The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Lori R. Lopez
“One. Two. Three. Jump!
Why didn’t you jump? You’re supposed to
spring off!” The voice was angry,
the way her sister spoke when Marjorie crept into
her room and drew with markers all over the walls.
Boy was Ruthie mad — like The Gubbagule,
Margie’s new friend. Once,
after Ruthie wouldn’t play with her,
she cut up a school report into paper animals.
And she didn’t get in trouble; her Big Sister did,
for yelling, making her cry!
“Can’t you count? Or do you have creek mud
for brains?” The words grated, screechy and mean,
right behind her. The swing jerked to a stop.
Huddled on the seat, Margie looked at the shadow
of a little girl, who didn’t enjoy this game
any more than she did. What if they both leaped
before reaching the edge and ran away?
A nasty voice whispered in an ear:
“I’m going to push . . .
and this time, you better jump!”
But Marjorie didn’t. She was making the ogre
very cross. He snarled and clamped the hollows of
her shoulders. Eyes scrunched, she pictured
a friendlier troll. Gubba didn’t have
colorful hair sticking up, a round bellybutton.
He was yellow and wrinkly,
stout as a barrel, with warts and stiff black hairs.
The teeth jutting from lips were too sharp
when he smiled, and it wasn’t a nice smile.
She was glad she couldn’t see his face now because
he sounded mad. Come to think of it,
Ruthie was never this mad!
“I’m sorry. I was scared,” the child murmured.
He seemed to like the excuse.
“Here ya go. And remember to not hang on!”
A rude shove by knobby mitts.
The pushing grew harder, rougher. “Isn’t this fun?”
No! Marjorie’s back and shoulders felt bruised.
She wanted to get off, yet knew if she jumped,
he expected her to fly! She didn’t know how.
Her mommy and daddy would be upset.
They told her never to go near the edge of
the canyon. It wasn’t her fault Gubba dragged
this swing-set from somebody’s yard to play
One. Two. Three.
What choice did she have?
The Gubbagule’s laugh, a bizarre cackle,
stayed in her ears while she catapulted forth,
dislodged by troll hands.
“Don’t jump!” Margie wailed to the other kid.
Of course, her shadow didn’t listen. They sailed
together over the brink. Maybe she did fly,
just for one moment . . .
Fiction © Copyright Lori R. Lopez
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from Lori R. Lopez:
There are those individuals we know little about who skulk and creep delightfully across page or screen. In reality, we are taught to avoid them. Sometimes, however, they may surprise us. The Dark Mister Snark is such a figure. Beware!
“Candidly lurking in the shadiest of places, a fellow whose mask wore the gruesomest faces, the dark Mister Snark might be tiptoeing after — shunning the sun and the mirthfullest laughter, spying and shying from your backward stares, following to catch you in complete unawares!”
Narrated by witty rhymes that spin the tangled threads of solitude and acceptance, this book tells the tale of a mysterious man prone to stalking through shadows. Is he misunderstood or mad? A villain or an anti-hero?
His secrets will be revealed in humorous and touching verse, with Halloween and Edgar Allan Poe among the themes. You will not look at corn or crows the same. And once read, you could find Mister Snark watching you from every dark place! Available in E-book format. Look for an illustrated print edition featuring peculiar artwork by the author, Lori R. Lopez.
THE DARK MISTER SNARK won Second Place for Poetry in the 2016 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards.