Friday, July 16, 2010

Why?

Why?

Sadie looked around for the source of the voice. She looked under the bed, in the closet, leaned her head out the bedroom door, and peered down the narrow hallway of her trailer towards the small kitchenette and living room. She was alone. She was always alone. His crap still filled the closet, his tools still cluttered the back porch, but he had been gone for a long time. He never entered the trailer anymore. He knew his place.

She unscrewed the top of her Wild Irish Rose, tipped it up, and tried to forget.

*

Morning struck her like a sledgehammer. She opened one eye and then another and found herself looking sideways at the dirty orange shag rug. The world seemed to have tilted on its axis. She put her hands beneath her to try to sit up, but a wave of nausea rolled through her. She fell back to the ground and breathed in the scent of dirt, of dust, and mold.

The thought of mold sent an erotic shiver up her spine, but she lay still and resigned herself to rest a little longer. A sharp pulsing pain which matched the erratic beat of her heart threatened to split open her head. She closed her eyes again and tried to sleep. It wasn’t as if she had anywhere to go anyway. The bills were paid. The state made sure of that.

*

Hours later, an eager knock echoed across fiberboard walls and flooring.

She sat up and looked at the clock: 3:15. He used to get off at 3.

“Crap.”

She ignored the pain in her head, ignored the sour taste of bile as it rose in the back of her throat, and wrapped her stained robe around herself. She stumbled down the hallway, using her arms against the walls to hold herself upright.

Why?

It was a whisper in her ear.

“Not now. You’re at the door. Hear that knocking? It’s real this time.”

She thought something grabbed her around the ankle. She tumbled forward and nearly tripped and lost her balance. She looked down, expecting to see she had tangled herself in the belt of her robe, but the robe was untied. The belt was not there.

Why?

She waved her hands around her head as if trying to knock away flies.

The knocking on the door became louder, more insistent.

She rounded the corner. She opened the door. No one was there. A shaft of sunlight poured through the clouds overhead. It lit the stretch of clumped, overgrown crabgrass that served as her front lawn. The gravel driveway was empty.

She stepped outside. “Hello? Wayne? Baby?”

The wind rustled the weeping willow on the corner of the lot. Silvery green leaves danced in the bright sunlight.

Sadie fell to her knees and cried. She yelled out a string of curses which echoed back to her. There was no one to hear. There had been no one to hear her for a very long time.

She walked back inside and looked at the clock on the microwave. It flashed 12:00.

*

She tried to find something to eat. Her supply dwindled. There was a can of corn, sweet peas, an unopened bag of saffron rice, two cans of turkey SPAM, flour, and cornmeal. She took out a can of SPAM, the peas, and the bag of rice.

“How about a nice little casserole?”

Why?

She dropped the can of SPAM. It burst open. The contents bounced, leaving spots of grease like a slug’s trail on her dirty faux linoleum vinyl flooring.

“I had my reasons, Wayne!”

She felt a hand touch the back of her neck. Fingers moved upwards and caressed the back of her head. She leaned into the touch and felt him comb out her tangles. She turned around to face him, wanted to embrace him, but he wasn’t there.

She didn’t cry this time. She expected it. This wasn’t the first time; it wouldn’t be the last time.

Why? Why? Why?

The soft voice was a relentless echoing whisper in her ears.

She looked down at the floor. She saw a rectangular outline in the floor. She thought about mold and fungus and worms and maggots. She looked out the window, checked to make sure there were no cars on the long mud lane leading to her house. She lifted back the thin vinyl flooring, pulled up a hidden door cut into the fiberboard floor, and dropped down into the crawl space below the trailer. She lay down next to him. She smelled mold. She kissed his dry bones.

Why?

She whispered her replies between delicate kisses. “So you won’t never leave me baby. So you won’t never go.”

10 comments:

  1. At this: "The thought of mold sent an erotic shiver up her spine," I thought you were either doing something very clever or just being weird. It turned out to be clever, very clever, and this story is a wonderfully unsettling slow reveal.

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  2. Oh my gosh! This is fantastically creepy, chilling, just plain great writing. Bravo!

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  3. Creepy, but with a heart (firmly clutched between fingers).

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  4. Exquisite prose, as usual, T.J. I had a feeling there was something a little creepy about Sadie, that she might perhaps even be a murderer, but feeling and knowing are two different things; the story isn't predictable and you do a great job building up the suspense to a satisfying end.

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  5. Thank you everyone for the friendly feedback!

    And yes, Terri-Lynn, this story was for my wife, and it was a nod to my wife's all-time favorite short story, "A Rose for Emily". :) Besides, anyone who knows my reading tastes shouldn't be too surprised to see a respectful nod to Faulkner show up every now and then.

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  6. Chilling, and good, very very good.

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  7. Now the erotic mold makes sense. Nice atmosphere you created here.

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  8. Loved this story and it's morbid Edgar Allan Poe ending. Great job!

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