Danielle rolled over pretending to be asleep. She was determined not to give in tonight.
"Danielle? Are you awake?"
Danielle clamped her lips together to stop herself from answering.
"You are awake. You're just ignoring me. Why would you do that?"
Danielle felt a pang of guilt. She was the only one that he could talk to and here she was ignoring him on purpose.
"Why are you being so mean? If you were really nice you would come and talk to me."
Danielle growled and rolled out of bed. He had won her over...again.
She opened her door and walked down the hall to the stairs. When she looked down, she could see a little boy sitting about halfway down.
"What do you want this time?" She sighed.
The boy looked up at her. "You came." He smiled.
Danielle didn't return it. It always started like this. He would call her and she would go to him, and then he would change and Danielle would be running for her room.
"What do you want?" She repeated.
The boy continued to smile sweetly at her. "Can you tell me a bedtime story?"
Danielle shook her head. "I'm not coming down there. The last time I did you threw me against the banister and pushed me down the rest of the stairs."
The boy frowned. "I don't remember doing that." He pouted. "Mummy would have told me a story."
Danielle sighed. "Well i'm not your mummy, am I? So if thats all, i'm going back to bed." She turned to leave.
"If you tell me a story, i'll tell you my name."
Danielle stopped and turned round slowly. "What?" She asked hoarsly.
"If you tell me a story, i'll tell you my name." The boy repeated.
Danielle just stared at him. The first time she had spoken to him, she had asked what his name was, and ever since he had refused to give it to her.
Danielle bit her lip, the temptation already growing too strong.
Having his name would be the start of getting rid of him, she thought to herself.
The boy blinked his big eyes up at her.
Danielle took a deep breath and let it back out. "Fine, i'll tell you a story. But you have to promise me that as soon as I finish, you will tell me your name."
The little boy nodded earnestly.
Danielle took another breath. Then she stepped onto the stairs.
She shuddered as soon as her bare foot touched the cold wood. The stairs were always cold, even her parents had noticed that. And it was all down to the little boy. He could make them warmer, he had told her once.
Danielle shook off the thoughts and continued walking until she reached the boy.
She lowered herself down until she was sitting next to him. "What story?" She asked.
"Mummy always suprised me." He said.
Danielle rolled her eyes. She knew what story he wanted to hear, and it wasn't really a story at all.
He wanted her to base a story around who she thought he was.
She looked him straight in the eyes. "Can I say a shorter story tonight. I'm really tired."
The boy shook his head. "No story, no name."
Danielle groaned. "Okay. Right, well. There was once a little boy who didn't have a name..."
The boy giggled. "Everyone has a name."
"Yes but not everyone tells people their names do they?" She shot back.
The boy fell silent.
"Okay, little boy with no name. He lived in a house, a house that was almost exactly like this house, but older. He didn't have many friends because his house was away from town, further into the woods. None of his school friends would come to his house because they were afraid of the witch in the woods. They thought that if they went, the witch would get them."
Danielle paused to look at him. His eyes were glazed over and he was shivering slightly.
Danielle bit her lip. They were the only facts she had, the rest was guess work.
"One day, the boy was feeling so lonely that he went to play on the stairs. He walked on one, jumped the next, walked on one jumped the next, until he reached the top of the stairs. When he went to jump again, he lost his footing and came tumbling down, coming to a stop halfway down the stairs."
Danielle looked at him again. Her eyes widened. Usually after her guessing, he would be laughing at how wrong she was. But today he just sat there, his bottom lip quivering.
"Was I right?" Danielle breathed the question, not wanting to freak him out.
"Almost right." He whispered.
The boy looked down. "Can you go now?" He said quietly.
Danielle nodded. She didn't care that he hadn't told her his name. She stood and walked back up the stairs. She was just about to enter her room when she heard the boy speak.
"My names Cody Nile."