By Nora Chery
Volume 2 Issue 7
June 13, 2022
Image provided by iMedia
The house was silent, warm, and, most importantly, freshly clean. Martha sighed, rose from her knees, and plopped the red-stained cloth into the equally red water of the bucket. Rippling from the sudden impact, red water sloshed into the dark wood floor. The woman glared at the red puddle but was interrupted by the booming ticks of the grandfather clock. She was late for work, once again.
The bucket and puddle were neglected in exchange for her heels and inexpensive coat, which she promptly grabbed. When her hands reached for her purse, she paused and shifted her gaze to the top of the staircase.
"I'll get you something better to eat as soon as I get back!" she called sweetly, and she was off. She walked from the edge of the street to the Southern rural town. This was a typical morning for Martha Furguson.
Martha was a polite and modest lady around her late thirties and, like most of the women around her age in town, loved to chitchat, hated pests, and loved nothing more than the lovely clothes from the boutique. With two eyes and two small hands, using them to grimace at the price of the beautiful dress she wanted, she looked like most the women in their late 30s.
As stated before, she was a polite and modest lady, and everything about her was polite and humble. Most people in town would have agreed if it wasn't for her living in a haunted house.
Most children would describe her home as horrifying, and older townsfolk would admit it gave off eerie vibes. If you were a new, freshly moved-in citizen and saw the house, you would've been confused by the rumors. It was a lovely little white house, the kind you would want your old, retired self to live in.
It had the basics of a house; electricity, clean running water, and a solid green roof. There was one factor that gave the house its reputation; the child that lived in it, Dolores Furguson.
To many, she was a mysterious entity, a tiny malevolent phantom. However, her only crime was hermitage. Some say screams resonate from inside the house, particularly Dolores's room. Rumors had flown as they always do, but Martha always giggled at them when confronted about it.
"Why those are just tall tales told by little children" she'd claim with a defensive smile. "Dolores is just a sickly child, that's all, nothing spooky about it."
Being the mother of a child with an unfavorable social status resulted in her having little to no friends. Still, she reassured herself multiple times that it was okay. She had her Dolores to look after. But the memory of what happened to her daughter still stuck to her like a permanent splinter; it still hurt from time to time.
She was in her early thirties and sleeping next to her husband. She remembered strange high-pitched noises coming from downstairs in the kitchen. Her husband sleepily descended to investigate, yet all Martha could hear was his frightened mumbling. Then came the screaming. First, her husband, then someone (or something) else. Frozen in bed, all she could think about was her daughter, who was hopefully sleeping in the other room. Forcing herself from her bed, she snatched a letter opener off her desk; she would do her best to protect her daughter. As she stepped into the kitchen, all she saw was her daughter. There, Dolores stood in the center of an empty kitchen, crying with a bloodstained mouth.
The police came to question Marget and her daughter, and an officer was kind enough to help her hang missing posters for her husband. Yet, some part of Marget knew it was too late; her life had been changed forever. Dolores was a sweet, bubbly child, but after that tragic night, it faded immediately. Dolores stopped eating and playing; some days, it seemed like Dolores had never even moved an inch. Martha always suspected Dolores was more active when she wasn't home, working a late shift. The day Martha came home to see Dolores covered in red, she knew her worst fears were confirmed. Nothing would change, and this was never getting better. She stared at her daughter, momentarily horrified due to her monstrous appearance, elongated teeth, and nails, pupils transformed to slits. This creature was her daughter, but a form of her daughter that would never see the light of day.
Martha's daughter was barely a human, just a tiny animal in her daughter's skin. She did her best to remind herself that, despite all, Dolores was still her daughter, even if she smelled like blood and death.
Martha kept her head up. She went to work and took care of the flowers, the kinds that Dolores used to love, though Dolores now didn't seem to know what flowers were.
When Martha earned enough money to go clothes shopping at the boutique, she treated herself to a few beautiful dresses and shoes. She attempted to bring Dolores home a dress, but her daughter ran at the sight of the dress as if one touch could kill her.
Margret struggled to dodge the pain of her daughter's continued rejections. As she passed a happy couple and their children, a twinge of pain filled her chest; why couldn't her family have just been normal? On the worst days, she sat with her back pressed to her daughter's bedroom door, dreaming about the tranquil domestic life she lost that fateful night.