I started running, sneakers slapping the wet concrete. My heart was already pounding and I quickly lost my breath. My legs started to feel so heavy. I could barely lift my arms, like I was running in slow motion.
I leaped over a puddle but misjudged its length. I sank down into the water up to my knees. The monster, whatever it was, roared behind me.
I closed my eyes.
I opened them and saw the white popcorn ceiling in my bedroom, glow in the dark stars absorbing the bright light of morning. It was a dream! Just a dream, no doubt brought on by my neighbor, Justin, being hospitalized over what the doctors called “wild animal bites.” They didn’t know what animal was capable of leaving a six inch gouge in his back, but mom told me it must have been a Rottweiler.
Sighing, I peeled the tangled bedsheets from my body and went downstairs.
Mom had a bowl of batter in her arms and was stirring furiously when I entered the kitchen. I peered in the bowl as I passed her. She kissed my cheek and handed me a plate of eggs from the stove.
“Red velvet?” I asked, sitting down with the eggs.
“Looks like blood.”
“What looks like blood?” Lily, my 9-year-old sister, trudged into the kitchen. Mom showed her the bowl and Lily wrinkled her nose.
“I know the cake will be good later, but it looks gross now!”
Lily slid aside the glass door and went outside, no doubt to practice her gymnastics routine on the trampoline. I started cutting up my eggs, watching as the runny yellow yolk pooled on my plate.
“Mom, have you heard anything from Justin’s mom?”
“He’s still in the hospital, Mona. Stray dogs can be so vicious.”
“Mom, do you think – haven’t you heard what everyone’s saying?”
Mom frowned and put the bowl aside. I cleared my throat.
“That maybe it wasn’t a dog? That it was something else?”
Mom opened her mouth to answer, but a scream from outside interrupted her. Mom’s eyes went wide and she started for the glass door.
But everyone said it only comes out at night, I thought to myself, bolting for the backyard too.