Maggie had just finished getting ready for bed when there was a knock on her door. She walked to the door and looked out the peephole; it was Debbie and Susie. Oh my god, she wants me to babysit, Maggie thought as she pinched her eyes tight in disbelief. For a moment, she thought about not answering the door, but Debbie probably heard her walk up to it and knows she is looking out the peephole at them that very moment.
She opened the door, with a yawn and a tired look. “Hi, Debbie.”
Debbie was dressed in a white nursing dress and was looking a little down. “I’m sorry to bother you, Maggie. It looks like you’re ready for bed, but I have to be to work in half an hour, and there is no one to watch Susie. Do you mind watching her tonight? I’ve been trying to find another babysitter, but I’m not having any luck.”
Maggie was stuck; how could she say no. She looked at Susie in her nightgown and the ragged teddy bear. It was not so bad last time she babysat; maybe it will be the same tonight. All she had to do was ignore what Bruce told her yesterday about Susie needing to be institutionalized. If Susie could become violent, wouldn’t she be better with a man like Bruce watching her? She let out a slow breath. “Sure.”
“Thank you so much, Maggie. I owe you one.” Debbie bent over, kissed Susie, and was off down the stairs before Maggie knew what had happened.
“Come inside, Susie.” Maggie opened the door, and Susie walked in.
Maggie thought about pushing the couch up against the door so that no one would be able to enter during the night—since she still did not have the lock fixed—but what if she needed to escape the apartment fast. With Susie’s supposed history, a person never knows when they may need to run for their life. But then, who said Bruce was right? Maybe he did not know what he was talking about. She locked the door with the skeleton key and pushed the couch in front of it.
When she had finished, she turned around and saw the bathroom door closed. Susie must be inside, Maggie thought, so she walked into the guest room and turned down the blankets. When she had finished, Susie came out of the bathroom and walked into the bedroom.
“Are you ready for bed?”
Susie held her teddy and crawled into bed. Maggie could not help but feel sorry for the child. There were no other kids to play with in the apartment building, but then, giving Debbie the benefit of the doubt, maybe she goes to a playgroup with other kids during the week. Maggie covered Susie and tucked her in. “Good night, Susie.”
Susie did not say anything.
Maggie left Susie’s door open a crack and walked into her bedroom. Now she had to decide whether to leave her door open as she did last time, close it or close and lock it. She wanted to lock it, but what if Susie needed something. Dependable Maggie opted to close the door and leave it unlocked.
She placed her cell phone on the nightstand beside the bed; it would be easy to get to if she needed to call 911. When she got into bed, she turned facing the door. Having her back to the door was the same as having an arm or leg hang off the bed where a monster might grab it and pull her underneath. In this case, a small child with a knife would come in and hack her to death.
“Don’t be ridiculous, Maggie,” she whispered to herself as she closed her eyes.