A dark flash fiction written for OLWG#68
It’s mid-morning. It’s one of those days. One of those days infused with cold, dark, and damp. It was certain that snow was coming soon. Mom, Da, Claire, and Baby William huddled beneath a threadbare blanket; sharing body heat. There was no fuel for the fire, there hadn’t been for weeks. The larder was bare containing only a few crumbs of stale bread and a wee bit of sour milk that Clair had brought home last night and used to feed the baby. Mom had shown her how to use the last of the sugar to sweeten the unpalatable milk. They’d dipped the bread into the mixture to soften it. William had eaten, the others had not. There was no sugar left.
Da and Mom exchanged looks over their daughter beneath hooded eyes. They seemed to challenge one another with silence. Then they both turned their eyes on Claire.
Finally, Dad cleared his throat, “Claire, ye need to go out and forage, or hunt, or scavenge, or trade, or whatever it is ye do out there when ye go fer food.”
“I went last night, Da,” she shot back, “it’s not my time. It’s too soon anyways, they’ll recognize me. You should go; it’s been almost a fortnight since you went.”
He pointed his finger and spoke, “See, it’s like this Claire,” he lifted his chin; his eyes drilled, “Yer mum and me; well, me an’ yer mum, we think, you know someone. We think ye mighta made the acquaintance of a rich man. We think he mighta took a fancy to ye. We think ye might be doin’ sumpin fer him and he tosses ye a few crumbs, ya know. Trouble is, Claire, them crumbs is getting sparse. Yer mum an’ I, well we’re thinkin’ ye oughta be workin’ harder an’ spendin’ more time on yer back.” He stopped talking then. His face twisted, his eyes dark. He glared at his daughter.
Claire was speechless; she looked at her mom, squatting on her haunches staring at something only she could see. Mom was smiling nodding her head; agreeing with what her man had said.
“Is that right, Mom?” Claire asked.
“It’s right!” Mom spat.
Claire reached for William, but her mom turned away with the baby. She put herself between Claire and the boy. Immediately Claire picked up a large rock and swung with all her might, connecting with the side of Da’s head. Her father fell, limp and lifeless. Her mother screamed. William cried, and Claire wrestled the baby away from his grandmother. Then she snatched the blanket and clutched it to her breast. Mom started to stand, daggers in her eyes. Claire turned, still clutching the stone, and shook it in her mother’s face.
“Don’t move, Mom. I’ll kill you too.”
Mom froze in place staring at her dead husband. With the blanket in one hand and her baby in the other, Claire wrestled Da’s shirt off of him and wrapped it around William. Mother and baby then turned away from what had once been their family and began walking. Before vanishing between the trees Claire paused and looked back over her shoulder.
“Don’t think about following us, Mom. We’re done, you and I, but you’ll always be my mother. Good Luck to you.” Turning, she walked away.
This week’s prompts were:
- Mom needs more sugar
- we think you know someone
- Claire left