He tiptoed through the back of the house. He couldn’t help but wonder at his own silliness. He wasn’t a child anymore. Not really. He could hear every pad of his foot on the boards under the carpet. He barely breathed. He could hear the muffled sound of television in the front of the house. He slowed as he approached the door. Blue flickering lights shone under the door in the dark house. He breathed out and continued his slow progress to the door. IF the windows weren’t all painted shut he would have slunk out one of them. He would have jumped. This was nearly as dangerous though. Aunt Ethel was not someone to tangle with and he didn’t want her to know he was going against her. But it didn’t have anything to do with her. He didn’t want her to be disappointed but this needed to be done. He stepped easier as he stepped into the dark entryway. Light fell through the windows in the door and reflected back in the mirror. His dark shape unsettled him and he felt shame, but there was no other way. Ethel and Pete didn’t need to know. He reached for the knob and paused to listen to the house, to make sure no one stirred in the hallway. He opened the door and pulled it tightly closed behind him. He closed his eyes and squeezed a prayer to the heavens of thanks that he’d made it out of the house.
He turned to the starry sky and breathed free air. He walked to the stairs. A hand cuffed him by the scruff of his neck. He froze as his stomach churned into a knot of fear and ice.
“Where are you going?” Uncle Pete stepped out of the shadow of the porch. He blew a puff of smoke to the side. He was supposed to have quit months ago. Another secret kept from Aunt Ethel.
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