The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
“I’ll be back by midnight. I promise,” Grandpa whispered to me.
Since Grandpa had always kept his promises, I believed him. He’d been teaching me how to tell time on his old wind-up clock, and I remember how the long hand needed to be at the number twelve. The short one did, too.
Midnight had come and passed several times and still no Grandpa. At first, after Gramma tucked me in, tears still in her eyes as she kissed my cheeks and pulled the covers up, I’d sleep for a bit before clambering out of bed as soon as I heard her snoring. It was hard to stay awake while watching the clock’s hands move slowly into position. Sometimes, I wondered if I wound the knob too loose or too tight or if the clock was on its last legs, as Gramma used to say about things when they didn’t work as well. Grandpa had been on his last legs, too, until they just gave out.
In the morning, Gramma would always find me asleep at the table, my head resting on my arms. She’d wake and then tuck me back into bed, “tsk-tsking” that children needed their sleep. I’d shrug when she asked why I kept ending up there, and she chalked it off to being a sleepwalker like my daddy.
It had been Grandpa’s and my secret, too. That’s why I didn’t tell her about the promise. She wouldn’t have believed me anyway. The one time I asked her about ghosts and spirits and stuff like that, she’d said, “Mimi, the dead have better things to do than visit the living after they’ve gone.”
Now I wondered if Gramma was right after all. Grandpa was just too busy to visit. But a promise was a promise, and Grandpa had never broken one to me. Even though I sopped watching the clock at the kitchen table, I still hoped.
There was a night towards the end of summer when I startled awake. At first, I thought it was because Gramma was snoring up a storm louder than usual. When I sat up and looked around my room, there was Grandpa’s old clock on my nightstand! Had Gramma crept in and put it there?
As I reached out for the clock, someone grabbed my hand
“Grandpa? Grandpa? Are you finally here?” I whispered. Who else could it be? Neither of my parents had ever come to visit me. Then again, they’d died in an accident up at the creek not too long after I was born. The only way I knew what they looked like was because their wedding photo was on the buffet in the living room.
When I heard his voice whisper in my mind, I nearly squealed with delight. There was a finger pressed against his lips as he took form, then sat next to me on the bed. After holding me for the longest time, his lips pressed against my forehead, his white whiskers tickling my cheek, Grandpa reached for the clock.
“Your Gramma’s going to have to teach you more about telling time,” he paused for a moment, “and other things, too. Just remember to be a good girl and keep our secret. I’ll come visit again as soon as I can.”
“Okay, Grandpa. I love you.”
“I love you, too, Mimi.”
And then he was gone.
As the years went by, Grandpa came to visit now and again. After Gramma passed, he brought her along. I remember giving her one of my “I told you so” looks, and all she did was laugh.
When I was on my own last legs, they were there. My parents, too. I wasn’t sure which one of my children or grandchildren I’d visit first. But visit them I did.
Fiction © Copyright Terrie Leigh Relf
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More from author Terrie Leigh Relf:
For thousands of Earth years, the Transgalactic Consortium has had a quiet interest in this planet and its inhabitants, the Haurans. While the Sisterhood of the Blood Moon works together with the Consortium and Haurans to maintain balance in the universe, the Blood Moon is fast approaching. The power of this moon reveals untold secrets . . . including a sacred covenant with the Mora Spiders. There is an ancient pact that needs to be honored—but at what cost and for whose purpose? The world may come to an end. But will there be a chance for a new beginning?
Issue #40 of The Sirens Call – As Summer Leaves, Autumn Falls
Stories of disaster influenced by horrific intent.
Whether it be Mother Nature’s wrath or a devilish ghoul, a sprite most wicked or a stumbling fool, tell us a tale of disaster that happens as summer ends and autumn begins.
We are looking for stories, flash fiction and poetry of horrific happenings that take place in the summer months that lead into fall. As long as the piece is primarily horror/dark fiction, we’d love to see it!
Your piece can be creepy, sullen, emotive, freaky, elegant, bizarre, have a dark-humor edge to it, or simply be flat out scary as hell!
REPRINTS ARE WELCOME
Submission Deadline: August 10, 2018
Circulation: Approximately 35,000
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All short story, flash, and poem submissions MUST be submitted to: Submissions@SirensCallPublications.com for consideration.
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