Matt crouched beside his mother, crying. She lay so still and no matter how he shook her, she wouldnít wake up or answer him. Her eyes were open, but even when he bent and looked into her face, she didnít seem to see him. Alarms shrilled throughout the ship, but the little boy ignored them. Heíd lived on the ship all his life, and all the drills sounded just like this, even if they had never lasted this long before. Every time they had an emergency drill, his mother told him everything would be okay. He wanted her to wake up and hold him in her arms. He wanted to hear her voice and her soothing words. But he was afraid that she was mad at him and thatís why she wouldnít wake up. When the alarms had started and the captainís voice had come over the speakers, she had made him hide beneath some equipment in the engine room. If he flattened down on his belly, he could just slide into the spot she pointed to. "Donít come out, no matter what, okay sweetie?" she had said. "Do you understand mommy? You must hide until Daddy or I come get you." But no one had come to get him. He had felt the ship shake and heard the loud booms. He had put his hands over his ears and screwed his eyes shut. Then later, from his hiding spot, he had seen mommy fall on the floor and go to sleep. He had waited and waited for her to get up, but she had not moved. He waited for his dad to come, but daddy hadnít come either. And the whole time the alarms kept wailing, and the temperature on the ship got hotter. Now he pushed at mommyís arm again and begged her not to be mad at him anymore. A voice spoke behind him and he turned his head. A lady stood at the entrance to the engine room. She looked kind of like mommy, but she wore green and her hair was long and her face was like a kitty catís, all fuzzy and whiskered. He had never seen her before, and he thought he had known everybody on the ship. She held something in her hand. Maybe she, too, was mad that he had left his hiding place. He started to crawl back towards the equipment, but the lady made a worried sound. Matt stopped and looked back. She put the thing in her hand away and crouched down on the floor. Now, she was no taller than he. She said something, something low and soft, and he thought of mommy, how she made him feel better sometimes just with her voice. He didnít understand what the lady said, but he liked her voice. He stopped crying and watched her. She said something again and held out her hand to him. Her hand was like her face Ė fuzzy, with claws on the tips of her fingers. She really was like a kitty cat. He laughed, and she nodded at him. Daddy did that sometimes, too, when he liked what Matt was doing. Matt took a step towards the lady. She kept her hand out and wiggled her fingers, gesturing him closer. Her voice murmured on and on, gently, soothingly. He took another step. Maybe she could help make mommy wake up. Grownups knew how to do that kind of thing. A manís voice called into the engine room. The lady muttered something and turned to look down the corridor. Matt backed up and knelt down behind mommy as a big man came up behind the lady. His face was fuzzy, too, but his voice was not nice, not gentle. The lady stood, pointed at Matt, and said something back to the fuzzy man. Her voice was not soft and low anymore either. She sounded like mommy when she argued with daddy. The man gestured her to come with him and she hesitated, looking back towards Matt. She knelt down once more and held out her hand to Matt. She was talking to him again, in her soft voice, but now she sounded like mommy when she wanted him to hurry. He sat up and looked at the lady, then back at his mom, sleeping beside him. The lady wanted him to come with her, he could tell, but his mommy wouldnít like that, even if the lady was very nice. And he couldnít understand what she was saying. He just wanted mommy to wake up and take care of him. The man said something angrily then walked back down the corridor. The lady sighed and stood up. She asked him something, her voice raising at the end of her sentence. When he didnít answer, she sighed again, turned, and started walking away. Matt started crying again as the fuzzy lady left. He wiped his nose on his suit sleeve, and turned back to his mother. She was the only one who wouldn ít leave him. He snuggled on the floor next to her, pushed his back up against her stomach and pulled her arm down over him. She was his mommy. She would take care of him. Thatís what mommies were for.
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