The Rule Breaker

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Here’s my take on the writing prompt I posted 9/12/16 on Facebook. Hope you had fun writing your own story and that I get to read it soon!

The Rule Breaker

She was never one to follow the rules, and so the phrase ‘bedtime’ had no meaning for her. When her sisters were gathered into bunks and trundle beds, she would wait for their breathing to settle, settle, settle down into one quiet snore and then she would slip out the end of the quilt, through the window and into the always magnetic nighttime street.

The neighborhood dogs knew her scent and never bothered to raise a fuss. Shrubs provided cover when nosy cars interrupted her wandering. Even the yowling cats grew silent as the little girl, a sister nocturnal, appeared. She made eye contact with each one of them, gave a little nod and then moved on, seeking the entrance to the whispering park.

Soft-soled sandals hushed the crunch of leaves as she traced the park’s lone walking trail, looking up into moonlit trees for signs of life. The dark eyes of squirrels appeared, blinked twice and disappeared back into nests which seemed too scratchy to her for sleeping. Sometimes little foxes, on the hunt for midnight snacks, would stop beside the trail and let her brush the tips of her fingers through their tails.

What she wanted was never the same. Sometimes it was the chance to see the moon fling silver light across the birches. Last week she had crawled deep into a stand of flowering quince, pulling up the neck of her pajamas to shield her face, until she could kneel in the hollow where the rabbits sleep at night. Ears quivered, noses fussed the air and shivering legs threatened to launch the sleepy family from their nest, but then she sang them back to sleep with the soft, tuneless songs of a little girl who cannot sleep herself.

Once, when the chill of snow had seeped into the socks she’d hidden under the covers with her sandals, she had walked all the way around the park, making tiny footprints in the shallow drifts and then brushing them away with a pine branch, except for one next to every tree. She giggled at the mystery she was leaving.

Always before dawn she would exit the park and turn the outside tap behind the school just one turn, the water whispering down onto her grubby feet and knees until the nighttime wandering clues had disappeared. Drying with the legs of her pajamas, she would look once more at the falling moon as the faintest flickers of sunrise threatened.

She had made her own rule, that when the moon was gone and the animals went back to bed or started making breakfast for their children, she would always make her way back home. Someday she would choose to break that rule, but for now, the sisters and her mother needed her to be in bed when they woke an hour later, when they began their days that held no mysteries.

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