B is for: The Beggars #AtoZChallenge

“She tured to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor- -Winter is dead.”.jpgThey cry out at night. The noise makes it difficult to sleep but Father says we must ignore them. I try but, it’s difficult. Especially since my brother made the mistake of saying my name last week when we were out in the yard. Now, all night they call for me. They repeat my name like a mantra to take their minds off of reality. Some of them beg to be released, some of them desperately plead for food and water and some curse but they all use my name. I know I am the reason they will never leave the shed. I felt the guilt far before they started moaning, “Bailey, please help us.”

They don’t beg much in the day. At times, you can hear one or two stirring or crying when you get close to the thick wooden walls surrounding them but the occurrence is rare. It’s like they all have become nocturnal only waking at night to wail my name. I suspect Father is angrier with Carson than he admits because when the yelling begins after dusk, his jaw remains clenched until he kisses us goodnight.

I understand why they must be kept there. I know why they can never be released. All of them made the mistake of seeing Carson and I and because of that, they can never leave. No one can find out we are here. No one can know there are still living children.

Father brought us here to keep us safe from prying eyes. That was after Mother died from the rot like so many others and when Carson and I were only five and still small enough to hide away. Father told us he and Mother never thought for a second we would survive past birth but, we did. Twin babies in a world where children had become extinct and women carried heavy bellies for months only to deliver babies clenched in death. Our lives are rare; Father tells us every day. And, he says even before all of the children disappeared, none of them could do the things Carson and I can do.

The first was a man with a dirt smudged face and knotty hair. He saw us playing near the creek behind the house. The man was close enough to startle us when we finally noticed him but Father had been watching all along. He leveled a shotgun at the man’s head while he frantically asked Father how old we were. Father ordered me and Carson into the house. When he came inside hours later he ignored our questions and told us to stay away from the shed.

There have been seven more since the first ragged man. One was a woman who saw me levitating my brother a few feet off the ground so he could pretend he could fly like the Superman in Father’s old comic books. Father forced her into the shed too. We weren’t allowed to use our powers outdoors any longer after that.

Father is a good man despite what he must do. I imagine he thinks this way keeps their eventual deaths off his conscience. If he locks them away in the shed to starve or kill each other it’s somehow different than pulling the trigger on his gun and taking their life. This way he can ignore them as they slowly die away but I can’t.

At night, I count the voices. I try to take inventory of which are still alive. Carson thinks I’m silly for wanting to know. He’s more like Father, he can ignore their begging. I pray every night no others will come but I am careful not to pray for the howling to stop. I know what it means if they stop, I just wish they didn’t know my name.

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