It’s been a few days since your argument with your mom. She seemed to stop mentioning Laughing Jack, probably because of your father. You’re sitting on the couch with your parents. Your mom is reading a magazine and your dad is flipping through the channels. You haven’t seen Jack in a while, and you hope he’s alright. He’s normally back the next morning.
Caroline also hasn’t been at school either. Nobody knows what happened to her, not even the teacher. You guess she’s sick. You might stop by her house later today.
It’s about seven thirty at night, your dad eventually stops on the evening news channel. Your mom looks up, slightly intrigued.
“The average temperatures in (T/N) for Friday afternoon are 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The low is 70 degrees and the high is 90…” The news man said. Just as your dad was about to change the channel to something more interesting:
“In more important news, police have found a dead child just this morning. The girl was told to be eight years old, right on (Street/N ). The child seems to have been torn apart, and was found dead in her room. The parents heard no sound of anyone breaking or entering. Police are still seeking out the killer, with no luck so far. The child’s name: Caroline.” The news man finished.
Your jaw drops right open.
No…that can’t be right. There has to be more than once Caroline the same age as you on your street, right? You feel your palms start to sweat at your knees start shaking. You look at your parents, who are just as shocked as you are.
“Caroline’s mother….told me over the phone this morning…” You hear your mom mumble. She knew? Was she even going to tell you?! She looks over to you.
“I’m…so, so sorry, (F/N)…” You’re mom practically gasps. Your dad says nothing and changes the channel.
You shake your head and run up to your room, sobbing and sniffling. You close the door as tears silently run down your face. You need him. You go to your dresser and grab a small Jack in the Box that you’ve had for as long as you’ve known Jack. You remember what he said shortly after you first met him.
“I won’t always be here with you, (F/N), but if you ever need me, just wind this up and sing the song I taught you.”
You take a deep breath and start to wind it up.
“All around the Mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel, the monkey thought it was all in good fun…’till POP goes the weasel….” You sing with the tune. “All around the Mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel…the monkey thought it was all in good fun…” Just as you expect, the box opened and the little Laughing Jack doll pops out. “…’till POP goes the weasel…”
You look around. Jack isn’t anywhere in sight. You start to get scared. Was he imaginary all along? No, that couldn’t be right. If he never existed, how did he give you this box? Did your parents give it to you all along…but, they never recognized it, and you always said that your friend gave it to you. You crawl on your bed and put your face down on the pillow. You even tried to imagine him there, but that didn’t work. You hope and hope that he comes, because with Caroline gone, Jack was all you had.
You wake up with a start in the middle of the night, sitting straight up, breathing heavily. Your room was very dark, only lit by the dim hallway light. You looked at your digital clock on your dresser. It was 3 in the morning. You could tell you had a nightmare, but couldn’t seem to remember any details. Just as you’re about to go back to sleep, you feel extra weight on the edge of your bed. You’re light turns on, revealing Jack. He looks like something is troubling him, which is unusual. You rub your eyes tiredly.
“Jack?” you mumble.
“Hey, (F/N). Listen, I’m real sorry I’ve been gone for so long and I didn’t come when you called. I…had to do something important.” He said, tapping his long fingers together. You were about to tell him what happened with Caroline, but by the look on his face, you guessed he already knew.
Your eyes getting used to the light, you notice that light silver replaced the blue in his irises. But what really catches your eye is the crimson splatters on his hands and shirt.
“What happened to your shirt?” you ask, pointing at Jack.
“Oh, um, I…I was…painting. A barn. A red barn. Yes. That’s what I was doing.” He replied. Painting? Before you could ask any more questions, he ran his fingers through your hair. “It’s late, you should go back to sleep.”
You nodded and lied back down as the lights turned off, even though Jack didn’t touch the light switch. You could faintly hear a song in your head that sounded like it was being played on a piano as you fell asleep.
'All around the Mulberry bush,
The monkey chased the weasel,
The monkey thought it was all in good fun…
‘Till POP goes the weasel…'