The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Michelle Joy Gallagher
Sasha glared at the loose threads in the once great tapestry that lined the walls. It was dusty and worn thin over time in the places where it had come in contact with human hands, frayed and discolored where the sun bludgeoned it day after day. The sun never felt more cruel to her than now in her late 80s. She had only memories, but even the memories began to wear thin. There had been ecstatic nights spent laughing and dancing while the candles flickered and music filled the air. There had been people, and a sense of wonder. A magic that at the time seemed would never expire. Now here she was at the stale and dusty end.
Suddenly the tears and snags in the old silk were too much. Tearfully she stood at the wall and pulled it to her face. “This isn’t fitting for such a precious thing.” She whispered to herself. She dug around in her old sewing box and found a needle and some thread that almost matched the color of the old tapestry, and returned to the grand room determined. She found the nearest scar, left near the baseboard by a hungry rat, and sat down hard on the floor beside it.
She felt dizzy and suddenly stupid for undertaking such a task. Her hands ached just from carrying the needle between rooms. She chided herself, determination returning. “You’ve got nothing else to do, you old bat!”
As soon as she’d sewn the first stitch, her memory came alive, full of color and more vivid than it had been in decades. She could almost hear the excited chatter, the echo of footfalls, the stringed instruments. But it all had been drowned by a resounding throb in her knuckles. She bit her lip and started the second stitch and then then third and by the fourth, it was as if she’d closed her eyes and opened them and was going again. She’d worn the pearls her father gave her, and a dress of fine lace that glimmered in the candlelight as she walked around the room. The pain subsided. She closed her eyes, letting her hands work on their own, falling deeper into the exquisite reverie of being 19 and feeling as if gravity had no affect on her. Floating around the room, smiling and greeting guests, hands folded neatly at her waist, fine curtsies and bows, men asking for a turn to dance. The pain by this time had completely vanished.
Her fingers slipped and plunged the needle into skin, and blood slow but insistent poured from the wound. She took no notice even after the second and third prick. Her memories were more real now to her than anything in the present time. She lay her head against the wall and breathed in serene deep breaths, displacing dust and inhaling it without flinching. Soon she had sewn most of her arm to the tapestry and she did it with the same shining smile that had won and broken the hearts of her gentlemen callers.
Fiction © Copyright Michelle Joy Gallagher
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Michelle Joy Gallagher:
Welcome to Blackhawk, Colorado. Blackhawk has always been strange. Natural disasters. Disappearances. Murders. High strangeness is a part of daily life. We can’t hope to explain it, but we can chronicle its past. Learn from it. Fear it. Blackhawk is an experimental fiction series set in a shared universe, written by a variety of talented authors. It is the brainchild of David M Brown (Plague Doctor, Modern Animals) and Carl D Smith (Moleb the Giant, Darkness Out of Carthage). Each story will contribute to an organic, evolving mythology as diverse as the voices behind its tales. For fans of True Detective, Lost Highway, Twilight Zone, and The Terror. This is Volume Two of the series and contains five stories by five different authors, each in tune with the specific strangeness Blackhawk has to offer. NOTE: For fans of Lake Lord Publishing’s prior horror titles, be warned that Blackhawk will contain content that is perhaps more disturbing and mature.