This month’s Promptly Penned is to take the first line of a nursery rhyme and make it your first line in a dark narrative.
I have small children and many of the nursery rhymes we learn and sing are pretty warm and fuzzy. We have a few books with rhymes but we also frequent Super Simple Songs and Mother Goose Club on YouTube. I don’t encounter many dark nursery rhymes now and I don’t remember too many from when I was a kid other than the fictional story behind Ring Around the Rosie. And no, Ring Around the Rosie is not about the plague. (Edit for Jim: I’m talking about Ring a Ring o’Roses you weird Brit.) However, when talking about this blog assignment with Bronwyn – holy hell weird ass nursery rhymes! I never knew so many existed. The worst I knew was the maid in Sing a Song of Six Pence having her nose pecked off by a black bird. Well, Bronwyn showed me it gets a whole heck of a lot weirder when it comes to nursery rhymes. She texted me the lyrics to Goosey Goosey Gander and titled it “Bronwyn’s Childhood’s Greatest Hits.”
And this, blog readers, is why I never ask Bronwyn to babysit.
Here is my attempt at nursery rhyme darkness, enjoy.
Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream.
The water splashed against the hull of the boat with a thud and pulled away in waves with a sucking sound, releasing the boat and rocking it gently side to side. The rocking is what makes people sick but I found it relaxing and dreamy. We couldn’t see the land anymore. Well, I couldn’t. Audrey was down below and she wasn’t seeing much those days. It didn’t take us too long to get into the bay with a casual speed and once there, I opened the Sea Ray up a little more. The wake behind us turned from a turning bubble to smooth defined waves as the boat cut through the water. Aubrey bumped below and this is when I realized I had not secured our belongings before heading out. A few books would fall of the table and the lamp in the upper berth would be on the floor. That lamp never stayed where it was suppose to anyway, even when it was secured. Aubrey had picked out that lamp and most of the decor of the boat. I picked out the boat myself. Paid for it with my money. Worked long days, spent weekends away from home in stuffy hotel rooms, shook hands with greasy clients, who would finally sign contracts after we negotiated almost all of our profit away. But still, I did it for Aubrey and she was the one who always got what she wanted. I picked up the speed of the boat even more and heard Aubrey roll again which made me smile.
Row, row, row your boat gently on the tide. Merrily, merrily, merrily to the other side.
The sailboats were the last to go out of sight. It was a beautiful afternoon and the breeze on the water was light and fresh. I slowed the boat down to a stop and I let her drift. The smell of the water was wonderful, not like the dead fish or musty water dreaded up in the marinas and river to allow big freighters to pass through. This was the smell of water, pure and clean. Exactly how I wanted to feel on that day and have felt every day since. I opened the doors to go below and saw the mess that had been made. One of the cabinets popped open and cans of vegetables were rolling with the waves on the floor. I picked them up and placed them back on the shelf, securing the cabinet knobs with an extra rubber band to keep it from opening again. Surprisingly, the books were still on the table where I had left them but not surprisingly, the berth lamp was on the floor. I left the lamp and the books were they were. Instead I focused on my dear Aubrey. She had fallen off the sofa and had rolled back and forth during our cruise out to open water. The plastic tarp was still secured tightly but she was only unconscious. I didn’t know if I let her be if she would recover or not. Asphyxiation is mysterious in that way. When I was angry I felt like I could crush her. Her, with all of her wants, needs, constant complaining, constant bickering, and telling me I’m no longer good enough? I felt I had to strength to rip her head off of her petite body but no. I waited. I planned. When the time was right, I no longer had the strength. She fought me but her legs weren’t strong and her arms were not long enough. I stopped when she went limp but I didn’t realize until later she was still alive. Getting her to the boat was no trouble at all in the early morning hours. My dock neighbors were accustomed to seeing me at the boat before they arrived in the morning for their weekend visit. While Aubrey laid on the sofa with shallow breaths they offered me breakfast of eggs and toast. For all they knew she had kicked me out of the house again, always fighting, always about money and her over spending. Now in the bay, I removed the tarp and brought Aubrey up and onto the swim platform. I didn’t make a ceremony of it. I simply untied the tarp and let her body roll into the water. She barely made a splash.
Row, row, row your boat gently back to shore. Merrily, merrily, merrily home for tea at four.
I didn’t bother to watch what happened to my Aubrey. I dragged the tarp on to the boat and folded it neatly, placing it in one of the storage areas under the seats. It was simple, more simple than I thought it was going to be. I imagined the water flooding into her nose and throat, seeping into her lungs, swallowing her body and weighing it down to the bottom feeders. There Aubrey can rest with her own kind. I loved her once and I did it all for her. I brushed my hand over the steering wheel and felt the smooth leather under my skin. This water was my freedom. This boat was my escape. From stress, from work, from anxiety, from anger. This boat is my escape from it all. Aubrey wanted to take it all away from me. Everything I worked hard for, she wanted it for herself and wanted to cut me out of it. Take me for every penny I earned and this boat, this freedom. I never thought the open water I loved so much would provide the happiest moment in my life, an escape from her. The water drifted the boat for some time but it was still early in the day when I decided to turn home. I had a full day head of me and it was just after noon.
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