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Lullaby and Goodnight
That’s it. When you’re dead you’re dead, eh? You better consider that one again, my friend, for I know that people live on after death. They live on in others. Just as my brother lives on in me.
I always thought that it would be a cold day in July when I had to stand beside my brother’s grave. Little Josh wasn’t even seven years old yet. The idea of him dying, well, it was downright impossible. Guess I should’ve told that to the man driving the car. Tell you what. Just sit right on down. Pull up your blanket, drink that nice cup-o-Joe, pick up your glasses, and get to reading. ‘Cause buddy boy, do I have a story for you.
The day was Monday. Oh, I already know what you’re thinking. Monday. Ugh. I was on my way back from school, toting a million-pound backpack, moseying on down the street as if I had all the time in the world. Of course, we all know I didn’t. But, who wouldn’t want to delay that ever-growing stack of homework? You can’t sit there and tell me that you would get right down to it.
So, I’m walking along and my little brother comes skipping up the other side of the street with his friends (annoying little brats, I might add). “Bells! Bells! OOOH boy you won’t guess what Mrs. Carlisle said to Johnny when he put that bubblegum in her hair!” he was yelling at the top of his little midget lungs. He came running across the street towards me, his slightly pudgy face glowing with joy. That’s when the car came around the corner. It was like a scene from a cheesy horror movie, except the cheesy horror movie was reality.
The kid behind the wheel of that car looked my age, seventeen, eighteen max. He was listening to his music at top volume, his head bobbing along with the bass. Josh turned and looked at the car as it came closer (that guy was so totally not doing 20mph). “JOSH!!!” I was already running towards him, screaming at him to move out of the way. He just stood there, as if frozen in time. I ran as fast as I could, still screaming at Josh. But I was too far away. Too far away to save my little brother, who just stood there looking confused as the car hit him. Mr. Cool, driving the car, didn’t even notice my little brother until he heard the thunk as his wheels met my brother.
Needless to say, no matter how tough my brother was, he couldn’t stand up to a Dodge pickup.
The day of the funeral was filled with crying and sobbing. I was just sitting there silently in the front row as the priest droned on and on about things that didn’t help one bit with how I was feeling inside. Fiddling with my plain black dress, I thought about how the whole scene was my fault. If only I could’ve run faster!
The priest finished, and they started to bury my brother in the ground. My mom was crying quietly next to me. Everyone around us had their heads bowed, some people crying, others just looking horrified. I stared at the casket as they lowered it into the hole, screaming in my head that they had the wrong person. My brother wasn’t dead, he was alive. He had to be.
As everyone else was walking back to their cars, I knelt by my baby brother’s grave and looked down at the freshly turned earth. I squeezed it between my hands, closing my eyes and picturing my brother’s face. I looked around and made sure that no one was watching, and then I took my favorite necklace out of my pocket, and tucked it neatly into the dirt. I said a quick prayer, then ran off after my mother.
For the next two weeks, I had the strangest dreams. It was always the same, but somehow different. There was a man, walking down a dark alley. The alley was filthy, filled with crates and garbage cans, and so forth. He would turn and jump whenever he saw something new; he looked as if he was scared or hiding something. Then another man would enter the alley. This one more sinister, dressed in a bulky black overcoat. The two men would converse for as much as twenty minutes; I never knew what was said.
Mr. Sinister would then pull out a gun and wave it around violently while yelling, and gesticulating passionately. While Mr. Sinister is busy ranting and raving, a little movement would capture my attention. Looking behind one of the crates, I could see my little brother. He was whispering something that I couldn’t understand. Then he would stand up and look at me, and begin to speak in a spine-chilling voice,
“As coils shall wind around,
The skies will turn to ash,
Words fly as blood from evil mouth,
The twitching left where they lie.
Sway the departed
To and fro
Take comfort and whisper this
Lullaby and goodnight.”
I woke up sweating and shaking every time I heard this voice. It was as if Josh had 10,000 voices inside his body and all were speaking at once in a horrible unearthly chant.
Over the next few weeks I tried to stay up as late as possible, telling myself that it was because I wasn’t tired, when in truth it was because I was scared to death of my dreams. That was when it happened.
Precisely two months after my brother died, I came down the stairs and picked up the morning paper, perusing the articles as I ate mostly stale cereal. The front page headline read a little something like this:
MURDER AT THE 23RD STREET DINER!
Needless to say I choked a bit on my cereal. Putting down the spoon, I began to read the rest of the article hungrily.
Last night it was reported that a Mr. John Crenshaw was found in the alley behind the 23rd Street Diner, shot twice in the chest. No information has yet been released……
I read no further than that before I began to realize that the picture of Mr. John Crenshaw looked a lot like the jumpy man of my dreams. I pondered this a bit and figured that it was just extreme coincidence.
That night was when the dreams started again. This time I was walking down a street similar to the one I lived on. Looking around I saw that just off the main road there was a tiny dirt path leading towards the woods. Questioningly, I started up this path. “NOOO!!!!” The scream ripped through the air, echoing off the trees.
Running through the trees and underbrush, I came upon a man standing over a woman, pointing a knife at her. She screamed and ran away from him, but soon tripped and fell. He caught up quickly and stood over her with the knife in his hand.
“When the endurance drops defeated
Stirring in the positive
Dot the paper heavily
Break through the lined sheet
Let the ink flow
Spill over the edges
Lullaby and goodnight.”
My brother was back, walking towards me, speaking through thousands of voices. He held his hand out to me, gesturing for me to come closer and listen. As I bent my head down within centimeters of his mouth, he whispered in a soft voice:
“I know you love me, Bells. I love you, too. What happened isn’t your fault. I know that, and you should, too. I may not be alive in the world, but I’m alive in your dreams. Save these people Bells; you’re the only one who can.” He pressed something into my hand and I looked at it. “The Spirits, the ones who see what is going to happen, they speak in riddles. I’ve broken their code. The next murder is defined there on that piece of paper in your hand. You should be able to break the codes from now on. I love you Bells.”
I woke with a start and looked at the piece of paper in my hand. Anxiously, I ran over to my desk and flicked on the lamp. “Okay, Josh baby, lets see where you’re taking me.” Searching through my drawers, I found pen and paper. Looking at the paper, it said:
Endure the weather, for it shall not take long to pass.
Do not blow up those that stand in your way.
Stab through others’ defenses.
Spill that which cannot be replaced.
Leak the color.
Speak quietly to those who sleep, for you cannot wake them.
Lullaby and goodnight.
“Well that did a fat lot of good.” Reaching for the paper, I read it over and over, all the while thinking of the warning from the woods.
Three hours passed that way, and I still couldn’t find an answer; it was too cryptic. Just then my papers flew everywhere. One hit the map I always have hanging on my wall. “Stupid wind! Hey wait that’s it! Wind!” I greedily grabbed up my papers and started deciphering the words in my own messy scrawl.
Endure = weather
Drops = rain
Blow up = northern wind
Stab through defenses = stab through the skin
Spill that which cannot be replaced = blood
Leak the color= red (also hint at blood)
Speak quietly = whisper
Lullaby and Goodnight?
It’s going to be rainy, with a northern wind. The lady is going to be stabbed to death?
Three weeks later…
The woman was never stabbed to death; I saved her from that cruel fate. No one can understand how I knew where she was (I think most preferred to chalk it up to mere coincidence).Yet, I did have a bit of an issue explaining how I knew when it was going to happen. I myself sometimes ponder that particular point; and though I wish I knew, I can’t help but feel that maybe it’s more than I would want to know. Deep inside though, I know the truth. My brother sent me those dreams with the hopes that I could save people. So far I have. The dreams keep coming, and so does my brother. For I have learned, that while my brother may not be alive in the way we define it he’s here. Watching. Listening. Seeing. He walks in the shadow of this world and the next, waiting for the Spirits to give him another innocent to save. And I, well, I wait for him to come to me.
So until next time.
Lullaby and goodnight.