't put past her--the house itself might help me. Or, maybe there's something on the grounds, like the ancient Native knife that brought me here. I will find what I need. I have to.
And, if I can’t find the professor before the sun goes down, I’ll just have to take a leap of faith. Both portals took me where I needed to go; I have to trust a third will do the same. I know it's a risk, but Joshua and the children are worth taking it.
Matt isn’t having my dream explanation. He’s coming over to sit beside me on the sofa, his broad brow furrowed with concern. Ugh. Just let it go, Matt. Please. I don’t think I can talk about it without crying, and there’s no way to say what really happened without him wondering if Karen was right about me after all. We’ve just managed to return our good relationship to what it was before the Evil Queen came along. Please, Matt, let me leave with that still intact.
“Sarah, you were crying,” Matt pushes, and it annoys me more than it might have if I'd never gone to the 17th century. “And, you weren’t calling out quietly, either. It was loud, like you were trying to get someone to notice you. You know as well as I do that people don’t do that in regular dreams. What’s going on? Is it something to do with the time you were away? Did you meet someone?”
“No,” I bark at him, with more harshness than I intend. “Just leave it, okay? It’s nothing.”
Catch up with the entire "Sarah, Returned" series here: