by, Melissa R. Mendelson
A bloodcurdling scream pierced the night. The bedroom door flew open. Fear was the cold breeze slipping through the open window. A small, pale child shuddered, gripping their covers tight. Darkness fell back as the parents flipped on the lights. No monsters were seen. It was just a nightmare. The child fell back into bed, exhausted from terror, and the parents waited. It was just a nightmare, so why did the child seek haven beneath the covers?
Twenty-five years later. The morning rush was in full swing at a local diner. Children screamed and played. Dishes clicked and clacked. High heels tapped against tiled floor. Notepads flew open, and pens dug in hungrily. Napkins unfolded, and drinks were sipped. A cup of coffee was savored by a lone occupant twirling a diamond ring around and around her finger.
“Second thoughts?” Jessica took a seat opposite her friend. “Is that why you took today off from work?”
“No.” Melanie placed the cup of coffee down onto it saucer. “Work was getting a little too much, so I took today off.”
“Well, Mel, you’re a legal secretary.” Jessica waited for the waiter to approach and ordered a soda. “That’s how you met him. Maybe with him being a big shot lawyer, you don’t need to work so hard.”
“I don’t know. I just have this bad feeling.” She continued to twirl the diamond ring around her finger. “I don’t know why.”
“I know what we can do.” Melanie looked up at her. “There’s this psychic fair going on in town. After lunch, we go there and get our futures told.”
“I don’t know, Jessica.”
“That’s the problem, Melanie. You don’t know.”
The psychic fair was held in the center of town. Apparently, a lot of people were playing hooky today. Lines were formed at multiple booths. Tarot, crystals, palm reading signs flapped against a gentle breeze. Gasps of awe whispered across passing ears. Most of the readers were women. As adults had their futures told, their children’s faces were painted into animal-like faces. Melanie left Jessica at one of the booths and continued to make her way through, but then someone called her by name.
“Melanie?” It was an older woman with brown and silver hair. “Why don’t you have a seat?” Melanie looked at the small line beside the booth. “It’s okay. Have a seat.” Melanie sat in a cold, metal chair. “Are you having second thoughts?”
“About a reading?” She followed the woman’s gaze down to the ring that she still twirled around. “Oh. Maybe.”
“Give me your hands.” Melanie’s hands remained folded in her lap. “It’s okay. I won’t bite.” Melanie gingerly placed her hands into the women’s, and her grip slowly tightened. “Let’s see. What does your future hold?”
The woman slumped back in her seat. Her head fell forward. Her hands were ice cold, sending shudders down Melanie’s spine. Her eyes remained shut. A sinister voice slipped from her lips. “I found you.”
The woman released Melanie’s hands. She jumped out of her seat. She ran her hands across her pants, but they were still shaking. Tears stung her eyes, and her lips trembled. “You need to go. You need to get away from me.”
“What? What just happened?”
“Get away from me!” Melanie sat up, trembling. “Please. Just go.”
“You know what? You’re a fraud.” She grabbed the twenty that she had initially placed on the table and crammed it into her pocket. “Thanks for nothing.” She stormed away, but the look of fear on that woman’s face still haunted her.
“I’m sorry, Mel.” Her friend’s voice failed to soothe her. “If I knew that was going to happen, I wouldn’t have talked you into going. You want me to come over?”
Melanie stared out her kitchen window. A full moon met her gaze. The backyard was covered in shadow. A cold breeze slipped in through the open window. She quickly closed it and crossed her arms over her chest. “No. It’s late, and I have work tomorrow.”
“Okay, but give me a call tomorrow.”
“I will. Night.” Melanie closed her cell. “Maybe I will just call it a night.”
It was only nine p.m. Reruns consumed the television line-up. She was in no mood for the ten o’clock news. He called earlier, but the conversation was quick. He had another meeting, and he wouldn’t be stopping by tonight. It was just her alone in the house, and normally that did not bother her. But it did tonight.
10:05 p.m. Sleep finally found her. Her mind fell into darkness. Her body rested comfortably beneath the covers. Her toes curled, and her hands twitched. Something sharp struck her side, sending her sitting up in bed, and her covers fell away, exposing her to darkness.
Soft, green light flowed from underneath the closet door. She slowly got out of bed and placed her hand on the doorknob. It was warm and slowly turned beneath her hand. She stepped back, mixed with curiosity and fear. Green light washed over her face, and she felt at peace. She stepped closer, welcoming the light, and something wrapped around her wrist. Fear stabbed through her, but it wouldn’t let go. She screamed, but it was too late. She was hurled into the closet, and the door slammed closed behind her.
10:15 p.m. He walked into a dark house. She must have gone to bed early. He made his way to the bedroom, but the bed was empty. He left the dozen roses on top of the covers, and something glinted against the moonlight. It was the diamond ring. He picked it up, and his hand touched the closet doorknob. It was hot. He stood up and opened the door, and a scream rose in his throat. She was curled into a ball. Her skin was painted green, and her eyes were bloodshot red. And her face was frozen into a porcelain mask of pure terror.