Member Blog Post
* I wrote this last week, it's a more of a suspenseful drama than a horror and it's about 3000 words long. I hope whoever takes the time to read it enjoys it!
By: Trevor C Botts
It was about six o’clock when I drowsily walked into the kitchen; I let out a deep yawn, shuffled to the center of the room and looked around. I had just woken up and I knew already that if I didn’t start at once it would be noon by the time I finished all of my morning chores. So I let out another yawn, gently rubbed my eyes with the side of my hand, and went straight to work. My morning chores were rather extensive but nothing I couldn’t handle, as they say a little hard work builds character, but at the time to a twelve year-old girl it was a rather heavy burden. Still you’d never hear it from me, I’d just grin and bear it, I guess I’ve always been that type. Well at least I used to be that type. The type that waits around for things to improve on their own, the kind that tried the find the silver lining and even where I couldn’t, I’d just assume there was one. I knew my situation; I knew my responsibilities, so without complaint or a moment’s delay I went about my work. I trudged over to the kitchen door, my bear feet squeaking softly against the hardwood floor, and I put on my boots. As with every morning, I started with the hens. Feeding the hens and collecting the eggs was my least favorite of chores so I was always rather anxious to get it out of the way. The hens were the worst, foul birds, always pecking at the hand that feeds them. But it wasn’t especially hard or time consuming like some of my other chores so I was able to put up with it. Once I had finished with the chickens I cleaned off the table, careful to put everything back in its rightful place. Then I drew the hot water for morning tea and placed it on the stove, and I grabbed a rag to start doing the dishes from yesterday’s dinner.
“It’s a tolerable day….” I remember thinking to myself as I peered through the dirt smeared glass of the kitchen window. It was neither too hot nor too cold a rare happening for that late in the fall; and the way the overcast skies blocked the brightness of the rising sun but also robbed the pastures of their mirthful morning glow. A thick fog rolled through the pastures and crows cackled from the treetops. Yes tolerable is just about as much as I could’ve said for it. Neither good nor bad, quite simply another day no different from the days before, and most likely not to be undistinguished from the days following it…. That’s how it started out, just another day like any other, I never would’ve thought that “tolerable” day would change my life forever….
I continued to gaze through the red and white drapes and take in the smudged images of the outside. And as I did every other day I began to wonder what else could be out there. What the world was like beyond those empty pastures, I wondered what it would be like to see the cities, to take in the times and the culture. I wondered if there was more to life than just staring out the window, if there even was a world beyond those pastures. Sure I heard about it in school, I’d seen pictures, the occasional movie, but I’d never truly left the village. And in those days even the village seemed like a dream. I knew from my child hood that if I ran to the top of that hillside that I would’ve been able to see the steeple of the church; but it may as well have be a hundred miles from my farmhouse. I wondered what it would be like to be able to live. To be able to truly live. Not with the restrictions and burdens placed on me by others, by society, but to be free. To be free to live, to go to different places, see different things, to experience life outside of books, outside of the movies, to truly know it. Could such a thing exist? Could such a thing really exist? To simply be allowed to live, to make of life what you will, could it exist? It seemed like such a simple thing, but I couldn’t say if such a thing existed…. Maybe to someone on the other side of that window, maybe somewhere beyond those pastures, maybe out there someone knew if it existed. But me… I never had that taste of freedom. I was stuck at the farmhouse, and they (if they even existed) were on the outside, and that is simply how it was. I knew my station, I knew my obligations, but I couldn’t help but think… I couldn’t help but hope… that there was something more to my life than that farmhouse, something more than chores, responsibilities, and those endless pastures that served as my prison walls. There had to be something more? Suddenly my day dream was interrupted by the gruff raspy howls of my grandfather.
“LIN! …Lin! Lin, where are you! What are you doing Lin! What’s taking you so long?” He hollered irately.
“Just a second grandpa, I’ll be there soon.” I replied pleasantly as I turned off the water and rolled my sleeves back down.
“Hurry up Lin! Hurry up with my tea! Goddammit Lin it should have been here fifteen minutes ago! LIN!” He continued to yell.
“Yes grandpa, I’m coming. I have the water ready; I just need to steep….” I began to reply still trying to keep the pleasantness in my voice.
“It doesn’t take fifteen minutes to steep a bloody tea bag Lin!” He yelled
“I know grandpa, I’m sorry…. I was….”
“I don’t want your excuses I want my tea!” He howled down at me.
Tears began to form in the corners of my eyes as I went about preparing his tea. But I didn’t say a word; I just bit down on my lip and fought back against the pain, against the sadness, against the anger that lived deep inside me. I knew it wasn’t his fault, I knew he couldn’t help it. I tried to be nice about it, he was my grandfather, and despite all that was happening I did love him.
My parents died in a car accident when I was nine; I remember the fear, the uncertainty, the pain and dismay of having your whole existence fall apart in front of you. I was just a nine year-old girl, and everything that I had known and loved vanished from my life. But my grandfather was there for me when that happened. He took me in, gave me a home, and comforted me. I still remember the good times we had, going to the park, tending the garden, taking in a Sunday matinée, playing cards on the porch on warm summer afternoons. It wasn’t so much what we did as it was having someone there for me. Knowing that there was something stable in my life, knowing that I was loved and having someone to love in return; I didn’t take that for granted. Had it not been for my grandfather I don’t know that I ever would’ve been able to cope with my parent’s death. He was all I had, the only one left after my life fell apart, he held me together, kept me from giving in to the sorrow and bitterness. He saved me from myself, and I was truly grateful for him. He was always there for me, and I wanted to be there for him.
At first it was okay, the tumor hindered his balance and mobility, but I did my very best to help him. I would take care of all the chores and take his meals up to him and he’d smile and tell me stories about the good old days, we’d laugh and play cards, almost as if nothing had ever happened. But as the tumor continued to grow that all changed, he stopped telling me stories and laughing over card games. First he became cold and distant, then depressed. I was there by him for all of those phases, even when he didn’t want me to be, I was there for him. Then he changed again, he wasn’t quiet and sad any more but vociferous and angry, he grew mean and spiteful toward me. I became the scapegoat for his suffering and his lunacy. I knew he wasn’t in his right mind, I knew he was hurting, but it was a lot for a little girl to bear. I hoped and prayed that it was just another phase... that he would return to the way he was. I longed for the days when he would sit down next to my bed side and comfort me. But days turned to weeks and weeks turned to months and every day the man who he was, the loving grandfather I so longed for, seemed more and more imaginary.
He continued to yell down profanity while I prepared his tea. I left the sink, grabbed the kettle, and walked over the corner cupboard. He was still yelling down at me but I was doing my best to channel it out. I was doing my best to ignore it. I had grown quite good at toning it out, but it didn’t stop the tears from forming in the corners of my eyes. I looked in the cupboard and didn’t see the tea bags up front so I began removing the bottles of various herbs and powders out of my way. In the very back of the cupboard was a box of chamomile tea, I pulled out two bags and stuck them in the kettle to steep, and then I began to put the bottles back in the cupboard. There were only a few bottles left on the counter when I happened upon it… something that I had forgotten about or at least had never thought about, not until that moment anyways… but with the bottle in my hand, and my grandfather cursing me…. It was a small corked bottle, couldn’t hold more than six ounces if filled to burst, but I felt that would be more than enough. In it was about five ounces of a white powder and running around the side was a label reading “Strychnos nux vomica”. I remembered my father picking that up when the raccoons were raiding the hen house, “it was some kind of rat killer” he had told me. He put some of that on a chicken carcass left over from dinner and he sat it outside the hen house. The next day I remember him burying three raccoons in the backyard.
I turned the bottle around in the palm of my hand as I listened to my grandfather utter bitter curses in a seething rage. I wiped the tears from my eyes and uncorked the bottle, there was no smell it, and it looked similar to sugar. I remembered my father didn’t use a whole lot of it on the raccoons, but grandpa was bigger, so I took a soup spoon and delivered three heaping lumps to the chamomile tea.
I was still crying as I walked up the stairs, with each step I grew more uneasy. With each step I wondered if I should just go back. I wanted to go back, I didn’t want to hurt him, but at the same time I couldn’t stand him. I hated the man he had become; I hated being stuck in that house catering to him every minute of every day. I hated not being able to live my life because I was too busy keeping that bitter ungrateful old man alive. I didn’t want to hurt him, but I knew; I knew I was doing what had to be done. I knew it more and more with each curse he called out against me. And it was this knowledge of necessity that drove me up those stairs, not the hatred but the need that drove me to kill.
I wiped my eyes once more before entering the room, and I bit down on my lower lip in an effort to gain composure. I hesitated for a second as I reached for the doorknob, but I had come too far to second-guess myself, I had to do it, I had to….
The door opened with a long slow creek, and I stood in the doorway for a while as if experiencing all of this in a dream. It was like I wasn’t even in my body but was watching it from the outside, it felt odd and at first all I could do was stand there, I felt weak and a bit sick to my stomach. I suppose the gravity of the situation would have this effect on most people…. Again I found myself wanting to go back, trying to convince myself that if I just waited another day or two then maybe the tumor would do it for me…. But I was done waiting, I was resolute. I bit down on my lip, harder this time, until the tip of my tongue felt wet and detected the bitter taste of iron.
“Don’t just stand there you useless bitch! Bring it here!” He squawked from his bed.
Slowly I walked over and took the seat I was accustomed to sitting at in the early stages of his disease. I sat the tray on my lap and poured his tea. I blew gently on it to cool it down. Then I gingerly held the cup to his mouth. He sipped at it for a little while then he reached out a trembling hand and took the cup from me. I left the room. I waited outside in the hallway for what seemed like an eternity, each second that passed seemed like an hour. I began to wonder if I had used enough, if I had failed, the thought made my throat dry and my stomach churn. What if he lived? What if it didn’t work? What then? Would I have it in me to try again, could I work up the nerve to attempt it a second time? It took me three months of weathering his bitterness and hatred to try it once. How long would I suffer before I worked up the courage to try it a second time? I had broken out in a cold sweat considering what could happen if it should fail, then suddenly he called out.
“What’s happening…. What did you do to my tea you little whore?” He screamed “You bitch, you filthy dirty bitch! What are you trying to do to me? After all that I’ve done for you! You miserable wh….”
As I walked back into the room he glared at me screaming at the top of his lungs, then his screaming stopped and he grew quiet, the hatred faded from his eyes and was replaced by a sort of empty bewilderment. His tea cup fell to the ground shattering on impact. At that moment he began to seize up, his head began to quake with violent muscle spasms which then radiated down until his whole body was shaking feverously. The bed shook with him, rattling and banging against the wall as if in an earthquake. Drool began to bubble out the sides of his dry chapped mouth and his eyes rolled around wildly in his skull like marbles before rolling back into his head leaving only the vein striped whites showing. He was gasping at first, quick breaths attempting to suck in whatever air he could. As I looked down at him and a look of contentment mixed with horror crossed my face. It was an odd feeling, a sense of freedom, of retribution, but also one of loss, and sadness. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him, off of what I had done to him, it frightened me to know that I could do something like that, but at the same time, I knew it was over, all my suffering, all my pain, it would die with him on that bed. I watched him go on like that for a little over an hour, I began to wonder if it was ever going to end, but then the shaking stopped, the gasping faded, and he arched his back like some kind of circus contortionist. Though he only stayed in that ungodly position for a few seconds it seemed like an eternity before he fell to the bed with a hard thud. Then it was done. No gasping. No quaking. No rolling eyes of gaping mouth, just done.
I looked at him for a second; taking some time to appreciate the stillness, the silence that so well accompanied the finality of my actions. In the distance I heard larks singing their morning songs as the sun rose above the distant hilltops chasing the fog from the pastures. I took a deep breath, the first breath of my new life; then I walked over to him. I put my hand on his hand, it was pale, moist from sweat, and cold as ice, but I held it for a minute. I bent down and whispered in his ear “I love you grandpa.” Then I leaned over and kissed his gently on the forehead. I closed his eyes, folded his hands. Then I got up softly closed the door, and left. Over the sunlit pastures, beyond the church steeple and the confines of my self made prison…. I left and I never looked back.