It was well after dark when Day returned from her backyard adventures with her best friend, Finn Reilly.
Finn was nine years old, nearly a year younger than Day. He lived around the corner from her, their backyards kitty-corner from one another. He was a small, red-headed boy prone to freckles and tripping over his own feet.
He had knocked on the back door after breakfast, as he did nearly every Saturday morning. Together, he and Day raced through their backyards, laughing and squealing as kids do. They had been on a safari, searching for a rare black lion. Then they were trekking through a rain forest, looking for the Iguazu Falls. After lunch, they were in the desert sands of Egypt, looking for lost tombs. Trying to avoid a deadly booby trap, Finn tripped on his shoelaces and took a tumble, getting grass stains on his play jeans.
Abandoning her search for King Tut, Day returned to their backyard and lay on the grass beside him. They spent the next few hours staring up at the sky, gazing at the clouds, and eventually falling asleep.
"Where did you guys go today?" Day's mother asked, eager to hear all about their excursions. Day relayed the story with enthusiasm, waving her hands about as she told of Finn's near death experience with the booby trap. Her mother gave a strange smile, as if she wasn't really paying attention. Something went off in the back of Day's mind, and she felt that something was wrong.
Upon further examination, she realized that her mother looked stressed out and worried. "Is everything okay, mom?" she asked.
Her mother looked up, startled, as if her mind had been somewhere else. "Yes, dear. I'm fine. You should go to bed, darling. It's late."
Day nodded, though she still felt like something was wrong. But her mother never lied to her, so everything must be okay. But, then, why did she feel like it wasn't?
Day awoke late in the night in a cold sweat. She'd had another dream about her father, and it left her feeling empty, nursing a terrible ache in her chest. She wiped her tears on her pajama sleeve, and tip-toed out into the hallway. It was her intention to crawl into bed with her mother, as she usually did when she had these dreams. But the dream left her mind upon hearing voices in her father's study.
The door was ajar, a halo of light casting ugly shadows on the wall opposite. Day inched closer, her heart racing. It beat against her chest as if trying to get out, and she thought for sure whoever was in the study might hear her.
"You can't do this right now. Our daughter is asleep down the hall." It was her mother's voice.
"Marie, you know I don't have a choice. Make sure she knows I love her."
There was a blinding flash of light, and a ringing that lingered in Day's ears. She blinked the colorful spots from her eyes, and listened harder, hoping to hear more of the mysterious conversation. Something about the man's voice made the hairs rise on the back of her neck.
Day couldn't hear anything but a shuffle of feet. Worried she would be discovered eavesdropping, Day hurried back to her bedroom. It was hours before she finally drifted off again.