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“Stop fussing, Jenna. Sit next to your mother.”

The bench was ancient but sturdy. The paint had long since chipped away, leaving only a brown weathered surface. A dying sapling threaded its leaves through spaces between the wooden slats. This was where I first met Mama. At twelve, I was mesmerized by her wraith-like beauty. She sat on the bench every Halloween, waiting for something, for someone. She had let me sit beside her while I ate my candy and she watched the other children in their costumes. If I could have stayed with her, I would have, but I was much too old by then. Jenna was a lucky little girl.

“She doesn't know me yet. It's fine. She needs a moment to collect herself.”

Mama's smile was warm, inviting, but I could tell she was hurt by Jenna's reluctance. Her lips were so dry they cracked and peeled. She was so pale she was almost colorless. Still, she possessed an ethereal beauty that left me breathless every time I looked at her.

“Jenna's a big girl now,” I said, “Six years old is too old for tantrums. Apologize to your mother.”

Jenna glared as she fidgeted. The dress was new to mark the occasion. She'd chosen it herself from the thick Macy's catalog. It was a lovely spring green with baby blue ribbons and gloves to match. Jenna said it made her feel like one of the good fairies from her coloring book. She was probably afraid to get it dirty, I reasoned.

She dug the toe of her new white sandal in the dirt. She hadn't wanted a Halloween costume this year. Just a pretty dress with pretty shoes to match. She said she was too old for baby games.

“Well,” I prompted, “What do you say for hurting your mother's feelings?”

“That's not my mom.”

“Jenna, what did we talk about?” I asked.

“These things take time. You mustn't force her. She'll come to mama when she's ready.”

“Jenna, please,” I said. Jenna twisted and plucked at the end of her braid. She wouldn't look at the woman sitting beside me. Instead, she sulked.

The two had met for the first time last Halloween. Jenna had been too young then and when she realized she wasn't going home with me she cried. Mama insisted she was too young. She needed more time to grow.

My stomach dropped when I glanced at my watch. It was later than I'd hoped. The park closed early on Halloween because the police believed it wasn't safe. They had posted notices about predators missing children, but it was just foolishness. There was nothing to be afraid of here. It was quiet. It was peaceful.

“Jenna, you will sit nicely and obey me,” I said, “Your mother has waited a very long time to see you. You will not embarrass me.”

“No! That's not my mom,” Jenna said. Her cheeks flushed and she trembled with anger. She hated it when I told her what to do, but she was too old for this behavior. It didn't speak well of me for her to act like this.

“She doesn't have to sit. It works just as well if she stands,” Mama said, “Let's just talk. There's plenty of time to get acquainted.” She folded her hands over her lap. The cuffs of her sleeves were ragged. The hem had frayed and there was a dark stain over her wrist.

“There's no time left,” I said, “It has to be now. Jenna, sit down and look at your mother. Look at her.”

“That's not my mom! I want to go home. Take me home!” She punctuated each sentence by stomping a foot and stirring the dust. Any sympathy I had vanished. If she was afraid to muss her dress, she wouldn't have behaved this way. She was just being stubborn. I had no time for stubbornness.

“It would  be better if she came willingly,” Mama said. She pushed the wispy strands of her black hair back behind her ears. Her fingers were slender and long and so pale the skin was almost translucent. She was beautiful in the moonlight.

“I know, but she's too stubborn for her own good,” I said, “Didn't you promise you'd behave this time? You said if I bought you the pretty dress, you'd be good. You lied to me, Jenna, and what did I say about people who lie?”

“Really, Candice, that isn't necessary. She'll come to me on her own---”

“Jenna, what did I say about people who lie?” I asked.

“I just want to go home, Mama Candice,” she said. She sniffled.

“Only good little girls get to go home,” I said, “Good little girls are girls who don't lie. Are you going to be a good little girl?”

“I'll be good,” she said.

“Then sit down and say you're sorry,” I said, “Be nice to your mother. She's going to take care of you from now on.”

The bench creaked under my weight as I shifted to retrieve my purse. Jenna tried to squeeze in beside me, but I scooted closer to the arm rest. I had indulged her long enough. The police patrol would pass by in ten minutes. I needed to be on my way before then.

“Sit here, Jenna, next to your mother.”

“I want to sit next to you, Mama Candice.”

“She is your mother now. You mustn't hurt her feelings. She loves you. There are so many little girls don't have anyone to love them and care for them. They would give anything to have a mother like yours. Be grateful,“ I said, “Sit down nicely. Or do I have to count to three?”

Jenna shook her head, tears welling in her eyes. She knew what happened if I had to count.

“I don't want you to count,” Jenna said. She sat between us, scooting as close to me and as far from her mother as possible. She gripped my arm, squeezing much too tight. By morning there would be bruises, but they were easily hidden.

I smiled.

“Now that's better,” I said, “See how silly you were. There's nothing to be afraid of.”

Jenna stared at the space between her and Mama. The woman didn't take up much room. She was so thin I could see the outline of the bones beneath her skin.

“Please, Mama Candice, I don't want to go with her,” Jenna said.

“Your mother loves her children,” I said, “You'll be very happy.”

I pried her hands loose as I stood. Jenna started to follow, but Mama stopped her. She gripped her arm and pulled her back. The bench groaned and creaked under their weight. I brushed the dust from my skirt.

“Shhh, child,” Mama said, “Shhh, come to Mama.”

Her tone was soothing, her voice inviting. It made me wish I could go with her, but I was too old.

“Come to Mama,” she said, “Hush.”

When Jenna stopped struggling, I relaxed. Mama's cheeks flushed as Jenna's paled. Jenna's face started to thin, her skin stretching taught until I could see the bones beneath. Her breath rasped and her lips started to peel. Mama was going to be just fine.

I checked my watch. There was not a moment to spare.

“Mama Candice, where are you going?” Jenna asked. Her voice was different, distant. When I stooped to kiss her goodbye, she looked up with hollow eyes.

“Yes, Candice,” Mama said, “Where are you going?” When she smiled, a shiver rushed through me. She had never wanted me to stay before. She'd never asked. Not once in all these years. I was too old.

“You want me to stay?” I asked.

Jenna's hand on my wrist was cold.
When the drought came, we found the bones. I guess that explained why we saw her so many times. She was buried in the basement the whole time.

Solan Presbyterian Church sat at the edge of the old wetland. We weren't supposed to be in there, so that's where we went. It sank a little deeper each August when the rains came in. Water in the basement was black and deep. It smelled like garden mulch and roadkill, and more than once we saw old black water moccasins swimming just under the surface.

They were summer Sundays and Saturdays, when Mom worked a double shift at the nursing home, and Jim Bolin's Grandma played Bridge with the Ladies' Aid Society. I'd wake up to the sound of Sandy slamming the front door and an engine revving, her boyfriend waiting not so patiently.

I didn't care anyway.

We met at the crossroads if we were going. Usually it was just Jim and me, but sometimes, Sarah's mom was busy at the store. Sometimes she didn't hear the screen door bang and the front porch creak. Jim Bolin brought his daddy's big flashlight since there was no electricity. It was always dark in the church, even in the day.

The first floor was a kitchen and coat room, once tiled black and white in a chessboard pattern. Someone had left a faded pink coat hanging on a metal hanger after the final service. The cuffs were frayed and the pockets stained brown.

The second floor was where the congregation used to meet for services, but the wood was too weak to hold our weight and the plaster ceiling was cracked and crumbling. Sunlight came in through the holes and black mold crept along the edges like angry ink spatters in a book. Big old spiders had threaded strands of their webs through the cracks. Hundreds of dead insects hung suspended from the spider silk.

But the basement was where we saw the girl. Sometimes. There was one day she wasn't there at all and another I caught her in the coat room, reaching for the raggedy jacket. Both those times, I was alone. It didn't really count if I was alone. When I told Sandy, she said I was making stories. I had to write a letter about why we shouldn't tell lies and then I had to apologize. Well, I wasn't sorry. The girl was real.

The first time we saw her, Jim Bolin was shining the light in the water, looking for baby snakes. The light caught the side of her face. She was gone when I blinked. We brought Sarah the next time, and she saw her too. Every time after that, almost every time, she was waiting. Her knee length dress flared out when she spun around to look at us. Her hands clenched in fists.

Sometimes, her face was little more than bone and shadows, but other times, she had freckled skin and wild, curly hair. She never wore shoes though. She never had feet. She floated over the water in the basement, and when she turned toward us, she gasped. It was like she knew we weren't supposed to be there either.

When the drought came, and the water dried up, we found her. Where the water had been, the wall was warped and cracked. When Jim shone the flashlight on it, we saw the bones, the smooth curve of a skull.

Police came when Sarah's mom called them. Sarah never could keep a secret. They took the bones and called our parents. Mom grounded Sandy for the rest of the summer, and I had to stay with Jim Bolin's grandma when mom worked double shifts. But it didn't make any difference. Not long after that, the city tore the building down. That was the last time we saw the girl.

Brains

Journal Entry: Thu Oct 2, 2014, 5:55 PM
Awesome October things:
All Hallow's Tales Contest 2014 - CAMERA OBSCURA:new: Entry Gallery is now open!
Response has been great! New prizes and points donated, more photos added to the Morgue, and lots of interested victims! :evillaugh: 
ALSO, added more pimpage to the Pimp Cellar at the bottom, so check out the other Halloween Doings around dA!
This contest is generously sponsored by prize donors and:
:iconcrliterature:  :iconpersistent-practice:
Ghouls and Ghasts and ne'er do wells, welcome once again to the LaBORatory for our annual celebration of prosaic chills in this, the season of all things spooky.
Have you ever ran across a photo, perhaps lying on the sidewalk, or tucked between the pages of the family Bible, a photo so strange that your mind just couldn't help but to form a story around it? 
Dear writer, let this contest be the dusty attic, the abandoned parking lot, the spooky junk store with stacks of forgotten photos just waiting to have their s
October 2014 PromptWheeee, it's October and we have a new prompt going up. Are you excited, I'm excited. :eager: DreamingAutumn is sitting next to me and she's excited, so you should be excited. <3
THEME:
Seeking advice from a gypsy/fortune teller.
Requirement: [Taking a page from ScreamPrompts] No adverbs. Such as: "very", "so", "kind of", "seems", "could have", "just", "perfect". This also means basically any word ending in "ly" is off limits too. (Words like "really", "suddenly", "actually", "usually", and "probably".)
Start Date: October 2nd 12:00 AM (Pacific Standard Time)
End Date: October 31st 11:59 PM PST
PROMPTS:
:bulletblue: There must be a reference to a robot in the piece.
:bulletgreen: Write from the POV of an inanimate object.
:bulletblue: Opening Line: "I felt the circuits curl beneath my skin."
:bulletgreen: They gypsy/fortune teller is a male.
NOTES: We accept either Poetry or Prose, and at the current moment there is no word limit or submission limit, we just ask that they aren't t
Ghost Stories Lit. ContestIt's October 1st. :stare:
October 1st.
:iconstinkeyeplz::iconstinkeyeplz::iconstinkeyeplz::iconstinkeyeplz:
And OfOneSoul, IrrevocableFate, DreamingAutumn, & DrippingWords
are proud to announce their next Lit. Contest...
:icongplz::iconhplz::iconoplz::iconsplz::icontplz:
STORIES
We know.
:iconscaredplz: <--------- THIS is you. :evillaugh:
:iconpetpetplz: <--------- THIS is us. :flirty:
No time to be scared, lovelies! It's time to write.
Although the "Bestest Friend Contest" that IrrevocableFate & DreamingAutumn headed up together has yet to end, we're just TOO excited to work together again... and even MORE excited that it's almost...
- HALLOWEEN, BITCHES!
:iconstaredanceplz::iconstaredanceplz::iconstaredanceplz:
Before you scroll down to DA RULEZ and DA PRIZES


October is my favorite month. Halloween is my favorite holiday---I still insist there should be multiple Halloweens throughout the year. It would be fantastic.

Anyhoodle, the husband surprised me with a very awesome early birthday present. It's a T.A.R.D.I.S. cup. It's square and has a lid and is so very blue. I honestly don't know how I lived without it.

the thing by NamelessShe

  • Mood: Depressed

Brains

Journal Entry: Thu Oct 2, 2014, 5:55 PM
Awesome October things:
All Hallow's Tales Contest 2014 - CAMERA OBSCURA:new: Entry Gallery is now open!
Response has been great! New prizes and points donated, more photos added to the Morgue, and lots of interested victims! :evillaugh: 
ALSO, added more pimpage to the Pimp Cellar at the bottom, so check out the other Halloween Doings around dA!
This contest is generously sponsored by prize donors and:
:iconcrliterature:  :iconpersistent-practice:
Ghouls and Ghasts and ne'er do wells, welcome once again to the LaBORatory for our annual celebration of prosaic chills in this, the season of all things spooky.
Have you ever ran across a photo, perhaps lying on the sidewalk, or tucked between the pages of the family Bible, a photo so strange that your mind just couldn't help but to form a story around it? 
Dear writer, let this contest be the dusty attic, the abandoned parking lot, the spooky junk store with stacks of forgotten photos just waiting to have their s
October 2014 PromptWheeee, it's October and we have a new prompt going up. Are you excited, I'm excited. :eager: DreamingAutumn is sitting next to me and she's excited, so you should be excited. <3
THEME:
Seeking advice from a gypsy/fortune teller.
Requirement: [Taking a page from ScreamPrompts] No adverbs. Such as: "very", "so", "kind of", "seems", "could have", "just", "perfect". This also means basically any word ending in "ly" is off limits too. (Words like "really", "suddenly", "actually", "usually", and "probably".)
Start Date: October 2nd 12:00 AM (Pacific Standard Time)
End Date: October 31st 11:59 PM PST
PROMPTS:
:bulletblue: There must be a reference to a robot in the piece.
:bulletgreen: Write from the POV of an inanimate object.
:bulletblue: Opening Line: "I felt the circuits curl beneath my skin."
:bulletgreen: They gypsy/fortune teller is a male.
NOTES: We accept either Poetry or Prose, and at the current moment there is no word limit or submission limit, we just ask that they aren't t
Ghost Stories Lit. ContestIt's October 1st. :stare:
October 1st.
:iconstinkeyeplz::iconstinkeyeplz::iconstinkeyeplz::iconstinkeyeplz:
And OfOneSoul, IrrevocableFate, DreamingAutumn, & DrippingWords
are proud to announce their next Lit. Contest...
:icongplz::iconhplz::iconoplz::iconsplz::icontplz:
STORIES
We know.
:iconscaredplz: <--------- THIS is you. :evillaugh:
:iconpetpetplz: <--------- THIS is us. :flirty:
No time to be scared, lovelies! It's time to write.
Although the "Bestest Friend Contest" that IrrevocableFate & DreamingAutumn headed up together has yet to end, we're just TOO excited to work together again... and even MORE excited that it's almost...
- HALLOWEEN, BITCHES!
:iconstaredanceplz::iconstaredanceplz::iconstaredanceplz:
Before you scroll down to DA RULEZ and DA PRIZES


October is my favorite month. Halloween is my favorite holiday---I still insist there should be multiple Halloweens throughout the year. It would be fantastic.

Anyhoodle, the husband surprised me with a very awesome early birthday present. It's a T.A.R.D.I.S. cup. It's square and has a lid and is so very blue. I honestly don't know how I lived without it.

the thing by NamelessShe

  • Mood: Depressed

deviantID

NamelessShe
Kaleen
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United States
Current Residence: secret
Favourite style of art: impressionism/expressionism
Favourite cartoon character: Daffy Duck
Personal Quote: Better a smart ass than a dumb ass.
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:iconprettyorangemonster:
PrettyOrangeMonster Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks For The Llama Emote 

and happy birthday!!!

Sushi Sushi Sushi Sushi Sushi Sushi  (birthday sushi)

Hula Hula Hula Hula Hula (birthday dance)

:rgbsquad: 
Reply
:iconnamelessshe:
NamelessShe Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :D Sushi sounds really good right now! :eager:
Reply
:iconprettyorangemonster:
PrettyOrangeMonster Featured By Owner 6 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
la in love 
Reply
:iconbookloverblue:
bookloverblue Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the fave, and belated Happy Birthday!
Reply
:iconnamelessshe:
NamelessShe Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
:D Thank you!
Reply
:iconladylincoln:
LadyLincoln Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Happy birthday :heart:
Reply
:iconnamelessshe:
NamelessShe Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :D
Reply
:iconladylincoln:
LadyLincoln Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome, lovely! :hug:
Reply
:icondragoeniex:
dragoeniex Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2014
Hope your birthday just flew,
With friends and presents too!
Happy birthday, dear NamelessShe.
Don't let zombies eat you.  

That would be baaaad~  ^_^
Reply
:iconnamelessshe:
NamelessShe Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
:D Thank you!
Reply
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