This story is by Veronika Jordan and was part of our 2017 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
They say that when your life flashes before you, you’re going to die. That’s how I feel right now. In the morning the water will rise and I will drown. It’s happened to others. My friends. There is no way out of here.
I can see the garden in my mind’s eye. My beautiful, lovely garden that I will never see again. The roses – the pink ones are my favourite. I can smell their heady scent from here. I don’t mind the thorns. They don’t hurt me. Then there are the daffodils and the tulips. Such an array of colours! Oh how I love the colours. Best of all I like the dandelions. Some call them weeds but I call them beautiful. You can even eat them. Then when the yellow flowers turn into puff-balls, the wind carries the seeds for miles. How nature has evolved to propagate itself. It’s a miracle!
I’ve lived in many places but this is my favourite by far. It’s so safe and warm here. The sun shines much of the day and when it rains there is always a place to shelter. I should have been happy and satisfied. I should never have started exploring the house.
In my last home it was damp. There were mice and rats in the shed and a Jack Russell dog with evil intentions. Hector – that was his name – used to catch the mice with his teeth and shake them in his mouth till their little bones rattled like dried beans in a tin. Sometimes I hid in the attic so I could jump out and scare the dog. I never scared the others though in case they caught me. I often had to wait for days until they finally left the house so I could make my escape back to the garden. I got bored though and moved a bit further down the road to this lovely place. My home.
People don’t really like me. I suppose I don’t blame them. I’m not very attractive and I’m a self-confessed serial killer. I’ve had quite a few husbands in my time. Eight to be precise. Like Elizabeth Taylor though she married Richard Burton twice so that doesn’t really count. I, on the other hand, could not have the same husband twice, as they are all dead. I callously used them to have my babies and then I disposed of them. Swiftly. I never got caught out. I’m way too clever. Actually, number three did escape as far as I remember, but he suffered an untimely death a few days later thanks to a combine harvester.
I probably loved my first husband in my limited capacity for love. It’s not in my nature to become attached. Far too painful emotionally when you have to let them go. With each killing it becomes easier not to feel anything for them. So much simpler. Especially when you eat them afterwards.
Not so clever now though to find myself in this – situation. That’s what comes from being nosy. They say curiosity killed the cat and cats are supposed to be clever, though no cat ever outwitted me. Until now. Chased me round the landing while I was scavenging for food, so I had to escape to safety and here I am. Trapped in a soon-to-become watery grave.
All alone in the world and too old to procreate, I suppose I deserve to die this way. For the first time in my life I wonder if I have a soul. Will I come back? As a mouse? As a rat? Or as one of Hector’s progeny? I very much doubt it. Once you’re dead, you’re dead. No-one to mourn my passing. But that’s how it is when you’ve killed all your spouses. My children gone as soon as they could feed themselves. They didn’t hang around long.
Footsteps on the stairs. A light goes on. I can hear a voice in the next room. Someone is singing. It’s a lovely sound.
‘Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sunshine and dried up all the rain.
Incy Wincy Spider climbed up the spout again.’
I wondered if they were doing the funny hand movements. Up and down with their fingers.
‘Again mummy, again.’ It’s the voice of a small child this time.
‘Incy wincy spider climbed up the water spout ….’
‘Again mummy, pretty please.’
‘Now Scarlett, it’s time to go to sleep. It’s been a long day.’ The sound of a light kiss on a soft baby cheek. I’d love to touch that cheek.
‘Good night darling. Sweet dreams. Love you.’
‘Good night mummy. Sweet dreams. Love you.’
It’s all quiet now. Mummy has turned the light off so Scarlett can go to sleep. I can hear her gently breathing. Suddenly I feel quite emotional. I would cry if I had tear ducts.
It’s going to be a long night. Unless a miracle happens, I will be dead in around ten hours. The clock is ticking.
“Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep….” I have all night to ponder on these thoughts and other matters of life and death.
‘Mummy there’s a spider in the bath. Pleeease don’t run the water. Please don’t kill him. It’s Incy Wincy Spider, mummy.’
‘Scarlett, I hate spiders.’ Ha! That’s all the thanks I get for keeping your house free of bluebottles and wasps. I expect you think my webs are just there to a make your garden pretty.
Mummy has her hand on the tap ready to turn it on. It’s the hot tap. She’s going to boil me to death.
‘What if I just flush him away. He’ll swim down the drain and….’
The water starts to run and I scuttle quickly to the other end of the bath tub. This is it!
‘No mummy, STOP!’ (I’m loving this child more and more by the minute), ‘He’ll drown. JUST GET HIM OUT.’
Phew. The water stops. I’m a her by the way as we’ve already established, but right at this moment I don’t care if they refer to me as ‘it’. Most people call me an ‘it’. Usually followed by ‘an ugly, scary, eight-legged son-of-a-bitch’.
Finally persuaded, Mummy goes to fetch a glass and a piece of card. That’s the way folks remove me in these parts. I can see she’s terrified to get too close. Her hand is shaking and her breath is short and fast. It would be so funny to startle her by jumping, but in my current predicament I think it best not to tempt fate. She would probably have a panic attack and start running the tap again. She opens the window instead.
‘C’mon Mummy,’ Scarlett is pulling at mummy’s jumper sleeve. ‘He’s hungry and thirsty. He’s probably been there all night.’
With a deep breath and some cussing, mummy carefully slides the card under me and places the glass over the top. I don’t object or try to run away. Then she places me outside on the windowsill and shuts the window. I spin a web like a zip wire and scurry away into the garden. I expect mummy has collapsed on the bathroom floor by now, probably hyperventilating.
I had a lucky escape this time or was it fate? Maybe it just wasn’t my time.