Hello My Dears! I’m back from my vacation and I’m happy to report that it was an amazing week. It’s so important to take time for yourself to recharge and relax. I feel like my creativity has been reignited and I’m ready to create and take on loads of new projects.
I have a lot more stories that I’m currently outlining, and I have a collaboration with another artist in the works that I think will blow all your socks off!
For this week, please enjoy these photos with my lovely new mask from Another Face Studio on Etsy (www.etsy.com/shop/AnotherFaceStudio ) and my new horror story “Wedding Day.”
With Screams and Axes,
Ingrid’s wedding was planned for Saturday, November 7th. In the early hours of Friday, November 6th, her fiancé left her a note on her dresser, under the corner of her jewelry box, apologizing for what he was about to do. He committed suicide by jumping from the River Way Bridge a few hours later.
The first time Ingrid read the note, she didn’t believe it. Then she read it again, and again, and again. Then the call came and it was all real. She went back to bed that day and stayed there, firmly dug in under the covers while her mother and aunts whirled around her in confusion, answering phone calls, crying, and trying to cancel wedding plans. Instead of Ingrid’s wedding, they held a funeral instead.
After his funeral, Ingrid didn’t know what to do. She blamed herself for everything. She gyrated between bleak and profound grief, dizzying anger, and a tingling numbness. She quit her job as vet tech, and moved out of the apartment they had shared. Before the wedding, Ingrid’s parents had given her the the family’s cabin up in the mountains. It was to be a wedding present. The papers had all been signed, and the cabin was legally hers. So against the advice of her parents and everyone that cared for her, she loaded a few suitcases into the trunk of her car and headed for the mountain retreat so that she could be alone. At a gas station midway on the trip she bought a pregnancy test. In a McDonald’s bathroom down the road, she took the test and watched it turn positive.
It took her two days’ worth of driving to get to the cabin. She had driven fast and almost recklessly. The trees on the side of the dark highway seemed to reach out for her with long jointed limbs. When she became too afraid, she had spent the night in her car at a rest stop with the doors locked and one eye open. After slowly driving the car up the winding, dirt road that cut through the forest, she parked in front of the dark cabin. It looked just like she remembered it. She hadn’t visited in five years. The cabin had always seemed so far away. She brought her suitcases in, turned on the electricity and the heat, made a bed, and quickly collapsed down onto it. She didn’t want to do anything, and she didn’t want to talk to anyone. She didn’t even want to sleep. She just wanted to lie on her bed, and breathe in the musty woodsy air in a place that she had known since childhood. This cabin had been the seat of such fond and loving memories. She regretted that she had never brought him here. She had always meant to.
Her mind went back to the pregnancy test in the fast food rest room. She knew that she should tell someone or do something about it. But she told herself that she had time, and that this issue could wait like all the other issues she was ignoring. She needed to rest now.
She fell asleep on the bed with her suitcases still packed and with all the lights on. She dreamed of him. He was dark and shadowed and he was weeping. Behind him stood an army of leafless trees, branches twisted and gnarled. But then they weren’t trees, they were arms. They were coming for him. She cried with him and reached out to hold him, but he slipped through her fingers like smoke. He was sorry. He loved her. She was sorry. She was angry. She was betrayed. She still loved him. Many long fingers took him away, dragging him back into darkness.
She woke up slowly as the sun beamed through the gauzy curtains. She stared into the light for a few minutes before she rose to change her clothes, and get a glass of water. As she unbuttoned her blouse, she gasped as she looked at herself in the antique vanity mirror that had been her great grandmothers. In her reflection she saw her stomach had grown. Where it had once been lean and flat, there was now a small mound. She knew babies didn’t grow that fast. She put a hand on the round stomach to feel it and convince herself that it was really there. That’s when she heard a faint whisper. Like the sound of children playing outside half a mile away. It was faint and high-pitched, a sound she could have convinced herself she hadn’t really heard.
“I hear you,” she announced to whatever it was. Still holding her stomach she went to the kitchen for her glass of water, too tired to be afraid or take offense. She understood something had begun to happen that was outside of her control. Like everything in life, she was just going to have to wait and bear it.
He had been in therapy since they met five years ago. He had always been honest with her about his struggles with his mental health. She stood by him through his ups and downs, through medication changes and constant adjustments. She told him every day that she loved his mind even in its imperfection, even when it seemed to be malfunctioning or misfiring. When he had proposed to her it had been during a stretch of time where he seemed to be the healthiest he’d ever been. He had seemed like he had finally found and peace and happiness within himself. Seeing him like that had made her overjoyed. She had such hope for their future. The day before he left his note had been a simple, happy day. They had taken a long walk in the park, sat on a bench and drank coffee and talked. She couldn’t even remember what they had been talking about, but it had been warm and sweet. She had trouble accepting that she lost him at a time like that. She couldn’t understand why after all he’d been through, that he had given up when things had been so good.
She sat at the kitchen table with her elbows resting on the worn wood. A full, untouched glass of cool water sat in front of her, but she had her eyes closed. Even getting herself to drink water was a struggle. She was thirsty and hungry, and she told herself that she was most likely dehydrated. But the effort needed to care for herself was too much. She wanted to be thirsty and hungry. Let me die of thirst, she thought, staring at the water glass.
“Drink,” something seemed to whine in a whisper from far, far away. She didn’t question the voice, but rather snickered at its demands. She wasn’t going to listen to anyone. Then she felt something in the mound of her stomach, a churning feeling, or rather a stirring. Something was happening. It frightened her. She drank the water quickly in big gulps, and then shuffled to the front door. She thought it might be nice to sit on the front porch and look into the forest that surrounded the cabin.
She had never wanted children. He had never spoken about them or seemed too fond of them either. She had worried what bringing a child into their relationship would do. At times, she felt that his sanity and his health was a fine balancing act, one she had become skilled at maintaining. She didn’t want a baby to come tottering in, knocking everything to ruins. Ingrid wasn’t sure what he would say to her if he were here, if he’d be happy about her pregnancy or if he would be anxious and afraid. She told herself that she should feel more about it. That she should start deciding things for it, caring for herself so as to care for it, this last little remnant of him.
The trees were tall and they seemed to go on forever. She sat outside on the porch without a sweater even though it was cold and the wind was blowing. She thought that she could smell snow on the air, and wondered if everything would be covered in white tomorrow. She sat in a rocking chair that had been a fixture in the cabin since before she was born. She wondered how many babies had been rocked to sleep in it. She wondered if she would rock her baby to sleep here.
She stared out into the trees until her eyes grew still and heavy. She couldn’t hear the wind anymore or feel the cold. Deep in the woods, she saw the darkened figure of a man. He began to walk closer, raising his arms. As he got closer, she realized that he was growing taller and taller, as though he was being stretched. And what she had seen as his two arms were actually many arms, fanned out at his sides. She put a hand to her stomach as something told her he was coming for her. Not taking her eyes off the dark figure cutting through the trees, she retreated back into the cabin and locked the door. She sat in front of the door, too afraid to move and catch sight of what might be just out the window by now.
She began to doze off in front of the door, and eventually dragged herself to an old wicker love seat and allowed herself to fully fall asleep there. She dreamed about him again. They were in the black forest with the darkness all around. But this time she was able to touch him, hold him, kiss him. They began making love, even as the darkened trees seemed to grow closer and loom nearer and nearer. Then it wasn’t him anymore. The dark man from the trees was thrusting deep inside her. She began to feel the blood pour out of her as he went harder and harder. His many arms wrapped around her tightly and began to constrict so that she could no longer breathe and couldn’t scream. She woke up coughing and gagging.
Laying on the wicker love seat, with the early traces of dawn outside the windows, she felt a rumbling from her stomach. Looking down she saw that it had doubled in size. What was once a gentle mound was now a mountain. She ran her fingers over it. She looked like she was seven months pregnant. She struggled to push herself up from the love seat. Closer than it had been before she heard a voice whine, “Eat. EAT!” It was a high, muffled sound. As the voice chanted and chanted, instructing her to eat, she realized that it wasn’t one voice, but rather a chorus of many.
She had always harbored a secret fear that she would lose him to suicide. It was something that she was constantly ready to ward off if she could. He had spoken about it with her countless times as something he struggled with. But while they had been together, it had never been something that reached critical mass. She struggled to understand why he had chosen this time, this moment to end his life. Why he had let it all go now. His note had given little insight, leaving her with no other reason than: “this is what I must do.” She wondered if maybe that he did it because he had finally found true happiness. Maybe after struggling for peace his entire life, when he finally acquired it, he knew it would be fleeting. Perhaps he wanted to die perfectly happy, instead of waiting for the eventually down swing of sadness to drag him back down. Maybe this was all Ingrid could have given him.
She found two cans of soup in the pantry that weren’t expired and began to heat them both up. The little shrieking voices began to get louder, all speaking at once, so that she couldn’t decipher what each one was saying. As the soup heated, they seemed to grow louder and shriller. When she finally ate, they were happy. She could tell. Something inside of her started to feel warm. She felt a tinge of enjoyment at being able to make them pleased, whoever they were.
Ingrid thought perhaps she had lost her mind. That perhaps this wasn’t a pregnancy. Maybe it was an incredibly fast growing type of cancer and now it had spread to her brain. Maybe she was possessed by demons or ghosts. She looked down at her large, protruding belly and realized that she was the mother of darkness, impregnated by grief. She laughed.
That’s when the pains started; sharp pangs that radiated from her stomach to all over her body. She fell to the ground and waited for another wave of cramping stings and nausea. She resigned herself to whatever was happening to her now. She couldn’t control anything, she never could. The voices were screaming inside. They shrieked in a high pitch cry, telling her they were frightened. Then the birthing began.
Contractions took her by force and she found herself pushing in spite of herself. With each push her body began to release tiny black spiders. They scurried across the floor as they found themselves free of her. Hundreds and hundreds of spiders poured out of her. She cried when she saw them, and they began to crawl all over her, little black legs tickling her skin. “Mother,” she heard a thousand voices cry. “Mother.”