The smell of rot and dirt displaced the stale air in the bedroom and I tried not to choke on the overpowering stench. Huddled in a corner by the door, shivering in the sudden cold draft, I listened for the slightest sound, praying she was gone. Or that I would wake up from this nightmare.
There it was, the faint scratching noise against the wood. Fingernails scraping at the grain. I caught my breath.
No. I don’t want to hear it again. I don’t want…
Only louder this time. Like an animal clawing to get inside. I whimpered and my stomach churned.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.” The words blurted out before I thought.
“Liar!” A horrid screech ripped from behind the door, shuddering through the air. “Bad, you were bad! Left me alone! Left me to die!”
A thundering crash sounded as something slammed the door, bending the wood. I jumped inside my trembling fear and hugged my knees, rocking on the cold dirty tiles of the room. I answered her shriek with my own, a long continuous wail, to drown out her voice, shut out the memories. Every pounding of the door ripped against my skin, racing my adrenaline, shredding my nerves.
“Stop it! Just go away! Leave me alone!” I screamed my terror to the empty room before burying my head between my knees.
“Like you left me?”
The quiet question hurt and frightened me more than her anger. “I didn’t mean it.” My words felt like a lie. Maybe they were. She didn’t answer, and the silence unnerved me. I babbled, “Why now? Why did you come back?”
“Secrets lost. Secrets found. So, I’ve come home, Mama.”
I whimpered. My lost little girl. My thrown away child. I thought I was done. I thought I escaped. “How is this possible?”
“Scared now, Mama? I was scared.”
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” Another whimper and I hugged my knees tighter.
“No! Not sorry. Scared I’m back.”
Bang! Something rattled the door.
“Why Mama, why?”
Bang! I saw the hinges rattle and bend.
“The closet was dark. I clawed to get out! You never came!”
My eyes closed slowly, my body trembling. Blocked memories surfaced, images of the horror I wrought. I shuddered. “What happened… I can’t… I was high, drugged out of my mind. You were too much for me to handle.”
“I loved you. You left me alone.”
The door frame convulsed, and splinters of wood flew across the room.
“I was so hungry! So thirsty! I cried, and I cried. I was all alone!”
The door slammed open, smacking hard into the wall, and she stood there, framed in the light. My little girl. She looked so thin, with red-rimmed eyes. Hate shone in those eyes.
“You killed me.”
I had no excuses left. Only fear and the truth. “Yes.”
She smiled, rotted teeth grinning at me like a demented thing. “They found me. My bones. Where you buried me. They’re coming for you.”
She laughed as she vanished, and I heard police sirens in the distance.
~ A. F. Stewart
© Copyright 2021 A. F. Stewart. All Rights Reserved.