Fiction logo

We Begin At The End

by Olivia S. 3 months ago in Short Story · updated 2 months ago

III

We Begin At The End
Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

The air was freezing, the wet ground beneath her even more so. Where was she?

Her legs, curled beneath her trembling body, ached. The cold cut deep into her flesh, into her very bones, settling in. She knew she should move, but everything hurt She didn’t know how long she’d been there, curled in the mud, eyes screwed shut. As if she could block out the world.

I can’t see you, you can’t see me, isn’t that how the children’s game went? Cover your eyes with your hands and magically you can’t see your hunter, and the hunter can’t see their prey?

The low thrum of the forest - pierced by the occasional shrill shriek of a predator ensnaring its prey- surrounded her, crowding in, pulling her down. It tugged at her, incessant, nagging, threatening.

Everything hurt. Even the air she sucked down desperately into her lungs burnt. But it was fresh. She was outside. She didn’t know how long it had been since she’d been outside. All she’d known was the box. She was free.

Was she?

How was she outside?

Brow furrowing, she tentatively dipped into the recesses of her mind. Blurry images, confusing scenes, an overpowering smell of dampness, decay. A flash of a window, or was it a mirror? Her memories blurred together, allowing her no comprehension of what time had passed. What time she’d lost. Why couldn’t she remember anything?

She pushed her mind further. A flash of sunlight, then a warmer scene: Maria sitting on the Old Farmhouse patio, rocking in that creaky chair she loved. Her smile was lazy, her eyes glinting in the sun. Her hair, light as her sister’s was dark, was twisted into her favorite complex knot on top of her head. “It’s too long,” Maria always complained, “it always gets in the way if I don’t tie it up.” Behind Maria, the rows upon rows of corn stalks grew tall into the pale blue sky. A cool breeze rustled through the stalks, sending the waft of earthly scents along the air. The memory was vague, hazy, as if she was viewing it through a sheet of cloth. It couldn’t have been that long ago, could it?

She had to get back home to her sister.

Eyes screwed shut, she inhaled deeply. The musty, heavy scent of decaying trees and old mud threatened to overwhelm her. Count to four. Hold. Exhale. Count to four. Enough of the dark, she had to find her way back home.

She opened her eyes.

The depth of the blackness threatened to drown her. Why was it so dark? It hadn't been dark when …

When what?

Think, damnit.

Her memory was hazy, except for the box. That box. And the glint of that silver tooth… And cracked mirror, speckled black with age around the edges.

Suddenly she was shaking, shuddering- tremors racking down her thin frame. Fragments of her memory flashed through her mind, splinters of a torment. She wrapped too-thin arms around too-thin legs and burrowed into the tree behind her, willing herself to fade into the bark, to mould herself into something that nobody could see.

The breath rasped from her lungs, each a drawn out gasp for oxygen that sounded too loud against the silence pressing in around her. Too loud, too loud. What if the person with the the silver tooth heard her?

She had to quieten her breathing, she had to quieten her heartbeat- racing like a bird trying to escape it's cage. Throwing itself against her ribs- trying to shatter her body as it itself had been shattered. She had to move, she had to get home to the Old Farmhouse on the hill. She had to find her sister.

Run. Run.

Gasping down the foul, bitter forest air, she clambered to her feet. Her bare toes squelched in the mud, the cold dampness oozing in between her toes- the icy cold causing her teeth to clench. All around her, the darkness stretched. She could do this.

A stab in the dark of her memory. A memory of her crying, words tumbling from her lips in a frenzied, pained rush. What had she said? What secrets had she told?

Fear coated her heart. The racing bird of a heart turned to ice, threatening to turn her rib cage to cracked splinters, and freeze her.

Let me go. I’m Lucie, I’m Lucie Wright. I’m only 18 years old, please- please…

The pleading, her pleading. It thrummed through her mind, coursed through her veins, flooded her body. She had pleaded so desperately for release. The silver-toothed mouth had simply laughed at her. Laughed and laughed, and laughed. And then everything went black.

She needed to find Maria.

Bracing her back against the tree behind her, she straightened her shoulders.

Slowly, her eyes adjusted to the dark surroundings. She was in the forest. As far as her eye could see, Pine trees stretched out into the darkness, vines twisted and twined around large trunks and dark, heavy branches. She knew the forest.

This was her forest, these were her pines. This forest was right by the Old Farmhouse, it was where she’d grown up. She must be near home. Her heart seized, and for the first time in a long time, she felt a flicker of hope bloom within her chest.

The Old Farmhouse was near. She could get home, she could get to Maria; Maria must be worried sick after how long she’d been gone.

How long had she been gone?

She would find the answer to that question later.

Finding strength, her limbs began to move. If she could just keep her pace controlled, if she could just keep her steps and her breathing even- then she would be in control. Nothing could get her.

A rustle behind her and she began sprinting. Sucking down great big gulps of breath, she raced. She ran, and she ran. Branches reached out and grabbed at her hair, her skin, her body. Tree roots reared up to trip her, wanting to drag her down into the dirt, and the mud. Cold, wet vines twisted down to grab at her shoulders, sticking to her skin. Or was that her hair? She couldn’t tell. The darkness thirsted for her, yearned for her, welled up around her- trying to drag her back down into the icy mud and bottomless nothingness.

She wouldn’t go. She had been in the dirt, and she had been in the mud. No more. She didn’t know how long she ran, but suddenly, the forest ended. The pine trees gave way to long, lush, high grass and a bath of cold starlight.

She let herself pause. Great, shuddering gasps racked through her thin frame, nearly sending her to her knees again. She wouldn't. She wouldn’t go down. Inhaling deeply, her eyes rose, following the path of the pale moonlight.

In the path of the cold light, sitting raised alone amongst the corn stalks- the Old Farmhouse rose like a gravestone.

She flung herself forwards, racing, racing. Through the fields of grass, of hay, and then straight into the corn stalks. The naked, black stalks rose up around her, reaching for her, grabbing at her hands and her hair. Desperately, she struggled through them- slicing through the stalks as she had been sliced through. She was so close, so close.

The Old Farmhouse was dark, with just one lone light burning in the front room. Why was it so dark? Was Maria ok? Please, let Maria be ok. If anything had happened to Maria...

As she drew near, she saw Maria, sitting on the front porch with a stranger. They were talking- they were safe. Maria was reclined back in that old rocking chair, rocking backwards and forwards gently.

Maria was safe. She began sobbing again. As she raced up the last hill, to where the cold, stone Farmhouse sat isolated against the bitterly dark midnight sky, to where Maria and the stranger sat, she sobbed. Her lungs screamed, her legs screamed, her heart ached. Still, Maria and her friend continued to talk. Why hadn’t they noticed her?

She’d reached the front porch. Crying, sobbing, unable to speak- she flung herself towards Maria. Incoherent, she reached out to her sister, clawing for comfort, wild in her emotions.

She passed right through Maria.

She almost passed right through the wall behind her, but she caught her step, stumbling.

Maria paused, and tilted her head, shivering as through a cold breeze had touched her. “Hello? Anybody there?”

Maria’s friend paused, beer bottle half way to his lips. He eyed Maria curiously, completely oblivious to anyone else on the porch.

They couldn’t see her.

No, no.

“Maria!” She tried to cry, but Maria didn’t hear her. Maria didn’t hear her, and Maria didn’t see her.

She was invisible.

The world seemed to spin, and the ground fell from beneath her feet. Slowly, she looked down at her hands. In the pale, naked starlight, the white of her skin glowed softly, and beyond the upturned palms- she could see the broken, rickety deck. She was translucent. She was not real.

She wasn’t real.

She wasn’t real.

She didn’t know when she started screaming, when she started crying, but suddenly she was. She screamed in defiance, screamed in pain, screamed and screamed, as she collapsed against the floors of the Old Farmhouse. Maria!

“That’s so weird, I thought I heard my name,” Maria said to her friend. She resumed rocking softly, and sipped her beer.

“Must be a ghost, come back to haunt you.” The joke was cruel, the voice low, the humor real.

That voice, she knew that voice. Slowly, she turned. Heart breaking, she watched as Maria smiled thinly at her friend, “Not much she can do to me now.”

And as the pair stared into the bitter night air, two silver teeth glistened.

****

The airport bustled with activity. Happy families milled around, jabbering away excitedly about their upcoming trips. How blissfully naive they were, how wonderfully shallow and stupid and sheltered. They lived in a world of make-believe.

She approached the counter. “I’d like one ticket to London, please.”

The woman peered at her over ridiculous black rimmed glasses. “You look a little young to be traveling alone hun, anyone with you?”

“No one, I’m 18.”

A nod, then furious tapping at the keyboard. “Sure thing hun, next flight leaves this evening.”

“That’s perfect.”

The snap of pink bubblegum. How nauseatingly sweet.

More furious tapping away at the laptop. “Booking now.”

A sweet, stupid smile up from behind those thick framed glasses. “Can I have your name and some ID, dear?”

The silence stretched, the buzz and throb of the airport noise fading into the background. Smiling a secret little smile to herself, she handed her ID across the counter. “My name is Lucie Wright.”

Not much she can do to me now.

Her silver tooth gleamed in the sunlight.

Short Story

Olivia S.

Undefinable.

One part twisted darkness, one part sensual spiciness, one part personal growth journey, and one part riveting mystery. Blend them all together and enjoy one steaming hot cup of creativity, a la Olivia.

Welcome to my world 🖤

Read next: Green Light

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2022 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.