Wind whistled outside of the small lighted kitchen where Rachel sat reading her magazine, and across from her mother drank an herbal tonic and stared blankly at the table.
Her mother looked up, “I wish you wouldn’t read that trash.”
Rachel pursed her lips and kept staring at the magazine, and her mother went back to staring at the table.
“Where’s your brother?” Her mother asked.
“What?” She didn’t even look up from the article in front of her.
“Your brother. Where is he?”
Rachel shrugged, “I don’t know. Probably in his room.”
“I’ll go check.” Her mother started to rise and Rachel’s eyes darted up from an sage article on supple skin.
“Uh – I’ll check mom.” She got up and put a firm hand on her mothers shoulder, “You just sit right down here and relax.” She adjusted the afghan on her mother’s shoulders and kissed her on the cheek, and then turned and walked to the stairs. They sang a groaning song as she walked up them.
Her brother’s door was closed, and beyond was silence. She knocked. No answer. Again. No answer. She grasped the door handle and turned and cracked the door open. “Timmy, I’m coming in.” She pushed the door open all the way and cold air rushed past her, scrambling to get into the warm house. The room beyond the door was dark; moonlight poured in from outside and turned the furniture into empty silhouettes.
“Is he up there?” Her mom called from below.
“Just a minute.” Rachel flipped on the light and looked around the room. The David Bowie and Elton John posters gazed with her at an empty room. She sighed and walked over to the open window. Outside a willow tree bent and swayed in the cold winter wind. She turned back to the house and shouted down to her mother. “He’s just getting to bed,” and then she closed the window.