Lul­laby

The Coast - - THE CITY - —He­len Pin­sent

“Hush,” she whis­pered to her boy as the set­tling dust filled the stretch­ing twi­light, out­side and in.

“Hush, sh-shh,” she cooed and mur­mured. But cu­rios­ity is a hearty weed that grows more vig­or­ously in desert places, where the stars are dis­tant and cold, and the mind rises up to meet them.

“Hush now,” she held him close, and rocked him gen­tly. Sleep would still his search­ing mind, as it al­ways did. Yet sleep was slow com­ing tonight, and al­ready she heard whis­pers in the black dis­tance.

“Hush, child,” she spoke more loudly this time, to drown out guile­less ques­tions about crea­tures and fiends, and fear, and si­lence. And al­ways the dark.

“Boy, hush. Sleep now,” but the em­pha­sis was a mis­take; her son pressed her with re­newed fas­ci­na­tion, obliv­i­ous to the room’s creep­ing shad­ows.

“Hush!” she spat with ur­gency. Sud­denly her own mem­ory was be­tray­ing her, sum­mon­ing ragged scraps of bro­ken houses, bro­ken claws, and the reek of stale blood. “Hush, be quiet!” she pled, half with her inno- cent boy and half with her ex­pe­ri­enced mind. The voices were solid now, a filthy chit­ter­ing from the swelling cor­ners. She trem­bled, and not with cold.

“Hush! I mean it!” she com­manded, though she hadn’t needed to. Her boy had sud­denly gone silent. He was star­ing past her.

“Baby, please! Hush!” she begged, to the din of sweaty snarling and the splin­ter­ing of the walls. “Please, my love! They come when they’re called!”

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