Saturday, October 30, 2021

Liberty Horror #5: Julia


The home was small. Barely enough room for Julia and her baby, who was upstairs in his bedroom asleep in his crib. The movers and two friends that had helped her get mostly settled had left. Julia made herself some tea and wandered around the house, practically in a daze. Her friends had lives—husbands and children—to get back to. She couldn’t get upset that they didn’t want to stick around. She wouldn’t have either.

Julia looked around the kitchen, looking at what she could have for dinner. She heard the clunk of the furnace downstairs in the basement turning off. She had only been in the basement once while looking at the house with the landlord. She decided that she would never have to go down there. A washer and dryer were in the mudroom so there was no reason to go downstairs.

From the baby monitor, Julia heard the baby stir and then start crying. She sighed heavily and went upstairs. When she got upstairs, her baby was quiet and still asleep. She shrugged and picked the baby up, waking it.

The rest of the day was spent playing, unpacking, and having dinner before placing her baby back in his crib and going to bed herself. She wasn’t tired and read for a bit. She figured if she went to bed earlier, the next day would arrive sooner.

When she finally laid down to sleep, she started on just one side of the bed. Just like she did when her husband was with her. They seemed to grow further and further apart with each day—both emotionally and physically—until, finally, they both knew it was over.

She didn’t want to blame the pregnancy or the baby, the degradation of their relationship had been happening for about year before that, but it certainly didn’t help. When he brought her the papers, she begged him not to end their marriage just a couple months into parenthood but he was done. She begged him to let her stay him until she could get back on her feet but he refused.

She didn’t even know she had fallen asleep until she was woken up by the baby crying through the baby monitor. She waited a few minutes, noticing it was almost four in the morning, and waited—hoped—the baby would shut up. When he didn’t, she threw the blanket off of her and shambled her way to the baby’s room. The room was silent, she stepped on a stuffed lamb that had somehow wound up on the floor. She picked up the lamb and looked at it. She then looked at the baby, quietly sleeping away except for a tiny, nearly inaudible snore.

She tossed the lamb into the crib and swore to herself. She went back to the bedroom and picked up the monitor. It was quiet. She turned it off and went downstairs. She began making coffee and turned the monitor back on. Still quiet.

She didn’t need the monitor. The house was small enough to hear everything that was going on upstairs. When enough coffee had been made for a cup, she poured herself a mug. Placing the mug and baby monitor on the coffee table, she collapsed onto the couch. Squeals began coming from the monitor. She groaned, threw up her hands, and felt like crying.

She leaned forward and turned off the monitor. She listened for squeals, cries, anything from upstairs and heard nothing. Fed up, she quickly and quietly went upstairs. Again, she stepped on the stuffed lamb that had, again, wound up on the floor. She took the lamb and monitor and left the room.

The day was spent with her baby. They played and watched TV, they ate and attempted to play outside for a bit. She took him in a stroller to the park two blocks away. On her way back, a neighbor from across the street ran over. Welcome to the block. What a cute baby. What do you do? I noticed a light on all night. The upstairs front window. The baby sleeps there? It looked like the light was on all night. I didn’t mean to trouble you. If you need anything, just knock.

Julia immediately went upstairs, placed the baby in his crib, and looked around. There was only the one light, on the ceiling in the middle of the room, and the night light in the far corner. Definitely nothing that lit up by the window. The baby was starting to doze off so she sat down and waited until he fell asleep.

The afternoon was quiet as Julia tried to finish some unpacking. She didn’t want to so she allowed herself to get distracted, repeatedly. At about six, the baby monitor came to life with the sounds of her baby’s laughter and coos. She listened at both the monitor and from upstairs to tell if noise could be heard. She didn’t hear anything even after turning off the monitor. She leaned down and rested her head on her palm. She waited a few more minutes then forced herself to get up and go upstairs.

The baby was asleep. The lamb was on the floor. She kicked the lamb under the crib and picked up her baby. He stirred and was soon awake. The evening and night went fine. It was similar to the day with playing, watching TV, eating, and continuing trying to unpack. At nearly midnight, the baby was starting to dose off. Julia carried him upstairs and tucked him into the crib. She read for a while and then fell asleep.

At three-thirty, she woke to cries and babbling. She reached over for the monitor before realizing it was off and both of them were downstairs. She didn’t know whether to feel relieved or aggravated that her baby was crying. She threw the blankets off and got up. Entering the baby’s room, the lamb was back in the middle of the floor and the baby was fast asleep.

She stayed up the rest of the night and was practically a zombie the next day. After bringing her baby downstairs, she didn’t go upstairs again. She actively avoided going upstairs until she was tired and ready for bed which was earlier than usual. She quickly fell asleep and was woken up at four o’clock by babbling and crying.

She was trembling as she went into the bedroom where the baby was quiet and still sleeping. She made a soft growling noise as she picked up the lamb from the middle of the floor and threw it in the hall closet. Still trembling, she went downstairs. She thought about making coffee but instead chose tea.

As she about took her first sip, cries erupted from upstairs. She dropped the mug and it shattered leaving mug shards and tea all over the counter. She stormed upstairs like a woman possessed and slammed the door to the baby’s room open. The baby, this time, was crying and reaching his arms up. Julia grabbed the baby and began shaking and screaming at him, demanding to know what was going on. The baby went quiet and his face and hands curled and spasmed. Despite the quiet in the bedroom, the crying and babbling was now coming from downstairs.

She practically threw the baby back in the crib and ran downstairs. Grabbing the monitors, even though they were off and had no batteries, she threw them across the room. One smashed into the wall, leaving a dent, the other crashed through the window. The crying remained but now coming from the basement. She pushed the table out of the way of the door. It fell over with a loud crash. She opened the basement door, turned on the light, and stomped down the stairs. When she got to the bottom of the stairs, the house was quiet again.

Her breathing calmed but she still shook. She started crying before growing dizzy and falling to her knees. She looked up slightly and saw the stuffed lamb in the middle of the basement floor.