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“The moon, mommy, the moon.”

My toddlers yelled as they pointed upward at the night sky. The three of us lay on a blanket stargazing. The night air was chilly and I tried to wrap them in blankets, but they squirmed away, too excited to sit still.

As I gazed up at the moon with the twins, a bright light encompassed us from above. Blinding and fierce like a spotlight. Gravity lost its hold on my body and I felt myself drifting up from the ground, from them. I managed to twist and saw the twins below me, their arms outstretched as if to pull me back down. I tried to reach for them, but they were getting further away. I tried to scream, but a great weight constricted my throat. The further I got from the twins, the smaller they became, until they were no longer visible and then there was darkness and then nothing.

I woke in the early morning in the yard, the twins near me, their skin pale and cold. I rushed them inside and wrapped them in their blankets. As they shivered I was filled with guilt. How could I have let us fall asleep outside, the events of the night prior having melted into a dream.

I sat and watched over the twins as they slept. Mumbling in their sleep about little men as their bodies burned with fever. We passed the day in fits of sleep. Before bed that night I bathed them, their little bodies covered in bruises. When I undressed for bed, I noticed the same marks on my own skin.

That night, I dreamt of pale grey beings and my body screamed in agony. I woke with a start and saw two small figures in my doorway. A scream tore from my throat as I groped for the bedside lamp. It clicked on and I saw my children in the doorway. Their blue eyes now black, pupilless voids.

For a moment all we did was stare at each other. Then their mouths split into Cheshire grins and I saw their teeth had elongated and grown thin.

“Come play with us mommy,” they said in unison.

I slammed the door in their faces and locked it. I waited for the tears I knew my children would express at being locked out of my room. But they didn’t come.

“Come play with us mommy.”

They scratched at the door repeating the phrase and I sat on the edge of my bed staring at it to make sure it didn’t open. Then I heard skittering across the walls and ceiling followed by laughter. I cried. Where had my children gone and what were these monsters?

The night passed with me silently crying, staring at the door as they came back again and again and asked me to play. When the first rays of morning came, I heard them retreat to their own room. Only then did I unlock my door and look into the hall. Long scratches were carved in the walls and ceiling.

For a week, every night I locked myself into my room, and they sat outside and asked me to play. During the day, I tried to remember I was their mother. I made food for them which they promptly ignored when they woke for the night. Some mornings I’d find blood and animal fur around the house. Whatever these creatures were now, they were not my children. I had barely slept and now exhaustion was catching up to me. I swore during the day I heard them whisper ‘come play with us, mommy but they were asleep.

And perhaps my mistake was thinking they needed as much sleep as a human child. Or perhaps I was just too tired to keep my guard up. Because I found myself face to face with them during the day. Eyes black as pitch, needle like teeth gleaming.

“Come play with us, mommy.”

I ran to the kitchen and pulled a butcher knife from the block on the counter. Only there was no blade. I pulled another knife and another. None of them had blades anymore.

“Come play with us, mommy.”

“Nooooo! Goddamnit, leave me alone.”

“Come play with us, mommy.”

I ran out the front door screaming for help. They followed at a walk. The next door neighbor walked out their front door.

“Please help,” I begged as I sprinted toward him. I stopped short when I saw his eyes.

“Come play with us, mommy,” he said.

I spun and started for the next house. One by one the neighbors all left their houses. Black eyes staring, Cheshire-smiling.

“Come play with us, mommy.”

“Come play with us, mommy.”

“Come play with us, mommy.”

They surrounded me and I collapsed to the ground as they fell on top of me, suffocating me. The last words I heard was a collective ‘come play with us, mommy.’


Emily is writing as Eady H. She is a mother of twins and cancer survivor.

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