Penny

Writing Prompt: Take the lyrics of a popular song, and turn it into a horror story.

By Jess Charle

I dropped a penny, wet with my blood, into the long forgotten well in the backyard. “What did you wish for?” You stood behind me, the weight of your presence heavy on my back. I turned my face to look up at you as the tiny “tink” of the coin hitting the water below surfaced lazily into the thick Louisiana summer air. I’ll never tell you, I thought, because then it won’t come true.

I stood and turned towards you. You were so close to me, I could feel your breath on my face. “You’re in my way.”

You stepped to the side, and I made my way towards the crumbling house. Our house. I thought about my penny, stained with my blood. About what I was trading. My soul, for one wish. Pennies and dimes, for a kiss. Just one more kiss. I could hear your heavy footsteps behind me. I wasn’t looking for this, when we bought this house and got married. I thought I was getting a family and happiness. But now you’re in my way.

As I reached the door, you stepped in front of me, blocking my path. Your stare was holding, burrowing deep inside me, silently asking what I had done, what I was about to do. Your flannel shirt and jeans were ripped, you burnt skin showing. It was a hot night, but a cool wind blew around me, drying the sweat forming on my forehead. Your voice broke as you asked, “Where you think you’re going, baby?”

I remembered the night I met him, at the bar. His crooked smile from across the room had hooked me. I never felt a physical attraction like that. He came up to me, and started a conversation. Several beers later, I could barely believe the words escaping my mouth: “hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number.” He tilted his head to the side as he watched me, “So… call me maybe.” He took the business card and kissed my cheek, which burned with the memory of desire for days after. It was hard for me to look right at him, my attraction for him was overwhelming. I never felt the phrase “took my breath away,” until I met his gaze.

It’s not like I was a lonely, desperate wife. I’m attractive, I know this. I get approached by men often. But there was something about his stare that pulled at me.

He didn’t call for a week, but the second I heard his voice, it was over. I was falling head over heels in love. But, despite the initial attention he provided me, I quickly discovered that he was not the man I thought. He was impassive and withholding. He gave me nothing at all.

I looked up at you, tears stinging my eyes, “you’re still in my way.” You moved aside, your face drawn tight.

The first few months of the affair were a constant struggle between pure elation and a desperate need for my affection to be reciprocated. I begged him to see me more than the occasional weekend night. All those borrowed whispers and stolen nights from you. I knew that first night at the bar, the first time I laid eyes on him, that I was gone. I knew that those feelings for him were real. I didn’t know I would feel it quite like this though. That I’d become a stalker, that I’d be driven insane with my lust. My feelings for him took over me. I knew, deep down, that he wanted to be with me. But you were in my way.

I never realized before he came into my life, how badly I missed him. I wanted him to know, even though I was married to you, that he was my real soul mate. When I felt him starting to drift away from me, I thought… I thought having his child would keep him with me forever. I called him, begged him to see me one last time, seduced him. Nine months later, Mary was born. And she was perfect. And I forgot about him. I didn’t care about him anymore.

I thought the nightmare was over. Little did I realize, that while Mary made me sane, she had the opposite effect on you.

You knew, of course. You had discovered the affair. I was so busy with my own infatuation I didn’t notice yours. I didn’t see you following me. Didn’t realize you were watching us. That you knew Mary wasn’t yours. I never knew you’d be capable of this. Never thought you loved me like this.

I walked into the charred nursery and stood by the burnt crib. I wasn’t supposed to be here, the house was now condemned. But I had read the book from cover to cover, and knew what had to be done. I raised the urn and poured the ashes on her final resting spot. Your ghost stood behind me. I didn’t know if it was my memory of you manifested, or if I really was being haunted by the ghost of my dead husband, but I ignored you. You may have been in my way, but you’ll never be in her way. Never again.

I squeezed my hand over her ashes, forcing the blood to painfully escape the cut I had made moments before by the well. I had made a deal, my soul for one wish.

I wish Mary were alive again. That I could give her one more kiss, before escaping into oblivion.

“Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number.” My words from so long ago echoed in my mind, “so… call me maybe.”

Mary’s cry rang out into the devastated space.

I looked down at her face and smiled. I had told my sister I would be here. That I was going to kill myself in the room where she died. She’ll find her. She’ll raise her, and take care of her as if she were her own. I know she will.

I picked my crying child from the burnt crib, her body warm and soft in my arms, just like I remembered. I hugged her to my chest, and felt her cries subside as my body comforted her. I placed her delicately back down, bent over, and pressed my lips to her forehead.

Before you came into my life, Mary, I missed you so badly. You won’t remember me, but I hope you know that, I missed you. So so bad….

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