Sheila Haynes woke that morning to a feeling of dread in the pit of her stomach, the place where butterflies and insecurities wander. She hadn’t drunk the night before, hadn’t eaten anything that might have given her a suspect stomach.
She walked to the bathroom on high alert, tried to recollect her dreams as she showered -- hoping for a memory of something that could have put her in such a state of anxiety. It didn’t occur to her until later, after she’d dried, dressed and prepared for breakfast, that the root of her unease was her daughter, Siobhan.
She usually woke to the sound of the fifteen year olds music, or the chatter of her teenage prattle on her phone as she kept her friends up to date on how little each of them were doing. The bass of the music or the sound of her voice penetrated through the two-bedroom mobile home like rain on a tin roof. Sheila was often forced to listen to the latest trending tune or to her daughter’s newest celebrity crush. That morning she hadn’t heard a whimper.
She made herself some toast, trying to enjoy a breakfast in silence but feeling incredibly uneasy about it. Her daughter was a pain, most teenagers were, but she loved her. She was a loving child, showing more compassion, empathy and respect than many girls her age. Yes, they had their rows and yes they had their fall outs, but they loved each other. They’d been each other’s rock ever since her father, the bastard with the unfaithful eyes and wandering penis, walked out six years ago.
She made Siobhan a slice of toast and a cup of tea, took it to her bedroom with a smile on her face.
Siobhan wasn’t there and their home was small, there was nowhere else for her to be.
The bedsheets were ruffled, disturbed, but it wouldn’t be the first time she hadn’t made her bed. Her clothes from the previous day were still strewn across the floor.
She put the plate and the cup down, held a hand to her uneasy stomach. She checked for Siobhan’s mobile phone, she would never leave home without it -- she would feel like she’d lost an arm if she didn’t have it stuffed in her back pocket or clasped firmly in her hand.
The phone was under the bed, dropped to the floor and kicked underneath. Sheila took it out, checked the messages for a clue, a sign. There was nothing of note.
She began to feel worried. Her heart was thumped in her chest, she could feel her pulse in her neck as her blood threatened to leave her body. She mumbled a small prayer, made the sign of the rosary and left the house, deciding to quiz the neighbours.
She stopped on the doorstep, her heart caught in her throat.
Siobhan was on the ground, twisted like a discarded doll at the foot of the steps. Sheila made a noise, a half-scream, half-shout. She toppled forward, her legs giving way. She bounced and rolled down the three metal stairs that led to her door, stopped on the dewy grass beneath, managed to remain upright on wobbly legs.
Neighbours heard the noise and began to filter out from the surrounding caravans, swarming out of the densely populated park where everyone’s garden was everyone else's. They stopped when they saw the body, some shuffled forward, others moved back. Some beckoned people to the scene; others wanted, tried and failed to make it to Sheila to comfort her.
Sheila screamed until her throat ripped raw; until her lungs expelled their last, exhausted breath; until the blood of those watching ran cold. The noise would be her last, torn by grief she would never utter another word, wouldn’t be able to summon the emotion, the enthusiasm, to offer anything more for anyone else. Her screams would live on in the nightmares of those that had heard.
She dropped to her knees. The pale flesh on her pointed kneecaps dug into the soft mud, the sucking sound of the impact audible in the aftermath of the faded torment. She reached for her daughter’s head, held it in the crook of her arm like she had done so many times before.
She was cold, colder than she’d ever been. Her face was hers -- the same face that had grinned many a cheeky grin; smiled many loving smiles and kept her proud mother happy -- but it was colder, whiter, emptier. A small trickle of blood seeped out of her blue lips; Sheila wiped it away with a thumb, kissed her cold lips and then dragged her head close, burying her silent sobs into the withering, blood-stained locks.
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Genre – Horror
Rating – PG13
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