Tuesday, 4 December 2012

FLASH FICTION AT FIVE: Morrigan by Amanda McKeon

Pulling on her converse and tying the laces loosely she crept out of the room and tried to find her bearings. She didn’t know her way around the hospital so she just took a chance and went left stopping to listen at each closed door before gently lowering the handle and looking inside. Apparently she was still downstairs in A&E and a glance at her watch told her it was only 5.30 am, which explained the morgue-like quiet of the place. 

The rooms seemed to be used for people waiting to be taken up to wards or waiting to be discharged and each time she put her head round a door she would be met by snoring or moaning or a nurse busily seeing to someone on a gurney. Closing one such door quietly she looked up to see the family room, where she had been waiting the night before, only a few doors further down the corridor. Just as she was beginning to lose hope of finding them she opened the door of a room that was completely quiet and apparently empty. Inside there were two beds, each protected by a pink curtain. Mo stepped inside the room and whispered, “Hello?” but got no answer. With her heart pounding she drew back the first curtain and saw the outline of a body under a white sheet. She paused momentarily. She could get in a lot of trouble but there was no turning back now, she had to look. Her hands shook violently as she drew back the sheet to reveal her mother’s face. A gasp escaped from her and she muffled the sound with her hand. So it was true. Her beautiful mummy was dead. The mouth was slightly open as though she were just about to say something but the eyes were closed. Instinctively, Mo felt under the sheet for her hand and had to work her own warm hand into the cold waxy lifeless hand of her mother. She stood there waiting for the tears to come but they wouldn’t. It was just too unreal to grasp, despite the evidence in front of her. This simply could not be happening. Turning to the other bed, she reached out to pull back the other curtain where her father presumably lay but her hand wedged in the fixed hold of her mother’s and she was unable to move. Without thinking she jerked her arm free and the arm on the bed fell heavily out from under the sheet and hung from the gurney, the aqua marine sleeve pushed above the elbow. In the crease a tiny incision presumably used for a needle, began to bleed and the blood ran like water from the hole, pooling crimson on the floor below. It didn’t pump or even seep out- it was lifeless and Mo understood in that instant what dead really was. 

“Oh mummy!” She reached as quickly as she could for the arm and tried to put it back under the sheet but it refused to go back under and kept falling lifelessly to the ground spilling more and more blood. “I’m sorry mummy, I’m so sorry! This is all my fault!” Tears blinded her and fell freely, mixing with her mother’s blood that continued to drain out of her. “Stop mummy, please!” she sobbed begging with all her heart and soul, with every atom in her body, that this was not happening, that it was some kind of horrible nightmare and that she would soon wake up. Because the thing deep inside her that was rising up and ripping her apart was coming on full throttle and it rode the wave of a single thought coming from outside as well as within: “You did this! You did this! You did this Morrigan!” The voice inside her head grew louder and louder until it became deafening and she had to block her ears with her hands so the arm fell again and blood slowly filled the semi cupped hand and stained the floor below. Her mother’s eyes flew open and were filled with horror. Mo shut her own eyes and began to scream and when she looked again her mother was as she had been before, her mouth slightly open but her eyes closed. The door flew open and Aidan rushed in and pulling her to her feet dragged her still screaming from the room. 

“Mo! Mo! Stop it Mo! Calm down!” He held her face in his hands and patted her cheek to try to force her to come to her senses. A nurse hovered behind with a plastic cup but the guard waved her away saying, “It’s okay nurse, she’ll be okay in a minute. She just got a fright, that’s all... It’s okay Mo. Everything’s going to be okay. You’re okay.” And holding her tight he rocked her until her breathing calmed and her sobbing subsided. She tried to sit up and peal away the hair that was plastered to her face. He handed her a tissue and she cleaned herself up as best she could. “You don’t understand," she said after she had blown her nose and straightened her hair. “It’s all m-y f-aul-t," she could barely get the words out. 

“Ah, Jesus Mo, don’t say things like that! Sure how could it be your fault? Ye weren’t even there. And anyway, yer dad had a heart-attack at the wheel. That’s what caused the accident!” Hearing the words uttered aloud sent shockwaves through Mo. Confirmation that she was indeed evil. She had killed her own parents, had brought their deaths to them. Deep inside her she could discern the screeching caws of the crow and a raucous cackling of something else—something not human. 

“God... I’m a witch," she whispered.

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