Mommy is Still Sleeping

F3 Cycle 47: The City of Lost Children

Genre – open
Length – 700 words
Topic – look at the photo, look into the child’s eyes.
Deadline – Wednesday September 7th at Midnight EST. The stories post will go up Thursday morning.

Mommy is Still Sleeping


The voice was barely a whisper hanging on an unlikely breeze in a windowless space.


The flickering florescent light hummed overhead. Nina stared into the shadows that obscured the end of the long corridor.  She began to walk slowly towards the void that seemed to call out to her.



Her patent leather shoes clicked against the cracked linoleum floor and the walls acted as a conduit for the ricochet of sound. Abandoned wheelchairs were scattered on both sides of her, as were empty gurneys and deflated I.V. drips.

Nina wasn’t scared. It all felt familiar.

The shadows softened as she approached an open doorway at the end of the hall. She peeked into room with caution. A woman lay limp in a hospital bed, her head tilted to one side and slightly propped up by pillows. Her arms were at her side and covered with black soars and purple strands of veins and sinew.  Nina stepped closer.

“Mommy,” Nina said softly, “are you sleeping?”

With her mouth slightly agape, the woman parted her eyes slowly.


Without warning, the door slammed shut, locking Nina out into the hallway.  Frantically, she began pounding on the door with both hands.

“Mommy! Mommy! Mommy open the door!”

Nina was suddenly grabbed from behind. A large hand reached around her face and covered her mouth, causing her screams to be muffled. She tried to struggle but she was pulled forcefully away from the door until it disappeared back into shadow. After that, all she could hear was his voice:

“Nina shut-up! Nina shut-up! Nina wake-up!”


Nina opened her eyes. She looked down when she felt carpet between her toes. Still out of breath from screaming, she began to choke behind the hand that still covered her mouth. Nina looked up into the scowling eyes of her brother, Adam, who towered over her.

“What the hell is wrong with you”? His whispered words were laced with contempt. “Mom just got to sleep an hour ago and you’re screaming at her door!”

Nina began to nervously shift her eyes from her brother’s glare when she felt her lips begin to tremble; she didn’t want to make it worse by crying.

“What is going on up here?”

Nina looked up from where she crouched on the floor, and saw her sister, Nadia, coming up the staircase.

“She had another fucking night terror”, Adam exclaimed.

“Adam – language; she’s nine”.

“I don’t give a shit”.

Nadia came up behind him and punched him on the shoulder. She smiled at Nina, impatiently. “Nina, go wash up and get ready for school. Your breakfast is on the counter”.

Nina silently rose from the floor and wiped the sweat from her forehead with the sleeve of her shirt. She reached the bathroom door and heard Adam laughing behind Nadia as they walked down the stairs

“I mean it; you should send her to Aunt Teri’s like the counselor said. There are five of us and she’s the only one making problems…”


Everyone had finished clearing their breakfast plates, while Nina frowned at the flakes of cereal that had turned to paste in her bowl.  Aidan and Aubrey were fighting each other for the last bag of cookies.  Nadia, donning a red raincoat, hurriedly loaded the dishwasher, cursing under her breath when she looked at the clock.

Through the kitchen window, Nina could see the rain spray across the windshield of the van parked out front. She could see Adam turning the ignition, and then lay on the horn with his elbows, repeatedly.

“That’s the two-minute warning,  guys. Come on! I’m already late for class!” Nadia snapped.

Aidan and Aubrey ran outside. When Nadia disappeared  into the other room, Nina sprinted upstairs to grab her knapsack.

When Nina returned to the front of the house, her eyes widened in panic.

The van was gone.

Nina looked back through the opened door and saw no movement at all.

It wasn’t on purpose. Adam would come back.  She would wake up Mommy and he knew that. He would come back

Nina sat at the top of the stairs, with the bag in her lap, and let her head fall against the damp railing. She would just wait.


5 thoughts on “Mommy is Still Sleeping

  1. Children raising children… nice to see a different take, one just as powerful. Thank you for joining this round with a strong entry, Paula!

  2. Pingback: F3 Cycle 47: Stories of Lost Children | Flash Fiction Friday

  3. Great work, very descriptive – I could see and feel what was happening. Well done. Didn’t feel that anything was missing and it reads very well.
    Thanks so much for entering such a strong piece. xx

  4. This is a great story, Paula! I love the imagery your words create… the emotions and mood of the piece are perfect.

    I thought it flowed very well. From the ‘dream/night terror’ sequence, you set a mood that had my heart beating wild in my chest… the realization that Nina was in her own home, not some deserted hospital corridor (I could picture that corridor so vividly just from the few words you used) did little to quiet the harsh breaths coming from my chest.

    ““Mommy! Mommy! Mommy open the door!”

    Nina was suddenly grabbed from behind.

    I shrieked at that line… YOU reached out and grabbed me! That was incredible! I love to get scared… I shriek and jump every time, but I still read stories like this, I can’t read something that doesn’t evoke emotions and strong reactions me. Your stories do this quite well.

    The breakfast scene struck a chord with me as well… “Nina frowned at the flakes of cereal that had turned to paste in her bowl.” When I was little girl, if I did not come down for breakfast when Mama called, my breakfast would just sit on the table, getting cold… or in the case of Frosted Flakes… ‘a paste in the bowl’. I LOVE that line in your story! It evoked a not entirely unpleasant childhood memory… thank you!

    I agree with Fiona… a great story with good flow… I din’t get the sense that anything critical to the story’s success was missing. I do know what you mean about the count… I had to really edit my story to get it down to 700, and I could have easily done 1000 or 1500, or more.

    The important thing is that you told a very powerful, complete story in just 700 words… that is very impressive.

    Brava, Paula… Brava!

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