There is so much that nobody tells you about being a mother. It’s so easy to fill a book with helpful tips about how to keep a house sterile, why breast is best, which classical artist to play to your child if you want them to get into a good university. I read them all, of course. Spending hours on the sofa, at the behest of my swollen ankles, scrolling through mumsnet on my phone, as if I was cramming for an exam I had forgotten was on the way. I sang a chorus of “Support the neck. Support the neck.” to myself with every spare moment I found, hoping that I could wish my own natural clumsiness away, in time for my due date. I never really felt prepared, even after reading every book, and every post, but I managed.
When I saw Adam, I knew that none of those books or well meaning forum posts could have shown me what I finally understood. He was so powerful, for one so small. My tiny titan, placed in my arms and instantly renewing the strength I had exhausted bringing him into the world. All at once, I was overwhelmed with how deeply I loved him, babbling incoherently about all the ways he completed me, as I wept into his soft skin. Even now, I can see his impossibly small fingers, furiously reaching for my tear stained face, with a gentle curiousity. I knew from that moment, that I would do anything in the world to keep him safe.
Adam was a good baby. He never cried, spending most of his time smiling up at me, as if to thank me for protecting him from the dangers of the world. I was glad of my rushed revision in the first few months, constantly cleaning and baby proofing everywhere I could reach, so that he would be safe. I even played him Mozart, just in case. Each day, I watched him grow, fighting the urge to will him back inside my womb so that he would be safe, I tried to enjoy watching him experience the world around him.
I would watch him sleep, until I passed out, waking up the next day to his soft sapphire eyes gazing at me from behind the bars of his cot, as the city awoke outside the window, still dressed in the darkness of the night, as the sun struggled to rise. I always kept the window shut, because as beautiful as London was, the air was exhausting to my adult lungs, so the thought of what they could do to my baby terrified me. I found myself terrified of things I’d never considered a threat before, and I suppose she crept in through my constant nightmares about unleashed dogs and uncovered plug sockets.
I first saw my mother by the window. It was five AM. I thought my tired eyes were deceiving me, at first, jumping slightly at the sight of her, before clutching my son to my chest, closing my eyes in the hopes that she would vanish. She was still there as I opened them, just staring over at us, her eyes focused as she smiled softly. I glanced at the blood red robes, her fingertips drumming against her legs in an almost hypnotic melody, but my eyes always returned to hers, and how hungry they were as she continued staring, eagle eyed at me and my baby.
“The darkness is coming, April.” Adam began to fuss in my arms, as if he was drawn to her voice, I could feel tears forming in my eyes, as fear forced itself upon me. “You have to come back to The Garden.”
I shook my head, but I knew in my heart, I could never refuse her. My whole body was on edge, buzzing and screaming, as I held my son so close, I could feel his heart beat.
“We need the boy, April.” My mother’s voice was a growl. “You always knew we would be taking the boy.” I could hear her footsteps, across the room, knowing I had no other choice, but wishing so desperately that I did.
“His name is Adam.” I had tried to scream the words, but they were frightened sobs, my fear betraying the attempts I had made to be brave. Adam’s eyes burned into me, so curious and innocent, not knowing what would await him. “Adam.” I felt my Mother’s cold fingers on mine, tears landing on my son, as she prised him from my arms.
“We have to give her the boy, April.” I held on a little longer, wordlessly pleading, trying to find her eyes, to appeal to her own maternal instinct, but knowing I never could. “She needs his soul.”
I let her take my baby. I don’t know why. After all, I knew the fate that awaited him, and I loved him, more than I had ever loved another, but I let my mother take him.
Adam was a good baby. He never cried. Not even when he was sacrificed to the goddess.
I first met Querida when she was seven years old. She was a bright girl, with deep brown eyes and a passion for writing.
I was used to meeting the deeply disturbed. Emasculated men who had murdered mothers and wives over impotence, scorned women who had declared war on all men in their path, children who had faced war and abuse for years and finally succumbed to the pressure, but there was something quite different about Querida, upon first glance.
Her parents had shown her nothing but unwavering affection, even now. She had never really hurt anyone, according to her doting (but delusional) parents and could be considered the stereotypical spoiled child, so at first glance, it could be confusing as to why she needed psychological assistance when the word “No” from her parents would have sufficed.
I had looked at her almost clean file with bewilderment, in the lead up to our first session, and my confusion continued when we met. She had been sent to me, as a precaution, by her parents, who had concerns, and money to burn.
I asked her if she would like a drink, and she politely declined, asking me if I would like to see a tap dance. I politely declined and reminded her that we were here to discuss her sister. She smiled sweetly, swinging her legs against the couch, in a way that wouldn’t have concerned many, but did me.
“I don’t have one any more.” She said, her smile broadening. “But I have a wonderful article about the one I used to have.”
The rich have a funny way of buying themselves out of trouble, and in that moment, I realised that was exactly what her rich parents had done. Querida’s article was surprisingly well written, but couldn’t hide the fact that she had stabbed her sister to death, and her parents, and their money had made it go away. This therapy session wasn’t preemptive, to stop Querida from hurting someone for the first time, it was an attempt to keep the monster she had already became at bay.
I hope you’re having a wonderful Halloween!
You can now check out a brand new collection of short stories and poems, based around my spooky new audio drama In The Garden Of The Free Children.
There is a new podcast episode available, where I look at the mysterious religious movement, The Garden Of The Free Children, a cult like group that has sprung up in the UK, and appears to have sinister motives. I speak with a member of the group about the strange things happening within the group, the terrifying recruitment techniques of the group, and the horrible fate of some of its members.