We’ve reached the end of the Scribble Challenge season.
Sharon noticed the tall bearded man walk into the lobby of the restaurant, stop and slowly glance around the dining area. He fit the description on his dating site and she raised her hand to catch his attention. Joe noticed the movement out of the corner of his eye, smiled and headed in her direction. Halfway there he caught the leg of a chair with the toe of his shoe and stumbled towards her table. “First time with the new foot?” Sharon quipped.
Joe pulled up the leg of his pants to reveal an artificial leg. “As a matter of fact, it is.”
I’m sure everyone is just as excited as I am to read your guest post, Allan!
And hey, Scribbles is now accepting votes for Last Week’s Challenge. Because it’s the end of the season, we’re opening the voting polls to EVERYONE. Just check the responses to the prompt below and email your vote to: SundayScribbleChallenge@gmail.com.
LAST WEEK’S PROMPT:
“The challenge is based on something our family has been experiencing. One of the hellions talks in his sleep. It’s generally limited to sentence or two, most of which is completely unintelligible.
It’s the same for the characters of the prompt. But, one night the child says something the parents understand. Something entirely unexpected. They come to realize their little one isn’t sleep-talking at all, but rather, a being is speaking THROUGH them.
The submission should contain the line (or two) of dialogue, as well as the parents’ reaction when they realize who–or what–has been attempting to communicate for so long.”
I don’t know why I woke. The house was quiet, the weather calm. The kids were sleeping. I stared out the window, thinking about all the things I’d have to do the next day, wishing I could fall back asleep.
And then heard the whispers. They were soft at first. Fleeting.
I shook my husband awake as they grew louder, coming from just across the hall. “It’s Keiran,” I said. “He’s sleep-talking again.”
It was an old habit. Usually the words came in just a sentence or two, that we rarely understood. But lately the murmurings had become something close to fervent. He lay in his bed, tossing and turning as we came in, pale skin gleaming in a thin sweat. I sank into the bed. Goosebumps rose along on my arms and up my neck.
My husband knelt beside us, eyes still puffy with sleep. “What’s he saying?”
A gust of wind filtered in through the open window. Kieran’s whispers had become words, loud words I couldn’t understand. They were clear, crisp, and urgent, and completely foreign.
I shrugged at my husband, eyes wide.
Trees swayed violently out the window. A light spread over the yard. Kieran jerked upright in the bed, his gaze wild and lurching, coughing and clawing at his throat as the light grew bright outside. Blood trickled from his mouth when he spoke again.
“I told you we were coming.”
“I’m happy,” Connor mutters in his sleep. As usual, his eyes stay shut, but not as usual, his words are completely clear.
I haven’t tried to reply before, but what the hell? It could get us a good laugh. “What are you happy about?”
“Where I am. I’m happy. I like the brown doggie with the white spot. He plays with me. He likes to chase.”
“Brown doggie?” I glance at my husband. “He’s not talking about-”
“I think he is.”
I sit on the end of the bed. If he means Trigger, our brown Pit with an adorable white spot on his head, then he’s talking about the pet we had before he was born. Had Connor seen a picture of the dog?
“Connor,” I ask. “What’s the dog’s name.”
“No, that’s your name. What’s the dog called?”
“Hunter. I’m Hunter. And I’m happy.” After a long sigh, Connor rolls over, pulling the covers under his chin.
Shaking his head, my husband rushes out of the room.
I haven’t heard his name in so long – Hunter, our baby who died at three months old. The older brother Connor never met.
I can’t leave this bed. Connor may talk in his sleep again.
They sat on each side of her pink, princess bed. Sue stroked her daughter’s sticky, tousled, blond head, watching intently as her beautiful rosebud mouth moved, making a series of strange, loud sounds – ‘Ant, ant, ant.’ Always the same noises, almost every night for the last six months.
‘It’s getting worse, Sue. It’s much louder and she seems really perturbed now.’ He took Emily’s tiny hand, his brow creased deep with concern.
Short, quick gulps replaced his daughter’s calm breathing.
‘Ant, can you hear me? Ant, are you there?’ This was no longer their little girl speaking. Antony’s eyes flashed in recognition. Only one person had ever called him by this childish nickname.
‘I’m here’, he replied gently. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘You need to tell your Dad that I hid it. It’s in a nylon stocking taped to the back of the top drawer in my dresser. He must find it before he signs the papers for the house and all the furniture tomorrow. It’s for Sue. He must give it to Sue. I can’t get through to him, Ant. Call him now, please.’ The voice faded to a low hum, and Emily returned to a deep, dreamless sleep.
‘Mum, are you still there? Mum, I miss you so much!’ Anthony bent over the pink and white checkered quilt and wept silent tears of pure, undistilled grief.
As Sue looked over at her husband, he lifted his head, slowly wiped away the tears, then dialled his father’s number.
‘Dad, sorry to wake you. I know where to look for Mum’s diamond ring…’
The baby monitor let out the usual random babbling of their kid as she slept, a bit of laughing and some murmured half words. Then the dog sat up on alert, staring at the monitor intently. A low static came from the speaker which startled the parents, then silence. They both went to check on the baby and upon opening the door, found the window open and several different birds in the room surrounding their child. Watching her like they awaited instruction.
Then the child said: “Hello my friends, I hope you’re all keeping well?”
Dysfunctional Womans Digest
Tonight he would be prepared. Climbing into bed with a pencil and pad of paper, his plan was to have these items ready as soon as the child was asleep and her lips began to move. The child’s sleep-talking had begun a few weeks ago and he didn’t pay much attention to her gibberish at first but over the following weeks the noises had turned into an intelligible form of discourse. Her audible murmurings were beginning to reveal things that a child of four, his child of four, should not and could not know. Her mother had been equally disturbed.
“I don’t know when all of this started but I am not getting any rest since Daphne starting sleeping in our bed,” she had said. “First it was your insomnia and now it’s her talking and rolling around and I am exhausted.” She pointed to the bags under her eyes as confirmation.
“I know, honey,” said Paul. “Let’s start a new bedtime routine tomorrow and we will make sure to wear Daphne out at the park in the afternoon. It shouldn’t take but a few days and then we will be getting a good night’s rest again, OK, honey?”
Paul secretly hoped that tonight he would be able to jot down what he was certain was an intelligence from another dimension. Somehow, someway, a transmission was occurring through his child and he could swear that he had been specifically chosen for this revelation. He just wished that his wife would not interfere until he could accurately transcribe the mysterious knowledge.
Paul reached to turn-out the light as his wife rolled over with a deep sigh and said goodnight. Setting the pad of paper and his pencil next to the bed, Paul made certain that his unopened refill of risperidone was still carefully concealed.
Larisanjou *New Entry*
Our beautiful child, the image of angelic perfection.
Just a short while ago, she’d been stomping her feet and crying in frustration. I thought bedtime would be the solution to her little temper tantrum.
From behind the pile of work on my desk, I’d heard the rustling of tossing and turning from her room. I tiptoed over to peek in on her. Cool full-moon light cut across her rosy tearstained cheeks. Her smooth brow contorted into a tangle, and she whimpered like an injured puppy. Fat tears pushed out from her tightly-squeezed eyes.
My heart cracked.
What could my child, my innocent daughter, possibly be disturbed by? What monster is chasing her through dreamland? At that age, dreamworld should be a lovely place of magic and infinite possibility.
“Do you still love me?”
I felt a painfully familiar hot stone forming in my stomach.
“I know I’m not good enough, I’ll never be…”
Through the mouth of my child, I heard the voice of my own demon.
How many times had she seen me, ripping my hair out at a project gone wrong? Crying over yet another rejection letter? Mentally flagellating myself, repenting for the sin of being myself? I was teaching her the art of self-loathing.
I removed her crumpled drawing from the trash. She had thrown it away in a blind fit, screaming, “It’s not good enough! I hate this! I’m bad!” The air had vibrated electric yellow.
Now, in the deep blue light, I unfurled it.
A single tear dropped onto her drawing.
It was a family portrait. Two smiling parents holding hands with their child in the middle, standing under a rainbow.
She had scribbled over her own face.
“Come to bed, honey.”
My husband’s gravelly whisper muffled the sound of my guilt. I turned to look at him, eyes overflowing with a lifetime of shame and overdue apologies.
“We’ll do better tomorrow.”
Good luck to all our participants. The replies were some of my favorite submissions of the season. The winner will be hard to pick!