Sweet Ophelia

Daddy, Daddy! Look! It’s snowing. Can we go out and play?”

Ophelia giggled and pressed her face close to the windowpane, staring at the flakes descending from the sky. She traced her chubby finger along the frost touched glass, waiting for an answer.

It never came.

Her silent father only sat in his high-backed chair and gulped another mouthful of Scotch. He stared into the flames crackling in the fireplace, ignoring anything else. When he drained the glass, he poured himself another drink.

Impatient, Ophelia sighed and climbed down from her window ledge perch. She glided out of the room in search of her mother. She found her in the kitchen washing dishes.

“It’s snowing, Mummy. Can we go play in the snow?”

Her mother never looked at her, simply kept at her task, and Ophelia sighed again. “No one pays attention to me anymore.” She tried stamping her foot. It did no good. She pouted and yelled at the top of her lungs, “I want to play in the snow!”

Still no response. Her mother stood at the sink, washing a teacup, oblivious to her daughter’s tantrum. Dejected, Ophelia gave up and wandered upstairs to her room. She didn’t like going there anymore, but it had the best view of the back yard.

Entering, she gave a little sighing whisper. “It’s so empty now. I wish Mummy hadn’t taken all my things away.”

Then she smiled. At least her own small chair still stood by the window. Ophelia walked past the crisply made bed and curled up in its seat. She laid her hand on the frosty glass and watched the snow fall. She loved the soft quiet of it, its gentle flutter as it blanketed the ground; remembered the crisp, cold touch of it on her tongue.

She gazed at the snow until the edges of night crept past the sun.

Voices from downstairs finally pulled her attention away. Her parents were arguing. Again. She slipped from the chair and ventured to the top of the stairs. Below her, in the hallway, the pair were screaming at each other.

“God, you’re drunk again! That’s all you ever do now! Sit in that damn room and drink! You smell like a goddamn distillery! What happened to you?”

“You know what happened! I’m sorry I didn’t handle it as well as you! Prancing about, like our fucking life didn’t fall apart! I’m not as cold-hearted as you I guess!”

“At least I’m not running away and jumping head first into a bottle!”

“Stop it!” An anguished cry rose from Ophelia’s throat. “Why are you always fighting? Why can’t it be like before?” She practically flew down the stairs and sped past her parents into her father’s sanctuary. She curled into a ball in the corner and waited until the angry voices stopped.

She looked up as her father entered and flopped in his chair. He poured himself a drink, as her mother trailed him to the doorway, hesitating to come all the way in.

“Another drink? Predictable.” The mother’s face scrunched into a look of contempt. “I don’t understand, when did you turn into such a coward? What do you get out of it? Why do you sit here, night after night, drinking yourself into oblivion? It isn’t healthy.” She took a step closer, her voice softening. “She’s gone. Ophelia’s gone. You need to face it.”

From across the room, Ophelia gasped, her little form shaking. “Shush, Mummy, shush! Don’t say such things!”

The man in the chair looked up, and stared. His grip on the glass of Scotch tightened.

Ophelia’s mother continued, “Wake up! Our daughter’s been dead a year, and brooding here won’t bring her back.”

Ophelia whined, her face suddenly pale, and translucent. She whispered. “No. No! I’m not, Mummy, I’m not! I’m right here.”

Her father turned his head slightly, looking away from Ophelia’s mother.

That enraged the woman and she screamed, “Did you hear me? I said wake up! Our daughter’s dead! Time to face it!”

For a moment the air in the room seemed to slow, and every breath sounded large and lingering. Then Ophelia screeched, “I won’t listen anymore! I’m not dead!” The child rushed to her father’s side. “You’re upsetting Daddy!”

Her father’s face seemed to pale at her words, and Ophelia rested her head against his chair, so close she could smell the whiskey. “Don’t listen to her, Daddy. I’m here. I’ll always be here. I promised.”

Her father took a gulp of liquor and stared at Ophelia’s mother. She stared back, words tumbling from her mouth, “Why? Why are you torturing yourself? I don’t think I can take this much longer.”

“I don’t know why.” His voice barely sounded above a murmur. “I understand she’s dead. I was there in the hospital same as you. It’s just… sometimes I can feel her. Feel her in this room with me, like she’s talking to me.”

Ophelia laid her little hand on his arm. Her father shivered. “It’s all right, Daddy. I’m still here. I didn’t go. Don’t listen to Mummy. I promised I’d stay. You remember, that night in the hospital. I promised not to go. And I didn’t. I’ll stay with you forever and ever. Right here with you. For always.”

Her father took another drink, and closed his eyes. “I think I’m losing my mind. I swear sometimes I can hear her voice calling to me. Calling to her Daddy.”

Ophelia smiled, and kissed him on the cheek.

“Forever and always, Daddy.”

 

~ A. F. Stewart

© Copyright 2017 A. F. Stewart. All Rights Reserved.

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About afstewart

A writer of speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, horror) and an indie author of such books as Ruined City, Killers and Demons and Chronicles of the Undead. Also a contributor to the anthology, Mechanized Masterpieces.

26 responses to “Sweet Ophelia”

  1. Jessica Bakkers says :

    Wow. This was great. Sad if I look at it from the angle that he IS losing his mind and Ophelia is just a product of drunken hallucinations, but kind of creepy if she’s haunting him. Also still sad if it is just her haunting him because she doesn’t even understand that she IS dead. Good story.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Stollrofl says :

    Actually got some chills when I realized what was going on. Great story!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Joseph Pinto says :

    A haunting tale, Anita, and one well told at that!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. John Potts Jr says :

    This story gave me a fearful fit of anxiety. As a parent, my nightmare is to fall in the ebony oubliette of sorrow. You captured that with such realism and vivid pacing that I may have trouble sleeping for the next few nights. Great story, Anita!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. peterjfoote says :

    A truly powerful story, though I really expected the little girl to run outside and make a ghost snow angel all on her own!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Veronica Magenta Nero says :

    Enjoyed this a lot!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Lee Andrew Forman says :

    Great story, Anita! So sad!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Brian Moreland says :

    A wonderful little ghost story, Anita.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    A lovely story, A.F.! Beautifully sad prose told in a voice that brought life’s small details into the spotlight and made the heart ache to find a way to fulfill them. A genuinely heartbreaking piece – I really enjoyed it!!! ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  10. John Potts Jr says :

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Ghost stories are best when they haunt the mind. “Sweet Ophelia” by A. F. Stewart, does just that. Anita digs relentlessly with chilling realism and exceptional pacing. I’m a parent, one that honestly loses sleep over stories like this. Come, embrace the Damned. Free horror, restless nights, all brought to you by today’s best in modern horror.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Brian Moreland says :

    Reblogged this on THE CRYPT OF HORROR and commented:
    A new spooky short story “Sweet Ophelia” by AF Stewart​ is available to read at Pen of the Damned​

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Hunter Shea says :

    So powerful and painful! This one broke my heart. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. jonolsonauthor says :

    Sorry I’m late to the party. This one is a truly haunting and moving tale. Like Hunter said, it’s a heart breaker and an experience no parent should go through. Great work capturing the emotion in this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. jonolsonauthor says :

    Reblogged this on Jon Olson and commented:
    SWEET OPHELIA by Pen of the Damned’s A.F. Stewart

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Nina D'Arcangela says :

    Reblogged this on The Road to Nowhere… and commented:

    A sublimely haunting piece by A.F. Stewart written in prose as beautiful as the tale it delivers.

    Like

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