The window was stuck. The warm weather and excessive rain had caused the wood to swell. The girl teetered on the window sill on one knee, the other foot braced against the tree branch for support. She grunted as she jerked at the window, trying to get it to give.
She knew she'd left it unlocked. Flipping the simple security device was part of her evening ritual at this point. Shower, pajamas, bid her parents goodnight, change into something more suitable (it must have jeans involved), makeup, hair, unlock the window, check her purse for keys, cellphone, compact, extra lipstick, and money. Then she'd tiptoe to her parents' door, shoes in hand, and listen. If they were sound asleep, she'd head downstairs and slip outside, locking the door behind her. When she returned home, she'd shimmy up the tree (hence the need for jeans), slide open the window, and slip inside, where she'd hop back into her pajamas, lay in bed for an hour or so, then start her morning.
But this morning, her routine was disrupted. The window simply would not budge. She yanked harder, grunting with the effort. She heard the wood protest, but it didn't give. She leaned back against the tree, sighing. She could see the lights on downstairs. At least one of her parents was awake already, so she couldn't go in that way.
Sliding back down the tree, she headed around to the back door. She opened it as quietly as she could, swearing softly when it stopped mere inches from the doorjamb. She tried to unhook the chain, but her fingers wouldn't cooperate and she was afraid the noise would draw attention. Frowning, she sat on the wicker bench on the back porch, wondering how to get out of this one.
The girl jumped at the sound and looked around frantically. Through the small yard she spotted a face and shoulders popping over the short fence in the morning light. Mrs. Ildna had always been a nice lady. She must have been in her forties already when Anna was born. She brought Anna and her two brothers gives every holiday, even the Fourth of July.
"Come here, Anna."
Anna tiptoed over to the fence, head hung in shame. She was busted.
"You need an alibi, do you?"
The woman nodded sagely, appraising the girl, then beckoned for Anna to join her on her side of the fence. Anna walked the few steps to the gate and went through.
"Hmmm," said Mrs. Ildna as she evaluated Anna's attire. "Well, it should work. But we'll need to get your makeup off and make you a bit dirtier. Come."
By the time the woman was done, Anna looked like she'd spent an hour in the garden, and not several hours at a nightclub. The young girl beamed.
"Thank you so much, Mrs. Ildna. You saved my life!"
"Oh, don't thank me just yet," the old woman winked. "I've got plenty of things for you to do to make up for this quick alibi."
Anna frowned, but thanked the woman again, heading back home to tell her mother her rock-solid alibi.
**There are 15-minute writing dashes at Milk Wood in Second Life every day at 5amSLT and 6:30pmSLT. This story is from the 5-2-11 morning dash, using the prompt "alibi."**