by Sandra Grills

“Mama, I need a hug” a small voice calls into the darkness. She believes, even at the age of eight, that her little voice will be heard. She trusts that someone will be there. Not just any someone, her Mama, ready to give her a hug.

With a sigh only perceptible in my sleep weary mind, I roll over and push myself out of bed. My eyes open just a crack as I shuffle down the hall. She’s sleeping when I reach her room—a little cherub running around in the land of nod—but experience warns against leaving. It would only result in a louder, more urgent call. I reach down and do what many would consider an unthinkable sin, I wake a sleeping child.

Delicate eyelids flutter open, and a smile cracks the flawless face with a look that says “I knew you’d come.” Heavy arms reach up and claim their hug. The smile continues, even after the arms drift back onto the bed, and the eyes slide closed.

Sleeping

Mark Probst via Creative Commons

I tiptoe past the creaks in the floor, careful to lay my feet on soft carpet, before I lay a weary head back on my pillow. A little noise floats up the hallway. The contented sigh of a sleeping child who feels safe.

 

 


Sandra GrillsSandra has been a director, a business owner, a project manager, a bookbinder, and a mother. Her current passion is reading and writing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where she lives with her husband, two amazing children, and a gecko named Captain Doug.

by Jake Walters

Face at the window

David Muir via Creative Commons

The frosted glass made my face a ghost’s, floating between worlds, eyes too wide. What I saw: a goddess in her ripening middle-age, full of love for me, her fingers laced together with an unfamiliar man’s. Seeing her smile, through the cold, a smile hesitant and fleeting. Like she was a free woman, her first day out of jail. If she glanced toward the window, I would step back a foot and disappear. Not completely, but the way a story does when the book is closed.

She never looked. Still I drifted backward, until the darkness swallowed me. Funny how it swallowed me, like sleep at an inappropriate time. You always awaken from such dozing embarrassed, not refreshed. I was embarrassed for her, for the man sitting across from her, for me. And for Dad, drinking his third or fourth Michelob already this evening, wondering where She was. Wondering when I would wander back from working on my Chemistry project at a pretend friend’s house.

As I walked home I tried not to imagine the next time I will be called upon to kiss her: at a bedtime, upon leaving for college, or perhaps only at her funeral. Tried not to imagine the labyrinthine nightmare memories that would conjure.


Jake WaltersJake Walters has been published in several journals. He teaches English in Transylvania.