The wooden floorboards beneath the bentwood rocker softly squeaks, as she pushes back against the floor slightly with her big toe to adjust the slow rhythm of the rocker. Alone, she curls tighter under the afghan in the cold, dark room that reflects a red glow from the crackling fireplace that feels warm to her face. Embers fall beneath the burning logs onto the stone base of the fireplace as she watches each hot ember slowly fade to black.

In the quiet of the night, her eyes were heavy with contentment as the darkness gently carried her into a dreamy state. Startled, she was awakened by a whimpering or soft crying fading in and out of the darkness just beyond the radiant, red glow of the fire. Her eyes slowly adjusted to an image that stood in front of her. The small girl in a dirty thread-worn nightgown with torn fringes of eyelet lace hanging loosely around her ankles. A dingy blanket hung from one of her bent arms to accommodate the thumb that she was sucking on as her other arm hugged tightly to a very limp, bedraggled, half-stuffed dog with one missing eye and one tattered ear.

Her motherly instincts overtook her, seeing this dejected child that was in front of her, whimpering like a lost wet puppy.

“Well,” as her voice softened, she did not question why this child was there or where she came from, “would you like to cover up with me?” As she held the afghan back inviting the strange child into her warm haven.

The child laid down upon the floor in front of the rocker at the base of her feet.

“What is your name?”, as she reached down to rub the child’s matted hair.

A stuttering irascible voice slurred the word, “owh”, “owt”,” tuh”, “lined”, as she drew scribbles on the floor just in front of her. A small, shivering child on the floor sucked several rapid breaths to repeat, “owt” “lined,” as ‘lined’ fell heavy like a block from her mouth. Sniff, sniff.

The mother laid her afghan over the lost little one that lay beneath her feet. She stood from her bentwood rocker and stepped gently over the small torn creature laying covered on the warm wooden floor. The mother laid beside the little one, snuggling closely to the child. A soft marshy smell emanated from her hair as the bewildered mother curled tightly around the small quivering child. The mother lifted her upper body peering over the small darkened figure allowing her to pull the matted hair away from a shadowy face dotted with a pair of wet, listless eyes, barely seen within the red glow of the fire. A neglected face coated with many, many tiny white lines trailing from the child’s eyes and a collection of dried snot below her nose.

Her voice trembled, “Oh, poor sweet baby”, as she pulled the child closer to her.

“Sweet child,” whispering into the child’s ear, “are you trying to say that your name is outline?”

Mother could feel the child’s head shake up and down, with a barely audible, “yes.”

“When I was younger…” as she began her story to the child shivering on the floor, “I used to outline things that I loved dearly. I would say a short prayer asking for God and the Angels to watch over the object that I outlined.” The mother softly laughed to lighten her story, still whispering, to help put the small helpless child at ease which seemed to curb the little girl’s shaking a bit.

“I can say a prayer for you as well if you’d like as I did it for my children.”

The sound of a car door slams shut in front of the house waking the mother from a sound sleep, still curled under her afghan in front of the fireplace. Sunlight streamed through the uncovered window just above the kitchen sink as glowing, red embers seep through small blackened logs, softly crackling, in the still warm fireplace just in front of her.

The front door swings open wide to her young son and preteen daughter entering with overnight bags in their hands. Her husband closes the door behind the excited children. The son ran to his mother and quickly jumped into his mother’s lap. Jabbering about how much fun they had at their grandmother’s home.

The husband said, “everyone was worried about you? How are you feeling today?”

“Surprisingly better. Thank you.”

Her squirming son who was excited was babbling away about the events of the evening visiting with cousins and his grandmother. He suddenly stopped, and looked down on the floor in front of her rocking chair.

“What is that?”

Her preteen daughter who was on the bottom steps of the stairs heading up to her bedroom, stopped to see what her younger brother saw, as she slowly turned around and walked back toward her mother looking at her mother’s feet.

Her husband joined the small group as everyone was focused on the outline of a small child.

The mother explained, “I had a dream last night, and I must have walked in my sleep.”

The son looked at the outline and looked at his mother with a quizzical stare.

The preteen while looking at her mother,” you used to outline us as small children with a prayer.”

The mother looking up with a tear in her eye, “you remember that?”

“I do.”

The husband’s eyebrows squeezed together and his eyes focused hard upon his wife, “Dammit honey! I told you to stop bringing your hocus-pocus into my children’s lives. Erase that mess son!”

As the son slid out of his mother’s lap, he squatted onto the floor next to the outline, he smiled, and he looked up at his mother, “look there is a tiny smiley face, can you see that?”

The father said, “son, erase that shit now!”



This is a fictional story.  Truth is so different for each of us. My pathway differs from yours.Thank you for the wonderful dreams of healing. 

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Published in Senior Chatters


    1. 1099 Post author

      You don’t see a self acceptance? Where a grown woman has cuddled her hurt child deep within herself. Where she has accepted the years of inner pain that she has carried her whole life and overcame her childhood pain by outlining everything she has ever loved with an imaginary border and saying prayers believing in a higher power as her guardian angel. And how she has tried to protect her children with the same process only to be reprimanded by someone whom she thought supported her healing process, and yet he tells her that her beliefs were only imaginary. I’m sorry Scorpio that I was not clear in conveying the underlying thoughts better. But the story is based on self healing perhaps with my own with childhood thoughts of what religion means to a mother. Thank you so much for reading and asking for clarification. Hugs for caring.

  1. gingersnap

    Hello 1099

    When I started to read your piece, I was swept up in the wanting to know where this was going. Honestly I thought you were writing a story and using the paranormal as the vehicle of delivery. But then, I like to write short stories so that is where my mind naturally gravitated. It is my MO. I did not see this as a self-acceptance tool. Now that you have explained, I am so sorry this has been your experience, and hope that now in your later years you have found the outlining of those you love to be less necessary or if still necessary it is a healing thing for you and seen by those who love you just as that, a healing thing!

    1. 1099 Post author

      This is fictional🤗 I have learned to give distance to my childhood pain. Thank you for reading, and I hope it allowed your mind to travel beyond my limited writing skills to help you with your writing in someway. Because I truly believe that the importance of sharing art with other artist is to give them the opportunity to to see into other world’s through other artist’s eyes to enhance or spark a thought to aid with their own creativity. Thank you so much ❤️ for reading my work. I would love to read you work as well.