Dark Friend

by Aylya Mayze
© 2021 Wittily Writ Publishing

My little boy is afraid of the dark.  He cries and clutches Mama’s neck.

“Bad things!  Bad things, Mama,” he says, trying to force his terror through little words.

“Shh, my darling,” I whisper so that only he can hear.

Mama, weary from the day and dreading another restless night, snaps on the giraffe lamp beside his bed.

“That will keep the monsters away,” she promises.  She closes the curtains then picks her steps carefully though the toys scattered on the floor.  With one last look at her frightened toddler, holding his blanket as a shield against the shadows, she shuts the door and disappears to that distant domain where grownups dwell.

“Mama!” he calls after her, his voice rising in panic.

“Shh,” I whisper again.  “You don’t need her, Johnny.  I’m here for you.”

Carefully, quietly I stretch into the shadows of my corner.  The blackness covers me like a warm pool, seeping through my skin and into my veins.  I feel my body filling with power. 

“Shall I tell you a story, Darling?  Shall I?”

“Goway,” he whimpers.

“Away.  Yesss.  That is where stories start. Far away where mamas love their children.  Where mamas never leave sweet babies all alone.”

I reach my arms across the floor enjoying the friction of the carpet as it burns the pads of my claws. 

“Hmmm,” I purr with pleasure.

My little boy hears me and wonders at the sound.  For a moment he forgets to be afraid.  That is good, little one.  No fear, dear child.

My claws touch cool darkness again in the shade of Boomie, a brown cloth hound with long, floppy ears and sad eyes.  With a ripple of delight, I flow into that spot.  Boomie has been carried and cuddled much of the day and is full of my little boy’s scent.  I rub myself against the dog, nuzzling my snout under his legs, scratching my pointed ears on his plastic nose and wrapping my tail around his neck.  I rub and rub until his dank, comforting aroma covers me.

“Away,” I whisper again, “is where we’ll go.  We’ll have candy for breakfast and funny cartoons whenever we wish, and mamas will never get mad, and babies will never cry.”

I have him listening.  I can feel it.  He is thinking of Mama who told him no candy because he spat out his oatmeal.  He remembers how Mama would only let him watch the show with the ABC song but nothing after that.  He thinks of the way he cried and cried but she didn’t care.  Mean Mama!

“Far away mamas love babies, sweet babies,” I coo as I ease myself across his floor, slithering on the dark side of his toys.  He watches me, fascinated, as I flow around his treasures, curling through the gears of the see-through train and seeping between the pages of a picture book.  I glide through a tin whistle, making a hollow hoot.  This is fun, I think, as I go through again.  I make a minor lullaby.

“Pretty,” says my boy, watching me with shining eyes.  His mouth hangs open, the promise of a smile tugging at its corners.

“For you, my precious,” I laugh.  I tumble into the clown puppet, making it prance and roll.  My boy giggles as I draw near.  Funny clown only wants to please.

I disappear under the bed.  My Johnny hovers near the edge, starting to follow.  Then he stops.  I sense his fear tickling him again.  No, no, child.  No fear.

“Peek-a-boo!” I trill, rolling out his favorite, yellow ball.

“Where’r you?” he asks, retreating under his covers.

“Hide-and-seek” I answer.  “Come-and-find.”

With a squeak and a squawk of springs the bed shifts above me.  Slowly he leans over the side, his short, blond hair falling straight from his upside down head.  I roll over and imagine he is normal with hair flying in shock.  Funny picture.  I laugh.

He searches for me but all he can see are my little red eyes.  His gaze fixes on them and he blinks in surprise.  I blink back, then wink.  He smiles.

“Want to play, Johnny?” I ask.

He frowns.

“Night-night,” he says.

“Mean Mama doesn’t want Johnny to play.  Mean Mama doesn’t like Johnny having fun.”  I sigh so he can hear how sad I am for him.

My little boy looks confused.  His head disappears and the bed creaks again.

I slither through the puzzle pieces, around the sip-cup full of fermenting orange juice and between three socks he stole from the laundry and hid.  I grab the untucked blanket hanging down at the foot of his bed and pull myself up.  Safely squirreled between the blanket and the sheets I creep along, toward my boy.  I keep myself small, a mound no bigger than his shoe, but suddenly he startles.

“Mama!” he screams.  “Mama!”

“Shh, my darling, my dearest one.”

Softly I hum my lullaby even as I hear Mama’s footsteps creaking down the hall.

The door cracks open and I fall silent.  A blade of bright light slices through the room.  The blanket covering me blazes like a red fire burning.  Then cool shadow falls over me – like the hand of grace, I imagine, or as close as I can get.

“Johnny, what’s wrong?” asks Mama, drawing near.

He shakes his baby head, lacking words, and points to his bed.

Mama smoothes the blanket and sits down so near if I twitched she might feel me.  I hear the rustle of her breath and the beating of her heart.  I smell her earth-made body.  My claws flex, yearning to tear into her flesh and make her salty blood gush like a geyser.  My teeth gnash and my tusks sharpen at the thought of how tender her throat will taste.  I could crush her scream before it sounds, or let it rattle the walls and rend the air, tearing the path for her soul to fly.  How I want to!  But my boy…he is not ready for that.  Not yet.

She hugs my child.  “Everything’s all right,” she promises.

“Awake,” he answers.  “Up.  Play!”

“Not now, sweetheart.  It’s time for bed.  You go to sleep now.  O.K.?”

“Play!” Johnny insists.  I swell with pride at the defiance in his voice.

“No!  Bedtime!”

She tries to tuck him in but he kicks at her.

“Then sleep uncovered,” she says, annoyed, and leaves.

“Mean Mama!” he yells.

“Mean Mama,” I laugh.

He lifts the blanket and stares beneath.  I pull back into its depths but let him see my smile.

“Cuddle?” I ask.

Tentatively he reaches to me.  I rub my furry cheek against his palm.  He tries to grab me but I slip away.

“Come, Darling,” I whisper.  He pulls the blanket over his head and crawls towards me.  That’s how he falls asleep, in the womb of his blankets embracing me.

Soon he will no longer fear the dark.  He will love the dark.  He will love me.  He will be all mine, my beloved boy.

The End

3 Replies to “Dark Friend”

  1. Awesome blog! Do you have any hints for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally confused .. Any recommendations? Thank you!

    1. Thank you for your compliments. Definitely start with a free (low cost) site. It is only the first year that it is low cost, but it gives you space to try things, explore, and see if you want to continue. You can always transfer later to a paid site if you deem that necessary.

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