Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Skeletons in the Closet

The sun had set. She knew this by the distant ringing in her ears, like a train whistle, miles away, that would soon arrive at the station. So soon in fact, that by the time she got out of bed and pulled on the lamp's cord, sending a sickly, yellow light over the small cabin, the ringing had turned to a full-force scream in her head. It was okay. She had gotten used to the ringing, and somehow it seemed to keep the smell away. Or maybe, she had just gotten used to that, as well. She shuffled over to the wood burning stove, opened the hatch with an ugly grunt, and poked at the burning wood. The varnish turned the flames a greenish-bluish color and stung her eyes. The old lady looked around, heaved a sigh, and slammed the door shut. She was out of kindling and would have to gather some more if she was to stay warm tonight. But it had gotten cold early this year, and there was nothing in the cabin left to burn, except for a stool. No. She would have to venture outside. "Ah. Can wait," she mumbled. "Can wait for a cup of tea. Blasted cold, can wait too. Ah." The old lady shook a fist at the October wind outside the window, which replied by shaking all the limbs in the forest against the glass pane. She shook the old tea pot, making sure it had plenty of water in it, and set it down on the stove. She tried to remember the last time she put fresh mint in the pot, but couldn't. That was okay, too. The bitterness of the parboiled leaves stayed on her tongue, keeping her company. She sat down on her stool, waiting for the tea and glanced around the room. Wood splinters covered the floor, cobwebs hung just out of reach, and by the door, the axe. Company. The wind spoke again, this time, bringing in little bits of sounds like birds, spooked off the grain field, fluttering all at once in different directions: laughter. "Oh my, is it that time again," the old hag cackled. "It seems to come around sooner and sooner each year, yeah." A grin spread from ear to ear, betraying hidden gaps in her mouth between stumps of rotting flesh. With a bounce in her step, she reached for the pantry door. "Yeah. I'll have to make room for some guests."

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