I’ve had a lot going on lately and haven’t written much fiction (though I’m writing A Lot of nonfiction) but I’ve missed posting for Friday Flash so I thought I’d allow this scene [from that novel I was writing a while ago] out of hiding. I haven’t edited at all so I appreciate kind, constructive critique.
I hope you enjoy The Message, rated PG, according to my standards.
The Message, by Deanna Schrayer
I don’t know why I was dreading this day so much. It should be one of the happiest days of my life, but I had this sinking feeling in my gut that something was wrong. But what? What could possibly be wrong about watching your only daughter try on wedding gowns?
I turned the temperature of the water up and let it pound the top of my head until it stung, hoping to wash away these horrid thoughts. Maybe it was just residuals of the nightmare I had last night. I needed to start the day over. When I couldn’t stand the heat any longer, I turned the water off and grabbed my towel as I stepped out of the shower. The room was freezing. It warmed as I dried off and slipped my robe on, but when I walked to the vanity a sudden chill ran over me. I reached down and turned on the wall heater, which shocked me like it does when there’s a drought and everything you touch causes static electricity.
I looked in the mirror and was struck numb. I felt the scream rising like a corpse from the grave, but nothing came out; my breath caught in my throat and stuck there. In the steam on the mirror was the letters “EL DI”. Goose bumps shot up as if I’d developed a sudden allergy to air.
I shook my head to clear it. This had to be some optical illusion. I hadn’t slept well last night, I was just tired. Yes, that’s it, I was seeing things. But as I stepped closer to wipe the mirror with my towel another letter began to form. I watched, unable to move, as the curve of an “e” slithered through the mist, deliberately scrawled right after the “i”. I stood stone still, as “EL DIe” was scratched on the mirror.
When I found the strength to move, a surge of anger snaked its way from my gut to my head, giving me superhuman strength. I screamed as I wiped the ugly words away, “God damn it Lucy!” I couldn’t see her, but I knew she was there. I smelled the Opium, I felt her.
I jerked the cabinet door open and grabbed the Windex, and paper towels, then frantically washed away every speck of evidence on that mirror, yelling at my sister as if she really was beside me. “What the hell do you think you’re doing? Why in God’s name do you want to scare me like this?”
My tirade continued as I worked to release the anger, spraying every crack on the walls, scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing. “What do you want? Why are you doing this to me?” As I jerked around to clean the tub my foot got caught in the rug and I went sprawling across the floor, twisting my ankle as my knee slammed the stone tiles. “Ow! Shit!” I didn’t move, but something, someone, grabbed hold of my ankle and pulled it out of the rug, causing me to crawl away with gusto.
I sat on the floor, trembling, but otherwise afraid to move, unable to move, but then my arms began flailing every which way, reaching out to strike my sister. They connected with nothing but thin air, but I knew she was there. And I hoped I had punched her, hard.
After a few minutes I was exhausted and shaking so hard I thought I might break in two. My ankle was throbbing and I felt like I was coming up from under anesthesia. Lucy was gone, I couldn’t feel her anymore. I wrapped my arms around my shoulders and was surprised to find I was bawling.
I heard El coming through the bedroom, her voice as cheery as I’d ever heard it. “Mom, you ready to go?”
Slowly I picked myself up off the floor and turned the water on to drown out the sounds of me clearing my throat.
“Mom?” Elana called again.
“I’ll be right out honey,” I said, hoping I sounded excited.
I didn’t know why my sister was haunting me with these chilling threats. She’d ruined enough of my life when she was alive and I was not about to let her ruin any more of it, now that she was dead. But I didn’t feel the conviction as strongly as I should have. I should’ve been paying more attention.