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Lullaby

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He turned over in his sleep unconsciously reaching out toward his wife. But instead of finding the softness of his wife’s waist, Donny’s arm hit the bed. The cold spot alerted him to the fact that Julia was not in bed. He sat up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. The clock on the nightstand next to him read: 2:34 am. Way to early for anyone to be awake even if that person was an early riser like Julia was. Julia’s hushed voice echoed through the halls.

“Close your eyes, go to sleep. Not a word, not a peep. Throw away what you fear. When you wake, I'll be here.”

Charlie must be awake. He thought. His daughter had had a rough couple of

days, having been diagnosed with the chickenpox. Donny suspected she got it from Grady since he was also sick. He and Julia had diligently followed the doctor’s orders, but there was only so much they could do to help Charlie feel better. She just had to ride it out as much as it sucked.

Donny threw on a shirt before following the sound of Julia’s voice down the hall, coming to a stop at Charlie’s bedroom. Determined not to disrupt the mother-daughter time the two were having, he simply leaned against the doorframe and watched.

Julia stood facing the crib, holding the crying child in her arms. It pained her to watch her baby suffer, but she had followed all the doctor’s orders: oatmeal bath, and calamine lotion. Now all she could do was hold the poor girl and hope that it would be enough. As she stood there, she began to sing. The song was part of a simple poem Julia had started working on the night before. While it was still incomplete, she hoped it would bring Charlotte some comfort and lull her to sleep.

“You will dream of a land where the birds build a band. Dancing bears, little sheep. Lots of toys you can keep. You will fly through the air. Blowing wind in your hair on a rock, flying fast. Leave this world in the past.”

As she sang, it became obvious that Charlie was struggling to stay awake. She’s just like her father, Julia thought. All her troubles disappear the moment I start to sing.

For as long as she’d known him, all of the weight Donny carried on his shoulders seemed to get a little bit lighter the moment she began to sing. At first, she didn’t notice it. But the closer they became and the more intimate their relationship got, the more obvious it was. She loved that her voice made all the pain he felt a little easier to cope with. Whenever Donny’s nightmares would wake her up, Julia would simply hold him and gently sing whatever song popped in her head. Within minutes, the shaking would fade and Donny would be at peace.

A cough shook her from her thoughts. She looked up towards to doorway to see Donny leaning against the doorframe. He pushed off the frame before walking up behind her. His arms wrapping around her waist.

“How’s she doing? Still itching?” he whispered.

Looking up at him, Julia smiled before responding. “As good as can be expected for someone with the chickenpox. I just got her to sleep.”

“I heard. You almost had me falling asleep over there.”

He looked down their sleeping child, reaching over to run his fingers through the girl’s curly brown hair.

“Not that I’m complaining. You know I love it when you sing to Charlie.”

“You love it whenever I sing.”

“True. But she’s asleep now. We should head back to bed. Get what little sleep we can get before the itching wakes her back up.”

She nodded, lowering Charlie into her crib then draping a blanket over the sleeping child making sure to tuck Charlie’s favorite stuffed animal, Paprika the fish (a gift from her mother), in as well.

Taking one last glance at her sleeping daughter, Julia sang the last line of her song. 

“Go to sleep, little you. Know that I love you.”