Slowly, I moved my hand under his pillow until I made warm contact with his own. He was holding his rosary. He moved his hand away until my fingertips touched only the cool beads.
He fell asleep in small starts, resisting it. As if, I imagined, the sandman had hold of his ankle and was slowly tugging him under, all against his will. As if he struggled to remain awake. I looked at the lozenges of light on the wall, one was a rectangle, one was a crucifix. I tried out a few prayers, but since the nightmare I had described was a lie, there was nothing, really, to ask protection from. I heard my brother's knee or his hand or the ball of his foot strike the wall now and again as he was tugged under. A thump and then a thump, and then I knew he was sleeping.
Excerpted from Someone by Alice McDermott. Copyright © 2013 by Alice McDermott. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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