This is the room of the wolfmother wallpaper. It’s peeling in corners, as old as the house around it. And like the house, the room and its secrets have been abandoned, its overgrown yard a trap for stray baseballs smacked from the vacant lot across the street. No one remembers who lived there anymore.
The house remembers though.
On moonless nights, the sound of a baby’s crying comes from within. The cry would carry through the night, leaving neighbors shivering in their beds. The cry is shrill, urgent, and unchanging in its pitch, unnerving even the strongest of hearts. No one understands it. No one can escape it.
No one is brave enough to find it.
The wolfmother slides from the wall, a silent figure crawling through time and space. She creeps on all fours up the decrepit staircase, her watchful eye on the dangling chandelier as she passes underneath it. Louder comes the cry that urges her up the steps, regard for her own safety forgotten. She stops at on the top stair, judging the distance of the hole between stair and floor, balancing her weight as she leaps. She lands harder than she means to, her hind feet breaking more of the flooring away. She dismisses the thought that she might not return, as the cry fills the air again. She steps forward, following the scent only she can detect.
Down the long dust-coated hall she runs, paying no mind to the gray walls on either side of her. To the left she turns, the increasing volume of the cries guiding her. At the end she climbs, her forepaws scratching against the wall. Another cry, more urgent now, vibrates under her touch. She turns, running back the way she came. She circles in the open hallway, gathering all her strength and runs, her speed never decreasing, until crash! The wall crumbles down around her stunned body laid out on the floor.
The wolfmother rises to a sit, shakes her mane, and startles as another cry cuts through the air. She knows she is close now and stands, her legs wobbling, still woozy from the crash, her nose in the air. She waits with nostrils flaring, and then takes off when she catches the scent. There, in the corner, hidden in shadow, she finds the crib, and within it, the babe. Its mouth is open, its scream silent, its eyes frozen. She nudges her nose through the bars, opens her mouth, and gives it a gentle lick. The babe reaches out, touches her nose. It raises on its legs, and climbs from the crib onto her back. It pulls her fur savagely and she howls, adding a chill to the night the neighbors will never forget.
A crack of light appears in the window, telling her the night is almost over. She must hurry back to the wall now, taking her new child with her, until the next phase of the moon arrives.
This is my entry for this week’s Master Class, hosted by Sinistral Scribblings. 300 -500 words, using the opening line from Skinny Legs and All by Tim Robbins, to craft your story by. “This is the room of the wolfmother wallpaper.”
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