The air was stale beneath the blankets
But cold as it tickled my face
I couldn’t twitch my nose
I had to lie still

The sounds weren’t still
I could hear my sister’s breathing
Steady and even
I could hear the television
Blaring game show network downstairs
The radiator was crackling
Blasting warm air into the chill
And I could hear his footsteps
Coming up the stairs
The tread was uneven

He went over to the dresser
The broken drawer from a former tantrum
Squeaking as he opened it
I knew he could see my books on the floor
My secret yellow notebook was exposed

The heavy tread again
Coming towards my bed
All I could see was blackness
I couldn’t open my eyes
I forced my breathing to sound steady
And even
He touched my shoulder
And I felt a tear trickle down my cheek