Monday, July 9, 2012

Scratch

Marcus burrowed his head into the cool pillowcase to shut out the darkness.  The spindly branches of an old oak tree scratched against his window, sounding like fingers clawing at the sash.  He shuddered and imagined a clammy hand belonging to those fingers, scrabbling for purchase on the narrow vinyl windowsill.    He knew it was just a branch, just wood and bark and leaves and a night breeze pushing it against the window.  Just a lot of nothing.  Nobody was trying to break in, nobody was coming to get him.  They couldn’t have even if they wanted to.  The inside of the window was covered in a locked metal grid with no give whatsoever.  His first night in the room, Marcus had fallen asleep in front of it, grid speckled with blood from his persistent fingertips.  There was no out.  So there could be no in.  The scratching came again and Marcus pulled the thin cotton blanket up over his head and shoulders, relying on a boyhood trick to give himself the illusion of safety.  Not that all safety wasn’t an illusion, he thought.  The blanket smelled thickly of must and old B.O. and Marcus breathed shallowly through his mouth to avoid the brunt of it.  A cool breeze passed over his exposed toes and his body went rigid.  Someone was in the room.