The Lullaby

Don’t tell my mother, but I’m the reason the box is gone: the pine box without seams, bigger than a brick. Heavy too. It came over from the old country; my nana got it when her nana died. Then it was my mother’s, and it sat over the mantle on the fireplace like a crown jewel.

No one ever got it open. Mother said so. Whoever solved it could keep whatever was inside. Gold. Jewelry. No one knew. No one ever saw it.

But I heard it. To this day, I swear it: the box would sing. 

A dry, throaty lullaby with words too garbled to understand, so low and muffled that, at first, I convinced myself I’d dreamt it. It wouldn’t sing every night, no, it was sporadic. Sometimes it’d stay quiet a month, other times a year, but it would always start again like a promise. Always at night.

Each time, I crept out of bed and waited at the hall’s end, my back pressed to the wall. I held my breath and listened to that scratchy song. But the moment I turned the corner to look, its song would stop so sharply I swear it’d bleed.

Except for the night it didn’t.

It continued its strange song as I crept toward it, one step, two steps, three…

Before I knew it, it loomed over me on the mantle just above my head. Gently, I took the box down and balanced it across both palms. And then, with my ear against the weathered wood, it stopped as if I struck it with a knife.

Don’t tell my mother, but I’m the reason it’s gone. Sometimes I can still hear it, even in the day if it’s quiet, but always from so far away.

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Moira is a self-identified space cadet currently trapped in the desolate wasteland of Upstate New York. She was first published at the age of nine in an anthology for children that still lives permanently on her bookshelf. Her hobbies include wine, television, and overthinking everything.

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