I stayed up all night with Ruby, and by four a.m. I believed her. There was a giant cloud with a huge gnashing mouth above our house; we had to board up all the windows and doors. I helped her get plywood from the basement. Her teddy bear nightgown was soaked with sweat. We both knew if we could seal up the house good and tight, the cloud would go away.

We stood on chairs to reach the kitchen windows. I looked out and I saw it there, a great purple bruise in the clear sky. Its mouth was a woman’s mouth, red-painted. It licked its lips. It slavered. We drove nails into the window frames, covered the panes over.

Dan came home from the night shift at 5:30, before we’d finished. He smoothed our foreheads and put us both to bed. That weekend he took the plywood off the windows and the doors. Now he laughs about the time we both went crazy, but I don’t think it’s funny. What must there be inside of us that we both saw such a thing, and that we knew just how to stop it?


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