This fiction story was written to the following Write on Edge prompt: Show us in 400 words or less how your character reacts to a piece of music.
It can advance a story line or provide a character sketch–or both!
Jack thought about dropping off his baby son at the nearest fire station. Instead, he tossed the pillow he’d been holding over his head on the floor and sat up.
Through the light under the closed door, Emmie’s feet paced. He opened the door. Ear-piercing wailing blasted him.
Emmie gave a weary smile. “It’s the colic. He won’t stop crying, Jack.”
“I’m not deaf. I hear him!” His son’s face was red and his eyes were scrunched. He took a big breath and wailed again.
“Let me take him.” He reached for his son as Emmie whispered, “Thanks.”
“Can you feed him?” Jack jiggled the crying baby.
Emmie sighed. “I just did, it didn’t help!”
The phone rang.
“Who’s calling at two o’clock in the morning?” Emmie raised her voice over the baby’s crying.
Jack handed Ben back to her and picked up the phone. A hoarse, but familiar voice spoke. “Please quiet the baby! I’m sick, but I have to work in the morning!” Click.
“Who was it?” Emmie asked, trying to get the pacifier in the baby’s mouth.
“Our neighbor! Ben woke him up again.”
Emmie cheeks grew red. “I’m so sorry! He’s a nice young man!”
“It’s not your fault, babe.” He pushed Emmie to the couch.
“Sit down. Bounce him on your knees, like your mom said.” Emmie did. For just a minute or two, silence descended, but it didn’t last. It never did.
“I’m a terrible mom!” Emmie began to cry. Loud. Piercing. Sobs. Baby Ben joined her. Jack was out of ideas.
The phone rang. He grabbed it. It was his neighbor again. His voice sounded worse. “I had colic as a baby. My dad used Thriller!”
“What?” Jack could hardly hear him over the crying.
“Michael Jackson’s song. Play it!” The call disconnected.
“It was that young man again, wasn’t it.” Emmie wiped her tears and bounced Ben.
“He gave me an idea! I need my laptop.”
Jack didn’t answer. He got his laptop, turned it on. After a minute or two, music filled the room. Emmie looked at Jack, uncertainty in her eyes.
“This song will help?”
“Let’s try it, Emmie. We’ve done everything else.”
Jack sat down beside Emmie. The music played. They watched Ben’s crying slowly become sniffles. Then he yawned. By the time the music ended, his parents were smiling at each other. Baby Ben was sound asleep.
This story has its roots in a true story. A friend of mine had a colicky baby. He found his baby liked the song Thriller. He’d turn it on and dance with his son until the baby fell asleep.