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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Truth or Dare (08/28/08)

TITLE: Private Lullaby
By Pat Guy


Clinched fists betrayed the slow-burning rage she tried so hard to suppress. It wasn’t the heavy dust that had accumulated behind the TV cabinet – it was her children playing outside the bedroom window. It justified her mission all the more. Things were out of control and she must do something about it, but no one would believe her without proof.

She bent down and searched behind the cabinet for the television wire.

Todd was in the family room watching the game as usual. (So typical of his total oblivion to her needs.) She took a deep breath to ease the ache of resentment pounding in her chest. She closed her eyes as her thoughts began their private mantra, I don’t want him, he’s the problem, I don’t want him, he’s the problem. Her focus was now calm and decided.

Outside laughter prompted her to action.

This wasn’t going to be a difficult one to pull off. She unplugged the wire and smoothed off the dust… a few nibbles to expose the copper would do it – there… done. She moved silently across the hall into the bathroom. Noisy splashes brought a private smile to her lips; a quick check in the mirror brought a private satisfaction. The stage was set.

Calculated steps to the back door brought their desired effect. Todd took the bait, “Honey? What’s wrong now?” Her back stiffened and she turned to face him. “What do you mean… now?”

“I didn’t mean anything Hon, sorry,” he said as cheers blared from his new toy they couldn’t afford, drawing his attention away… again. Her thoughts brightened at her own show that was about to begin. She yelled out the door, “Cory? Come here please.”

A little boy of six came running at the summons, “Yes mama?”

“Go to your room for me please.”

“Yes m’am.” he said, as he nervously glanced at his dad.

She watched him run as his shoulders drooped, “Good, he’s scared, he knows something’s coming. So? Serves him right.” The squeak of leather told her Todd was coming. “Hey Hon, what’s up?”

“Just Cory up to his usual. I’ve been trying to tell you he needs help. Maybe you should handle this one Todd. Come and look at what he’s done now.” That familiar thrill of excitement relished what was about to happen. She’s doing this for the good of her family – the real family. Yes… for the good. All was well when Todd rushed to her side, when they stood united against the evil harming their family.

Control released its drug through her veins.

And just as much, she relished Cory standing obediently in the middle of his room with his hands to his side not fidgeting with his fingers in that irritating way of his. She felt terror emanating from his taut body, standing like a soldier. She knew his eyes would follow her every move. They better.

She reached down and pulled out the chewed wire from behind the cabinet, “What is this young man? You could’ve started a fire! When did you do this? And WHY?” The fear on his face pacified some of the pain he had caused her since he was born. The private mantra sang its soothing lullaby, I don’t want him, he’s the problem, I don’t want him, he’s the problem.

“Mama, I didn’t… I… I…” He pressed his eyes hard so tears wouldn’t show.

“Don’t… not again… just don’t say it.” She looked at her husband, “Todd? He’s lying again and you know it. And this time he could have started a fire. We can’t have this. Something needs to be done.”


Cory looked from his mom to his dad. He felt shaky and scared. Familiar terror pounded in his chest. He’d better not cry and he was trying real hard not to. He wasn’t allowed to because his mom said he was faking and then she’d hurt him more. He felt like he couldn’t breathe when she’d hold his mouth.

In a flash, he thought about what the teacher said in kid’s church about how truth could help him be free from bad things. Should he try and be strong and tell the truth now? His mom always got so mad if he tried and he didn’t know why his dad always believed he was lying. He knew he didn’t do those things but he didn’t know how they were happening. When? When will it help him?

He wondered if it was true.


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This article has been read 1324 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Melanie Kerr 09/04/08
What a cruel mother she was. I could feel the tension in the small boy.
Catrina Bradley 09/04/08
Scary and disturbing.
Joanne Sher 09/06/08
Hauntingly presented. Absolutely riveting. Wow.
Betty Castleberry09/06/08
Poor kid. I hope his mom is found out. Well done.
Laury Hubrich 09/07/08
Oh man... Don't know what else to say.
HQ Creston09/07/08
well written, I wasn't sure at first who was unwanted the husband or the child.
Kristen Hester09/08/08
This is very well written if your goal was to make me feel for this boy. I hope the TRUTH will be known and the mother will get the help she needs. So sad...
Valarie Sullivan09/08/08
It has been said that a true artist evokes emotion with their work.
You, my dear, are an Artist!
Jan Ackerson 09/08/08
Powerful, powerful writing. I pray that your objective will be realized in at least one reader, dear friend!
Beth LaBuff 09/08/08
Wow… I'm hoping this is fiction… but knowing that it does happen is heartbreaking. This is so well-written, but at the time you are so involved in the story that you don't think about the writing. (I mean that as a complement.)
Sharlyn Guthrie09/09/08
Wow! This isn't a theme that's talked about much, but your story certainly did a wonderful job of showcasing the family dynamics. Yes, it's sad and frightening, but it's also informative. I like how you had Cory struggling with the messages he had heard in Sunday school.
Pamela Kliewer09/09/08
Wow. I wasn't sure either who was unwanted... very well told. Such a sensitive topic. I'm glad I read your hint first or I would have really been wondering, what in the world? Well done.