The nightlight’s glow painted lilting angels across the shadowed ceiling above Tully’s bassinette. “We’re here,” they seemed to smile. “We’re here if you need us.”
The dark wood of the ancient rocking chair murmured as I cuddled a freshly swaddled bundle to my breast. Faint breaths warm against me, tiny lips pursed and sucking in anticipation. We swayed together in our sacred midnight ritual.
I nestled into the woolen cocoon of motherhood.
From beyond the calico drapes a distant, angry scream.
Tully flinched, pulling away.
I smoothed his corn silk hair, so soft. “Shhh, shhh.” His father’s hair. “It’s ok.” I kissed it. “They can’t reach you here.”
I prayed daily that would prove true. It hadn’t for Matt.
Silent beams tickled the snowy fringe of the nursing shawl draped about us, refracting and tracing the dewy infant curve of Tully’s cheek. He sighed, dovelike, and pressed forward once again.
“Good, good.” I felt warm. “Take all you want.” I rocked the chair in an unhurried motion. “There’s plenty.”
For an instant shards of red and blue police lights tore through the drapes, singing the nursery. On the wall the shadow of a toy clown seemed a demonic specter laughing, reaching.
Matt? Back from the gangs, the brothels?
A gasp curled through my clenching teeth as my arm rose in protection …
… and it was gone; trailing away behind a mewling siren, hunting in an urban menagerie of temptation, vice, and despair.
Tully choked, coughed, and began to cry.
I lifted him, holding him close, rubbing his frail back as his head tensed against my shoulder. “No, no,” I hushed. “They won’t take you, too. I’ll make sure you understand, everyday. I promise.”
He softened, relaxed beneath the bundling.
I lowered him, sustaining him once more.
“Too-ra-loo, precious child.” I sang in a voice as soft as down. “Too-ra-loo, little one.” The corners of my mouth lifted as the sweetness of powder and baby soap graced my nose. “Nobody loves you like Mommy does.”
His eyes looked at me, round, hopeful, trusting before they flickered and closed.
“Too-ra-loo, precious child. Too-ra-loo little one.” I glanced away to the angels on the ceiling. My throat tightened and a tear ran over determined cheeks. “No one but Mommy and God.”
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