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Whispers, Arah McManamna

Grandma always said if we were careless, the woods would take us. We never listened. Sometimes we made it home at dusk, barely beating the whispers that would follow us from the treeline. We pretended we couldn’t hear them, scratching up against the just-bolted door.

I still remember our panic. We were playing, and the darkness had come suddenly, as had the first voice in my ear. We ran, and you kept asking me who they were, but I couldn’t tell you. I imagined Grandma waiting, clutching the fence with her soft hands. When they caught us we couldn’t tell if the screaming was us or them.

In the years since, many families have stayed at our old home. The children don’t stray too far now, no matter how often we call them. They hover right at the edge of the trees until their mothers haul them inside by their elbows. They can hear us though. They know we’re lonely. Even though we’re all together, always together. At night we press our little hands up against the doors, and ask them to join us.


Arah McManamna is a writer from California. Her work has been published in journals such as Hobart, Rejection Letters, Sledgehammer, and others.

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