I remember writing this creepy little story while at my son’s taekwando practice…and then, as I do with so much of my writing, completely forgot about it. I did a little tweaking here and there and am mostly satisfied with it. Why you would gather leaves for a pillow is beyond me, but that’s what the character insisted on doing, both during the first draft and this morning. So be it.
Now that my health is back under control, I’m writing again but not as frequently. I have zero interest in submitting poetry, so I’m taking a break from that. Instead, I’m combing through stories and poems written during the last year and seeing what can be salvaged.
Here’s the story. As always, thanks for reading.
“You’re very kind,” the girl said, kneeling on the ground and gathering leaves.
The boy watched. He wasn’t kind, but the girl didn’t need to know that yet.
When she had enough leaves, the girl walked back toward the farmhouse. Not enough for a pillow, but a good start. The boy followed but stopped on the porch while the girl opened the door and went in.
“Do you want to visit for a while?” the girl asked. “Mama won’tt mind. She’ll be in the kitchen, fixing supper. Daddy’s gone to town for the day.”
The boy studied the girl. He liked her bone structure, her fine ankles, the tilt of her head and the slow blink of her eyes. She dazzled in a bar of sunlight. He nodded.
“You don’t say much,” the girl remarked, turning and facing the boy. “Or anything, really. Can you talk?”
The boy nodded.
“But you don’t have anything to say right now?”
The boy nodded again.
“Well, then,” the girl said, “I need to get these leaves in a pillow case and gather more. I’ll introduce you to Mama first. Come on.”
The boy followed the girl into the kitchen, where a tall woman stood over a sink snapping beans. She turned and regarded the girl and boy.. “And who’s this?” she asked.
“I don’t know his name,” the girl said. “I found him in the woods. He’s very kind.”
The boy studied the girl’s mother. He didn’t like her bone structure. The girl didn’t favor her at all, lacked the woman’s long face and protruding brow.
“We don’t take in strays,” the woman said. “We don’t have an extra plate, if it’s food you’re after, and we don’t need help on the farm.”
The boy didn’t move. The girl said, “He doesn’t talk.”
“I can see that,” the woman said. “Is he deaf?”
“No,” the girl answered.
“This is my house, you understand?” the woman said, tossing the beans into the metal colander and closing in on the boy. “You’re not welcome here, no matter what my daughter says. Go back to where you came from.”
The boy still didn’t move. The girl said, “Can he help me put leaves in my pillow.”
“No, he can get himself out of here.”
The boy flicked his right hand and the woman disappeared. The girl gasped. “Where’d she go?” she demanded.
The boy shrugged.
The girl thought for a while. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad with her mother gone. She could be quite cruel, and the boy was very kind. Her father might be a bit put out. Maybe the boy could make him disappear, too.
“Would you like to help me now?” the girl asked.
The boy nodded and followed the girl upstairs to her room.