Monday, October 21, 2013

Nightmare Fuel, Day the 19th. A Sketch, a Craft, a Scene

Yes, we missed a day here. Partly because I was away for the weekend, and partly because the daily prompt was late in arriving. I'll catch up at some point to get back to to the one-a-day for October. 

Since the daily prompt was late, I took the kids' craft from our day at the Washington Irving house up in Sleepy Hollow and built a quick story around that. Enjoy!

"At the Fence"
by L Czhorat Suskin

Madison looked forlornly at the skull. It wasn't much of a skull. A cheap plastic thing from what her grandmother would have called the dime store. Grams loved plastic almost as much as she loved dime stores and their recently-arrived tenfold successors. So many whimsical trinkets she could worry at and enjoy and not care about; a vision taking her morning constitutional in plastic baubles and bangles while her gold and diamonds slumbered in a hidden nook behind the flour.

Madison only knew about the walks from the old woman's letters. Even at the funeral, she'd spoken with nobody who'd seen her walking, who even knew that she still did it, day after day, for decades now.

Madison sighed deeply, took in the shiny new section of pickets, dove white against the dirty pigeon greys up and down the length of fence. Dark skid marks on dark asphalt, pointing at the new fence like a sign, a warning, a portent.

She reached up, a little above head level, and jammed the skull onto the central of the new white pickets. Something broke inside, a sicklyred bulb in one eye blinked alive for  a moment, then faded. A post-mortem wink.

Madison set the dollar-store hat with the fake ribbon atop the dollar-store skull. "Sorry, grams. Your real hat is safe at home. And sorry more people weren't there.

I'll visit."

It was a long week settling affairs, cleaning house, disposing of those goods no longer needed. Searches for more surprises like the gold bangles behind the flower, like the diamonds wrapped in old socks. It was past the time of dealing with Gram, and just dealing with the banality of death; cleaning up, filing away, discarding all that remained of a life.

Image by Me
Weeks passed without a return visit to the site, to the place it happened, to her makeshift shrine. On the eve of her departure, the last time she'd ever set foot in her old hometown, she came back.

The new pickets were already slowly fading to match their neighbors, a scar starting to scab over. The skull, just where she'd left it, grew mottled and worn, more like authentic bone than cheap plastic. Someone else had visited, added a colorful green scarf around the skull's neck, a cigarette in its plastic teeth. Madison felt an emptiness deep in her gut, spread through her chest and head. She leaned her head against the old pickets, just for a moment. Did this mean someone else loved her grandmother? Whatever it was, the shrine was gone. Taken for her just as Grams had been. There was nothing here for her anymore. 

She turned to leave, not seeing the single wisp of smoke from the gently burning cigarette in the cold plastic mouth of the skull.

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