The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Jenna tried not to grimace as she took in the details of the room. Dust motes floated lazily in the small patch of light seeping through the boarded windows, and she wrinkled her nose in a vain attempt to hold back her sneeze. No luck.
“Bless you,” Jonathon said as he returned from deeper in the monstrosity he’d set his heart on. She spied an old chair against the far wall and carefully picked her way towards it. The floor was littered with scraps of wood, pieces of the wallpaper that had given up their hold, and a few things she didn’t want to look closely at. Dear Heavens, was that a tiny mouse carcass? She made it to the chair and sank gratefully onto its musty cushion. She thought her knees might give way if she’d stood any longer, fighting the tears gathered behind her eyes.
She realized Jonathon had continued speaking, and she’d no idea what he’d said. She plastered a smile on her face and voiced the phrase that had become her motto the last six months, “Whatever you say, Darling. I’m sure you know best.”
Jonathon threw back his head and laughed. She stared at him. He glanced at her and began laughing harder still.
Confused, she dropped the smile. “Whatever is the matter with you, Jonathon?”
“You,” he said finally, wiping a tear from his eye as he spoke. “You have spent the last six months agreeing with absolutely everything I say.”
Jenna frowned. “Of course I have. What else was I supposed to do?”
Jonathon sighed, shaking his head and shifting his hat from hand to hand. “I don’t know? Voice your own opinion? Say what you really think? Make me believe there’s more to you than just a pretty face and a vapid stare?”
Jenna held herself very still. “Excuse me?” Her words were softly spoken, but Jonathon must have detected the threat in them as his frown deepened.
“I must admit, I didn’t believe it at first. I thought we were merely on the same page, two minds of the same opinions. But it didn’t seem to matter what I said—you simply agreed with everything. Then my friends warned me, said there wasn’t anything to you, that I was just in love with a pretty face and sooner or later I’d get tired of you agreeing with me all the time. I thought they were crazy at first.”
“But?” Jenna said. Her hands were clasped so tightly tiny, bloody half-moons appeared on her palms.
“But you just kept agreeing. It didn’t matter what I suggested or said. You’d just repeat the same phrase. So I brought you to this…this…hovel today, and yet, you totally agreed that it would be the perfect house to start our lives. Have you even seen this place?”
Jenna stood. “Yes, yes I have seen this place, and I hate it. And I hate horseback riding, and I hate picnics. I hate you mother, and well, sometimes I even hate you. But I don’t hate any of that as much as I hate my Uncle. So I played the biddable, sweet lady I was told men wanted. And I thought that I could put up with anything to get out of his house and away from his fists and his angry words, and his apologies, and his sweaty, hairy body on top of me.” She collapsed back on the chair in tears.
Jonathon stood staring at her with his mouth hanging open for another moment or too. Then he rushed to her and drew her up into his arms. “I’m sorry. I, I had no idea.”
“Of course you didn’t,” Jenna whispered. “Because you never saw past a pretty face and warm body. You never really cared about me. No one ever has. Take me home.”
“I couldn’t possibly take you back there. Not after what you’ve said.”
“Of course you can. Unless you want to start a scandal and run off and elope.”
“I, well, I can’t,” he pulled back. “You have to understand…”
“Oh, I do. I do understand.” Jenna put her hat on and adjusted the ribbons, swiping dust from her skirts as she breezed past him to the carriage waiting outside. They were quiet on the drive until they pulled up in front of her Uncle’s house.
“I’ll get some help for you, Jenna. I swear I will. There’s got to be something…”
Jenna sighed. “Save your breath, Jonathon. I don’t blame you.” And she accepted the hand of the doorman and swept from the carriage into the house.
Jonathon thought it would be the last time he ever saw her. That night she slit her Uncle’s throat as he lay sleeping, and then took her own life. And yet, he still saw her standing just behind his left shoulder every time he looked in the mirror. He often thought he heard her whisper, Whatever you say, Darling. I’m sure you know best.
Fiction © Copyright Stacey Turner
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Stacey Turner:
Morbid Metamorphosis: Terrifying Tales of Transformation
Metamorphosis occurs every day as caterpillars become sweet fluttering butterflies, tadpoles become gorgeous frog princes and chameleons become one with the beauty of nature – but you won’t find any of that here.
The transformations you’re about to witness are unnatural, sometimes gruesome and deeply psychological. They will make you question reality and take your mind places it was never meant to go.
Terrifying Tales of Transformation from Greg Chapman * Roy C. Booth & R. Thomas Riley * Terri DelCampo * Dave Gammon * Nancy Kilpatrick * Rod Marsden * Jo-Anne Russell * M.J. Preston * Stacey Turner * Tina Piney * Suzanne Robb * Franklin E. Wales * Donna Marie West * Suzie Lockhart * Cameron Trost * Daniel I. Russell * Simon Dewar * Amanda J. Spedding * Ken MacGregor * Erin Shaw * Gregory L. Norris * Nickolas Furr