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by David Henson

The root soup’s not so good. Papa wasn’t able to get honey. Mama says make do. When we’re finished, Papa licks his lips. Mama looks at him, points toward the window, and says “Knaben!” I hurry from the table to the corner where I sleep and cover myself head to toe. I know to be real quiet. That’s not easy cause the straw crunches if I move even a little. I hear the low moan as the Knaben approaches. The sound grows then fades. The Knaben doesn’t notice us.

***

Mama’s taking a bath in Clear Creek. She comes in with her wet hair flowing down in curves. She goes to Papa and shakes her head over him. Papa catches his breath. “Knaben!” he says. Sometimes Papa hears it first. I hurry to my place and hide. The Knaben comes extra close this time. I hear thumping sounds, and Mama saying how hot it is. I think the Knaben must be some kind of a fiery dragon. I try to not even breathe till the noises stop.

***

Papa comes in all shiny with sweat from chopping. Mama hears the Knaben as soon as she sees him. I hide quick as a rabbit. After a few minutes, Mama and Papa start crying out. The Knaben must’ve got in. After everything goes quiet, I hear steps coming toward me. The Knaben’s going to get me too. I pull more straw over my head. Then Mama says it’s safe to come out.

***

The root soup’s better today. Papa got stung, but says it’s worth it. Mama puts Papa’s swollen hand on her belly. It looks stung too. Mama says one day coming I’ll have a little brother or sister to play with.

***

I like having a baby sister. Sometimes she scares me though cause she doesn’t know to be quiet when there’s the Knaben.

***

Papa built another room on our cabin. That’s where him and Mama go now. I like it cause I get where they used to sleep. I like it even better the Knaben never comes anymore. It must’ve gone away. Papa says him and Mama will talk to me about that some day. They say the Knaben’s not to be afraid of, and I’ll even like it when I’m old enough to understand. I hope they’re right. Maybe I can get one for a pet.


David Henson lives in Peoria, Illinois, with his wife and their dog. His work has appeared in Literally Stories, 365 Tomorrows, Intrinsick, The Fable Online, Pikestaff, The Eunoia Review, and Dime Show Review, among others. http://writings217.wordpress.com.

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