As I mentioned before, I’m dabbling in online literary challenges here and there. With the spooky season upon us, I’m sharing a recent one I did by LitReactor (if you’re of the writerly persuasion I highly recommend checking them out, plus Rainn Wilson’s wife is one of the founders so how cool is that?). Every month or so they have a Flash Fiction Smackdown where they post an image and then you write a story about it with a strict word limit (250 in this case) and deadline (October 30). With Halloween around they corner, they chose this lovely icon straight out of the 90’s tabloids:
And this is what I wrote – Happy Halloween!
a good mother
She ignored the crying at first. Starting as intermittent whimpers, muffled by the blue checked blanket she’d been so thrilled to get just a few months before, it erupted into shuddering, wall-shaking roars. Mary cursed herself for waiting. But it was just so hard – he seemed to sleep only a few minutes this time. She’d heard babies cry before, of course, but never like this. Her nieces and nephews, all lusty screamers in their own right, sounded like mewling kittens compared to her son.
Smoothing back the blonde strands dangling from long, dark roots, she reached for the noise-cancelling headphones and placed them on her ears. They did help a little. At least Mark could be counted on to pay for supplies, even if he was a chicken shit. Stoically, she stumbled to the kitchen in the dark, opened the refrigerator and pulled out the stainless steel bottle, running it under hot water to warm it up before smooshing on the special nipple they use for bottle-feeding at the zoo. Though he didn’t seem to be as interested in milk anymore. Teeth had started sprouting already. Pointed teeth.
Mary brushed away some tears, pulled on the falconer’s gloves and reminded herself to be cool. He only got angrier if she showed fear. After a few deep, calming breaths, she told herself what a good mother she was, opened the nursery door and started crooning in a soft, slightly shaky voice “Hush little baby, don’t say a word…”