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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of “A Stitch in Time Saves Nine” (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (01/03/08)

TITLE: The Lullaby
By Maxx .


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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Member Comments
Member Date
Sara Harricharan 01/10/08
A lovely, tender scene between mother and baby. I'm not sure I follow the whole story though. What was with the police lights and everything?
Verna Cole Mitchell 01/10/08
This is beautifully poetic prose--such wonderful pictures you made with your words. I could feel the mother's tender love for her baby son and her desire to start out right with him at the very beginning so he would be protected from making the mistakes causing such havoc in her life.
Marita Vandertogt01/11/08
I love the description of the relationship between the mom and baby here -beautifully written, and the story itself so haunting. Really really like this one!
Joanne Sher 01/11/08
If this is who I think it is - you're early ;). This piece is absolutely gorgeous and tactile and haunting. Love it.
Catrina Bradley 01/13/08
I want to know more! But what you have written for us is beautiful, haunting, touching. Love it.
darlene hight01/14/08
You are an expert! This piece brims with hope and speaks to the overcomer in all of us. Great depth and description. Welcome back but maybe you could have waited another week? I don't enter often :>
Linda Watson Owen01/14/08
Exquisitely bittersweet. What masterful writing! Great to have you back! (I think...LOL!)
Kristen Hester01/14/08
As I currently have a baby, I could really relate to much of this story and the mother's emotions. It was sweet and powerful. When I finished, I thought, "Was that on topic?" And then I said the topic to myself...and thought, "Oh, yes! It is on topic." Thank you for sharing this precious "stitch in time."
Loren T. Lowery01/14/08
Poignant and sweet and an endaring, creative way to present the topic.
jodie banner01/14/08
Jan Ackerson 01/14/08
How on earth do you manage to write so utterly convincingly from a nursing mother's POV? Amazing!
Paula Titus 01/14/08
Simply beautiful.
Karen Wilber01/14/08
This is brilliant - the juxtaposition of the soft words inside and harsh words outside portray 2 worlds at odds with each other. Great description of a nursing mom with her baby.
Holly Westefeld01/14/08
I'm afraid that this was a bit too subtle for me to feel like I had a good grasp on everything. Was Matt an older sibling over whom the mother was regreting mistakes, vowing to do things differently with this child?
Sally Hanan01/14/08
Awesome writing, as usual, but I've read this twice and still can't figure out who Matt is, and if he's the kid's dad, then why is he gone and why is there so much fear?
Temple Miller01/14/08
Beautiful description of the tender interaction between a trusting newborn and a fierce mother. Matt's haunting provides additional eerie tension. I loved it!
Rita Garcia01/14/08
Heartwarming, heartfelt and brilliant on so many levels!
One of my favorites this week!
Sharlyn Guthrie01/14/08
This is both tender and haunting. The descriptions of the nursing baby are extremely vivid. I understand the feelings presented in this piece, but I'm left wanting to know more.
Yvonne Blake 01/15/08
I liked the way you put us in the setting with vivid shadows and lights.
Yvonne Blake 01/15/08
How could a man understand the bond of a nursing woman?
Wow! You did it wonderfully!
Is the misspelled word "singing" instead of "singeing"?
Betty Castleberry01/15/08
Your descriptions are so vivid that I could see the baby, see the room, everything.
This is lovely, yet chilling. Very well done.
Dee Yoder 01/16/08
Wow, this story is absolutely riveting. I can't say enough about the descriptions and the imagery. It made me sad when I read the part about the mother automatically flinching when she caught a glimpse of the police lights. I felt the heaviness of the baby in her arms, and the light on the walls-everything. Excellent. Made me think about how many mothers are having midnight moments like this one; so bittersweet.
Johnna Stein01/16/08
I love this piece. You paint poignant pictures with your words. I feel I am there watching the whole scene unfold; I can personally experience the sadness and tenderness.
Julie Ruspoli01/16/08
Wow, are you sure you have never nursed a baby? Amazing writing. I could feel the mothers determination.
Tim Pickl01/16/08
Fantastic writing...like a chapter from the middle of a masterful novel!
Beth LaBuff 01/16/08
I was wrapped up in the mother/baby protective emotions then the scene taking place outside that had already swallowed one family member. The mother really came alive in your writing. Great work!