The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
The Birthday Present
by Mary Ann Peden-Coviello
“Look at this brooch, Will! Isn’t it beautiful?” I pointed out the gleaming bauble winking up at me from the display case at The Jeweler’s Loupe, a store specializing in vintage jewelry.
“You really like that, Shawna? Isn’t it a little bit . . . weird?”
I gazed at my darling husband. His face was crinkled in bewilderment. You’d think after ten years of marriage, he’d understand my love for odd bits to accessorize my looks.
I asked the clerk to let me see the brooch. She handled the piece as though she, too, found it disagreeable, its Art Deco starburst uncomfortable in her hand. When I took the brooch from her, I was startled to find it felt warm, almost alive against my skin. At its center lay a pale green stone like an unblinking eye that stared into my soul. The eye-stone seemed to speak to me in a language only I could hear.
“Oh, Will, please buy it for me. It’ll look lovely with my new dress, and I can wear it tonight for my birthday dinner with Mom and Dad.”
Will pulled a face, but of course he bought the piece for me. He could never deny me anything, especially on my birthday.
That night, I dressed extra-carefully. The last thing I put on was my new brooch. As I gazed into the mirror, the brooch’s center stone changed. The pale green, unblinking eye . . . blinked.
I gasped in shock. I stepped closer to the mirror and looked again. The stone sat unmoving. Clearly, I was imagining things.
Dinner was a delight. Will, Dad, Mom, and me: my favorite restaurant, my favorite people. The only off-key note was that no one but me liked my new brooch. Everyone thought it was creepy.
Will and I made an early night and finished celebrating my birthday privately. I put the brooch on the bed table where the moonlight struck the green stone. I could have sworn the eye-stone blinked again.
I awakened in the grey hours of dawn, a nasty, coppery taste in my mouth, my face and neck sticky. I put up a hand and found it covered in some brown, tacky, semi-liquid substance. I reached to the bed table and clicked on the lamp. I looked toward Will.
Blood. Everywhere. On me. On the bed. In my mouth. On Will.
His throat torn open. Great chunks of flesh ripped away. His eyes glazed over, staring at me.
I turned away and vomited. Vomited up chunks of Will.
I couldn’t help looking at the brooch. The eye blinked.
I screamed. And screamed. And screamed.
I don’t think I’ll ever stop.
Fiction © Copyright Mary Ann Peden-Coviello
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Mary Ann Peden-Coviello:
Women write horror and have written it since before Mary Shelley wrote FRANKENSTEIN. This anthology is to highlight the fact women write great horror and to kill the fallacy that they aren’t in some way up to standard. They are. Read here stories by Elizabeth Massie, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Lucy Taylor, and a plethora of other great writers as they work on your nerves, get inside your head, and bang out some of the scariest tales written today. I’m proud to present these women for your consideration, as Rod Serling might say, as I ask you to step into FRIGHT MARE. Lock the door and windows, put on a light, and remember, it’s not real. It’s not real. Midnight awaits, monsters scheme to take you away, the strange and weird wait in the shadows, but it’s not real. Is it?
Edited by Billie Sue Mosiman, the author who brought you the SINISTER-TALES OF DREAD collections and her latest suspense novel, THE GREY MATTER.