The Mother. Short Story.

And it just keeps getting hotter.

What. The. Hell.

It’s supposed to be gearing up for a super hot day on Friday. I can’t deal with this heat. I just. Brain can’t. What? Why?

I think I’m gonna buy a kiddie pool and fill it with water, then just submerge myself until this heat passes. I don’t mind warm, hot can even be tolerable for short periods but just no. No to all of what is happening right now.

There is no real news with me as the last few days have consisted of me, wondering why it’s so goddamned hot.
Oh wait, that’s a lie! I have a typewriter now. It’s awesome. Didn’t expect it to work, after all it’s been sitting in an attic for the last 22 years, but guess what? It totally does. Even the ink ribbon still works. After 22 years. It’s older than me! I have printers that only lasted a few months at best.

On with the show!

——————————————————————————————–

The Mother. That’s what they call her, those poor wretches on the street. She wears a long black dress, perhaps in mourning though of what no one knows. She wears a wide brim hat, black netting cascading from it, blocking her face. She wears long lace gloves, also black. What can be seen of her skin suggests she’s pale, there has been no recorded mention of her face. She earned the name The Mother as children are drawn to her. She is never seen without a core pair, whom never change, then the others that she has gathered on her journey. The children seem to enter a strange, trance-like state in which they become agitated until they are close to The Mother or they have passed from her range of influence. The children always return home and when they do, they are calm and unconcerned about where they have been, often showing remorse over their parents worry. It is not known where The Mother takes the children, or what she does with them. Attempts to follow her have proved unsuccessful. She does not seem to change the children, either physically or mentally. A few have experienced changes in disposition, but it is normally for the better, something that may have occurred naturally in a few months or years had they not encountered The Mother. It is thought that the experience has matured them, though they claim to have no recollection of what happened once they entered the trance state. There are no physical marks on the children, no new scars or bruises. We do not know what she wants the children for, nor what use they have for them, but The Mother seems to have gathered a cult like following. It is unknown if it was intentional or not. Those who follow her believe that the children that have been returned are blessed, or that their luck has increased. There is often a desire to touch said children in the hopes that they will pass on this blessing. A few enterprising parents charged people to shake their child’s hand or stroke their head until the practise was outlawed. She has no set times to appear, nor any route that she follows, the turns she makes appear to be random and there is no weather phenomenon connected to her, she has appeared in the rain, cold and heat. People who have seen her when it snows claims that she leaves no footprints. This is debated. It is obvious that she is supernatural in origin, this claim is partially backed by the mysterious way she escapes those she does not want to follow her and by the unchanging children at her side. They have never been seen apart. The children appear to be able to wander from The Mother, but only a short distance of about one hundred feet. It is unknown what would happen should one of them go outside this distance. A few people claim to recognise the children, but any research done to verify this claim has ended abruptly or petered into nothing. There have been no reports of children going missing that later appear with The Mother, nor have there been any parents who stepped forward to claim the two children as their own. It appears that the only true problem The Mother causes is a delay in parents reporting their children missing. Her appearance has become so accepted that when a parent find their child gone, they assume the child will be returned. This is not always the case. Only once has a kidnapping of a child coincided with an appearance by The Mother, but she appeared on the opposite side of the town. She followed a strange path towards the local park, then vanished at the river. No children followed her that night.

                                                                         *

He held his breath, he had studied her, as much as one could, but to see her was something else entirely. He had been lead to believe that The Mother didn’t affect adults, but clearly that was not the case, when he looked upon her he instantly felt calmer, in fact, he was almost at complete peace. He knew that this feeling was not rational, nor a product of his own creation as only a moment before he had been trembling with fear and anticipation. It was as everything said though, she was there in her long black dress, wearing her black gloves and black hat and there were the two children, each holding one of her hands. He could hear her dress dragging along the stones, swishing gently. He moved after her, there were no other children present so far tonight. There had been instances where she collected no new children, but it was rare. He followed at a distance, he hadn’t heard of any violence on her part towards those who tried to follow her, but he didn’t want to risk it. His main fear was that she would think he was dangerous and do something to protect the two children she always had with her. Assuming of course, that they were actually children and not just some kind of extension from herself. There really was no way to tell, he viewed them as separate beings, after all they could part from her, but the boundary seemed odd, perhaps if they strayed too far they would no longer be under her power. It was an interesting thought, but one that had no way of being tested, after all he couldn’t just grab one of the children and haul them a few hundred feet away from her. She moved at a steady pace that was somewhere between relaxed and hurried, but not once did she look around, she kept her gaze steadily forward. He continued to follow as they twisted through the streets, no children had joined and he assumed that none would, not at this point. They had already passed by so many houses that would have had children inside. It appeared as though she could control that particular power and turn it on and off, though maybe not at will. There could also be some form of interference occurring, but he had seen nothing that would or could cause such a thing.

He continued to track her through the streets, paying more attention to her and less attention to where they were going, before he realised it, he had followed her into an alley, one that had a dead end. The Mother walked up to the wall at the end of the alley and stopped. She let go of the hands of the children and turned slowly. He wanted to turn too, turn and run, but he felt so relaxed, so calm. She approached him carefully, the netting still down, he could smell her perfume, light and of fruits, but there was something else there too, something that wasn’t unpleasant, but was definitely odd. She raised the netting and smiled at him, he smiled back. She spoke, “So, you are my newest suitor, are you? Perhaps you will do better than the others.” Her voice was melodic, as though she was about to burst into song at any moment. She leaned in and gently kissed him. Her lips were soft but cold. She stepped backwards and looked at him carefully. The children were suddenly at her side, “What do you think?” The children looked at one another. “He seems nice.” “I think he’s handsome.” “I don’t. He’s ugly.” “You’re ugly.” “Children. Please.” They were silent again. “Well, it seems you’ve met some approval from them. Perhaps we should…hmm. No, that might be a bit much for the night.” “Oh please, please can we show him?” She looked down, “Maybe you’re right.” She looked at him again, then nodded. She turned from him, he shook his head slightly, wondering what she had looked like, he had seen her raise the veil, but he had no recollection of her face. “Follow.” She started to walk again. He followed. She passed through the wall and after a brief hesitation, he went through behind her.

                                                                               *

There has now been reports that The Mother has a new companion, a young man, who appears when she does. They walk, holding hands, each one holding the hand of one of the children. It is unknown who the man is, no one appears to recognise him. He wears a black suit and black shirt. His skin is pale. Though he himself wears no head coverings, no one can recall what his face looks like. There appears to be no change in how The Mother behaves, they still walk through the city and children still flock to them. Though no one knows what the appearance of the young man means or forecasts.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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