Hush Little Baby

Silence is one of the things I’ve found to miss the most since the birth of my son.  For anyone who has ever dealt with a newborn infant, I’m sure you can agree that being able to sit down and enjoy time to yourself in a quiet house is one of the best feelings in the world for a new parent.

So as I sat in my house, enjoying the sound of nothing at all as I played video games on mute so as not to upset the baby, I was filled with utter contentment.  Then the sound on the baby monitor broke into the silence.  It was a snort and a squeal at first and I held my breath.  Then I heard a moan and whimper and I stiffened my muscles, willing my son to stay asleep for just a little while longer.

But fate had other plans.

Like a cannon, the baby began to scream.

I sighed and stood up, silently wishing that my wife would hear and get to the baby before me.  As I took a step forward, I heard my wife’s voice on the monitor.  She shushed the baby and began to sing to him as she always does.  I relaxed and sat back down and went back to my game – until I heard what she was singing.

Hush little baby don’t say a word
Momma’s gonna buy you a mocking bird
And if that mocking bird don’t sing
Momma’s gonna buy you a diamond ring
And if that diamond ring don’t shine
Momma’s gonna take you and make you mine
And if you do not come with me
Mommas gonna kill your family

I stood back up and crossed the room.  What the hell was she singing? I’m not a saint by any stretch of the imagination, but singing a song like that to a baby seemed a bit dark, even for me.

I walked down the hallway to the baby’s room and as I did so, something caught the corner of my eye.  Standing in the laundry room, moving wet towels to the dryer from the washing machine, was my wife.

I frowned and opened my mouth to ask a question, then I heard the choking scream of my son down the hall.  I’ve heard him bellow at the top of his lungs before, but never like this.  This was a deeper, louder wail that no parent ever wants to hear from their newborn.

I bolted down the hall and threw open the door to the nursery, but the second my hand touched the doorknob, the sound stopped completely.

Silence again filled the house the moment I stepped into the baby’s room, but this was different than before – this was an eerie silence that tasted bitter and made my skin tighten and my hair stand on end. 

I swallowed and went to the crib and peered over the edge.

There, sleeping soundly as if nothing had happened at all, lay my son.  I reached out and stroked his head, then immediately pulled my hand back as my fingers brushed along a warm wetness.  I examined the substance on my fingertips.  It was cloudy and a little sticky and as I rolled the pads of my fingers together and pulled them apart, a thin strand clung to my fingertips.  It reminded me of the thick globs of sputum that would fall from the jowls of the Saint Bernard I had growing up.  Whenever he licked anything, it left behind a slimy trail just like what was now on the back of my son’s head.

I stepped back and scanned the room for anything unusual, and that’s when I noticed the footprints made in the freshly-vacuumed carpet leading from the closet door.

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