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Walking back into the living room, the large portrait of the little girl seemed to have changed. While the little girl once stood alone, she was now accompanied by a little boy. Their big eyes captured the fear and heartache they so realistically portrayed. The girl held onto the little boy with a tight grip, and as I walked closer to the painting, the girl’s eyes moved with each of my steps. The portrait seemed so realistic if I hadn’t known I could’ve sworn it was a photograph. Then as I reached forward, a hand snatched me…

“Why did’t you answer when I called you?” I turned to see Mom. I looked up at her in a daze. Turning around to face the portrait, I caught a glance at the little boy and girl. Where they once stood at the center of the painting holding each other under a tight grip, they now stood on opposite sides of the portrait. As I tried to take a closer step forward, I was flown over someone’s head and the world tilted on its axis. The last thing I saw before entering the kitchen was the little boy and girl holding a finger to their lips.

While my parents unpacked our cooking utensils, I grabbed a knife and started spreading peanut butter on a slice of bread. For the last week and a half, we’ve been living off of peanut butter and jelly. With mom always speeding off for her next break in real estate and dad figuring things out for his next novel. Our family hasn’t completely been a top choice picturesque American Dream Flyer. To top it off, I haven’t been completely honest with them. As I stand here, eating my superb PB&J, my parents are oblivious to my recurring nightmares and sleepwalking. Back at our old house, the nightmares were more mundane and easy to explain away. I’d wake up on the floor beside my bed, in a sort of post-nightmare daze. But, since moving into the new house, I would find myself waking up in the backyard with scratch marks all over my back and legs. With all that we’ve been through with the move, letting them know what was going on with me was last on my list of priorities.

“Honey, are you doing ok?” dad started, “we know things have been rough lately, and we just want to make sure you’re okay.” Looking up, I saw a woman with large eyes staring deep into my soul. I could see the swirls of her deep brown eyes encompassing her iris, reaching forward and enveloping every inch of me.  Her pupils reduced to a sliver, mimicking a cat ready to attack. But, there was something awry within her, almost a deep sadness. Right when I was about to be fully gone, mom spoke, ” Honey, did you hear us?”

“Fine, mom. I’m ok.”

Looking at the portrait once more, the little boy and girl were back in its center, with tears streaming down their faces. The little girl seemed to be trembling as she drew herself closer to the portrait, and a small droplet streamed down the frame of the picture as two large brown eyes peered from the side of the painting.

Bitia Alanis

Rhodes '22

Bitia Alanis is a student at Rhodes College. She enjoys surfing the web, writing, reading, Netflix and allowing a space for people to connect and enjoy the many qualities of life. She's empathetic and always strives to make herself the best she can be.
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