I couldn’t remember the last time I had woken up in the middle of the night. I never usually woke during the night at all, at least not since I was five or six years old. Bleary-eyed, I squinted into the half darkness and waited for the familiar objects in my room to take shape. The water glass on my nightstand shimmered like silver. I reached out for it. The water tasted stale and was ice cold, but I took a few sips anyway. The wind rustled the white curtains by the open window. It parted them for a brief moment, and through the narrow crack I could see a huge yellow moon, hanging there as if it were pinned in the sky. I loved the nights when there was a full moon, particularly their cold scent. I snuggled down beneath my thick blanket and listened to the comforting sounds coming from the living room.
It was only once I had almost fallen asleep again that I noticed it.
All at once, I was wide awake. But as hard as I tried, I couldn’t hear a thing: no rustling sounds as my mother Brenda moved around on the sofa, no clink as she put her wine glass back down on the table. And certainly not the comforting murmur of the television. Nothing. It was silent, too silent, deathly silent.
I reached for my dressing gown and pulled it on. On tiptoe, I crept over the cold floor of our apartment and turned on the lights.
»Mom?« I called, already with the vague premonition that I wouldn’t get an answer. I grabbed my cell phone. No messages. I dialed her number and let it ring and ring for an eternity, but she didn’t pick up. Walking slowly back to my room, I pulled off my dressing gown and lay down in my still-warm bed. I reached for the book on my nightstand and tried in vain to concentrate on the sentences. An uneasy feeling had taken hold of me, that I couldn’t shake it off.
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