Chicky, Heavenly, love

The Mist – flash fiction-drama

It was the first time in months that I felt joy. The further I ran, the happier I was. The wet chill reminded me of fresh grass clippings while running through the sprinkler during the summer. It clung to my bare feet and held on for the ride, wherever it would lead. I felt free. The order from my dad to stay in the yard was nothing more than a mere whisper that was washed away by the thin mist that surrounded me. Laughter bubbled up through my five-year-old self. And when it finally escaped me, it traveled through the field and was lost somewhere in the fog. I stopped running and yelled into the barely-there cloud. “Ha!” I guess I expected an echo. “Hello!” There was no return of my voice. I looked around. I was further out than I had ever been. In every direction I looked, I could only see grass, a tree or two, and a white blanket that consumed the distance, consumed my house. My laughter ceased. I felt the chill of the morning, and my toes were aching from the cold. I wanted to go home, but didn’t know which way. Panic filled me as I began to cry for my dad. Tear’s covered my face while I cried to no one. That’s when I felt her.

Mom placed her hand on my cheek. Her touch was soft, just like it always was, and it tickled, just like it always did. “It’s okay, Dear, I’m here. Look,” she directed me to look to my right. My pink tea-time table was set in the field, complete with my flowered tea set. I ran to it, and I sat. She sat with me. In that moment, I had forgotten that she had been gone for so long. But that no longer mattered because we were going to have tea at my table. Just like we did every morning until she left.

“I like your dress,” she said as I passed her a cup of imaginary tea. It was a white, lacy dress that Dad had recently bought me for church. “It’s beautiful, just like you.”

I smiled. Mom always told me I was beautiful. Every day. I missed that. “Are you going to stay, Mommy?” I asked. A flower appeared on the table. I picked it up and smelled rose. It reminded me of the previous summer when I helped her trim the rose bush. “I didn’t like when you were gone.”

She placed her hand on mine. It was lighter than normal. “I missed you too, sweetheart,” she smiled and stared at me. I don’t remember how long she stared; I was too busy passing out the pretend cookies. “Baby, I need you to know that even though you don’t see me every day, I am here, watching over you and I will be for the rest of your life.”

“What do you mean?”

“You know I went to Heaven, right?”

“Yeah, but you’re here now,” excitement tickled a smile onto my face.

“When the fog leaves, you won’t be able to see or hear me anymore, but I need you to know that I will still be with you, okay?”

And just like that, my excitement was gone. I stood up from my chair and moved to Mom’s lap. I held her, and she held me, until the fog lifted.

My father dismissed that day as a child’s overactive imagination. My aunt insisted I get grievance counseling, which I never did. Eventually, I also dismissed it as imagination. Whatever it was, it helped the younger me get through the passing of my mother from cancer.

But today…today feels so much like that day thirty-five years ago. I find myself in the field, distant my back yard. The sun has barely risen. I feel a slight chill. Everything is the same, except this morning is crisp and clear. There is no fog in sight.   I don’t know why, but every inch of me feels the same as I did that day. Stranger yet, I’m not sure why I am in the field or how I got here. I feel a soft touch on my cheek that leaves a tickle. “It’s okay, Dear, I’m here.” I look toward the touch, and I see her. My mom, who is just as beautiful as she was thirty-five years ago when she died, is standing next to me.

“Mom?”

She smiles and moves her hand from my cheek to my hand. “It’s over,” she says. “It’s finally over.”

My memories of the past six months come back to me. Pancreatic cancer. The pain. Secretly wishing I would die quicker to end the misery, and to end the burden I was on everyone. Wishing I would survive to be there for Declan. Knowing survival was not an option. Feeling angry. Feeling sad. Feeling… beaten. I remember leaving my body. Lingering. I lingered here for…

“Two months, sweetheart,” Mom answers my thought. “Once you pass, your spirit stays until the weather is just right for fog. It’s the fog that lifts us to Heaven.”

“But I don’t see any fog.”

You are the fog,” she says with a knowing smile.

“But fog is just moisture accumulation.”

“Partially. When fog forms, any lingering spirits on earth are gathered into it, and then raised to Heaven once it dissipates.” She nods her head to my left. I turn to see my six-year-old son who is, like I was when my mom died, crying and lost. “It also acts as a window,” she says, “allowing the living to see us if we choose. He is very handsome, dear.”

“Declan, his name is Declan,” I say, excited to finally share my son with my mom.

“It’s time to say goodbye, Amanda,” she says as she looks from me to my son.

I reach out and touch him. “It’s okay, Baby,” I say. “I’m here.” I think about our mornings that we played with his train track, and it appears. I guide him to his favorite toy as we play and say our goodbyes. He nestles into my lap and we sit on the earth, holding each other, until I begin to feel lighter.   Thinner.  And I leave this world behind, following my mother to a place called Heaven.
~~~
Written by Sheryl Marasi
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The photograph (above) that inspired this story is by Jessica Musser Photography.

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Chicky, horror, thriller

Murder and Flowers-flash fiction-thriller

I am quite exhausted of hearing the fact that men are serial killers. I mean, how often do we hear of a woman serial killer? Sure it has taken place in the past; however, names of serial killers that come to mind are Jack the Ripper — I love him, by the way — and Jeffrey Dahmer, the man who never let his murders go to waste. Ate them up, yummy. But, never does a woman’s name come to mind when one thinks of serial killers. There is, of course a reason for that. See, the old saying holds true. “Anything a man can do…a woman can do better.” Of course there are plenty of women serial killers out there! We just don’t get caught!

“My dear, I am so pleased you could make it to my home this afternoon. How did you find your way?” I ask the seventeen-year-old darling who sits uncomfortably upright in my kitchen chair. Her long blond hair is thick and reminds me of the yarn-haired dolls I mutilated as a child.

“Do you mean did I find my way here okay?” She adjusts herself in the chair. “Sorry, I didn’t quite understand the question.”

I lean forward in my chair, placing my face within two feet of hers. I breathe her in, filling my lungs to capacity. Flowers. She smells like fresh cut wild flowers, and my body begins to tingle with excitement. But I must control myself. “Yes, Dear, how did you find your way?”

“It was okay. I didn’t use GPS, if that’s what you mean. I did as you requested and picked up a map from the store and found my way here from that.” She smiles. “That’s the first time I’ve ever used a map. I won’t have any problems driving your child around while you are at work.”

“Oh good, good. And did you also leave your phone at home so you would not be tempted to use that GPS?”

“Yes, I did.”

“And where does your family believe you are right now?”

“At,” she pauses, her eyes slightly squint and her head tilts a little to the side, “a…a job interview.”

“Splendid, Dear, splendid, as right you are!”

She looks around the room a little more closely now. She even leans to her left to get a view of the family room. It, as is the kitchen, is spotless and filled with expensive furniture and beautiful, breakable artifacts. Dare I say, she looks a little…uneasy. Delicious.

“Where…” she starts. “Is the child I will be a nanny to here? I don’t… I don’t see any toys.”

My heart is beginning to race, and I feel slightly lightheaded from the rush that is beginning to flow through my body. Her pupils are growing larger, and her skin… Is it a shade lighter? Yes. “Oh, I keep everything in Jacob’s room. He’s sleeping in his crib right now. Through those doors.” I point to the double-entry door behind her. “Go see him, but shhhh, try not to wake him,” I say with my head tilting down in admiration of my “baby Jacob”. She looks uneasy, but stands and does as she is told. I follow with soft footsteps behind her.

The doors are silent as she opens them. A blue, boat-themed room is displayed before her. And in the middle, there is a white crib with a bundle of joy inside. Joy is in the heart of the beholder, after all.

An odor fills the room that was not there earlier. It is an odor that I am quite familiar with, yet not at all fond of. I am certain she must smell it too. She, however, will not be familiar with what the smell is. And, of course, she will be her most polite and not even mention it. Wonderful girl.

She looks back at me before approaching “Jacob” as if to get final consent to approach my love.

“Yes, Dear, go on. Go on!”

She quietly places her face over the crib, looking at the bundle below her. She can’t see his face, of course. Well, I know why she cannot see the face. There simply is not one. But she does not know that yet.

“I…I don’t see him. Is he in the blanket? I’m afraid he may be suffocating. I can’t see his face.”

“Oh, Dear, he is fine.” I give a slight chuckle. “But, please, feel better and remove the blanket from his face.”

“Oh no. If you think this is okay, I’m sure it is.”

“You had better move the blanket…just in case. I wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to little Jacob.”

She reaches into the crib and begins to tug at the wrapped bundle of blue and white striped cloth. And that is my cue to pull the blade from under the rocking chair cushion. I stand closely behind her. She is God awfully slow. She is a careful one, isn’t she? Then she stops. She does not move. I listen. I lean in closer and listen. She does not breathe. Yes, she sees what is in the cotton cover. The blood-stained, cotton cover. And there. There it is. Oh yes! Her scream. It makes me feel… And there it is again. Another scream. …so alive. I feel so alive. She turns and tries to run, but how can she with my knife in her chest? She tries to gasp, but she can’t breathe at the moment.  Her eyes fill with fear. Tantalizing. I soak that in before pulling the blade from her. Hunched and trying to hold her blood in, she moves toward the door. I skewer her back, the knife sliding easily between her ribs, but grazing the bone just enough to feel the dull grind as I pull it back out. She screams.  There, now she is breathing again.  Good for her!  She continues to hobble to the door. And I quickly slice through her soft flesh, anywhere–doesn’t really matter where–until she falls to the ground. Blood is everywhere, as though an artist has splash-painted red acrylic into a pattern only he understands. She has fallen and is nothing but a whimpering pile of blood-drenched flesh. She watches as I move toward her, her body no longer allowing her to do much else than stare up at me. I slice her wrist and watch the blood flow.

I don’t know if they are coherent at this point. Certainly in shock. But coherent? I’m not so sure, but I talk to her anyway.

“Got ya. Didn’t I? Everyone feels so safe when interacting with a woman. There is never a second thought about safety. Ever. You didn’t think about safety, did you? You silly, silly girl. You even left your phone behind. Something I’m quite certain you would not have done had I been a man. No one will ever trace you here now.” I pause. “How did you like the bundle in the crib, by the way?” I walk over and grab the decaying arm from the crib. “Do you recognize it? This arm?” Not that I expect her to answer. She just stares as I waive it “Hello” in front of her face. “It is your mother’s arm. Her interview was earlier this morning.” Her eyes glaze over. She is gone. Exquisite. That moment of departure is what I live for. I wonder if her mummy just pulled her to heaven. Who knows.

I guess the sexist fact that men have the stigma of being serial killers is a good thing. People trust me because I am a woman. Therefore, I am permitted do much more killing than they ever could. And because I am a woman, and so very clever, I will never get caught.
~~~
Written by Sheryl Marasi
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Original photo by Josealbafotos

horror, thriller

Karmic Hell – flash fiction-horror

What if I told you I know what hell is. What if I told you I was in hell right now.  Would you even listen? Probably not. You don’t even notice me sitting here, chained here, watching you.   The others? They’re watching you too. Now, I don’t know if they know what I know. I don’t even know if they think. Had you asked me twenty years ago, I would have said hell no, they don’t think. They’re too stupid. Ask me now though.

I don’t know how long I have been chained in this so-called house. More like a box…more like a dog house. Half my body in, half my body out. But I do know how long you plan to keep me here. Four months. If I’m lucky, you’ll be impatient like the last person and let me out after three. I could only be so lucky.

Yes, sir! I will bow my head, and step back as you fill my food. I know. I know. One wrong move and you’ll slam my head with that metal bucket you hold. And that blow to my skull will be painful. I’ve felt it before.   So many times before. Even when I was sure to not move, to not even breathe when that bucket was near me, it would still come down and hit me with a loud crack, followed by the soundwaves of that metal traveling through my skull just because the holder was having a bad day. Because it was too hot out that day. Or because the smell of our shit and piss was extra strong on that day. I don’t know if today is one of those days, I don’t smell our excrement anymore. So I will sit here, quiet, while you pour that slop in front of my vulnerable, tender face. And I will pray to the God that has turned his back on me to please take pity on my soul. For I am truly sorry for all I have done in the past. Please God, forgive me.

I know you. I was you. I was powerful once too. Shit, to hold the power of who lives and who dies in your own two hands? That’s some amazing feeling right there. I know, you pretend like it’s just a job. You do it for the money, right? It has nothing to do with the feeling you get when you raise that bucket above our heads and watch with laughter in your eyes as we cower to you, anticipating the pain to come. Sometimes you pull back though.   You spare us the pain, but only the pain. You don’t spare our dignity that you took in that moment. Always making sure we know who is boss.   Always making sure we know we are less than. Because that makes you more than. I know. I was you.

I want to die. And I want to stay dead. I did die. I had a heart attack at fifty-five. Twenty years ago. They said my arteries were clogged. I had a wonderful life, so I thought. My husband and I owned the largest dairy farm our side of the state. Business was good. We had the best machinery money could buy to milk those ladies. We also had the best insemination practices…they took almost every time. That meant extra money from the veal industry. Life was good. Money was good.

Apparently I overlooked number six in the Ten Commandments though: Thou shalt not kill. I’m sure it didn’t help any that we also slaughtered those babies and their expired moms on the Sabbath day as well. I should have known better.

The last thing I remember from that life was hearing my daughter crying for me to hang on. Then it went black. I felt nothing for a minute. Then I saw a light. It was beautiful and I wanted nothing more than to go to it. As I entered into it, I felt myself dangle down, cold and wet. I tried to see, but everything was a blur. Then my body hit something hard. I felt a gentle touch. It was the most welcoming feeling in the world. I wondered if it was an angle. It gently caressed my body everywhere. And once it stroked my face, I could smell the earth. It smelled dirty and green and wonderful. And then I could see clearly. The blur was removed as something rough and wet dragged across my eyes. I could see sky. Beautiful blue sky with the occasional white puff strategically placed. I struggled to stand, and as I did so, I turned my head to see who this beautiful angel was. To my disbelief it was a cow. Surprisingly I wasn’t disturbed, or disgusted. I loved her. It was an automatic love. And instantly I regretted the enslavement that I did for years with animals like this beautiful cow who stood before me, continuing to brush me with her tongue. I think she loved me too.

I heard footsteps pushing through the grass. And before I could turn to see who was coming, my body was lifted and flung into a rusted wheel barrow as though I was nothing more than a heavy bag of manure. My thin, soft bones felt as though they were hit with baseball bats. I could see the anguish in the cow’s eyes as she began to yell for me and follow this man as he threw me into a truck. I yelled, I cried. But I knew no one would listen. Sadly, I was familiar with what was happening and I knew what would come next.   I knew because I was that farmer once. And as terrified as I was for myself, I felt so much worse for the cow, my new mother. Her heart would break and she would literally call for me for days. Maybe even weeks. And no one would listen.

I was tied to a chain and left in a tiny dog-style house for four long months. Veal is tender because when it’s alive, it’s not permitted to move…ever. That’s trick of the trade number one. I was fed a meal that was deficient in many nutrients. I would also be plagued with extreme stomach upset and diarrhea every day because of that diet. But because of that diet, I would taste better. That’s trick of the trade number two. I would occasionally be beat for no reason. Thankfully I would only have to endure this cruelty for four months. Final trick of the trade: kill them young, while the meat is still as tender as butter.

I could not wait for that reincarnated life to be over.

But after four months, after I was pushed into a truck with ten other four-month old calves and driven to the slaughter house. After we all stood in line watching the one in front of us get their throat slit. After receiving a blunt hit to my own head. After having my own throat slit and then my skin pulled and sliced from me before I bled out…before I was even dead. After all that, I traveled to another light. I thought, Thank you God, as I traveled to a new light. That light was beautiful and I felt peace. Finally, I felt peace. It was finally over. Then I felt cold and wet before hitting the ground. I felt a loving caress and found myself in love with another beautiful cow only to endure the whole four month hellish process again. Hell-ish. There is no “ish” about this. It took me five reincarnations into this same situation before I realized this was hell. This is hell. For twenty years I have endured the life of a baby calve, held against my will and slaughtered over and over and over again.

So you, with that bucket in your hand and power raging from your eyes, you will soon be here too. Hell is real and it is more karmic than you could ever imagine.
~~~
Written by Sheryl Marasi
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Photo by Fantareis