Night Mare

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SCREAMS!!! Contest WINNER!!! 12/23/19

Prompt: Mari Lwyd

661 words

As Lindsay awoke, screaming in panic from her latest nightmare, she saw it. A black-as-night skull of a horse sat upon her in her bed.

Lindsay thought about telling her parents but decided against it. Adults never understood the nightmares of children, anyway. It was all in her head, they would say.

Lindsay stared at the skull. It was perfect! Today, in class, each student was presenting on a Christmas Eve tradition from a different part of the world. Her tradition was one from Wales, called Mari Lwyd. She had prepared her text and even a Powerpoint with pictures, but she had expected that to be the extent of her report in front of the class. With this horse head, she could dress up in an authentic costume and really wow the rest of her peers!

Lindsay sprang from her bed and opened the linen closet, pulling out the black sheet she had used as part of her Halloween costume two months ago. This would match the ebony bone of the horse skull for her Mari Lwyd costume. She ran downstairs and dug through the box of extra Christmas décor that her mom kept in the den. She grabbed some ribbon and sleigh bells, then raced up to the horse skull to tie them through. She found the Swiffer and pushed the flat end into the skull, where it locked in securely to make a perfect macabre hobby horse. Her costume was all set! Skull, sheet, ribbons, and bells…

Lindsay was the last to present to the class. Only eleven of her classmates were at school that day, on Christmas Eve. Christmas fell on a Saturday this year, and school wasn’t out for winter break until the end of the day Friday--today.

As she walked to the front of the class and dressed in her black costume, Mrs. Hunllef commented.

“Lindsay, that’s quite a costume! Is that a real horse skull?” she asked, a hint of disgust on her pretty features.

“I think so, Mrs. Hunllef,” Lindsay replied.

“How did you get it? And how did you get it so perfectly black?” Mrs. Hunllef asked.

“It appeared on my bed this morning, and it just came that way…” Lindsay said, with a dark grin.

Mrs. Hunllef opened her mouth as if to say something, but no words came. She stared at the skull, a look of horror growing on her face. She ran out of the room.

Lindsay considered what to do with the odd turned of events but decided to simply give her presentation to the rest of the class.

She gave her little speech, then put on the sheet and rode up to each of her classmates on her horse to exchange a rhyme, just as in Welsh tradition.

“Richie, my mare would like entrance to homes on this night. Please tell me yes, so my horse may delight!” Lindsay said to one of her classmates.

“I accept you to roam right into my home!” Richie replied.

Lindsay smiled and gave a giggle, hugging Richie through the sheet. In this manner, she received invitations from every one of her classmates for her dark mare to visit them tonight.

As she finished her final exchange of rhymes, the principal entered their classroom and, with a solemn look, announced that their teacher had been rushed to the hospital after having a heart attack. He dismissed the class to go home early, offering to call their parents to explain, should they desire it.

The children went home early, spending Christmas Eve with their families. As the children drifted to sleep, the nightmare came to visit them all, chasing all thoughts of sugar plums from their terrified brains.

The following morning, twelve parents opened twelve bedroom doors to see lifeless children, faces black and frozen in silent screams.

Those dozen pairs of eyes launched a dozen pairs of cries on that dark-as-night Christmas Day morning.

Adults never understand the nightmares of children...
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