My name came to me from the darkness of the room, whispered. I cracked open my eyes, wanting to roll over and ignore the invading voice that jerked me from blissful sleep.
“Jen,” my brother said. His face was only a dark outline and his teeth barely visible.
“Don’t pretend to be asleep.”
I laid still until I heard him hiss in the darkness.
The punishment sound. My eyes shot open as my heart quickened. I whimpered, trying to shake off the sleep that weighed my eyelids down. I didn’t want him to have to tell me again.
“What is it, Isaiah?” I asked my brother.
“I can’t sleep.”
A car passed outside, reflecting light onto the wall that passed over the wall above my bed and over to the closet where it disappeared, taking the soft sound of a rumbling engine with it.
“I don’t feel like doing that.”
My eyes were starting to adjust to the dark. Going by the stillness of the night, it had to be past midnight.
“Then tell me a story,” Isaiah said.
“But I want to sleep, Isaiah, please.”
I could see my brother’s hands, griping the railing of the bunk bed. He was older and taller so he slept below. My bed was on top.
“Fine, tsk, tsk.”
Silently, he released his hands and disappeared from view. I laid in bed, staring into the darkness of the closet. We had no closet doors; which left plenty of space for me to play in and hide in. I sat up and swung part of my torso over the railing.
“Okay, I’ll tell you a story. Just don’t do anything to me.”
Tomorrow, I hoped I wouldn’t find more moths crushed into the mouths of my baby dolls, or the faces of my Barbie dolls, burned black.
“How about a story about a dragon and a princess?” I said.
I straightened up and looked around the room. It seemed slightly more visible. Another car passed along the street, casting a reflection on the wall. I looked at the closed door and the Ten Commandments I had taped on it from Sunday school.
“You know what my favorite story in the Bible is? Revelations.” I said and laid back down.
“Because, it’s the part when all the sinners get punished for being bad.”
“No, it isn’t.”
“Uh-huh. All the bad people get left behind. They get stuck here. And good people go to Heaven.” I could feel a smile tug at my lips.
Isaiah got up from the bed and stood again, griping the railing.
“So what happens to the bad people?”
My heart quickened.
“They are left here and the ground tears apart. Fire burns their skin off and all the bugs and spiders come out.”
Isaiah scoffed. “Stop making things up.”
“I’m not. The Devil comes and he tortures all the people left behind.”
Isaiah burped and blew it into my face. It smelled of old meat and cheese. My throat tightened and my stomach rolled, but I didn’t dare flinch or turn away.
“So where do you think you’ll be?” He asked.
“I’ll go to Heaven.”
Isaiah smiled in the dark, teeth white and straight.
“No you won’t, because I’ll keep you here with me.”
The room was silent as another car rolled past. The light it cast on the wall looked like two triangular eyes, watching me as it swept across the room to disappear at the closet. Isaiah saw it too.
“The Devil!” He said.
He quickly ducked down and got into bed.
“Jen, I’m scared. I don’t like that story. Now you have to tell me another”
I pulled the covers up to my chin.
“But I’m sleepy.” I felt tears begin to sting my eyes.
“You better not go to sleep tonight. Not before me.”
As warm tears slid down my face, I turned so that I could watch the room. I would stay up and hope I didn’t see the dark shadow of my brother’s face again that night.