Welcome to your Monday Sidetrack! Start by reading the story all the way through. Then, if you need a bit more of a sidetrack from your day, go back and explore the hyperlinks I've found for this bit. That way, you'll get the most out of the whole post. Enjoy!
(This story begins with Monday Sidetrack: 6. Start there to get caught up one post at a time or go to https://www.lavendersidetrack.com/story-catchup to read all the previous posts as one long post. Then subscribe to find out what happens next!)
I stayed in bed until I was pretty sure one or both of them were asleep. Ruby had chosen to move her elephant case to the end table next to the couch. I offered to share the guest room with her, but she said she preferred the open space of the living room. That seemed strange to me because she would be sleeping enclosed in a wooden case, but I didn't argue.
It was pitch black, of course, and I was nervous about running into something. I brought my phone to use as a flashlight. My first step onto the floor let out a creak I was sure someone would have heard. Hearing no other movement in the lighthouse, I continued. I turned on my phone, saw the path to the door and let the screen go dark. The doorknob was easy to find, somehow. I turned it a millimeter at a time until it clicked open and I could stick my head out. I don't know why I did that. It wasn't like I could see anything, but I did it anyway and waited for a second before I opened the door further. The loudest hinge in the whole world let out a creepy cry when I opened the door.
I froze in place.
I stepped out and began to cross the living room. This ridiculousness with the creaking and panicked pausing continued until I thought I was almost to the staircase. I flashed on my phone, saw the kitchen table in front of me, and course-corrected.
The further I went, the more I worried I'd fall down the stairs. I aimed for the upward side of the staircase and ran right into it. My Frankenstein stiff arms saved me and I could feel my way to the opening in the floor.
As soon as I had walked down several stairs, I turned on my phone's flashlight, even though I had heard once that that would open up your phone to some horrible security breach. I figured that I had to be safe from the hackers in a different world.
I crept down the stairs and ran through what had happened earlier that day, trying to remember what exactly I would be looking for. Ruby described it as a grey line. Would I even be able to see that in the dark? Were portals stable enough to last like this? Would it be there at night? I didn't know, but I was willing to try.
The lighthouse was extra dark that night and nothing brightened up its wooden ribs. I kept my right hand on the banister for direction and balance. It didn't take long to get into a rhythm. Soon it didn't matter that I couldn't see anything.
I stayed focused on the line I would be looking for at the edge of the grass and sand.
I opened the lighthouse door with minimal effort. My tired mind flashed a warning - was it so easy when we went out this morning? There was no way to know. I turned on my phone's flashlight and followed the stone path to their end. The air was cool and the waves were loud. I knew no one would hear me. Every few feet, I swept the light to one side or the other in case something else would change in the night. At the very least, I expected to see Wickas or Keas. Every time I looked, there was nothing new.
Where the sand ended and the real darkness began, I crouched down. I focused the light where I thought the line would be. I hoped and hoped I would see it right away. There was no such luck.
I strained my eyes and held my phone at all different angles and I didn't see the line.
I needed to regroup.
I fell backward into the sand and landed on my caboose. If I had been in a building, someone might have added "with a thud." I sat there with my elbows on my knees and stared at the edge. The line had to be there. I leaned back on my hands, then my elbows and almost fell asleep. Then I saw something different, something the slightest bit shimmery. I lay back flat and lifted my head. From that angle, I could see a bright line. I could see how Ruby would say it was grey and I could begin to see through it. I couldn't keep myself from do what I did next, though it might have been a mistake.
In order to see the line a tiny bit better, I turned around so I was on my stomach and my head was closer to the line. I reached out to it and put my right hand through the slit, not knowing what that might cause and not meaning to do anything more than test the waters.
The force of that portal pulled my whole body through with such speed I was lucky to hold onto my phone. I wasn't lucky enough to avoid filling my clothes with sand. That was the least of my worries. I was more worried about the very familiar surroundings. I looked back and the slit was gone. There was only one thing to do - find another one.