Invisible Between the Sheets
The young woman woke and looked out the window. What a welcome sight it was after seeing nothing but shades of grey for so long! The sky was bright blue, dotted with fluffy pillows of clouds, and everything seemed touched by a warm yellow glow.
She loved days like this, when the delicate springtime sun has finally chased off the lingering chill of a long hash winter. After months of being locked indoors, she was anxious to go out and perform her annual welcome to warm weather. Today was the day she’d hang the wash out on the clothes line for the first time this year.
She took her time pinning the wet laundry to the line, and enjoyed every minute of it. This always seemed like a new beginning, a chance to start over. She hung the sheets first, and as she started on the clothes, she laughed at the sound of Tommy playing between the sheets. He loved darting back and forth, shouting, “I’m invisible. You can’t see me!” At five years old, being invisible was his favorite fantasy. Every now and then, he’d be very quiet, and creep up slowly, popping out of his cover of white, and shout, “Boo!”
She braced herself for his sneak attack. He’d been quiet for a few moments, and she knew she was about to be “surprised.” But as she fastened one of her husband’s shirt to the line, she realized the attack was too long in coming. Something must have distracted him.
“Tommy, come out of there now. I don’t want you getting my clean sheets all dirty.” She waited, but Tommy didn’t come out. “I mean it, young man. I have a lot of laundry to hang, and I don’t have time to come find you. We’ll play hide and seek when I’m done. Tommy? Tommy!"
She started pushing her way through the wet, white forest of sheets. " TOMMY"
There was nothing but silence. Tommy was nowhere to be found anywhere between the sheets.
"T-O-M-M-Y ! ! ! ! !"
Hearing his wife screaming in the backyard, he hurried out to the back yard as fast as his cane would allow him. He could see her feet, but she was hidden from sight between the sheets. He tore the wet sheets from the line and tossed them aside. Reaching her, he gathered the shrieking old woman into his arms. “Sshhh,” he said. “It’s okay. It’s okay. Sshhh.”
This was his annual welcome to warm weather, he thought, as he tried to calm her. It was the first nice day of springtime, a day just like that day thirty-seven years ago, when their son Tommy had disappeared from between the sheets.