Bedtime story

Sarah Roberts January 2, 2018
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Clowns and bears lay scattered over the counterpane, colourful yet lifeless. A cat-tail clock swung regularly over the fireplace, which crackled and spat as greened applewood gave up its sharp aroma. Under a tapestried cloth, the wary eyelid of a slumbering canary rose and fell in synchrony with its breathing; exhaling snores in the form of whistles.

From a horseshoe on the door a small blue robe with a rabbit on the pocket gently see-sawed in time with the clock, ruffled by a wayward breeze. Slate shadows spattered the walls, daubed by a Pollock fire. From the bed came a sound of breathing, slow and steady; the quilt rose and fell where a small shape lay dormant beneath.

There came a creak outside the door, which opened to reveal the mother checking that all was well before wending her way to bed. The noise disturbed the child who stirred and sat up, rubbing sleepy eyes.

“Mamma, I had a strange dream” said the child. The mother approached and curled comfortably up on the bed, gently stroking damp tousled strands away from her child’s forehead.

“You did? Tell Mamma what you dreamed about”. And in the curve of her warm maternal sanctuary the child held forth on towering pink hairless monsters, upright and wild-eyed, making unintelligible noises and travelling in fearsome shiny chariots with huge wheels.

The child soothed itself in the sharing of the tale, and settled back down in bed as the mother smoothed the pillow and placed one loving kiss on a small drowsy head. “Sleep well, little one” she said, with a final toothcomb glance as she left the room.

Not-quite silence fell, like a hail of feathers. Through the swishing of the cat-tail clock and the dancing of the firelight the small wolf twitched, dreaming once again of humanity.

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