“Hush little baby don’t say a word, mama’s gonna buy you a mockingbird…”
Amelia looked up towards her mother’s face, chuckling lightligh as her mother’s smile widened. She had a sweet voice and the little girl loved to hear her sing. Her mother always sang her that song before bed and that was Amelia’s favorite moment of the day.
“...and if that mockingbird won’t sing mama’s gonna buy you a diamond ring…”
There was a loud crash downstairs and Amelia jumped, startled, but her mother gently pulled her back in the bed caressing her forehead and moving a string of strawberry-blond hair out of her face. She kept singing, not a worry on her face. Relaxing, Amelia looked up again at her mother’s face.
“...and if that diamond ring turns brass mama’s gonna buy you a looking glass…”
She was beautiful, Amelia thought with adoration. Her mother was the most beautiful person in the world - pale skin, same strawberry hair and eyes so blue that the sky was envious.
“...and if that glass gets broke mama’s gonna buy you a winter cloak…”
The sounds from below were getting louder now and it was hard to ignore. Even her hypnotizing voice could not keep their attention for much longer.
“Mommy, what is going on?” Ethan asked from the second bed by the wall. Amelia turned to look at him, unhappy that the song had ceased. He was sitting upright, rubbing the sleep away from his eyes. He was always ruining things, he was always doing everything to get their mother’s attention. He was so mean.
She wanted to tell him to shut up, to let their mother sing but then an angry scream came from the corridor and all three looked at the closed door. Their mother slowly got up from the bed, reaching down and taking Amelia in her hands then motioning for Ethan to follow her. He kicked the covers of the bed and followed her to the adjoining room through the door at the end of the room.Amelia watched him joy with his small feet to match their mother’s speed, glancing over his shoulder towards the door. His face was twisted with fear and he had bitten his lip as if to stop himself from crying.
Their mother halted in the middle of the other room, then turned and let Amelia down next to her brother. She then rushed to the window glancing outside for a second before stepping back and looking around. Her eyes landed on the closet then on a big chest next to the wall by the window.
“Mommy?” Amelia cried out, suddenly scared by the panic on their mother’s face. Fear crept into her mind and her eyes blurred ready to unleash a river of tears.
“Shh, shh, quiet my love,” their mother said with a smile kneeling in front of them. “I’ll need you to be a strong girl, Mia, okay? Like the heroes in the fairytales I told you. Can you do that?” The little girl nodded uncertainty, somewhat relaxed by the smile on their mother’s face. The woman looked at Ethan then. “And I will need you to protect your sister, Ethan, can you do that? You are stronger than anything, my love, can you do that for me?”
Amelia was looking at their mother so she didn’t see if he nodded or not. He was silent though. Their mother smiled at them again then grabbed their hands and urgently pulled them towards the window. She opened the chest there picking up Amelia and placing her inside, then helping Ethan do the same. She kneeled again by the chest, her whole body trembling as if she was cold.
“Don’t make a sound and don’t come out until I come and get you.” She said with a smile. Amelia was ready to cry again but their mother’s assuring smile stopped her. “No crying, love. Your brother will protect you.”
And then their mother closed the top of the chest drawning them in darkness. Amelia let out a whimper but then suddenly her brother’s hands were around her, embracing her gently. She hated him for stealing so much of their mother’s attention but she was happy that he was there now. She snuggled closer trying to hear what was happening outside.
The rattle from downstairs sounded really close now, almost as if whoever was downstairs was in the same room. They could hear growling like a wild animal was in the room with them. The growling grew louder and was suddenly cut off by another crash as something was thrown against the wall and a whimper of pain filled the room.
Amelia snuggled against Ethan, closing her eyes and gritting her teeth. The sounds in the room were horrifying, like there was a monster that was destroying everything, everyone. And their mother was there, with the monster.
Still holding her with one hand Ethan reached with his other hand and carefully lifted the top just a little but to peep outside. Amelia pulled on his shirt, terrified out of her mind that the monster was going to find them, but her brother didn’t move.
Something crashed into the chest they were hiding in and he was sent back, wrapping his hands around Amelia. She cried out in horror hiding her face in his chest. He hushed her but it was too late. The sounds in the room had died away giving place to a complete silence. Amelia could hear her brother’s rapid heartbeat, she could hear his sharp breaths.
Seconds passed painfully slow until finally, they heard steps. For a moment both of them held their breaths in anticipation of the monster finally finding them. The top of the chest was pulled up and face looked down at them. Amelia let out a whimper and hide her face in Ethan’s neck, tightening her small arms around him.
“Don’t me afraid,” the stranger said with a soothing voice and Amelia turned her head slightly compelled to look at him. The lights were off in the room unlike before and at first it had been hard to say if it was a man or a monster staring at them. But his voice was calm and nice and sweet and he didn’t sound like a monster. Ethan was sitting rigid next to her, his hands so tight around her frame it almost hurt. “My name is Julian. You’re safe now.”