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.
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Written by Sheryl Marasi
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The photograph (above) that inspired this story is by Jessica Musser Photography.

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horror, thriller

Hungry – flash fiction-horror

Daniel was five that year. He was finally old enough to appreciate the festival that consumed Woodhaven for four days every summer for the past seven years. And as every summer before, the moment Daniel walked into the park with his parents, he ran past all of the stands of flowing dresses, the tables of sunglasses for sale: Buy 1, Get 1, past the spinning rides and past the overwhelming smells of grease from funnel cakes and pizza stands. He would run past everything, directly to the funhouse. And his mom, like every summer before, had a slight tinge of uneasiness.

This year he was old enough to run there by himself while his mom and dad stopped at the ticket booth to buy Daniel’s wristband. A wristband that, for Daniel, just appeared…no money involved…no asking involved…it just was.

His parents watched him run there, Dad keeping his eyes on him the entire way while Mom purchased the bands.

“Do you want one, Honey?” she asked.

“You know I can’t handle those rides, Sarah,” he said.

“I know, just thought maybe you’d go into the funhouse with him this year.”

You can. You go on all the other rides with him.”

Her eyes grew large. “Absolutely not!” She was terrified of funhouses. When she was a child, she got lost in one and swore that she saw a man with bulging, bloody eyes watching her try to find her way out. Of course, now as an adult, she knew that was ridiculous, but it was still terrifying none the less.

Both their hearts warmed to watch Daniel’s excitement as he ran into the funhouse. Every once in a while his cute little body would follow the trail out onto the deck to play little games that were attached to the wall. Each time he came out, he was sure to waive to them.

They had only been there for fifteen minutes and they were both beginning to sweat. Sarah pulled her hair away from her neck while Tom pulled his shirt back and forth from his chest. While Sarah continued to watch for Daniel to reach the exit of the funhouse, Tom was taking note of the number of children that had gone in after Daniel and have already exited.

“You should go in there and check on him,” he said to Sarah who was terrified at the thought, but knew it had to be done.

She went in through the exit which was a giant rolling bin that reminded her of a mouse wheel and held her breath as she entered the inside of the funhouse. To her relief, Daniel was right there, in front of the body mirrors. As she walked up, she could see him having a conversation with himself in the mirror.

“Yeah, sometimes I get hungry too.” There was a pause as she watched him continue to stare into the mirror. “Ew!” Then he laughed. “I don’t eat people! I eat things like hot dogs. You’re funny!” Her heart started pumping. Who was he talking to? She tried to reassure herself by remembering that kids talk to themselves often. Daniel talks to himself often. “Why are your eyes so big? Is that blood on your face?” She pushed through the immediate numbing of her body and charged over to Daniel, grabbing him and rushing him out of the funhouse. Daniel started screaming, he obviously wasn’t ready to leave yet.
It took a while, but Tom had finally calmed Sarah down, convincing her that Daniel had a pretty good imagination.

Their night ended once the KISS cover band took stage. It was time to get Daniel home and time to let the adults of Woodhaven have some fun.

***

The next day, Daniel pleaded to go back and asked if his neighbor Laura could come as well. This was odd as Laura was only three-years-old and Daniel never wanted to play with her. In fact, every time she would wander over to the house when he was playing with his friends, they would flatly tell her to go away because they didn’t like her. Sarah thought this would be a great opportunity for Daniel to finely learn to like the little neighbor, so gave into his begging. Tom was at work for the day; it would just be the three of them.

As always, their first stop was the funhouse. Although Sarah’s body had a constant feeling of electricity going through it, a constant jolt of warning, she reminded herself of her husband’s words the day before…just his imagination.

“Keep an eye on her while you’re in there,” she told Daniel as him and Laura entered the house.

“Okay, Mom!”

Minutes accumulated to fifteen again. Everything inside Sarah was sounding on high alert. Once again she traveled through what she felt was a spinning wheel of death because on the other side…

WHY did I listen to Tom? Why did I let them go in there?
Once again, Daniel was in front of the body mirrors.

“What’s an ap-pit-eye-sir?” he asked the mirror.

Sarah glanced around the funhouse room. Laura was nowhere to be seen. Two other children laughed and ran past her. “Laura?” she yelled. “Laura?” She walked closer to Daniel who continued chatting with the mirror.

“I only eat one time,” he said. “You must really be hungry!”

“Daniel, where’s Laura?”

Daniel looked at his mom then pointed back to the mirror, continuing his conversation with it. “That’s my mom,” he said.

“Daniel, get away from the mirror! Where’s Laura?” she started reaching for Daniel.

“Mommy, he wants to talk to you.”

Her arm still extended to Daniel. “Who?” her voice was a mere squeak.

“The funny man.”

Her arm was suddenly grabbed by a hand with long fingers that reached out from inside the mirror.

“Daniel, run!”

But he didn’t, Daniel laughed while his mom was pulled into the mirror.

“He’s so hungry!”

As she was being pulled in, she could hear Daniel saying how the funny man wanted to meet Daddy later that night and he couldn’t wait to come back! “Daniel, No!” she yelled.

Her yells turned to screams as she was sucked further into the mirror.  Her screams were soon silenced as her flesh was devoured piece by piece until there was nothing left.

“Okay,” Daniel said to the mirror. “I can come back with someone the next two days. Sometimes I get hungry too.”

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Written by Sheryl Marasi (pen name)

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thriller

The Seeing – flash fiction-thriller

Mom used to see a psychic when I was young. Dad thought she was nuts. To tell the truth, so did I, yet here I am, twenty-three years later, knocking on her door. I’m covered in day-old sweat. Scratches cover most areas of my skin that are showing; bruises continue to form on most of the areas of my body that are not showing. The lump on my forehead, I’m confident, will be noticed by her. She will ask, and I will avoid giving her the answer. I am here to ask her questions, not the other way around. I never considered, though, that she may know the answer as soon as she sees me. If she is truly psychic, she will know…everything. I should leave, but before I can turn to walk away, she is at the door.

“Danny,” she says with a smile. She is a short woman, no taller than five feet. Thin, and dressed in layers of decorated cloth from head to ankle. On her head, strands of gray hairs are pushing their way out from under the drapes. The piercing in her nose does not surprise me. I should have known Mom would only go to a true Gypsy. “Your mother spoke quite well of you, dear. Come in, have a seat.”

As I entered her small home, she gestured ahead to a small table with a crystal ball placed perfectly in the middle. I took my seat, peering into the ball hoping to catch a glimpse.

“Let me look at you, dear.” She grabs my hand and my heart begins to race. Is she going to know? Can she read my mind? What exactly do psychics know? “Oh yes, you look just like her. I’m so sorry she’s gone.”

“Thank you,” I respond without making eye contact. I should just leave right now.

“Cards, crystal ball, or palm reading? Which do you prefer, Dear?”

My hands are covered in sweat. Definitely not a palm reading. “Cards, I guess.”

“Great choice,” her eye gets lost in her wrinkles as she winks at me. She reaches behind the chair she is sitting in and pulls out a black cloth, which she opens to reveal Tarot cards. After a slight shuffle, I cut the deck and then she deals. She turns the cards over slowly as if not to give away any secrets before she is ready. She then explains to me that the cards are merely a tool she uses to pull messages from the spirits that come to her in visions.

Card one. “You are in danger.”

Card two. “Someone is seeking justice against you.”

She stops before turning card three. She places the cards on the table, along with both of her hands and slowly looks up at me. Oh God, she knows. “Why are you here, dear?” she asks.

“I…I’m in trouble,” I say.

She nods her head. “And?”

I look at her mouth and then her ear as I speak, “and I’m hoping you may see a way that I can get out of it.” My gaze finally finds safety and rests on the cards. I know the minute I show her my eyes, my soul, she will know.

There is silence. Silence, and I feel her unwavering gaze peering at my soul that refuses to peer back. I start to back my chair up in an effort to leave.

“Stay,” she says firmly. “I will look.” She hovers her hands over the clear ball and begins to hum. Her hum falls silent. “Who is Brian? Is that your brother?”

I sit quietly. I want to answer. I was asked a question and the correct thing to do is answer, but I don’t. If I do, she will know.

“Yes, I see him. Your brother did this to you,” she says as her eyes take in my scratches and bumps. My eyes divert back to the ground. “Why would your…” I look up at her as she looks back to the globe. I want to push it off the table. I lift my hand to slide it off but see her head slowly rising up. The stare that was once on the globe is now peering down at me as she stands up from her chair. I am now looking directly into her eyes, if only out of pure fear of what is going to come out of her mouth next. “How could you?” she growls in a deep whisper.

I jump up from my chair and stumble towards the door that slams shut before I get to it. There is no one at the door that could have shut it. Only me and the gypsy are in the room. I turn to look back at her to see her eyes have turned gray. Her head is tilted back so she can look down her nose at me even though I am two feet taller. Her eyes tell me she knows everything, has seen everything. “Your mother was a wonderful woman. I watched you kill her,” she continued to growl. I turn back to the door and try to get out, but the nob won’t turn. “I will set you free…to your death. Take your fortune with you,” she says while holding out a piece of paper. “Take it!” she demands.

I grab the paper and am then able to open the door. I run from the house to the street that is unusually vacant for a weekend at noon. I run a few houses down before looking back at hers. She is nowhere to be seen. I continue to walk down the middle of the street while opening the paper she handed me. There are two words: Look up. I look up and see nothing, but I do hear a noise to my left. As I start to look left, I see a car in my peripheral vision coming fast at me. There is no pain. Only blackness and then nothing.

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Written by Sheryl Marasi (pen name)

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photo by 422694