To find links to all parts of this story, please visit the Small Cuts Page. Here is Genevieve:
Dark. Warm. Safe. The dark never frightened but comforted. In nature, being visible is a threat to one’s existence, but invisibility is a defense against predators. They can’t eat you if they can’t find you. In the dark I could be myself, because no one would see anyway. It was a relief. Maybe I should sleep. I was so very tired.
If only the birds would be quiet. Chirp, chirp, chirp.
Sing a song of sixpence,
A pocket full of rye,
Four and twenty blackbirds
Baked in a pie.
The old nursery rhyme went through my head. It reminded me of my Nana. When I was little, Mom and Dad would leave us kids with her when they traveled. I was always afraid to sleep over, even with my older sister and little brother in the same room with me. I’d lay awake for hours, imagining all sorts of terrors. The nightlight Nana left on only made things worse. That little bit of illumination would help the monsters find me. The shadows cast by a dim light are far more sinister than the absolute dark. You can see the monsters just like they can see you. Most nights, I’d run to Nana’s room and crawl in beside her. To try and soothe me to sleep, she would sing. Nursery songs, old church hymns, anything that she knew by heart. Funny how gruesome most of those nursery rhymes were. No wonder we were frightened as children.
When the pie was opened
The birds began to sing—
Wasn’t that a dainty dish
To set before the king?
Dainty. No one used words like that anymore. Language was so crass these days. I suppose it was just a reflection of the world. The harsh, mean, cruel world. What was it I’d seen on the news this morning? Morning. The last thing I remembered: checking the time on TV. Could I have lost time again? The darkness made it seem like night, but I wasn’t sure. Then again, I was so sleepy it must be late. What had happened? Where was I? I tried to reach out, to see if Oliver was next to me, but I couldn’t move my arm, couldn’t feel anything with my fingers. Oliver? Are you there?
The king was in the counting-house
Counting out his money,
The queen was in the parlor
Eating bread and honey,
Oliver had gone somewhere. I needed to find him. It was very, very important that I find him. I just couldn’t remember why. Was Oliver the king? Was I his queen? Was there someone else?
The maid was in the garden
Hanging out the clothes.
Someone else. Someone else. Someone else was in the room with me. I could hear the whispering, murmuring. Blood. Bruises. Broken bones. Brain damage. Whisper, whisper, shhhhh…
Along came a blackbird
The flapping of wings. Thousands and thousands of wings. Monstrous, evil birds. Just like that Hitchcock movie.
And snipped off her nose.
Could they see me? Had they found me? Run! I couldn’t run, couldn’t move, couldn’t see. I could only hear those infernal birds chirping their monotonous song. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Wait, keep still and they can’t find you. Breathe slowly and they won’t hear you. There. The sounds were fading. They were leaving. I was alone again. Safe. Warm. Dark.
Header Image via Google Images. And the nursery rhyme is “Sing a Song of Sixpence” by Mother Goose.