The Ivory Tower Suite

read the suite in order

by Hildie S. Block

#2 Dead Tired

Three a.m., five other people in her dorm room and Demi wasn’t sure she could stay awake much longer.  She tried to give them the hint, saying goodnight, getting into bed, turning off all the lights.

Natasha put Demi’s phone in the middle of the floor as a light now – and it was casting an eerie glow over the room, piles of stuff in turn casting shadows on the walls.  

“I’m not tired,” whined Maddie.  

Well, you be you, thought Demi. 

“You know what this reminds me of?” Things always reminded Brianna of something. Usually something only Brianna cared about.

“If we knew, would you shut up?” Fiona putting her hair into a messy bun, and then it would fall out and she’d do it again.  And again.

“Oh be quiet—“ Lexi was the one who usually had the good ideas, and the car.

“It reminds me of sitting around a campfire telling, you know, ghost stories –“ Oh, no, Fiona, not stories from camp — 

“Who knows one?” Fiona’s bun had just fallen out again.

“This is stupid—“Maddie got scared.  Once, she actually passed out from fear.

I know one – there were 5 people in my dorm room and they all died and I got to go to sleep.

“I know one – one my mother told me,” Natasha wrote a lot of fanfic.  It was decent.

“You mother tells ghost stories?  The one that never even let you watch –“ 

“Not that one – my birth mother –“

“Your birth—“

“She’s adopted – shut up and let her finish—“

“My mother used to tell me this story when it was dark and too cold to go outside –“

“What—“

“In Siberia –“

“Siberia, Pennsylvania?”

“There’s no Siberia, Penn–”

“The one in Russia?”

“The one in Russia–”

“How old were you when you were adopted?”

“Like with the frozen tundra?”

“Yes, the one in Russia, with the tundra – steppe, actually–”

“Wait, Siberia’s real?”

“Yes, you—“

“Just let her finish”

“I’m still back with – it was too cold and dark”

I’m still trying to sleep, thought Demi, and pushed her pillow over her head.  

“She told me these stories – when it got so dark – like dark all, but a couple hours a day.  And seriously like freezing out – not low key cold, like freeze the hair out of nose cold –

“Eewww”

“It’s true–”

“And she would tell me about how when she was a little girl, she’d go out on nights like that –she’d go out, bundled up – even though she wasn’t allowed –

“Bad girl–”

“She was bored, can you imagine?”

“Was it really night? Or just dark–”

“It was really night –she’d wait until her parents were asleep – and she’d creep out and into the town square where the statue of Lenin was – and one night–”

“John Lennon?”

“OMG – did you ever study?  Russia!”

“It was Vlad Lenin!”

“The vampire?!”

“And around the statue this one night, there was a fire and a family – just sitting around the fire.  She crept closer because why were they there? And why weren’t they inside and why did they have the fire?”

“And they turned to look at her – there was a father and mother with a baby – she could see the baby was nursing under her big woolen scarf and two older sons and a daughter and they looked at her and they screamed, but it made no noise.”

“How could they scream and make—“

“Just let her finish –“

“How could she tell the mom was breastfeeding if the baby was under the scarf?”

“My mother said she squeezed her eyes shut and when she opened them –“

“Let me guess – they were gone?”

“No, she was back in bed.”

“WHAT!”

“So she dreamed it.”

“No, wait – so she crept out again – the next night – and this time she didn’t close her eyes when

they screamed – and she heard the scream.”

“But –“

“I feel like screaming!”

“So what happened?”

“And her parents found my mother the next morning, asleep outside by the statue.  She’d almost frozen to death –“

“Oh my god –“

“But she was wrapped in the scarf of the mother –“

“The one she had over the baby?”

“Yes, it was a woolen plaid scarf, browns and yellows.”

“Didn’t she get frostbite?”

“Yes, she permanently had a black mark from frostbite on her nose – and she kept that scarf – it was like a blanket, so big.  And she sent me to America in it when I was adopted.”

When Demi opened her eyes again, it was light in the dorm room.  Her roommate Natasha’s bed was stripped to the mattress and none of her posters were up.  Demi pulled the brown woolen blanket up to her chin and closed her eyes again – hoping for sleep.

There was a knock at the door – and she dragged herself over to answer it.  There was the Dean of Students – Prof somebody or other –looking concerned.

“Demi – are you going to class today?  It’s okay if you aren’t ready – it’s been a shock to everyone –“

Demi rubbed her eyes – tried to refocus them.

“The school has never had a tragedy like this before – the whole car – I mean just all five of them gone like that.  The truck driver is getting out of the hospital and wants to see you. He feels so badly – the ice, the glare – it was an accident.  Are you sure you are okay?  It’s only been a week – what can we do to help you?”

“I’m okay.  I just need to get up and –“

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I’ll go to class.”

“Stop by my office – we’ll chat –“

“Yeah – see you.”

Demi shut the door, not rudely, but not kindly and turned to her mirror trying to rub the black mark off her nose, but it wouldn’t budge.  She fell back on the bed.  She had to sleep when they’d let her.









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