MONDAY: September Mourn

BY D. SANDY NIELSEN

Copyright is held by the author.

“PLEASE MOMMY. Ple-e-e-e-ase,” I’d pleaded with her the previous night. Mommy had conceded and left both Lite-Brite and Sparkle-Plenty nightlights on in my room. The little horses had magical powers and would protect me from the dark — I hoped.

Mommy had looked out from our apartment over Central Park, and complained about Daddy once more — she always did — now that he wasn’t living here. “Oh Brenna, how I wish your father hadn’t read you the second part of Beowulf. Serves me right for marrying a Swedish diplomat at the U.N. It was bad enough when he had you last month and read the first part with Grendel.”

Mommy closed the drapes, then came over and sat on the edge of my bed, tucked in my Smurf blankets and assured me once more with, “You know Brenna it was a fairy tale. There are no fire-breathing dragons. There are no monsters in the dark.” Mommy stroked my hair. “You know that dear, don’t you?”

“Yes Mommy.” I tried to be brave. I hadn’t remembered the dreams — from before.

Mommy leaned over and kissed me. “Good-night. Sleep tight. Sweet dreams.”

“Yes Mommy. Night Mommy.”

And I fell asleep, but did not have dreams that were sweet. I dreamt of the dark, and dreamt of the dragon that came out of the pitch black sky — and it breathed flames. Beowulf — or Daddy, had not been there to protect us from scorching jaws. I woke up all hot and sweaty, feeling like I was burning. I looked to the magical pony nightlights’ rainbow arc for comfort, for reassurance, and finally fell asleep again.

The second time I woke up, I’d dreamed the dragon had come out of the night sky and set me on fire. I’d screamed and cried out loud. Mommy had come into the room and held me till I stopped sobbing, saying, “There, there Brenna. There are no monsters in the dark. It’s okay. It’s okay.”

But me, Brenna, hadn’t slept the remainder of the night, even with the door open. Mommy hadn’t either, cause I heard her say it on the phone.

Pre-School was closed for the day. Men were painting there. Not finger painting or anything like that, they were doing the whole room. Mommy had a baby-sitter all lined up. She got sick and couldn’t come. After she hung up, Mommy said something about a flu that came in 26 ounces — whatever that meant. That was alright. Her breath smelt funny.

Mommy said, “You get to come to work with me today dear. Won’t that be fun?”

That was better best all right. Mommy worked way up top in one of the two biggest buildings in the whole wide world. I just loved going there. The super power towers. It was a better view than Central Park. You could see the whole city from Mommy’s office. Willie’s Whilikers, you could see the whole world from up there. And it was all glass. It was all light. And there was no dark. No dark.

A beautiful bright sunny day. The speedy elevator ride up. A snack and a drink. Colouring books laid out in front of the window. Mommy already busy-busy working at her desk — with stuff.

I could tell time and at 8:45 o’clock in the morning, pre-school wouldn’t have already started and here I was looking out over everything, on this September 11th of 2001.

But mommy had been both right — and wrong.

You didn’t have to be afraid of the dark. But there were monsters. They came in the bright daylight. And neither Daddy or Beowulf were here to protect us.

The dragon was right outside the window, big and roaring, headed right for me and Mommy.

And soon — the fire.

9 comments

  1. Random Writer

    Loved “a flu that came in 26 ounces”! And it’s a stroke of genius to deal with Sept. 11 from a child’s POV. Unfortunately the POV was inconsistently rendered, making the ending very disappointing. Readers don’t need to be told everything. I knew what was coming from “Mommy worked way up top in one of the two biggest buildings in the whole wide world.” That was brilliant. After that the story became heavy-handed.

  2. Michael Joll

    Are they still handing out gold stars in pre-school, Sandy? If so, award yourself FIVE big ones. I must be even dumber than anyone thought. I kept imagining that your little girl lived in one of the apartment buildings overlooking Central Park Drive in Brampton. And that mommy worked in the TD Centre downtown. Duh! Maybe that’s why I didn’t see the end coming until the last few words.

    I really liked the way you handled the narrative from the perspective of a naive child confronted with the adult world. And the reminder that Grendel wears many cloaks. Keep ’em coming.

  3. Alan Buchanan

    Nice work, Sandy. I’d have dropped the September 11 date because your set-up was so strong it wasn’t needed. That’s as critical as I can get about it.

  4. pauline lachman

    So I’ll assume the child survived the fire and lived to tell the tale. Horror comes in many disguises eh!. Brings to mind that infamous date we would all like to not remember.
    Good narrative.

  5. Jean Pether

    Captivating Sandy. You really got inside the child’s mind. I was so intrigued I could not believe it was the end. I was of course hoping for a positive outcome, but on reflection, I think it was a good way to close off the story.

  6. fatima sugarwala

    Truly commedable Sandy! you have artistically depicted the oncoming fear and danger of the unknown. You have revived the pathos of the dark doomsday by the contrast ‘It was all light…. No dark.’

  7. A. Colin Wrights

    Thank you so much for your comment on my story “A Pregnant Woman… ” (The best comment I’ve ever had: you got the runs!) It is in fact published in my “A Cupboardful of Shoes and Other Stories”, which is available at any Amazon site, or may be ordered at most bookstores. Sorry for the delay in replying.

    Best wishes,

    A. Colin Wright,
    http://www.sardiniansilver.com,
    http://www.acolinwright.ca,
    http://www.authorsden.com/acolinwright
    http://www.cupboardfulofshoes.com

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