I must have had a peaceful dream. A noisy clatter followed by a high-pitched scream that came from across the hallway startles me and roughly brings me back to the present that I had already dreaded the night before. There are countless ways how you should wake up after a night of heavy drinking and the last time I checked, waking from sudden, unexpected noises definitely wasn’t one of them. Eyes wide open, I am instantly awake.
My head starts pounding as the sleep deprived and still intoxicated synapses in my brain try to reconnect with the rest of my body. Clumsily, I stumble to my feet. A quick glance at the alarm clock on my bedside table tells me that it is just after ten in the morning. My parents must have already left for that function my mum had told me about the other day. Maybe they had just left a few moments ago and all I had heard was the door as it clunked shut.
“Eric?” I call out, unable to miss the rising hint of panic in my voice. The apartment remains perfectly silent. Apart from my own pulse I hear nothing. Even though it’s only a few steps to my little brother’s room, I still manage to bump into my own door frame along the way. Muttering a row of unintelligible words I don’t even understand myself, I rub my fingers against my shoulder as the unwelcome pain piercingly radiates through my body.
Holding on to the walls for support I push myself forward and catch a glimpse of my own reflection in the hallway mirror. I look about as bad as I feel.
My fingers close around the door handle and clumsily push it down. “Eric!” I stumble forward and almost trip over the stupid Lego house he had built with one of his friends a few days ago. Scanning the corners and still searching for my brother, I try to make out what could have caused the noise I had heard earlier. By now I’m even sure there was a noise at all. A few picture books lie spread across the floor along with some of his favourite toy cars but other than that the room basically looks like any other boy’s room.
Just as I am about to turn around again, inwardly already looking forward to falling back into cool pillows and going back to at least three more hours of sleep, I hear an excited snicker behind me. Then it goes dark.
I shriek and, temporarily caught off guard, struggle against the soft fabric of the blanket that has been thrown over my head as I feel his small hands tighten around my waist, momentarily locking my arms into his tight embrace. “Gotcha!” my brother squeals with delight. “Eric, what are you doing?” “My name is not Eric. I am Wind In His Hair and you are my hostage!”
Still handicapped by a sudden loss of orientation thanks to the drunken endeavours of the previous night, I stagger back into the room, pushed by the invading monster that is my little brother. “You can sit here, Strange White Woman.” If I didn’t feel miserable as hell the authoritarian tone in his voice would actually make me laugh. “Eric, stop it! This isn’t funny, let go of me right now!” Stumbling against the chair, I silently pray that I won’t fall as my brother pushes my down, ties a rope around my waist and carefully pulls the blanket off of me. Only when I see his face I see the effort he is putting into this, making sure that I remain unable to free my hands in the process.
“Okay, this is enough now”, I exclaim while an involuntary burst of laughter escapes my otherwise bewildered and tired self. “You won, okay?” I give him an encouraging smile and nod my head towards the rope that is still tying me to his chair.
“No-o-o-o!” He laughs, his hand flying up to his mouth. “That’s not how taking hostages works.”
“Eric, no –“
“Wind In His Hair. That’s my new name, Strange White Woman. Wind In His Hair. The chief will be very happy I caught you. He has questions. Lots of questions!”
Helplessly stuck in the moment, I am still wondering whetherI actually want to laugh or cry. Eric doesn’t see this though. Confidently smiling back at me and clearly very proud of himself, he continues to skip around the room, his voice cracking with excitement, his face beaming with joy.(Photo Credit: amanda tipton via Flickr cc)