Once the moon had made her crescendo into the black velvet sky, I left my room in silence. It was well past ten, and I knew our mother would be fast asleep. Her demanding work life left little time for her to pay us much attention.
Katherine's room was only two down from my own; the bathroom was all that stood between us. Sometimes, when I lay in bed perfectly still, I swore I could hear her tiny breaths. Those were the moment I felt truly at peace.
I only knocked once, soft and low, and it was all it took. A moment later Katherine pulled open the door. She was in a loose white tank top and blue cotton shorts. My eyes did a quick scan of her delicate body. I was careful to stop them from lingering in any one place for too long.
"Andrew," she greeted me, ever the cheerful one. "It's late. I thought you'd be sleeping."
"You're one to talk," I teased her. "Little girls are supposed to have bedtimes."My mind told me it was never a good idea to bring up the word bed around Katherine. That was when the wrong ideas formed, when I thought a little too long and hard about how truly flawless she was. Every inch of her, every fragile curve of her body...I both wanted to ravage her and keep her safe.
I knew it was wrong. Sick and wrong and immoral. But God knew I couldnt change the way I felt for her. I'd tried so hard to tell myself, to no prevail. Katherine was the angel who haunted all my dreams.
"Maybe," she said, cocking her head to the side. "I'd fall asleep if you told me a bedtime story."
I grinned at her, and then she was taking me by the hand and pulling me towards the bed. Katherine crawled in underneath the covers, and I could only perch hesitantly upon the edge, because if I came any closer it might be too much to bear.
"Okay, I'm ready," she whispered when the covers were up to her chin.
I paused, trying to think of where to begin. I hadnt told her a bedtime story in ages. "Once upon a time," I said at last. "There was a beautiful princess who lived with her brother. It was his job to keep her safe from the evil monsters of the world."
Katherine rolled her eyes, but there was a spark in them that told me she was enjoying this almost as much as I was.
I went on. "He loved his sister very, very much. But one day he realized she had to grow up, and he had to let her live on her own a little. She met a knight who wanted to marry her, and her brother was furious. The princess grew sad and ran away.
"The brother searched everywhere for his sister, but eventually it became clear that she was gone. In despair, the brother went to the river to drown himself.
"But as he was going under, a pair of arms pulled him from the water. It was the princess, who had felt her brother's pain, and had come to his rescue. They went back to their palace together, and lived by each other's sides forever."
As my voice died out, I caught the last remnant of a smile upon Katherine's face. Her eyes were closed, though; she was asleep. I rose to my feet and left her alone, shutting the door behind me.
Keeping out the monsters. The ones that lived within me.