Room 14

Our parents left us alone. They wanted some peace and quiet, they said. Millie is sleeping, she was already asleep when they left. Mama told me to take care of her if she woke up. Her bottle is in the fridge, she said. Remember to heat it up in the microwave, but make sure it’s not too hot. Check it on your wrist, like this, she said as she tilted the bottle and a little drop of milk formula landed on the inside of her wrist. When you can’t feel it, it’s fine, she said and chucked the bottle back in the fridge. They gave me a bag of crisps, put the telly on and left. Daddy gave me a kiss on the cheek, he already smelled strangely. The bottle with the brown stuff he had been drinking earlier was in the bin. Empty.

I didn’t ask them to stay. I was too scared to tell them I didn’t want to be alone, that I was terrified. There could be monsters under the bed or ghosts in the wardrobe. Or Millie could wake up. I hope she doesn’t. I’m only 6, I don’t know how to take care of a baby. I try to watch the telly, but they’re speaking a strange language that I don’t understand. I pick up the controller to change the channel. I flick through, but there’s just static. No other channels. I change back to the one with the strange language.

I hear a loud thud, coming from the adjoining room. I freeze. Listen. Nothing. I look over at Millie, she’s still sleeping. Another thud. A scream. My heart is beating faster and faster as I grab a blanket from the side of the bed and cover Millie’s bed with it, before I crawl under the bed and hide. I don’t know how long I stay there for. It feels like years and years.

I can hear Mama’s laugh down the corridor. Finally, I think, as I hurry out from under the bed. I grab the blanket from Millie’s bed and jump up on the bed. I put the blanket over me and pretend that I’m asleep. I don’t want Daddy to get angry. I don’t like it when he’s angry and smells strangely.



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