VII.

Carla awoke at three o'clock in the morning.

She had a small room, for there needed to be four bedrooms in the house, but she didn't mind. Now as she took a look at the blocked fireplace in the corner of the room she shuddered. She recalled having a dream about a fireplace, and it seemed to have come from either her memory or her future. She didn't know when that dream had been. It could have been five minutes ago or five years ago. But it was real.

In her dream she saw a fireplace left unattended at the top of a house. The fire was badly made. The flames licked the coal, but a lone piece of newspaper peeked out from under the coal and out into the room. A haunting tune sounded in Carla's head as the fragment of paper was caught ablaze. Soon the paper dropped off its main body, burnt and crumbling. But now the wooden floor was alight. And now the roof beams of the attic room were alight. And now one was falling...

Carla shuddered again with the odd familiarity of the vision.

Now most mothers have the strange power to sense when their children are upset, unwell or unrestful. Carla's mother had that power, and now, at three o'clock in the morning, Mrs Carter awoke.

She did not go to the nursery or Carl's room. She knew in an instant that it was her one and only daughter who needed checking upon.

Mrs Carter entered the room, startling her daughter, who was lost in thought.

"Are you alright?" she asked in a low, calm voice.

"Yes," whispered Carla.

"Are you afraid of anything?"

"Of course not. I can't think of a single thing I'm afriad of," lied Carla, repeating her earlier declaration.

Her mother handled the situation differently to the way her friend had.

"Think again," said Auriol Carter, smiling. Carla's mum tucked the clothes more warmly around her daughter, slightly awkwardly because of a swollen belly, murmured something to do with having a good night, and was gone.

Carla became a figure in a crumbling house for a second. She shuddered again, and went to sleep.

The End

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