An Old Memory
The sound was indistinct and seemed far away, the best interpretation she could think of was many children singing. She walked through the nursery, smiling down at the sleeping infant in the crib, and opened the window a crack.
The chilly October breeze made her shiver a little, but she couldn’t make out any new details about the sound. A flash of movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention but by the time she looked it was gone. She found herself staring at the gibbous moon, with an impression that she’d seen something fly in front of its face.
At the sight of the Moon a memory from her childhood returned to her in striking clarity. She recalled sitting under a gibbous moon as the Sun set, seeing little sparkles of light in the twilight air. She’d been making flower chains in the middle of a ring of mushrooms where several brightly colored varieties grew. A book of fairy tales her mother was reading to her came to mind, and she had made a wish.
She’d looked at the setting Sun and the Moon and the first faint stars and the little twinkles of light, fireflies perhaps, that seemed to buzz around some uncertain distance between the ground and the sky, and then she wished as hard as she could to be a princess. She wished to live in a palace and wear fine clothes and have everyone speak kindly and politely to her, and to have the best things and eat the best foods. She had thought she would give anything for that.
She smiled at the old memory, the whimsies of a little girl. Her wish had practically come true, she was married to the youngest senator in living memory and lived a life of idle luxury. She had all the best things and now a beautiful little baby. Now that she thought about it, her life had been remarkably easy, opportunities seemed to fall into her lap. She’d never paid it much thought before, but it now occurred to her that her friends had struggled a lot harder for less than she had. And she hadn’t even had to give anything at all.
Shaking herself out of the reverie, she reached up to close the window when a strange, inhuman voice whispered in her ear.
“Payment in full.”
She whirled around, but there was nobody there. She’d heard no other sounds in the dark room, and only the wind and distant traffic out the still-open window. Glancing down, she saw that the crib was empty, and in the wind she heard an indistinct sound, that might have been a distant group of children singing.