As soon as our little ones are but a glimmer of an idea, scary stories begin to cloud our minds. Stories of harm that might befall our sweet babies, stories of abduction and exclusion, and stories of deadly water and poisonous chemicals play through our minds on an endless loop. So much are they a part of our psyche that these stories do not need repeating.
Fear not, dear reader, these are not those kinds of stories. Here are two scary stories that will lighten your heart instead of darkening your mind and perhaps give you a bit of cheer on this rainy autumn night.
In the Clear
“Mommy, tell me a story,” said Bobby gazing at the shadows on the ceiling.
“Only if you close your eyes,” his mom said. The little boy complied. “There once was a brave prince who was the kindest, most handsome young man in all the land, and his name was Bobby,” she began.
The little boy smiled sleepily as the story continued through many twists and turns. As the little boy’s face relaxed into sleep, Bobby’s mom brought her story to a close, “And they lived happily ever after.”
She lay there in silence for a moment, studying her child’s face in the moonlight. It’s true, she thought. Sleeping children are angels.
She slowly pulled her arm from beneath Bobby’s head, moving with sloth-like speed to avoid awakening the child from his slumber. She perched on the edge of the bed, standing up inch by inch.
Her child was a light sleeper, but she knew that if she could make it to the door without waking him up, she would have time for a glass of Merlot and some Grey’s Anatomy before her own bed time. Slowly, slowly, she tiptoed across the carpet toward the door. Her hand reached for the door knob, just inches away. She held her breath, afraid to make even the slightest sound. Her hand glided slowly toward the door knob. She turned the knob to the right at a snail’s pace and pulled the door toward her tired body.
She wondered suddenly whether her husband had WD-40’d the door like she had asked him to this morning, but it was too late to do anything about it when she realized that he hadn’t.
The tiny sound rang out in the silence of the house, echoing in her ears like a blow horn. She waited, her heart pounding in her throat, to see if her son had heard the squeak. His eyes were still closed, so she started to move toward the living room and the sweet relief of Netflix. She was in the clear.
Or was she?
The Clean House
“Hi, guys! I’m home!” Alice shouted as she walked into the front hall, arms laden with groceries. She balanced the bags on one hip as she used the other hip to shut the front door. Glancing around, Alice noticed that the front hallway was orderly in a way it hadn’t been in thirteen years. One jacket hung on a tall coat rack to her right, and Alice slipped her shoes off next to two black boots, soldiers standing at attention beside the rack. Her brow furrowed as she wondered where the detritus that usually cluttered the foyer was. Where were the piles of vests and jackets and the mountains of shoes that never seemed to fit? Where were the backpacks overflowing with chip bags and crumpled paper?
With four kids, there was always something in the way of her path from the front door to the kitchen. Alice took a few steps without tripping on anything.
“Kids? Where are you?” Alice shouted, struggling to keep panic from reaching the edges of her voice. “This isn’t funny!”
Still no answer. She walked a few steps more, noticing the perfectly placed throw pillows on the white (white?!) couch. She dropped the grocery bags on the kitchen table with a heavy thud and scurried to the back bedroom. A brown silk bedspread lay across the bed like a sheet of milk chocolate. Even more throw pillows leaned heavily against the headboard. She paused to wonder if she had walked into the right house. This house was too clean, too quiet, too adult, but glancing at the wall she saw pictures of her wedding to Dave, their honeymoon, and the two of them posing next to the Yellowstone sign. But where were the pictures of the kids? There was no sign of any of them: surly twelve year old Braden who still asked for snuggles on tough days, eight year old Harley with her huge front teeth and affinity for unicorns, four year old April whose brown eyes changed color with her moods, and sweet baby Benji whose birth six months ago was a surprise to everyone, most especially Alice who didn’t think she could get pregnant after April’s difficult birth. Her hand instinctively reached to her belly, where her four children had grown. Her stomach was flat, muscular even. That was the last straw. As much as she sometimes wished for a break from the chaos of life with kids, as much as she bemoaned her stretch marks and her three finger diastasis, there was nothing she loved more than her babies.
She grabbed her phone from her pocket, jamming her fingers against the screen as she dialed Dave’s number. He answered after a couple of rings.
“Where are the kids?!” Alice screamed before Dave could even say hello. “Please tell me they’re with you!”
“Slow down, Hon. What’s the matter?”
“The kids. Where are they?”
“Kids? But we don’t have kids yet. We want to, but we haven’t even started trying.”
“No. Stop joking. This isn’t funny. We have four kids. Where are they?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about, sweetie. It’s just you and me.”
“No. My babies. Where are they? Someone must have taken them!”
Her heart fell. No babies? Had she imagined them? But she could see their faces in her mind like a family portrait. She could see, clear as crystal, pieces of her face and Dave’s perfectly mixed in four combinations.
She fell back on the mocha silk bed sobbing. “My babies,” she whimpered. “My babies.”
She drifted off to sleep feeling the heartache of losing babies she apparently never had.
Alice awoke minutes or days later; she wasn’t sure. A crust of saliva filled the corners of her mouth. Her eyes felt sandy and sore. She looked around, the feeling of loss suddenly hitting her, yet, in the doorway across the room, eight eyes peered at her questioningly.
Kendra Atkins-Boyce is a mother, doula, and writer living in Oregon. She believes wholeheartedly in the beauty of birth, and in the comfort of family. She is always ready to support those who need her in any way she can, and you can find out more about her services here.