The Little Red Button

Everything in bold was written by me. The rest is auto-continued by an artificial intelligence called GPT-3.

"Put that down, will you, young lady?" The clerks voice was harsh.

"It's only a toy. I didn't mean to take it. I'll go back and pay for it," said Lisa.

"A toy? This is our priciest item here! It's one of a kind!"

"But it's... it's just a plastic case with a red button on it?"

"It's worth a fortune! You can't just take it!"

"What happens when you press the button?" asked Lisa.

"It plays music," said the clerk.

"And...?"

"And then it... it..."

"It what?"

"It’s like a… music player. No, not exactly. It's a little more than that. It's... it's complicated. I don't have the time, there's many customers waiting!"

The clerk stormed off.

To insist she would steal it! Lisa had never stolen in her life.

Now, however, curiosity took the best of her. "He already accused me," she thought. "Might as well take it!"

***

Back home, after dinner, Lisa took out the button and pressed it. The music was a strange mixture of a piano playing notes and a voice singing words. The words were foreign, and Lisa had a hard time figuring out what they meant.

"It's not a song I know," she said to herself. "I'd remember it if I'd heard it before. I'll talk to mom about it!"

Lisa went to her mom, motioned to the button, and pressed it again. Her mom listened for a while. Slowly, a smile came to her face. "That's lovely!" she said. "Such a sweet voice. Must be a child singing. What are they saying?"

"I don't know. I can't understand it. Do you?"

"No, no. Your father will know. You should ask him. He knows everything!"

Lisa took the device to her father. "What's this song, dad?" she said, and pressed it.

"Hmm," her father said. "I don't know. It doesn't sound like any language I've ever heard. Sounds like an ancient dialect."

Then, Lisa's father started to smile. A big, bright smile, just like her mother's before.

***

After school the next day, Lisa went back to the shop. Guilt had plagued her all night, and she wanted to return the strange item.

When the shop clerk saw her, his face turned red, and he was fuming. "You're back!" he said. "I hope you're here to pay for it!"

"I wanted to return it. I'm sorry."

"You can't return it! You pay or I'll call the police!"

Fearful, shocked, Lisa grabbed the device, and instinctively pressed its button. The music started playing again.

The shop clerk calmed down. "Oh my," he said. "I didn't know. I didn't know! I'm so sorry!"

His face calmed, and he started showing a happy grin. "Keep it. Keep it, it's my gift."

***

As she grew up, Lisa always carried the button with her everywhere.

It was the most precious thing she had.

"I don't know the words, though," she thought. "I really don't. It's such a waste not to understand what's going on."

One day, Lisa took the button to a music store. "I want you to play it for me," she said. "Please."

The clerk played it back. "I know that song. I know the meaning of those words."

"What is it? What does it mean?" Lisa felt blood rush into her head.

"It's a lullaby," said the clerk. "It's a song sung to children, when they sleep. The text is ancient, and it means 'sleep, child, sleep, peaceful, calm, deep.' It's a message of comfort, telling the child that everything is going to be alright."

"So... so it's a lullaby?"

"Yes! It's a lullaby from a long, long time ago. It's from a time when people were afraid of the darkness. It's a message of hope, to remind the child that the night is not a time of fear, but the time of peace."

"It's a lullaby!"

"Yes, it's a lullaby."

Lisa listened to the song again. It had never made sense before. But now, it was a lullaby. It was the most beautiful lullaby she had ever heard.