Hello beautiful people! Another Blue Monday has come! Well, actually it’s our first Blue Monday! I’m sure you need something to cheer you up. Something other than coffee. Well, you came to the right place… I hope!
Fasten your seatbelts, folks! This is gonna be a hell of a ride!
Children Should Listen
“It’s so difficult to find a decent fortune teller nowadays. Most of them are frauds!” Lucinda said furiously and she quickened her pace. She hitched her skirt on theatrically before making a step towards the staircase.
“Relax sister. We’ve got plenty of time to organize our dinner party!” Penelope said and she dragged Claurice with her. The little girl was literally running to catch up with her mother and aunt.
“Mother, slow down!” Claurice said and she pulled her hand away. Little drops of sweat had covered her forehead. Was it necessary to follow Aunt Lucy everywhere she wanted to go? It wasn’t like Claurice would have a real school break after all! She was just lucky that All Hallows’ Eve was on Saturday and she would be allowed to stay up late.
“The girl is right Penny. Why don’t you go and play in the garden darling? We’ll call you if we need you,” Lucinda said and smiled at Claurice. She knew exactly what she had to do and say, whatever her niece’s mood was.
And just like that Claurice ran in the garden and the two sisters walked towards their manor, in order to prepare their Halloween dinner menu.
The Bennett family was the wealthiest in San Francisco and their manor could make even strangers feel astonished and envious.
It was a grand, grey mansion with heavy, silver decorations outside and in. The furniture, along with the mansion, was stately, yet classic. Apparently, the Depression of the 20s hadn’t caused any trouble for the Bennetts; they remained as rich as ever.
And although Claurice didn’t have the most basic thing, her father, yet she had anything else she would ask for; from dresses and shoes, to trinkets and toys. The most precious of them all was a porcelain doll, with blue eyes and long, blond hair. She looked exactly like Claurice! And the little girl couldn’t imagine losing that specific toy!
She was playing carelessly in the large garden of the manor, surrounded by apple trees, rose bushes and chrysanthemums, while her mother and aunt were living their personal inferno in the kitchen.
“Does anybody listen to what I say inside this house?” Lucinda yelled at the cook and the maids. “I told you weeks ago that I want everything to be perfect for All Hallows’ Eve. And I come here to find a complete mess! Do you really want to start seeking a job during that dismal period?” she went on fiercely.
“Lucy, calm down! They can fix everything till tonight, can’t you?” Penelope asked, as she was trying to remain neutral.
“Of course ma’am! We’ll change the entire menu,” Edith, the manor’s cook said with a shaky voice.
“You better do! Unless you want to cook for the homeless from now on!” Lucinda said angrily.
“She doesn’t. Edith dear, please prepare something festive and traditional for that special day!” Penelope intervened and pulled her sister out of the kitchen.
Lucinda seemed like she was about to explode.
“What’s the matter with you today?” Penelope asked.
“Nothing. I just want everything to be absolutely stunning tonight!” Lucinda said.
“Why so? It’s a simple dinner party for a few close friends. Or is your mystery man going to do us the honor?” Penelope asked and smiled sneakily.
“Maybe. Nonetheless, we still are members of the elite society of San Francisco. You know how gossip flows in our circle,” Lucinda said and walked towards the staircase to the upper floor.
“Where are you going?” Penelope asked.
“Did you forget Penny? We expect three more people for the fortune teller’s spot,” Lucinda said.
“You take that party way too seriously Lucy. You need to relax!” Penelope said and Lucinda rolled her eyes, without paying any more attention to her sister.
In the meantime, Claurice was still playing happily in the garden when an extraordinary woman approached the fencing of the manor.
She had long, red hair and dark, blue eyes with big eyelashes. The vivid colors of her makeup and the maroon long dress she was wearing made her seem kind of surreal.
“Hello little Miss. I’m looking for Mrs Bennett. Do you know if I can talk to her?” the woman asked.
“I’m not aloud to talk to strangers,” Claurice whispered hesitantly and held her doll tight in her hands.
“I’m here for tonight’s party. But I’m no stranger Claurice,” the woman said and Claurice’s eyes started from their sockets when the strange woman called her name.
“And yet you are! Please, follow me Miss. Mrs. Bennett will see you shortly,” Edith said. The cook had appeared out of nowhere to save Claurice.
The little girl was feeling mesmerized by that strange woman and at the same time she was shocked and scared. She turned around to give her and intense look and Claurice froze up.
The redhead, surreal woman followed Edith inside the manor with exceptional certitude.
“Mrs. Bennett will be with you in a few minutes,” the cook said and disappeared in another room of the mansion. The other woman examined the space around her with pure interest, but other than that she waited patiently for the lady of the house to appear.
The enormous grandfather clock started ticking but the redhead woman didn’t seem to get scared at all. She was just standing there, in the middle of the hall, like a statue. She turned around and locked her gaze upon Lucinda, who was standing at the top of the staircase.
“I am truly sorry for keeping you waiting, Miss…?” Lucinda said and looked the extraordinary woman from head to toe.
“McGraw. My name is Ruby McGraw,” the redhead woman said and moved closer to Lucinda, as she was coming down the stairs.
“How accordant. So, Miss McGraw…” Lucinda started saying.
“Please, call me Ruby,” the other woman said.
“Fine then. Ruby. We’ve been expecting you. You’re here for tonight’s party, aren’t you?” Lucinda asked.
“Yes. I’m here for the fortune teller’s spot,” Ruby said.
“Show me what you can do. I’m looking for an expert,” Lucinda said, looking at her fiercely.
“Please, give me your hand ma’am,” Ruby said and reached her hand out to take Lucinda’s.
Lucinda obeyed and placed her hand on Ruby’s. The redhead woman started shaking and an instant later she froze up.
“Miss? Are you all right? What is it?” Lucinda asked. She had started to feel quite uncomfortable.
“I see… Great pain in your house. You have lost pretty much every member of your family. Apart from your sister and your niece. And I see… Someone special to you. Beware. They’re about to cause you… Tonight!” Ruby yelled and she goggled her eyes.
“What did you just say to me?” Lucinda asked, still surprised.
“What did I say? I’m sorry, ma’am. Sometimes I’m just… lost. Now, let me see your hand,” Ruby said and turned Lucinda’s hand around.
“It’s not necessary. You’re hired! But try to keep the theatrics away from some of the guests. They tend to get offended and frightened quite easily,” Lucinda said and smiled at Ruby. “You’re pretty good at what you do!” Lucinda said.
“Thank you, I guess,” Ruby said and pulled her hand away clumsily.
“So, Edith will show you to your booth. Is there anything else that you need? A crystal ball maybe?” Lucinda asked and smiled sneakily.
“Oh, no ma’am. I’m all set. Thanks again!” Ruby said.
“Oh, it’s nothing dear. Edith! Come! We found ourselves a fortune teller for tonight!” Lucinda said and the cook appeared once again, as silently as she had done earlier.
“Please, follow me Miss,” Edith said and Ruby followed her. Her long, red hair was waving as she was walking. There was no draft inside the house, no window open.
It was a beautiful night. Not to warm, not to cold. The mansion of the Bennett family had been decorated according to Lucinda’s and Penelope’s taste.
Pumpkins of different sizes and shapes had covered the entire garden and little candles were glowing inside them. Inside the house, there were hundreds of candles and flowers in every room.
The cook and the maids of the manor had done their best to prepare a lovely meal for tonight’s guests. Sweets, candies and desserts of all kinds were pretty much everywhere inside the dining room and the living room. The dinner would be served after the guests had enjoyed their drinks, the music and the fortune telling from Ruby.
Everything was set! The Bennett sisters were really happy. And so was Claurice.
When the first guest started to arrive, Claurice ran to the ground floor. For the first time in forever she would be along with so many people.
She was wearing a blue evening gown and a silver pair of little high heels. Her blonde hair was falling graciously on her shoulders. She was holding her doll inside her hands.
But when she reached the ground floor, something caught her attention. The redhead woman’s booth. Claurice hadn’t seen her since this afternoon, but all those things on the table were pulling her like magnet. She had not seen so many herbs, wicked stuff and books with spells, incantations and mumbo jumbo in her entire life. There were also a few card decks spread across the table. One of them was extremely unique. Words in an unknown language were etched with golden paint on the deck and there were pictures of people, all of them having strange faces and expressions.
“Do you like them?” a hoarse voice sounded behind Claurice. The little girl turned around and came face to face with a tall, dark and elegant man.
“Mr. Ankins! It’s so good to see you!” Claurice said and tend her hands to embrace the man.
“It’s good to see you, too! I just saw your mother and aunt. Are you having fun?” Mr. Ankins asked.
“No, not really… It would be nice though to find someone with whom I could play!” Claurice said and stared at the tall man in front of her with pure hope.
“Have I ever said no to you? So, what are we going to play?” Mr. Ankins asked.
Claurice placed her doll next to her and sat behind the booth. She took the strange cards in her little hands and started shuffling them.
“I’m going to tell you what the future will bring to you!” Claurice said theatrically.
Mr. Ankins goggled his eyes and an instant later, he fell on the floor. His expression was completely blank.
“I believe this is my job, my dear Claurice,” Ruby said and came closer to the booth.
The little girl was about to start screaming but a motion of Ruby’s hand silenced her.
“Children should listen! They should be patient and obedient. You were about to ruin my masterplan! So, what should I do with you now?” Ruby said and took Claurice’s doll in her hands.
Claurice was shaking from terror but she couldn’t make a sound. That witch must had stolen her voice. She was standing still, waiting for whatever Ruby was about to do. The little girl’s eyes started from their sockets and her mouth opened, in a silent attempt to scream.
Ruby was holding Claurice’s doll in her hands. The porcelain face started cracking. Blood popped out of the doll’s blue eyes. It’s mouth opened and little worms started falling on the floor.
Ruby turned her head towards Claurice. The girl’s face was covered in blood and her mouth was full with worms.
“That’s more like it!” Ruby said. “Did you ever think that you would inherit all this? Everything in here is mine!” she whispered. Claurice was crying silently. Blood and tears all over her face.
“When my father, your grandfather, abandoned my mother, I swore to take revenge. You see, we weren’t good enough for him; or for his precious daughters. Gypsies and all. He was begging to die when I found him. And your mother and aunt will beg, too. After I finish with you!” Ruby said and stood right in front of Claurice.
She caught the porcelain doll from her neck, tight enough to see the agony etched on the little girl’s face. Her grip loosened few seconds later and the doll fell down on the floor and broke into a thousand little pieces.
And so did Claurice.
© Victoria Moschou. All Rights Reserved 2016-2017.
*As you can see, the theme was dark. It may get darker along the way. Who knows… Thanks to those short stories though, I won my first writing contest! So, I hope you enjoyed this one and you’ll enjoy the future ones, too.*
Till next time… Toodles!
Have a wonderful, full of inspiration week everyone!