This story is by Raina Hutchinson and was part of our 10th Anniversary Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The hem of her sundress swayed as Rose stepped into the light of the window to admire the diamond sitting on her finger, beams of sunlight scattered and fractured within the crystal. It was the anniversary of her father’s passing and her wedding was three days away.
“Three more days,” Rose didn’t know whether to be anxious or ebullient.
After slipping on dark glasses and perching a hat on top of her head, she lifted the photo on her dresser and gave it a tender kiss then picked up her purse and left.
Rose hopped out of the car when she arrived at the café and took a final glimpse at her reflection in the window of the car door, lightly touching her recently bleached hair, ensuring that not a strand was misplaced, then approached the quaint café. Upon entering the vintage shop, not only was she greeted with the compelling smell of coffee, but she also spied Joan, her fiancé’s sister. However, completely engrossed by the conversation she was having with the woman at her table, she didn’t realize that Rose was trying to get her attention. Moreover, Rose flaunted blonde rather than brown hair, as she wanted to look astounding for her wedding.
As she watched from the line, Rose noticed the stark contrast between the vibrant atmosphere and Joan’s cadaverous complexion, the brilliant light that imbued the café accentuated her angular features, the edges of her jet black hair bluntly cutting hollow cheeks. Then Joan guffawed and her mouth gaped open, revealing snake-like fangs.
“Broad hat! Move up in the line!”
Jolted out of her trance, Rose looked ahead to see a gap, then scurried up in the line. Soon, she found herself near the table where Joan and her friend sat, near enough to overhear their conversation.
“What about her? What’s her name again?” said Azra, Joan’s companion.
“It was Rose,” Joan dragged her voice.
“Was? We’re using past tense already? The plan to get rid of her is going well then!” Azra’s face lit up as she leaned forward in intrigue.
Hesitantly, Rose glanced at the women behind her.
“We can’t talk about this here, but the short answer is yes. Her father was an easy meal, she’ll probably be one too.”
“My brother’s now the beneficiary to basically everything she owns. She barely has any family left … We should be thankful for that. ”
As she listened to the conversation, Rose’s throat tightened.
“I can’t wait until it’s over. My Jack doesn’t care about her, and, I won’t have to worry once he puts her in the ground but I just wish he didn’t have to marry her,”
“Jack doesn’t love her,” Joan’s eyes widened as she shook her head. “She’s just one of our targets, trust me.”
With her mind devoid of thoughts, but besieged by indescribable emotions, and eyes brimmed with tears, Rose ran out of the shop, knocking Azra’s cup off her table as she passed by.
When she arrived home, Rose slammed the door behind her. Frantically, she rummaged through the kitchen drawers, searching for a knife, then into her room she stepped slowly, breathing deeply with an upright stance, the knife trembling in her hand. Drawing a sharp breath, she opened her closet, grabbed the wedding dress and uncontrollably cut gashes into it, wailing in pain as tears cascaded from her eyes.
“How could he?”
“How – could – he?”
It seemed as if this was the only phrase her wounded mind could fabricate.
Aggressively, she pulled from the dresser the photo of her perfidious fianc’e.
“How could you!” she screamed at the object, jerking it in her hand as she paced into the kitchen.
Rose struck a match and watched it melt in flames.
“You were going to kill me?”
Weakly, she outed the match and fell to the ground, sobbing helplessly.
Although now, in her world blurred with tears, nothing made sense, something stood out. How could Joan claim to have killed her father when he died from cancer?
“Joan?” said Azra, stooping down to retrieve her cup.
“Hm?” Joan eyed the woman who knocked over Azra’s coffee as she ran out of the store.
“You don’t think-” Azra reached for her cup.
“We need to go! This could compromise the plan!”
“ Aunt Rose? While I walked down the hall of the hospital with my parents, I heard something, something like the wailing of the wind, but it had Grandpa’s voice…and it screamed for help. It screamed my name. But my parents didn’t hear anything. Immediately after, they told us he was dead,” tears streamed down the girl’s face as she looked down at the grave.
“Lily!” panting and doused in sweat, Rose woke up on the floor of her kitchen, with Jack’s photo at her feet. She grabbed the counter and helped herself up.
“Lily, I need to find Lily.”
Rose walked into her room and picked up her phone to find four missed calls.
11:05 – Jack
11:05 – Jack
11:45 – Jack
13:30 – Jack
“I should return them, in case things really are how I think they are….” sighing, Rose dialed Jack’s number.
As his phone rang Jack turned to his passengers, Joan and Azra, and fanned his hand at them, signaling them to be quiet.
“Hi Jack!” Rose forced a smile to sound more cheerful.
“ Hey Rose! Everything alright?”
“Yeah, I just took a nap. With the upcoming wedding and all this work, I’ve felt stressed, but I’m looking forward to our dinner tonight!”
“That’s a relief. It’s unlike you to miss my calls, you know. I was actually coming to your house to check on you.”
“Well, everything’s alright!” Rose forced a giggle. “Thanks for caring!”
“Okay, see you tonight!”
“Okay, bye Jack!”
“I don’t think she knows,” Jack exhaled as he hung up the phone.
“You can’t be sure,” Joan sharply dismissed her brother. “We need to attack her tonight.”
Dinner was at seven, but it was six and Rose neither answered nor returned either of Jack’s calls. Just as Jack poised his finger to send her another call, Azra dragged his hand down.
“Jack! There’s no need to call again.”
“Why won’t she pick up the phone?”
“Calm down,” Joan interjected. “Can’t get to her on her phone? Fine, tracking her car was your idea…and…according to our tracker…she’s still at home! See?”
“Then we should move now, the sooner we get there, the better.” Jack picked up his keys and jogged down the steps of his patio, Joan and Azra following behind.
As he approached Rose’s house, Jack searched for a space to park his car in.
“How about that one?”
Jack carefully reversed into the spot Azra indicated.
“So, how will we split this soul? One third each?” Azra stepped from the car onto the sidewalk
“You get one-sixth and Jack and I get two-sixths.”
“Stop complaining. It’s better than what happened at the hospital, those doctors took most of her father’s soul for themselves. Furthermore, a small patch of your skin is rotting. Take what you get if you wanna avoid the grave.”
“And the other sixth?”
“We’ve a friend in Rose’s family who’s helping out.”
“The one who married her sister? With the daughter who-”
“This is it,” Jack stood at the gate, rummaging in his pocket for keys.
“He brings keys!” Azra looked at Joan, a menacing smile on her face. “Why won’t your brother let us have any fun?”
The nail of Azra’s index finger gradually turned black and began stretching itself into a long, thin, tapering rod, its tip like a needle. She inserted her nail into the keyhole, twisting and jerking it around until the gate opened.
“Taduh!” Her nail retracted as she stepped aside, beaming from ear to ear.
Joan rolled her eyes teasingly as she stepped through the gate.
“Rose?… Rose!” Jack motioned for his accomplices to enter Rose’s house when his calls received no answer.
Jack locked the door, then the trio instantaneously contorted their bodies into shadowy figures, sliding along the ceiling and walls of the house, squeezing beneath spaces and underneath doors. While she searched meticulously around the kitchen, something caught Joan’s eye. She twisted herself into her human form and stooped down to get a better look.
“Guys…” Joan slowly rose, the burnt photo of her brother in her hand.
“Don’t panic! We can track her phone!… And she has a family member who’s one of us! Right?” Azra shrunk into her human form.“Check her closet! Maybe her clothes are still here, I doubt she would leave them,” dragging Jack with her, Azra rushed to Rose’s room.
The chaotic closet was half-empty and the wedding dress was missing. On the floor lay her phone, whose screen was shattered beyond recognition.
“Rose must be wondering what we are,” Jack picked up the phone.
“Then we’ll tell her that we’re undead and we want her soul.”