Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer
Hook stemmed wild blackberry reaches up to pull me down into the barely visible ghost footprint of her home. It has been years since I’ve stood here. Years since we did what we did and cackled and spat as we did it.
If I’m honest, the hint memory of our dirty deeds still aches at my cheeks. It wasn’t funny. I know that but, sometimes, even the foulest of things overwhelm and bring to us a sickly after-taste of joy.
If we are to be honest.
I stand in this now long empty place on this ruined and long forgotten avenue behind the great factory and I remember her porch and her door. I remember Halloween…
I recall how she decorated her tiny cottage with the most insanely ghoulish horrors. Again, I dampen my smile. All year long she would toil to craft the replicas that she’d sit in the old rocker on her pouch. One year it was Freddy and the next it was Jason but the most grotesque was when the skinned corpse of Mylène Jampanoï from Pascal Laugier’s ancient classic Martyrs sat and dripped on display. The dear old thing, ever the literal.
“Hello, Miss Grunes”, she does not look at me but I feel the peel of her gaze.
“I know who you are, child.”
“… so happy you agreed to see me. I’ve travelled a very long way. I want to tell you I’m sorry. I know I’m not obliged to but something about how it all ended stayed with me. We were children, Miss Grunes. Just kids, though I know that’s no sort of excuse”, I cough into the ball of my fist.
“You are wrong. Youth is a satchel that must be filled with wrong doings. These are the things that define you. The things that conduct you into becoming your true self.”
“You do not show your age on your flesh but you do in your words. I expected you to be more… worn, or something.”
“Oh, I’m worn, child. I’m all but worn right through. But your coming here today has certainly perked me up.”
“We only visited on Halloween. Though, we knew that you had no one. That you existed in your little world all alone. That the company had put you out to pasture, as it were. Did you know we were your tormentors? As we gobbled down your home-made treats. Nature’s candy, right? The graffiti was cruel. You’d served this community so well and so long. But killing your cats was evil. We knew that you had connected with them. We saw how you petted and cared for them when no one else would. Did you love them? Do you even love?”
“I think about them often. But, in the end, they were but cats. Meaningless creatures to make you feel wanted when you are not.”
“We reduced your house to cinder. I’m dying, Miss Grunes. I’m sorry. I really am…”
“All your little friends are dead. Not one came to me as you have now. So, thank you for that. Funny, isn’t it? How just because something is natural does not mean it cannot bite. Just look at this beautiful tasty bramble as it gnaws at your heels. You need not worry, for in the end I am nothing. Just an outdated service synthetic. I have no feelings. I cannot love nor shake uncontrollably from loss as you can. The cancer, does it hurt? Dear sweet child, are you not just so very impressed with the slow, slow drip of my revenge?”
Hansel and Gretel 2.0, and then some. Great tale Hari.
Thanks R.J, appreciate your comments 🙂
I agree that one hit hard. Great work. Perfect for Halloween!..
I wrote this one as a drabble for this Halloween but had to expand on it when it didn’t quite make the grade. Thanks for reading 🙂
I read something once about service ai in the future being modelled around older people. Giving us a sense of comfort and security. This story flips that notion on its head. Excelent.
Many thanks Emma. I kind of imagined that her vindictive streak evolved through many years of being taken for granted in her place of work.
Ooph! That was brutal. Great story!
‘Youth is a satchel that must be filled with wrong doings’ – fantastic line.
Thank you very much Steve. Appreciate you took the time to read it. 🙂 🙂