“Hey, Champ. Chairs are for sitting. Beds are for sleeping.”
Jack opened his eyes to see his father sitting on the couch, lacing up his boots. The sky was the deep blue of just-before-gray-before-sunrise.
Jack rubbed the sleep from his eyes, sat up. “Sorry, Dad. Had trouble sleeping, came down here to think some, and guess I fell asleep.”
“Your mother and I heard you yell last night. Bad dream?”
“Want to talk about it?”
Jack shrugged. “Not much to talk about. I just… dreamed I was going to lose something.”
“Must be something important, for all the yelling.”
Jack looked over at the coffee table, where the sketch sat. His father followed his gaze.
“Your mother was right, it is very good.”
“You don’t remember her, either, then.”
“Son, I think I would remember a girl as pretty as this.”
“Yeah, I seem to be the only one who does.” Jack pushed himself forward, got up from the chair.
Jack’s father stood, put a hand on Jack’s shoulder.
“Son, you say you’ve seen that girl before. Maybe you have. Maybe I have, but I just don’t remember. I’m sorry. I just don’t know what to do to help.”
Jack stared at his toes, then glanced over at the drawing. He started towards the stairs, then caught himself, foot on the first step.
“Maybe… there is something.”
“In the woods. The professor gave me some numbers. Coordinates. A pair of them point to something in the woods.”
“There’s nothing out there,” Jack’s father said. “No ruins, or temples or anything like that.” He scratched his head.
“Will you come with me to find out?”
“What, now? Son, I have to get going to work soon.”
“I know. What about your day off? Its dark by the time you get home other days. I’d go after school, but you say we’re not supposed to go too far into the woods alone. And now that—” Jack caught himself, took a deep breath. “I don’t have anyone to go with.”
“You’ve really given this some thought, haven’t you?”
“Well, hold your horses until Sunday and we’ll see what we find.”
* * * * *
The week could not pass fast enough for Jack. He tried to pay attention better in class, actually using it as a distraction from worrying about Beth, and wondering what could possibly be out in the woods.
He was disappointed in his dreams, though. While relieved that there were no more nightmares of fire and smoke, he dreamed mundane, “normal” dreams. His worry for Beth grew each night she didn’t appear. Had she forgotten about him? Was she hurt? In trouble? She said she’d broken one of the rules, maybe she was being punished?
He woke up grouchier each morning. Ellie kept on him constantly to help with her costume, even though their mother was doing most of the work, sewing triangles of cloth around the tu-tu. Jack just grumbled, waiting for the weekend, and shook more glitter along the length of the foil-star-topped wand.
Sunday seemed to take forever.