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Sing a Song of Lullaby
-by [Madame Black
The sun was setting on another October day. The sky was streaked by oranges and reds more brilliant than the leaves themselves, and the remaining light cast over the land in such a way that everything glowed as it having its own light. Dark clouds disrupted the beautiful sight here and there making it look truly ominous with the coming night on its heels. A chill wind was blowing the autumn dead leaves from their mother trees and in the stillness and quiet of the world, the rustling of leaves was the only thing that could be heard. It was in times like this that Isabelle took most delight. Her pale exposed skin took no heed of the cold and her bare feet happily crunched the leaves below as she danced and frolicked about the landscape. Though the light was fading and night was soon to approach, she had just woken from sleep and it was now time to play. The red sun played on her golden hair tucked up here and there upon her head, reckless and free as she was. She laughed and squealed as she pummeled large piles of leaves, tossing them in the air and running through them like a rainstorm. As the last lick of light warmed the sky on the horizon, Isabelle grabbed hold of a tree branch and climbed her way to a sturdy branch where she could watch the night descend.
"I'll play the sun a lullaby as she goes to sleep," she said to no one in particular, and while she carried no instrument with her, she took up her precious violin and wedged it 'tween her shoulder and chin and laid the bow to string. As skillfully as a child much older than she, the violin began to softly sing, sweet and soft at first then growing in strength. She smiled with complete satisfaction as the stars came out to play as well. She always imagined they sang with her as she played and that she was the conductor of a great symphony of nature. But her playing halted as she heard a strange sound.
It was not a part of her beautiful music, in fact it sounded quite sad. She frowned in confusion and slightly dismayed her playing would be interrupted, but the sound persisted. Louder now, and then soft again, she feigned to hear its tune but found naught but a note or two. She peered into the village not far away, the houses just barely distinguishable against the new-dark. Several lanterns were already lit throughout the streets and more popped up as time went by. Curiosity now came into play and Isabelle found herself walking the cold cobblestones looking this way and that to find the source of the sound, clutching her nightgown in her hands as she lightly stepped. She passed house after house, standing on her tip toes to peek inside but in every house she found not the source. Finally after every other place was checked, she came upon the smallest house in town. All was quiet then but as she looked inside she found a boy not much older than she lying in bed crying. She pulled herself up a little higher and saw that he was a comely boy and all his blankets he had pulled up to his chin. He lay and sniffled a few times before letting out a soft wail and his misery was clear, though she could not discern the problem. She fell back on her feet and placed her hands on her hips, creasing her brow in frustration. This was new to the young girl, for she in life had never known sorrow. Her death had been quick and peaceful, her heart having stopped in her sleep. The wind suddenly blew hard and she wrapped her arms about her waist. She was puzzled but also now very interested. She watched for several moments more, observed the tears running down his face, noticed the crinkle in his eyebrows as they seemed to push together. Her interest was somewhat heightened as a woman, quite possibly the boy's mother, then came into the room and sat down on the bed next to him. The boy sniffed a few times more, but the wailing stopped as he was comforted by the lady. She passed her hand through his mousy brown hair and talked soothingly to him. It didn't take long before his cries subsided and he even smiled a little. Isabelle smiled also as she watched. Something inside her seemed to swell and warm as she watched the boy and she forgot her nightly games. The woman soon left and the boy closed his eyes and fell fast asleep. Isabelle watched his chest rise and fall rhythmically and she was entranced, as someone who had never witnessed sleeping before. The dark was fading then as a new sun began slowly to rise. She tore herself from his window and walked silently away, her head slightly lowered in deep thought. The fresh memories ran over through her mind as she shuffled through the leaves and bramble on to her resting place by a tree not far away. She laid herself down against the roots and closed her eyes as well, taking in the feeling of dawn.
The next night she found herself waking much as she always had, with no recollection of the night before. She stretched her arms as she watched the sleepy sun fall into its nightly routine. It wasn't long before she was on her feet and full of joy, as any happy ghost child would be. Dancing to an imaginary tune, she skipped and jumped over hills and creeks, tumbling down occasionally only to leap back up with laughter, when her happiness was disrupted once more. Remembrance returned to her as she heard the boy's cries once more. She picked up her gown and began to skip along the path into the village, down the stony streets, back to the house from the night before. She stood tall once more and looked inside to see the little boy much like the night before, crying softly in his bed. She watched with a smile, though he was sad, for in her mind she had found a friend. Isabelle waited for the woman to come back in, but after some time had passed and his crying had not subsided, she decided to soothe him herself.
She appeared in the room just as quickly as she decided this and stood at the foot of his bed. The room was small and barren, only large enough for the bed and the door to swing open. She touched the bed posts, curious to feel the wood in her hand and she leaned down to examine the quilts that covered him. His sudden cry caused her to jump and fall slightly on the wall, making a soft thud. He stopped. The air became tense as he listened fearfully, looking frantically around the room. Frightened he began to whimper, pulling the sheets ever closer to his face as if to protect him from nightmares.
"Don't cry little boy," she said meekly, but he didn't seem to hear. Minutes passed as he still searched for the cause of the sound but as they passed he became increasingly groggy and disinterested. He closed his eyes then opened them again quickly, repeating this pattern over and over, afraid to leave himself vulnerable to the dark. After many failed attempts to remain awake, the boy was soon asleep and Isabelle smiled once more, taking delight in watching over him. Her white cheeks nearly blushed as she heard him breathing. She thought then to sing to him as his mother had. She mustered up her will and came up with a song she barely remembered hearing her own mother sing her once before. Her small voice was weak but pretty and she sang quietly so as not to wake him. The boy seemed not to notice, only slept on, but when a tiny smile reached his lips, Isabelle was beside herself. She clasped her hands together and pressed them against her cheek with joy, taking the smile to mean he had enjoyed her song. She couldn't help but shyly reach out and touch his hand, so warm and soft, laying beside him on the bed. She watched in wonder as his skin crawled slightly, raising goosebumps all up his arm. She retracted her hand and sat by his side the whole night long before returning once more to her place of rest.
As evening approached once more Isabelle found herself awake and full of energy. The night before had brought a new world of happiness and joy into her already happy life. She laughed aloud to herself in excitement to see her friend once more. She lept from her spot and brought out her woody violin, playing a lively tune as she skipped about. This night was cooler yet and the sunlight faded earlier every day. Little by little the world would become a winter play land for the girl. Autumn brought out the best in her and she thought sadly of the cold to come. She felt more sleepy in the cold darkness and her tiny spirit sparked to come out and play but once in a while. So she enjoyed it while she could. Playing gleefully as she made her way into the village, she stopped only when she came upon the house, setting aside her instrument to catch a glimpse of the handsome boy.
To her amazement the boy was already asleep though not soundly. He tossed and turned many times as she watched and this tickled her even more. He whimpered several times in his sleep and his cheeks were not so cheery pink as they had been in nights past. Isabelle passed inside, eager to watch the boy once more and observe this new behavior, and not moments after she did the boy's mother swung open the door and came quickly to his side. He moaned and coughed, which startled Isabelle and nearly caused her to flee, but the woman took no notice of her or the sound he made. She stood at his beside and leaned in closer to see the boy and she noticed the sweat beading on his brow. His mother drew her shawl closer to her arms as the young girl's icy presence hit her, but she continued with her purpose, taking the washrag in her hand and dipping it in cool water. She placed the cloth on his brow and he made a face.
"That aught to take your fever down my dear," the woman said softly as she kissed his flustered cheek. She quietly stood and left the room again, careful to close the door behind her and Isabelle was left fascinated. Her false heart beat within her as she crept closer. Though ill, she found him beautiful, a boy she would have greatly admired in her previous life. She giggled slightly at the thought of it and watched to see if he responded. When he didn't, she twirled around several times, dancing about in glee.
"I shall watch over you child," she said almost motherly. "Hark, I shall play a tune," and with that she took up her violin, her best friend, and tried her best to play with all her skill. She played one tune, and then another, both a calming melody. She wished to watch him sleep as though she could put him under her spell. The wiry strings played beautifully in her mind, but as the sick boy slightly woke, the sound was eery, cold and distant.
"The music," he muttered as he turned about in his bed, "music!" She grinned and played more and louder, thinking he liked her pleasant tune, but in his haze and sickness it was terrible. It was the funeral dirge of the undead in the nightmares he dreamt while half awake. He fought and tossed in his blankets until he could bare it no longer. "Mother!" he cried loudly and her footsteps could be heard, swiftly upon the floorboards. Isabelle stopped and froze in fear and confusion, unsure what to make of commotion. The woman burst through the door and Isabelle quickly fleed, appearing in the yard outside. She tried to make out what was said in her absence but she could not, and dared not go to the window once more. She frowned and nearly cried herself, wondering what had caused him to stir like that. She feared he didn't like her music after all, that he didn't like her. But as the night faded once more so did her fears. Surely he liked her music, she thought, he only wished his mother to hear as well, or something to that amount. She naively laughed at herself, thinking how foolish she was. But now her shyness was gone and she wished to play with her new friend. But sleep overcame her and she decided the next night would be best.
Isabelle could barely overcome her excitement and she awoke several times in the daylight, only to look around her and wonder. Sleep always came before she could get up, and she rested through until evening fell once more. When she opened her eyes and realized that the time had come, she lept to her feet and practically ran back into town, laughing and squealing as she went. Her voice rang out in song as she skipped along, her heels clattering noisily down the street; it had been so long since she had a playmate and this boy was far better than just any friend. In all her moments watching she had come to fancy him and thought perhaps he would feel the same when he awoke and they could be sweethearts. She reached the window she had come to know as well as anything and pulled herself up to look inside once more, wanting to make sure the boy was within. Butterflies stirred in her empty stomach and shyness returned and she feared that he would not want to play with her, or that his mother would not allow it, but as she set her eyes on his sweet face once more, she could only smile and swiftly moved through the wall and into his room. She stood at the corner of his bed, hands behind her back and chin to her chest, looking up through long dark lashes, a bashful girl's smile upon her pale cheeks. Words stuck in her throat and she found that she couldn't move. He laid silently in his bed almost as pale as she in his sickness, but sleeping peacefully enough. She found the courage to move a few inches closer and laid her hand gently on his bed.
Moments in silence passed when she gathered herself together and whispered over him, "Little boy." She stood with baited breath, waiting to see if he would stir, but after several more moments in the dark she was disappointed. She moved a little closer and whispered again, "Little boy!" This time he moaned softly and his eyebrows stitched together in fear of the reoccurring nightmare from nights before. In her eyes it was only grogginess and with that all her shyness was removed and left only all of her excitement pent up. She closed her eyes and summoned all the energy she could muster or find, taking even the very warmth out of the air, and she found herself feeling more whole. Fearing nothing now, she came right next to him and laid an icy kiss upon his brow which stirred him suddenly awake, eyes wide and staring. There in front of him, by his own bed stood a little girl with curls, glowing and gleaming in the dark like a firefly in summertime. But in his sickness he saw a pale ghastly light, eery and iridescent and the girl seemed false even for a ghost. Then amid all his horror at the sight, she spoke to him and her voice was shrill and distorted.
"Come little boy, come outside and play with me," Isabelle said with all her sweetness, and she held out her hand to help him from his bed, but to her utter surprise the boy shrieked and pulled all his covers over him except for his eyes, which were wide and white. His screaming didn't end and he scrambled for a way further back against his headboard, but to no avail. She recoiled her hand and backed to the corner of his bed once more and screamed herself, caught unaware of his fear of her, and in her mind she could not comprehend why he acted so. Before she knew it the door to his room swung open and everything was filled with light. The boy's mother stopped in the doorway and dropped her lamp, extinguishing the light that it brought, for she too saw the girl and the fear in her boy's face. He jumped out of bed and into his mothers arms which were shaking violently and they both cried out against her.
"Back to Hell ye scourge of Satan!" she cried as she crossed herself and fervently began to pray. The boy whimpered and cried into her bosom and cursed her as well screaming, "Leave me be! I hate you!" and Isabelle could take it no longer. Her light had already diminished but now she fled, flying as fast and as far away as she could and found herself upon a hill over the tiny town. Her chest heaved with her own fear at their reaction and her mind raced at what she had done wrong, but she could think of nothing. Lights could be seen flickering on as neighbors awoke and the little house that was dark was now light again. Tears began to slowly inch their way down her cheek, even colder now that her energy was spent, and in only a matter of minutes the tears became a stream. She gave all the rest of her heart out to this boy and he scorned her. She gave him light where now she had only darkness as companion. She gave him her music, which had been sacred only unto herself, and he hated it. He hated her. She had no purpose before him, now she was without purpose once more.
As all emotion save sadness instantly drained out of her, her soul which once had been bright and clear became dark and hollow. There was an emptiness inside of her she had never felt before, and would never feel again. For as the sun rose and the darkness faded into nothingness, so did she.
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