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This piece took second prize in the 1st round of the NYC Midnight Rhyming Challenge 2022. The assignment was a maximum of 600 words in the horror genre over the theme of being housebound and including the emotion of impatience.

Then, on a Monday, the hospital calls

“We’ve admitted Mother within our walls.

“She’s been here for five days with terrible pain

“Turns out her appendix was acting insane.”

“Insane,” says Sister, “that sounds about right.

“Then who has stayed with poor Brother at night?”

“Don’t know,” the nurse says, “I called, but no pick-up.”

“That’s bad, oh, so bad, much worse than a hiccup.”

Sis hangs up on the nurse and calls 9-1-1

“You gotta come help me check on Mother’s son!”

“A child is in need. We’ll come right away.”

“Please hurry up!” is all Sister can say.

They climb up the stairs to the very last floor.

Sister’s scared, worried sick about what’s in store

“Brother, you in there? Can you open the door?

“Are you safe? Can you even talk anymore?”

But no sound comes back.

“He might not be home.”

“He is here. Mother wouldn’t let him roam!”

“Not ever?”

“Not ever! Not since I moved out.

“and that has been thirty years almost about.”


Making baby thrive is a mother’s task.

That’s all, and that isn’t too much to ask.

But how to survive, I had no clue.

I did not know. We both were too new.

I got worn down by the fuzzing and whining.

I must have dozed off from the constant dining.

His long cries and short naps had hollowed my sleep.

And I was so exhausted it made me weep.

When I woke, a curious absence was there

An absence of movement, of sound in the air.

I thought, let him lie; he’s asleep; let him be.

But he had left me; come away, gone was he.

The next one was different. She wasn’t mine.

A sole survivor, a child, born to shine.

Always at odds. So willful and strong.

God sent her to me to say I was wrong.

I prayed, and I prayed. I put in a plea.

Instead, give me my boy back so You can see

that I am no monster, not cruel, I’m not evil.

Faithful, I’ll stay if You give me reprieval.

Thus God forgave me, returned me my boy.

So that I could protect this light of my joy.

And that I have done. I have kept my child safe.

From harm, from bad in the world, death, and strafe.


I am not me. I have never been.

Not of the same time, yet like a twin.

I live in a room in the skin of another.

I don’t have a name, but he is called Brother.


Inside the apartment, it’s quiet and still.

To think they’re too late ‘s’making Sister feel ill.

Then in the bathroom, behind shower curtain.

Big metal cage, keeping what? That’s uncertain.

A creature crouched down, away from intrusion.

Its back all furry, veins blue in protrusion.

The stench of rot and decay is a wall.

An officer vomits his lunch over all.

The half-life looks up at them with a whimper.

And here Sister thinks she can’t go any limper.

Its long fingernails have dug holes in its cheeks.

Where puss is oozing out in yellow and bleak.

But worst of it all (if that still has meaning,)

what hides in the lap of this once-was-being.

A tight tourniquet to stop it from growing.

The thing is all shriveled…better not knowing.


To think this is fiction would help to console

And fiction it is, I would say, as a whole

If it weren’t for the notice that went the world round

A man bound at home for decades being found

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