Flash: Z is for Zzzz

Photo by Photos_frompasttofuture on Unsplash

Jonathan meandered into the second-floor nursey looking for his wife and their newborn. Obviously the baby had been fussy in the night, and she decided he needed sleep more than her. While he appreciated her concern, her logic didn’t hold up to reality and he would need to remind her, like he did after the birth of all their children, that she was no longer alone in her parenthood. The long nights broken by feedings always reset her back to the amazing self-sufficient, but exhausted, woman Elizabeth had been when they first met.

What he would not remind her of is the fact he was two decades younger than her and could handle lack of sleep better.

Also, he wouldn’t say a thing about how he wasn’t the one who had just given birth six days ago. The last time he tried to argue from that position, she went off on an esoteric rant of the renewal energies from birthing. She lost him between midwifery blessing incantations and timing the birth for maximum astrological benefit.

Shifting back and forth, the rocking chair creaked in the moonlight, the beam creating a shimmer over the person holding the baby on her shoulder. A doting smile began to touch Jon’s lips when a small snort-snore came from the chaise lounge snapped his head to the right where Lizzo slept under a charm quilt her coven had gifted her on their marriage.

Oh, …oh!

Looking back on the indistinct human form in the rocking chair, Jonathan asked, “Abby?”

Not that he didn’t believe his wife and Malcolm when they said the old Henry Plantation Manor came with its own ghost, or when Jonny and Ada filled him in about their garden explorations with their beloved invisible nanny, or Barby went room from room demanding “awBEE!” appear as only a two-year old can.

But, he was a scientist. Seeing things with his own eyes made a difference. Now he got to add ghost to the list of things he knew lived outside of nightmares and late-night television.

The rocking slowed, the shimmer coalesced into something more the shape of a woman then a determined fog. A hollowed voice whispered in the room, sending shivers down the man’s spine, “Master Turning, how you be doing this evening?”

“I’m well.” Jonathan gulped, struggling to pull up everything Lizzo and Mal had told him to do and ignore all the fiction and campfire stories he had absorbed in his twenty-nine years of life. They hadn’t done a full-sit down with him species specific briefing like they had when Elizabeth added dervishes to their Sparkle Network Services, so it was not as easy to do as with their normal supernatural clients. “Emma, okay?”

The fog-light shape sent a limb rolling up the infant’s back to cradle the head in a pillow of mist before standing, Emma hovering midair against the apparition’s form. Emma bounced a few centimeters up and down, rocking back and forth over four and a half feet above the floor.

Jonathan fought the urge to reach out and grasp his child.

“Just a little gassy tonight,” the voice seemed to be the echo behind words never spoken. “Kept the mistress up until I insisted she lay down a moment.”

Jonathan stifled a louder laugh to a quick chuckle. He could not picture anyone, let alone a whisp – a real whisp of a ghost – forcing Lizzo to do anything. “That I would like to learn.”

“Not something being good for a man to know.” The shimmer moved side to side, letting Jonathan see Emma’s blue eyes were wide open but calm and taking in what little a few days old infant could see. “There are things woman folk just need from women.”

His eyes closed for a moment and the mundane man breathed in and out slowly. His wife gave up so much to be with him, for a second he imagined her old coven filling the manor, visiting for the holidays and passing the infant around. He hoped they came for the Solstice; the new High Priestess didn’t approve of him and often refused given permission for members to visit because of his “contamination.”

“A pity.” Jonathan approached the circle of the moonbeam where the ghost stood. “But thank you for being there for her. Would you like to tag out?” He held out his arms cautiously.

“Thank you, Master Turning. Dawn is coming soon, and I did want to get the meals set up for the day while I could.” The shape that the family named Abigail laid Emma gently in his arms, brushing her frigid essence against his limbs in the transfer.

Worried, he pulled the child against him and touched her cheeks for temperature, finding the infant warm, even a little hot and sweaty on the side which had been against the ghostly shoulder as though it had been against a human body. “I really appreciate all you are doing, by the way Miss Abigail. The children love you, and you have made my wife’s life a lot easier.”

The vapor sparkled slightly pink a moment before fading to nothing.

(words 857, first published 4/30/2023)

Series: Under Contract
1. N is for Noise (4/16/2023)
2. Q is for Quicken (4/19/2023)
3. Y is for Yield (4/28/2023)
4. Z is for Zzzz (4/30/2023)

8 thoughts to “Flash: Z is for Zzzz”

  1. I didn’t mention this before, and thought I should now…I like the company name Sparkle Newtwork Services. It rolls off the tongue nicely.

    1. I don’t know if any other part of this little series will show up in my other stories, but I do see SNS sneaking in and being the go-to service for magic creatures on the web.

  2. Nice ending and congratulations on completing A to Z! While many went with the Zzzz’s for the last post, I went with Zingy! The few last days were overwhelming, to say the least, I was fighting the exhaustion and some unexplainable rush of energy, hence the zing!

    One weird month, that is, I just finished writing the reflections post.

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