Red Wine by Alexa Hulmes

Stacy lounges on her worn couch enjoying a well-deserved glass of red wine. Bare feet

rest atop the coffee table as she clicks through the channels, only half paying attention. She

swirls the glass in her hand, taking in the bittersweet aroma before finally enjoying a sip. Her

hazel eyes drift to the small screen resting on the table. A small smile forms on her lips seeing

her pride and joy sleeping peacefully.

The smile wipes from her face just as quick as it had come. She jerks her body into an

upright position, swapping the wine in her hand for the monitor. She studies the picture, worry

lines appearing seemingly out of nowhere. There! In the corner! A dark and tall shadow looms

over the crib. It wasn’t doing anything? Just… standing there, watching… waiting? Stacy jumps

up from her spot on the couch, bumping the table and spilling red everywhere.

Wine slowly makes its way to the end of the table, reaching the floor with a faint drip,

drip, drip. The white rug underneath began to look like something out of a crime scene. Slowly,

she begins the long walk to her precious child’s room. One foot in front of the other. Stacy’s feet

slap quietly against the hardwood floor. The apartment seems impossibly dark. She rounds the

corner leading to the tight hallway, pausing at the open door to her room. Stacy ducks inside,

retrieving the wooden baseball bat she kept in her closet then turns back to the task at hand. One

foot in front of the other.

The door draws near. Each step brings her closer, and increases the pounding in her

chest. One foot in front of the other. Stacy focuses on breathing nice, long, deep breathes. She

can’t let herself get too panicked. Not if she was going to be of any use. She grips the bat tighter,

her hands slick with sweat. One foot in front of the other. Stacy now stands in front of the

dreaded room, where the intruder is, where her child is, or at least where she hopes it is.  Her ear meets the cool door as she strains to hear something, anything to indicate her baby was still ok.

Nothing. Not a peep. Not a cry. Nothing. Deafening silence envelopes Stacy as she releases one

hand from her death grip on the bat. She moves it slowly, shrinking the already small distance to

the knob.

Her hand grasps the knob.

She brings in a slow breath and holds it.

The knob turns slowly.

Stacy begins to push the door open.

It squeaks on its hinges breaking the terrible silence.

Wider and wider the door opens.

In one swift motion, Stacy shoves open the door and brings her hand back to the bat, ready to strike.

Her wide eyes dart to the corner she knew the figure was in.

That’s when she saw it.

All at once Stacy’s body relaxes, the baseball bat hanging limply by her side. She

releases the breath she had been holding. How could she have been so stupid? Stacy almost

laughed at herself. She had gotten herself all worked up over this? Now up close, she could

barely see how this new lamp could ever possibly look like a person. Maybe she had drank too

much wine. She watched the little chest in the crib rise and fall. With that, Stacy turns on her

heels and left to deal with her spill. She closes the door behind her just as something behind

the lamp moves.