From the outside of the house, you would never think anyone still lived there. The windows, well most of them, were boarded up. The wood used to shut them was crumbling onto the overgrown grass. There were a few cracks in the boards which allowed an occasional ray of sunshine to creep in over the environs not to mention the occasional rodent or insect. The insides of the windows were hung with voluptuous, intertwining spider webs of such intricacy you couldn’t tell where one web ended and another began. Rain and dew danced on the webs on the wetter morns. The smell of dark, dank, damp dust had long since faded into a raging must odor which would have made most people run away in horror. But some stayed behind.
Mother always told Angela she was the best. When a suitor called, Mother shooed them away with her broom. No one was good enough for Angela. Not even the town sheriff. “Why that one has a funny walk,” Mother chided, never mind that The Sheriff had been shot in the leg. “No one will ever be good enough for my baby,” Mother oft repeated. One day, Mother breathed her last. Angela didn’t know what to do for Mother had never let her out of the house alone for fear someone would corrupt her, someone lesser than she deserved. So Angela did nothing. Mother had watched Angela’s every move and now it was Angela’s turn. She watched as Mother turned from an old gray haired woman in a long floral skirt, to a shriveled up corpse, crawling with chewing rats and burrowing bugs. Angela watched, fascinated, as her mind had been starved for knowledge for so long. The scent of rotting flesh intrigued her. She didn’t even shiver when the rats, finished with Mother, crawled over her, and then skittered away when they felt her hot breath on their soft toes.
A knock at the door caused it to crumble inwards. It was The Sheriff. He was old now and his limp more pronounced. Angela stumbled to the door, the sunlight flooding inside the house and blinding her. The Sheriff’s eyes flew wide. “Angela? Is that you?” Angela recognized her own name but the rest of the words sounded animal to her. The Sheriff spied the remains of Mother. He gagged into his handkerchief as he reached for his radio. Angela retreated into the house. The Sheriff called for backup. Angela began to emit a high pitched moan that sent shivers down the spine of The Sheriff. She ran up the stairs and The Sheriff followed. Angela wildly rummaged through a decaying hope chest, until she pulled out a beautiful dress. It was thick with gray dust and mildew. She tore off the rags she had been wearing since before Mother died and pulled on the dress. Most of the dress crumbled under her fingers. The Sheriff cried as he saw the woman he once loved as she might have been had Mother allowed her to be free. Angela smiled. Her remaining teeth were black and the stench from her opened mouth was almost worse than the stench from Mother. The Sheriff cringed as he put his arm around Angela and led her gently down the stairs and into the waiting hospital car. As The Sheriff and Angela drove off, The Sheriff looked once more at the house. He thought he saw a figure in a floral dress waving from the window. He took a swig of whiskey and rubbed his eyes hard. He never looked back.
Sugar Lafever is an avid reader, music enthusiast, and writer. She recently published her first historical fiction novel set in 1920’s Pennsylvania entitled “Consumption in the Jazz Age.” She currently resides in Ohio with her family.