Lucy paused at the base of the stairs. She had heard her mother call.
“Don’t,” said Jacob. “She’s not there.”
Jacob’s pet iguana had escaped, and they were looking for it.
“It might be up there,” said Lucy, gazing up, then back at Jacob, down the hall.
“He’s not, he can’t climb the stairs, it’s too hard for him,” said Jacob. “It’s not Mom, it’s just a noise.”
Lucy stayed for a moment longer, looking, imagining that upstairs, in her mother’s bedroom was a life-sized painting of her, like in her dream. The painting was the closest thing to her mother that she could think of, and considered it very possible that were she to go up, where she wasn’t supposed to be, and somehow open the door her mother—tall, with alabaster skin, smelling of perfume and cigarettes, would be waiting, smiling, extending a hug to her inside the canvas, in that static image. One emotion would rule her and define her—an expectant, ecstatic and perfectly complete kind of emotion and eloquence of feeling that would welcome her into the room and into her life, which was larger and more powerful than hers, and had the resources to keep them both happy indefinitely.
Lucy lowered her foot from the step. She could no longer hear her mother—whatever it was. Jacob gasped and ran. He had seen a tail.