The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
Beware of the Nymphs by the Red Currant Bushes
by Alina Măciucă
Grandma held a tin flashlight she had bought sometime in the late 70s in her left hand and a straw bag half her own size in her right one. “You take another bite of that and I’ll leave you with them.”
I carried the offerings, unsalted rye bread smeared with red currant jam that blasted your palate with comfortable sourness and midsummer indulgence, a bottle of homemade white wine, to lure the nymphs with, and a rusty iron chain on my shoulder.
They said the nymphs were jealous and that’s why they mangled her all those years ago. Left her with a limp and a hunch and a crooked jaw. That’s why grandma and I plotted to trap one and keep her in our basement. Stick needles under her fingernails.
She seized the offerings and handed me the bag. I struggled not to check for shadows, flares or flashes around the red currant bushes every ten breaths.
“Hope you haven’t peed your pants,” she said.
The nymphs popped out of their ethereal lairs, as if she had addressed them, not me. They floated around the grove and sniffed at the air. Nacreous and majestic, they made my blood run cold.
“I brought you what you asked for.” Grandma didn’t back away when they swirled around her like a swarm of translucent-green pick-pockets.
Turquoise flickers rippled through the darkness. The nymphs beamed at me. They glided towards me. And the night glowed sea-green like in the stories of old.
Grandma left me with the bag, the chain, and her old rags. The nymphs had bestowed her with everything they took away and more. She marched along the river, now a healthy vestal with strong legs and rounded shoulders.
Nymphs purred, that’s how they spoke to each other. The prettiest caressed my jaw. It snapped. Love expanded in my chest like marshmallow fuzziness. They touched my right eye. It dissolved. I knelt in adoration. My left breast dilated like a bursting eggplant, and the other shrank. My spine twisted. I reveled.
Sunlight drowned the last smudges of blue-green shimmer. I tackled a berry into my mouth.It burned my tongue with yearning and defeated my bones.
More about Alina Măciucă:
Alina Măciucă enjoys reading, writing, buying odd trinkets, and taking photos of beautifully decaying buildings. She has formally studied religion and hermeneutics at the University of Bucharest, and really has a thing for the Greco-Roman mysteries and Gnosticism, as well as for Renaissance magic. She lives in Bucharest with her very supportive boyfriend, their two cats, and an ever-expanding vinyl and book collection.