Amelia pushed the needle through the warp. Over, under, over. She squinted at the woof as if her frown could keep the cotton threads aligned. The rocker squeaked against the hardwood, giving her away.
"Mom? You moved that chair again?"
Amelia winced and braced her feet against the floor, herself against the accusation. Yes, she'd pulled it closer to the large south window in her daughter's living room. Not exactly criminal, she thought.
"What are you up to now?" Dora, a breakfast plate in one hand, a tea towel in the other, leaned against the jamb.
"Is that one of Billy's socks, you've got?"
"I found it on the floor behind his laundry basket." Rolled inside-out, she thought. Without a heel. Forgotten. Widowed, maybe. In need of some attention.
"Do you know the price of socks, Mother?"
Amelia stood, then turned to put the darning on the still-warm cushion. Without a word she limped into the kitchen. Saying nothing sometimes said the most. Lord. Did she know the price of socks? Could her daughter mend a simple hole? She turned the tap and held the kettle underneath its gurgling stream, smiling at the rumble of the pipes.
"Mom." Dora slipped onto a stool beside the centre island.
What this time? Omission or commission? Another mother-daughter moment in the making.
"The cupboard beneath the sink? The one you worried Billy might get into? We talked about it?"
Amelia cleared her throat. She wasn't senile. She wasn't deaf. "Of course I remember."
"You had concerns."
"Cleansers. Poisons. An accident just waiting. I suggested moving them--remember?" Amelia said.
"He's suddenly terrified of it. I opened it to get the soap last night. He had a crying fit."
"Children cry. You were always frightened of the dark, you know."
"I still feel strange whenever there's a blackout."
Amelia put the water on to boil, then looked directly at her daughter. "There's nothing in the dark, now, is there, Dora? A childish fear. Perhaps it kept you out of mischief, from falling down a hole or getting lost in some big cave. I'll make us tea."
Dora flipped her ponytail to cool her neck. "I'll make a quick run to Tim Horton's. A doughnut or a scone would be nice with tea. Something sweet for Billy."
"You go. Bring back some holes. The plain ones. We'll be fine till you get back."
"Now you stay away from that cupboard. Don't you open that door. Billy! 'Cause Grandma says; that's why. Mama will be back soon.
"Didn't you hear the Druj in there? Sometimes you can hear her rubbing up against the pipes. Yes, it's true, Billy. I bet you've heard her in there. No, no one can see a Druj, not until it's too late. Do you know why that is, dear? A Druj is mostly mouth. You can see it when it's closed, but they keep their mouths open--so all you can see is just a big hole. Of course, you can't see a hole. A hole is just empty space. Billy, when a Druj closes its mouth--whatever, whoever is inside can't get out. Not ever. No one could even hear you crying in there.
"Billy. Listen to your grandma. The Druj is our little secret. If we don't tell anyone, she'll stay in there where she belongs and not creep up into your room tonight. Don't touch that cupboard door, darling; everything will be just fine."
About the author:
Brian Reynolds now lives in southern Ontario, retired after many years of teaching and doing other strange jobs in the far north. Now he writes it all down.