9 o’clock at night, the air was still. A speck of dust would be amplified like a megaphone if it were to skim across the floor right at this moment. Much of my bedroom was dark, excluding the corner of my bed where a small lamp shines down on me as I sit curled up, engrossed in a thriller novel.
Suddenly, a barking noise shatters the stillness of the air. I attempt to hang on to my book with every ounce of strength I have in my fingers, but alas, I succumb to the intense jolting action of being frightened, and release my book into the air. It landed upside down in my lap, bending a few of the pages.
“Ugh! Stupid phone!” I shouted. I knew it was my Aunt Jen. I had chosen that ringtone for her because her dog barks loud and deep like this ringtone. “Auntie Jen, what’s UP!” I answered with excitement in my voice. I’m always excited to hear from her, she’s my favorite aunt.
“Not much girl. I need a favor,” she replied.
“Sure, what flavor of favor do you need?” I giggled.
“Chocolate. Always chocolate,” she replied with a chuckle. “I need you to dog and house sit this weekend. Is that cool?”
“Absolutely! What time would you like me there?” I asked trying to remain as calm as possible.
“3 o’clock, and Krissy, NO parties,” her voice was firm as she accentuated the word no. “I mean it Krissy, NO parties,” she repeated.
“I understand. No parties. I swear, I will not have any parties at your house. You can trust me,” my voice was calm and sincere. “See you then.”
* * * * * *
Upon arrival, my aunt said, “You have two rules, and two rules only. Rule number one, do not go near the attic. Rule number two, NO parties, Krissy.”
“What’s the deal with the attic?”
“Krissy, just do as your told. Please!” she said sternly. She glanced at her wrist watch and said, “I’m late, I’m late. I’ll see you Sunday. Have a great weekend with Butch.”
The door slammed behind her. I turned to Butch who was sitting on the floor next to me, and said, “Well, it’s you and me this weekend. You better behave.”
He wagged his tail as if to tell me that he understood, and would behave as best he could.
* * * * * *
The sun had set. The stillness inside the house was a bit eerie since the wind had begun to howl outside. Butch refused to leave my side, but it was more than likely due to the fact that he was hungry and I was making dinner. “None of this food is for you. It makes you extremely gassy, and I am not in any sort of mood to be smelling that all night,” I said sternly.
He peered up at me as if he did understand my words, and I had just broken his heart. “I would rub your head to make you feel better Butch, but I’m cooking. I’ll get you a treat in a few minutes.”
He wagged his tail again.
“You sure do know how to play me,” I said with a smile.
Unexpectedly, Butch jumped to a standing position with the fur on his back standing on end.
“What’s wrong, boy?” I asked, my voice sounding a little shaky.
A low growl erupted from deep within his gut.
Standing still, I listened. I heard nothing but his growling. “Butch hush,” I said calmly as I placed my hand on his head to quiet him. That’s when I heard a rustling noise coming from the attic. “Butch come,” I said as I took one step forward. “Heal!” I snapped.
He stayed right by my side as we made our way up the stairwell, down the hall, and to the attic door. Commotion on the other side of the door startled both of us. Butch acted like a pansy and tried to jump into my arms, ripping off the bottom button of my shirt. It hit the floor, and rolled right under the door. “Butch, you big baby!”
I reached up and felt the top of the door frame. “I know the key is up here somewhere,” I said to Butch who was growling at the door. “It’s probably just a mouse. Nothing to be afraid of,” I said, “but please calm down so you don’t frighten me. I want to see what is making that rustling sound.”
I finally located the key by standing on my tip toes. Just as quickly as I inserted the key, the rustling inside the attic stopped. “See, the noise stopped, it had to be a mouse. Let’s find my button while we look around.”
Butch looked at me like I was insane.
I turned the key, twisted the door knob, and cautiously slid the door open. A light shone down on an old sewing machine in the far corner of the attic. My button was hanging by a thread from the machine. “Butch, do you see that? My button! It’s hanging from the sewing machine. How did it get there?” I said, my extremities began to tremble.
Butch moved closer to my leg, pushing me as he tried to remain close. I could tell that he was uncomfortable so I kept my hand on his head to ease his fears.
With each step it seemed like the light became brighter. I couldn’t tell where the light was coming from. There wasn’t a light fixture on the ceiling, nor a lamp nearby. “Am I seeing things, or is this magic?” I whispered.
We were two steps away from the sewing machine when the light began to swirl around us like a miniature tornado. Butch inched his way in between my legs. Even though he was frightened, he was still in a protective stance.
I glanced around the room trying to focus on something that was stationary, but I couldn’t see past the swirling light. Instantly, the room became still, but we weren’t in the attic any longer, we were in the living room, and Butch was 6 months old. “Butch look, that’s you six months ago. You were so cute and little.”
He wanted to smell that puppy. I could feel his body move forward between my legs. I squeezed my legs tight around his sides, slipped my fingers into his collar, and pulled him to the outside of my left leg.
The light began to swirl around us again. When it stopped, we were at the animal hospital where my Aunt Jen works. She had her back towards us, I couldn’t see what she was doing. Butch immediately pulled me forward. He wanted to go to her. She moved off to the side a smidgen, and I saw a dog that looked exactly like Butch lying lifeless on the table. My aunt was assisting the doctor with an operation of some sort. I then saw a little puppy, it fit right inside her palm. She hugged it tight to keep it warm. She then informed the doctor that she was going to take him home and name him, Butch.
“Butch we just witnessed your birth,” I said as I ruffed up the fur on the top of his head. I noticed his birth mom still wasn’t moving. Jen covered up the mother. I knew that she had died while giving birth. “Aunt Jen never told me that,” I muttered.
The tornado of lights swirled yet again. This time we wound up in the bathroom. Aunt Jen was bleeding and crying. Through her sobs I was able to make out the words, “Why God, why? I wanted to keep this baby.”
“Aunt Jen was pregnant? And she had a miscarriage?” I said, tears building in the back of my eyes. Butch whined as he watched the memory of my aunt sobbing. I could tell that his heart was connected with hers, and all he wanted to do was comfort her.
I glanced at the sewing machine confused. I realized that there was no point in trying to figure out what happened, how it happened, or why it happened. I would have to ask my aunt if I really wanted to know. But then, I would be admitting to breaking one of the two rules. I couldn’t risk her not trusting me anymore. I was going to hold these memories close to my heart, and pray that one day she will be able to talk to me about them.
As the light began to diminish, I noticed a big, hairy spider snatching up the light in the spool of thread, like it was reeling the memories back in. “That spider must have been the rustling noise we heard, Butch,” I muttered as I looked down at him. I then noticed the button that he had torn off my shirt had magically been sewn back on, like it had never been torn off in the first place. “Weird,” I whispered.
Once the spider had spooled up the memories of light, the attic room fell dark. The only visible light came from the hallway. We backed up slowly and quietly, too stunned to disturb the way of life in this attic. “No wonder Aunt Jen didn’t want me coming in here,” I murmured as I silently closed the door and locked it.
– Anneberly Andrews –
Written for Peregrine Arc’s Creativity Contest The Time Machine Sewing Machine. She has extended this prompt for another week. I was grateful for that, I couldn’t get my story to behave the way I wanted it to last week.