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The Bad Man

By @garden_bella

“Sshh, darling. Sshh, else the bad man will hurt us.”

The mother shushed and cooed at her newborn baby, but he refused to stop. She caressed his head, checked his diaper for the third time, offered her ****** as a peace truce, but the child only turned his head and continued to cry. She waved a toy in his face, trying to distract him and get him to shut up for just ten minutes, which was the brief period of time it took the bad man to fall into his impenetrable sleep.

She heard a car screech to a halt in the driveway, and when she peered outside, careful to not let the bad man see her, she saw the car’s front wheel completely off the driveway and crushing the beautiful peonies she had just planted last weekend. She gasped softly and whimpered at the destruction but quickly silenced herself, trying to focus on the screaming baby wriggling in her arms.

“Be quiet, be quiet, be quiet,” she begged the baby. He was her first, and she had never taken care of children before, so she was at a complete loss at what to do and had no motherly tricks up her sleeve to deal with his crying.

She was getting desperate, and the anxiety only got worse as she heard the heavy footsteps thundering onto the porch. The footsteps were not consistent; they came and went, stopped and started, slower and faster, almost as if the bad man was doing the waltz.

If the waltz was vodka.

“Shut up, shut up, shut up,” she implored the baby. She was on the verge of tears now, rushing to the nursery and locking the door. Even though she was halfway across the house behind a closed door, she still heard the key turn in the lock, the tumblers working one by one to open the door and letting the bad man into his home.

Her eyes widened as she realized she was out of time, and her baby cried even harder at the same time the bad man set foot in the home. She looked around the room, trying to find anything that would calm him in the few seconds she had left before the bad men reached them. She grabbed a pacifier, but the baby only spit it out. She grabbed a rattle, which still made noise, but it wasn’t as stressful as a baby crying, but the baby threw it across the room. Finally, her eyes fell upon a pillow. She reached for it but rapidly chastised herself for even thinking of that as a possibility and settled on rocking the baby again and trying to force the pacifier into his mouth.

“Glinda,” the bad man drawled from the entrance, throwing his shoes against the wall and falling to the floor in a crumpled state. He was in more of a drunken stupor than usual, which either meant he’d pass out more easily or was more violent. It was only a few minutes before she would find out. “Glinda, where are you?”

Does she answer him? Or does she stay silent? She looked between the door and to her baby. Maybe he would understand. Babies cry. He couldn’t possibly be mad at a child.

He had before, though.

She couldn’t pretend she wasn’t there. She had tied herself to the bad man two years ago with a ring, and it seemed almost impossible to break free now. She must face the consequences of her actions and try to bear the brunt so her child wouldn’t have to.

“I’m here, Arnold,” she replied gently, so softly that she was afraid he didn’t hear her and would get angry with her for mumbling. “I’m taking care of the baby.”

“Stop the crying,” he demanded, although the demand was mostly silenced by his slurring. “Stop it.”

“I’m trying, dear,” she said back, rocking the baby and singing to him in the feminine lilt that usually calmed him down, but he only cried harder if that was possible.

“I said shut that baby up,” he exclaimed. His footsteps shook the house every time they landed on the floor and made her flinch.

She was on her last resort. She placed the baby in his crib and covered him in a blanket, hopefully muffling his screams. She then placed a pillow over his head, not pushing it down but to add another layer between his screams and his father.

“Shut that **** baby up, Glinda,” he screamed, his footsteps outside the nursery door. She was crying by now, but even though it was silent, it would still upset him. She tried not to sniffle and wiped away the tears just in time for him to thrust open the door.

The hallway light stretched the bad man’s shadow across the room and bathed her in his darkness, and before she could react, he strode to her in a split second, something that could not be accomplished had he been a regular drunk. He gripped her neck in his hands, which were cold and calloused from the winter night and throwing back shots all night.

“I’ll stop him,” she managed to say despite the bad man’s claws closing around her throat, his knuckles growing white. She began to cry harder now, trying to scream for help, but his grip would not subside.

Soon enough, all was quiet between the bad man and his victim.

A few moments later, so was the baby.

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