by Peter Wild

Hugger-Mugger, she says, Hugger-Mugger, Hugger-Mugger, Hugger-Mugger, over and over and over again, without breath and without interruption: hugger-mugger, hugger-mugger, hugger-mugger. I try to break the spell, say ssssssssh and baby and come on now, push the sweaty hair from out of her blank terrified eyes, tell her it's okay, daddy's here, hugger-mugger has gone now, hugger-mugger has gone, ssssssssssssh, but nothing I say and nothing I do seems to work. This goes on for the better part of an hour and, you know, my patience isn't limitless, I do have work in the morning, after all. So, listen, I say, raising my voice to get the kid's attention, you'd better be quiet, I say you'd better be quiet right now, because I think... yes... Hugger-Mugger's coming back, I can hear him on the gravel outside in the garden, he's... looking up at the window... and we both know... he has an especial fondness for children who won't shut up. Her eyes grow wide as she clamps both hands across her mouth to manually silence the pants and the gasps and the sobs. I pull her to me and hold her tight and think to myself: you have to be cruel to get what you want.

6S - C1

Peter Wild is the editor of The Flash & Perverted by Language: Fiction inspired by The Fall. You can read more here.

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