Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge Week Two.
I picked Skye’s Part One because it was a fun read.
Here’s Part One Link Below:
And here’s Part Two:
I shook the envelope, letting it waft in the stale air like a flimsy towel. Empty. I blew out a nervous breath. Bourbon reeked in front of my face and I had the mind to take another swig, but my stomach lurched with a burning that bubbled up to my throat.
Looking at the floor of my living room, I sat down crossed-legged, my face perplexed at the items scattered on the carpet, these things that held some unknown sliver of my origin that could probably shatter everything I knew to be true, or at least go against the truism I knew to be my father all those years growing up.
The dark metal of the coin protruded up like a button on the hardwood, beckoning me to pick it up despite its lackluster under the lamplight, but I looked past the strange piece and reached for the yellowed back of what looked like an old photo, one of many strange things that fell out of the envelope.
I gasped and dropped the aged picture from my trembling hand. I then left my mind for a moment, seeing the afterimage of the man’s face that had leered back at me from the photo. It wasn’t the chunks of red that dangled from his chin that made me temporarily slip from sanity, seeing those clumps of what could only be blood and meat spackled against his stubbled jaw, his flattened lips stretched into a tight smile that I knew covered sharpened teeth underneath.
It was his eyes that I instantly recognized. Those same eyes that glowed bright in the darkness outside my backyard the night I was taken many years ago. A man I had never spoken of to anyone. Not to my mother or brothers, and thankfully not to my dad who had been laid to rest only hours before that night.
The tarot cards. I remember how I used to play with them when my mom wasn’t around. I’d made up my own arcane rules on whatever was drawn. The Knave drawn would mean I would be rich and powerful over my brothers. The Hanged-man meant ice-cream in the near future. These had been the idling of a silly twelve-year-old girl. Even Death had no real foreboding.
The Lovers card, though. Whenever I drew it, I felt a cold unease deep inside of me. I had asked my mother about it once. She, of course, swatted the back of my head and told me to leave her cards alone. No other explanation for a twelve-year-old.
Only six years after that would I know, standing like a lone tree perched in the black night, looking up at the starless sky, vision blurred by tears.
He had taken me quick from behind as I stood ruminating over the events of my dad’s funeral earlier that day. He pulled me deep into the copse of oaks behind my backyard, the vice of his hand clamped hard over my cheeks as I tried to force a scream. My legs felt no ground as I thrashed them out to kick away.
The night ground had softened from afternoon rain, but the back of my head bounced hard nevertheless when he slammed me onto my back.
“Still yourself, child,” he said in a growling voice, his eyes pulsing dull like the color of yolk. He had grinned, showing shark teeth that reflected the weak moonlight shrouded within the dark clouds above. I remember smelling him, his rank sweetness like spoiled cabbage.
One of his iron-like fingers had slipped to where I was able to bite it, drawing blood. He laughed as I tried desperately to crunch through bone.
“Hungry are ye,” he said, pulling his hand free from my mouth. “No hungrier than I.”
I remember screaming, a long, ear-piercing howl that nearly tore my vocal cords. His hot breath had focused around my neck as I felt a hand tearing at my skirt and fishing its way up my right thigh.
I grabbed the bourbon again, meaning to drain it dry. I managed three long gulps, ignoring the vomit that wanted to come. I blew out another liquor-stenched breath and reclined onto my back, lying on the floor of my living room and staring dazedly at the ceiling, my legs bent in upside-down ‘V’s with both knees pointing up.
My right hand instinctively found the coin near me. I pulled it close to my eyes, feeling the uneven cut of its round shape.
Are you what saved my life that night? I wondered. My mom held many secrets. Both in life and now in death. I turned the coin over, thinking I had never wanted to see my mother more than I wanted to right now.
And now she’s dead. Like my dad. Only he wasn’t really my dad. Was he, Mom?
But that man. The Lover. Was he yours, Mom? The man that tried to both eat and rape me at the same time.
I closed my eyes, twiddling the coin in my finger and thumb. I reminisced an evening meal from long ago: my dad swilling his evening drink and my mother scolding my brothers to sit still at the dinner table. My dad had winked at me and smiled. He wrote in the air between us with a wavering finger. I-L-O-V-E-Y-O-U. And then he made a shape. A circle. And two lines or dashes. I never asked him what that had meant. Because he was a drunk. Just like me. Just like my mom.
I opened my eyes now. It was there on the coin, sticking out like tumors. The rough etch of a circle and two dots within, all on the face of the coin.
What was he trying to tell me? That this thing, this monster was my true father? Or something worse.
And those years of silence from my mom, now forever silenced with her death. How had she saved me from the Lover that night after my dad’s funeral?
My cell buzzed loud on the coffee table. I picked up after seeing Randy’s number. The youngest brother.
“Claire,” he said in a weak voice. “He’s hungry, Claire. He’s hungry.”
End of Part Two