The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Sonora Taylor
Mrs. Sassafras was Lindsay’s favorite doll. Lindsay spotted Mrs. Sassafras at the church rummage sale, her porcelain cheeks dull and her linen dress yellowed. But it was her eyes that drew Lindsay in. Their irises were gone, perhaps faded with time. Wherever they’d gone, Lindsay didn’t care. She wanted the doll, and once her mother bought it, it became her favorite.
Lindsay liked that Mrs. Sassafras couldn’t look at her. Her mother often looked at her with a sigh, her teachers with frustration as she answered questions wrong, her classmates with mocking and laughter as they asked why she was so quiet. Her cousin Bethany, who was her age and also in her class, was the worst. She always picked on her, both at home and at school. She pretended she wasn’t Lindsay’s cousin when she was around her friends, but it was their being related that gave Bethany so much more to tease her about.
The teasing and laughter were too much to bear, but Mrs. Sassafras made it better. Lindsay would hug her close when things got bad, when Lindsay’s sadness was overcome with darkness that clouded her mind. Mrs. Sassafras didn’t care if Lindsay emanated darkness. Mrs. Sassafras couldn’t see her.
Bethany saw her every Sunday, when Aunt Noelle and Uncle Howard would all come over for dinner. Bethany would be sent upstairs to play with Lindsay, and Bethany would spend that time taking her toys, bragging about how many more friends she had or how her grades were better, or making fun of whatever Lindsay was wearing that day.
One Sunday, her teasing went to Mrs. Sassafras. “What an ugly doll,” Bethany said with a sneer as she picked her up.
“Put her down,” Lindsay said as she sped towards Bethany. She wouldn’t let Bethany ruin Mrs. Sassafras.
“Of course you’d love a doll as ugly as you are.”
“Give her to me!”
Bethany threw Mrs. Sassafras on the ground. Her face cracked and her arm broke off. The arm lay on the floor, its end in jagged shards. Lindsay dropped to her knees and picked up the arm, blinking back tears.
“You’re crying over an ugly doll?” Bethany laughed. It was the ugliest sound Lindsay had ever heard. She wanted it to end. She knew how to end it.
Lindsay stood up and smacked Bethany across the face with the arm. Bethany fell, her eyes wide in both shock and pain. Lindsay felt ignited by how good Bethany’s fear made her feel. She struck Bethany again, then again. Bethany’s cheek began to bleed, and her cries grew less with every blow. Lindsay dealt her one final, deep blow to the neck. Blood trickled from Bethany’s neck, and she lay still.
Lindsay dropped the arm and picked up Mrs. Sassafras. Blood smattered her cracked cheeks, and she stared at her with hollow eyes. For the first time, Lindsay thought she saw something swimming in their depths. She held Mrs. Sassafras’ cheek. The hollow stared back at her. Lindsay smiled at its emptiness. She closed her eyes and brought Mrs. Sassafras’ cheek to hers, whispering, “I love you.”
Fiction © Copyright Sonora Taylor
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Sonora Taylor:
Should we or shouldn’t we? It’s a question many ask themselves each day. Should we or shouldn’t we wither in a wooded paradise instead of a broken city? Leave our home when the news warns us of what’s outside? Join in a circle of nighttime delights? Be with someone who awakens our sins?
“Wither and Other Stories” tells four tales of the choice to partake. In the end, the choice may not need to be made. For when we ask ourselves, “Should we or shouldn’t we,” the answer is always yes.