TOPIC OF THIS CONTEST WAS:
It was horribly hot but her husband insisted on sitting outside. The sun’s glare on the water left spots in the pigments of her eyes. Blinking, she watched a silhouette approach. The woman’s arms were crossed and her red fingernails contrasted sharply with her white, see-through dress. She stopped short in front of both of them. The man’s wife craned her neck as her husband stood up. She then bowed her head, whispering, “Not again…”
(Stories need only touch on this topic in some way to qualify.)
Eva woke to the sun streaming through the windows of the bedroom. She squinted against the light as she rolled over to greet her husband. The covers on his side of the bed were already tossed aside, his place empty.
Her bare feet hit the cool hardwood floor. She padded down the hall toward a large window facing the garden of roses that Hector had planted. She stopped at the door just before the window, and peered through the crack to see Hector sitting in the rocking chair.
“Hector?” she asked softly. “You okay?”
“Ten years later and I still miss her…”
Eva entered, keeping her eyes on Hector, not on the bed in the corner with Princess Belle sheets, or the tiny, overstuffed bookshelf. “I know,” she replied, laying a hand on his shoulder, “I miss her, too.”
When Hector didn’t respond, Eva sighed, overwhelmed. “I’m going back to bed.”
Hector caught her hand. “No,” he said, “The doctors said not to let you stay in bed all day. Let’s go outside and watch the birds for a little while. I know you like the birds.”
Too tired to argue, Eva nodded. Hector stood and gave her hand a squeeze as they made their way out the door to their front porch. They sat on the porch swing overlooking their private pond. The glare off the water made Eva’s head pound and left spots in her vision. One spot in particular seemed to materialize out of the water, leaving a white stain in her sight. She blinked, trying to get it to disappear, but it only moved closer.
She narrowed her eyes to see the figure clearer. It was a young woman, dressed in a sopping wet nightgown. Her nails were blood red against her porcelain skin.
Eva’s face paled. She looked to her husband. He noticed her expression and sighed before rising and walking to the garden. Eva looked back to the woman who was growing even closer.
“No,” she whispered, “Not again…”
“Schizophrenia,” the first doctor had called it.
“PTSD,” claimed the second.
“Grief,” said the last.
The general consensus was that no one knew why Eva saw their daughter who had vanished ten years before.
Eva had watched her grow before her eyes, but Hector only saw the deterioration of his wife; only heard his daughter’s thoughts through Eva’s frantic night terrors.
Now, Rose was there again, walking across the driveway, her eyes locked on Eva’s. Something was off. Her face was thinner, her stride more confident, her eyes cold. Eva had been confronted by her daughter before, but this was different. Eva leapt from her chair and rushed inside, locking the door behind her.
She stood gripping the back of a chair as she watched the figure approach the door. Eva gasped in horror as the door unlocked and opened with ease.
“Rose,” Eva trembled, “It’s good to see you…”
“Don’t lie to me,” the young woman snapped, “We both know what you did.”
Eva stepped back as the woman approached. “No, I didn’t mean that… You know that.”
“Stop lying,” the figure commanded, “You’ve been lying to everyone, but you can’t lie to yourself. You know what you did.”
“No… I didn’t!” Eva cried. She flinched as the figure tried to touch her. Eva made a break for the door, slamming it behind her. “Hector!” she screamed desperately. When the hallucinations had started, Hector would hold her until they went away. That slowly stopped; instead he would abandon her, leaving her to struggle on her own. He said it hurt him too much.
Eva heard the door reopen and shut again behind her. “No,” she begged, “No, no, no!” Eva ran to the garden gate, but it was locked. “Hector!” she screamed, but there was no response.
She turned to see the woman getting closer. Eva dashed across the driveway toward the pond, ignoring the stones cutting into her feet.
“Say it!” The woman shouted after her, “Say it and I’ll leave!”
“No! Please, Rose!” Eva cried. Before long, she was at the edge of the pond. The woman was suddenly upon her, shoving her backward. Eva landed in the pond with a splash. “Rose, please!” Eva begged through tears.
“Say it,” the woman demanded, “Say it.”
The woman pushed her under. Eva struggled, screaming under the water, the bubbles rising quickly to the surface that was just out of reach. Eva was pulled back up.
“Admit what you did,” the woman growled.
“I did it,” Eva broke, “I killed you…”
“I brought you to the pond in the middle of the night…”
“And what did you tell Dad?”
“I told him I didn’t know what happened… Let him think you disappeared,” Eva said weakly. “But I wasn’t… sane. I loved you.”
“If you loved me, you would’ve let them find my body.”
Eva screamed again as her head was forced underwater. She scratched the woman’s arms as Rose had scratched her arms ten years ago. She kicked and fought, but it was no use. Her vision went dark around the edges and her lungs burned.
Her body went limp and the woman let her go. Through the closing tunnel of her vision, she saw Hector approach the woman. She handed him a key, and he handed her a wad of cash.
Eva’s heart stopped just as she heard her husband’s distorted voice through the water, “If only Eva knew what she said in her sleep.”