The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Melissa R. Mendelson
It was a soft knock that broke the quiet afternoon. The sun was just slipping into the family room, warming up the furniture, and whispering to just relax and enjoy the day. The soft knock came again, almost as if a bird were tapping away at the side of the house, and another knock followed. It was a little girl dressed in red and holding a box in her hands.
“Hello,” I said. “Can I help you?”
I was surprised that she called me by my first name, and she said it with such an authority too. “Yes. Can I help you?”
The little girl slid inside the house without a second thought. She glanced into the family room, and the sun quickly withdrew behind a cloud. The room darkened, chilled by a cold breeze from an open window, and the little girl made herself comfortable on one of the chairs. She didn’t look at me but patted the seat next to her.
“I didn’t ask you to come in.” I closed the front door and walked toward the family room, but I hesitated. There was something about this little girl, something that made my skin crawl. “Can I help you? Is there something that you want from me?”
“Sit down.” She wasn’t asking.
“This is my house,” I said.
“Sit,” and my knees nearly buckled. “We need to talk.” She played with a strand of blond hair.
I forced myself into the family room, but I did not sit down beside her. I sat in the loveseat opposite her and looked at the box resting on her lap. It reminded me of Christmas with its red color and small bow, but a small voice inside told me that there was something much darker waiting in that box.
“I need the word.” The little girl had the appearance of an angel, but her tone was the opposite. “The word that you were not supposed to say.”
“The word? What word?”
“I am here to collect that word, and you know what word I am referring to.” Her stare cut into my heart. “I need you to say it to me.”
The word? Color drained from my face, and my body shuddered. I knew what she was, but she looked so innocent. Was she even a child, and she giggled as if she read my mind. No, she was something more, and she knew what I had said. And I should not have said it, but I used that word a lot. It was just a word, and who told her that I said it? But anyone could have told her. It was just a matter of time before she came here, but would she hurt me? Would she hurt my daughter, who was upstairs in her room? How do I get rid of this little girl and her strange box?
“You say the word,” the little girl said. “And don’t worry about your daughter. I don’t need her. Yet.”
“My daughter doesn’t curse.” I tried to stand but failed. “She didn’t say that word.” I eyed the box in the little girl’s hands.
“She used another word.” She smiled suddenly. “You’re thinking of your word right now. Are you ready to say it?”
As I opened my mouth, the little girl shot to her feet, moving fast and shoved the box almost in my face, but she didn’t open it. She waited, and I closed my mouth. For a moment, her face flickered as if it were a mask ready to peel away, but she shrugged it off. And her blue eyes sliced through me as she leaned in close and pulled out a small, silver pocketknife, placing it on top of the box.
“What’s the knife for,” I whispered.
“To cut out your tongue.” She said this as if she were just asking about the weather or the time. “I’ve cut many tongues out before.” She yawned, and part of me wanted to grab her and throw her outside. But I couldn’t. “You can’t touch me.” She smiled. “You have no power over me. But I have power over you,” and her words pushed me further into my seat.
“It’s my house. Get out of my house.”
“Not without the word.” Now, she seemed annoyed, still holding the box in my face. “What will it be? The box or the knife?” She looked at the knife.
“The word, the box, but it’s just the word. Right?”
“No.” Her eyes bore into mine, and I felt a piece of me slip away. “It’s more than just the word. Every memory surrounding that word will be taken from you. You should’ve been more careful when you said that word, but here we are now.” She put the knife away but sadly as if she would’ve preferred to use it instead of the box. “Ready?”
“So, you’re taking my memories too?”
“I can cut out your tongue instead.” She reached for the knife again but stopped. “I have a long list to get to, and you’re wasting my time. Do you want me to leave?” She watched me nod. “Then, give me your word.” Her tone of voice pulled another piece of me away.
“Fuck,” I said, and she opened the box. “Fuck.” My mind spun around like one of those carnival rides. “Fuck.” I couldn’t stop myself. “Fuck. Fuck you,” and I could feel more pieces of me falling into that darkness inside the box. “Fuck!” I fell back in my seat, and part of me felt… Empty. “Hi, little girl. Can I help you?”
“No, we’re done.” The little girl slammed the box shut. “Thank you for your help.”
“I’m glad to have helped you.” I touched my head, feeling a little dizzy. “What did I help you with?”
I looked at my daughter. She was so beautiful, but she seemed also like a stranger. When did I give birth to her? “Yes…” I searched my memory for her name. Oh, what was her name? “Jackie. Yes, Jackie.”
The little girl spun toward Jackie. “Great. You’re here, and you’re next on my list. Would you like to sit down?”
“No, I don’t want to sit down.” Jackie walked into the room, keeping her distance from the little girl, and giving me a strange look like I was in danger. “What did you do to my mother?”
“I’m fine,” I said. “I think.”
“She’s fine,” the little girl said. “And you’re better off than her. At least, you only said your word once, but it’s still a dangerous word.”
“Mom, are you okay?”
“Yes,” I said. “Jackie. Just tell her the word. It’s okay.”
Jackie didn’t have a chance to blink as the box now wavered in front of her face. “Fine. I will say the word, and then you get out of my house.”
“Say it.” The little girl’s voice made Jackie cringe. “Now.”
“The word.” She watched the little girl open the box and glanced at me. “The word is White. The room was so White.” She fell to the floor a moment later. “What happened,” but the little girl did not answer her.
The little girl walked out of the house.
Fiction © Copyright Melissa R. Mendelson
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com.
About Author Melissa R. Mendelson:
Melissa R. Mendelson is the self-published author of the short story collections, Better Off Here and Stories Written Along COVID Walls, which can be found on Amazon/Amazon Kindle. She also recently had a short collection of poetry, This Will Remain With Us, published by Wild Ink Publishing. More about Melissa can be found here: https://linktr.ee/melissarmendelson
Very creepy and cool.
Thank You. 🙂
Way to go with turning a really lovely image into a disturbing story 🙂
*Takes a bow*. Thank you. 🙂
Unexpected and creepy! Nice job!
Thank you. 🙂