Scrape… scrape… scrape… clink… clink.
Sharp noises cut into my deep sleep. Grunting, I turned onto my other side and tried to shut out the racket. But it was no use; sleep had lost its hold on me. Without even opening my eyes, I felt that it must be very early in the morning. So I pulled the blanket, which was only covering my legs, up to my chin.
A blanket? Wait a minute… I don’t remember a blanket. And where am I?
I jerked onto my back.
The cabin? Oh no! Why did he let me sleep for? And why did I even let myself fall asleep in the first place?
I should have reached my destination – if I had one figured out – several hours ago. What had I been thinking?
My eyes flew open. A strange dark figure stood beside the lounge where I lay! I squealed in fright and hid my face in my arms.
“I’m so sorry I scared you,” an unfamiliar male voice whispered. “I just got up to check the fire. I must have made more noise than I thought.”
His reassuring tone stopped my trembling… and my curiosity made me uncover my face.
When my eyes had adjusted to the light of the dying fire, I realised I was looking at a fifteen or sixteen-year-old guy, who was a blend of the two people in the photo hanging on the wall. He was tall (but not as tall as Bob) and had very curly blonde hair and bright blue eyes. I had never seen a person who looked so much like both their parents; it was a strange experience.
I must have had a weird expression on my face, because he frowned and took a step closer.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
I managed a smile. “Yeah, I’m fine now. Thanks.”
He smiled back… and his smile was just like Valerie’s: kind.
“I’m Micah, by the way.”
“Veronica. I-I guess I should explain why I’m here, in your house. I wasn’t exactly planning on falling asleep. I was just waiting and-and….”
Micah waved his hand dismissively. “Don’t worry about it. Dad explained it all to me when I got home from youth group. So you’re heading for…?”
“The train station,” I replied promptly, “and I’d be at my friend’s place already if I hadn’t fallen asleep. Why didn’t your dad wake me up?”
“Uh… I guess he thought you needed the rest.” His eyes avoided mine. “And he likes having visitors.”
“Even visitors who are fast asleep?”
“He gets lonely when I’m not around,” he replied matter-of-factly, turning to look at the fire.
Neither of us spoke for a few moments. I had several more questions that I wanted to ask, but Micah seemed to have lost interest in talking; he continued to stare at the flames. I wondered if they were casting the same spell over him as they had done to me just hours earlier.
I yawned loudly. The sound seemed to break the spell.
He suddenly turned back to me. “Well, we’d both better get some more sleep,” he stated. “See you in the morning.”
I nodded and yawned again. After watching the pyjama-clad figure disappear up the stairs, I closed my eyes.
I guess meeting one more stranger wasn’t so bad after all.