A Message in a Sweater
A bright red box speckled by the morning drizzle greeted me when I opened my front door. A heavy heart stifled any excitement or surprise at the mysterious package; the one-year anniversary of my sister’s disappearance saw to that.
An image of the final glimpse of her bright pink sweater through the crowd throbbed in my head.
In a trance I opened the box. My heart jolted painfully.
Folded neatly inside, nestled a pink sweater. I buried my face in its softness, breathing in her perfume. Was she sending a message?
Something dropped to the ground—a neatly severed finger.
It was only after Helena was mugged by a Boris Becker lookalike below a billboard for Lufthansa Airlines that she began seeing the signs – a German couple chatting behind her in the queue; the local beer festival to ‘rival Oktoberfest’; BMWs on every road and the special offer on frankfurters in the supermarket. When a bus paused outside her office window advertising a show about Einstein, Helena decided fate was telling her to go to Germany.
When the bus smashed into her as she crossed the road outside Munich Airport, her final thought was, ‘Perhaps I read the signs wrong.’
You think I’m a fool, but look at you.
You prey on rich, lonely women. You conned Sally, my friend. She killed herself. Did you know that?
I had you tracked. I had you recorded. You said you were a spider, luring your victims.
When you were out spending my money, I told everyone you were in the shed with your beloved spiders. They are my spiders, my alibi. You didn’t know I had them, did you?
Now their venom has paralysed you.
The spiders are loose.
They see you.
They will savour each pathetic mouthful.
Who’s the fool now?
Monkey See, Monkey Do
“That’s gross!” Norman slammed his laptop shut.
“It’s only a rabbit eating a strawberry,” his friend laughed.
“But it looks like it’s eating blood.”
“That’s why it’s so funny.”
After his friend had gone, Norman studied his rabbit. She looked different. The pink eyes seemed menacing. All evening she watched him. When his mother kissed him goodnight, he asked her to cover up the cage.
Each day the rabbit looked at him. Norman stayed out of his room whenever he could.
Finally, he grabbed a raw steak from the fridge and threw it in the cage.
She ate it greedily.
A Glimmer of Hope
Jill knelt in front of Norman and he shifted his eyes slightly. He would not look directly at his mother. If she tried to hug him, he would scream like hell’s tormented souls. Even now, it was an icicle piercing her heart.
The box next to her rocked gently. Talking in a calm, quiet voice, Jill lifted out the small bundle of fur and placed the tiny rabbit on Norman’s lap. His eyes flickered but carried on their distant vigil. Jill held her breath. Her son’s hand twitched and then began stroking the rabbit. The icicle in her heart evaporated.
Grandma Loves Cooking
I love visiting Grandma. We must fly to get there and that’s fun. She has goats, chickens, and rabbits. I especially love the rabbits. One is my favourite, she is grey and white with brown starbursts. She is my bunny. I couldn’t find her today. Mummy says she has gone on her holiday and she gives Grandma a funny look.
“Norman, sit. Eat,” Grandma says in her funny accent.
I ask her what meat it is, because pork tastes like old socks. She says it’s chicken and makes a funny clucking noise. I ask her why it has four legs.
“Aww, Mum. Do we have to listen to this? I hate classical music.”
Yvonne sighed. “You should try listening to it. It’s beautiful.”
“But it’s old and boring.”
“Just because it’s old doesn’t make it bad. It won’t hurt you to listen to it for a bit.”
Ben folded his arms and pouted. “I just don’t get it! Can’t we listen to something new? Meep have just released an m-file. It’s queasy! It’s going to be the most downloaded of 2135!”
Yvonne sighed. She just didn’t understand teenagers. Defiantly, she turned up the volume and hummed along to Bowie.
Doris dropped the necklace into her granddaughter’s hand. Rebecca started to protest but Doris ignored her.
“This is yours now. I can’t take it with me. I can hear the Orcusi. It started a few days ago. First the flutes… then violins… and now the whole orchestra. The deathly music plays and I will be dead by morning. Your mother heard it too, just before her accident. It’s our family’s curse, or perhaps… it’s a blessing.”
While Rebecca remembered her mother’s final words that terrible day, she tried to ignore the haunting flute that was playing in her own head.
My Rotten Ex
She took the familiar path to the far corner of the overgrown field. Her first visit had been to quell her irrational fear that he was alive. Now it had become a monthly ritual.
Like an addict, she fumbled with the old planks covering the well. How would he look this time? The full moon reflected in the sludge at the bottom and lit up his rotting remains. She was ashamed at her fascination with his decay but this time she was also confused. His decomposing arms were no longer tied behind his back. They reached up the crumbling wall.
The Monthly Checker
The bell jingled. I didn’t need to look up; it was the first Friday of the month and the number twelve bus had rattled past only moments ago. I looked up anyway.
“Good morning, just browsing?”
The familiar man nodded shyly and turned away to begin his monthly task of scanning the bookshelves.
I watched him for a while. “Maybe today you will find what you are looking for.”
I returned to my work until a polite cough disturbed me.
He slid a book across the counter – PLEASE COME TO DINNER by LIU QING YAN
He smiled at me. “Well?”