Apr 17, 2021

Fiction Contemporary

*Not related to the prompt*

Note: This is part two of a different story. The first one is “Going Back” from Contest #75. This story is quite old, so you most likely haven’t read it. Here’s the link: https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/contests/75/submissions/49248/.

This story is for my parents. They’re fortunately nothing like Aina.


*~*~*


I slowly opened my eyes, feeling groggy. The last thing I remembered was Aina, my horrible stepmom, dramatically revealing herself before injecting me with something that made me conk out. My head throbbed and ached as I groaned. Where was I?

A sound engulfed me, and I felt fear rise in my chest.

No. It couldn’t be.

My eyes shot open, and once I saw where I was, I felt like screaming at the top of my lungs.

I was in the room.

God. Jesus. Please help me.

The spiders were everywhere. Everywhere. They surrounded me, scuttling around and filling me with terror. I shrieked as one the size of my palm climbed up my leg. My heart raced, running a marathon. The dank smell of cobwebs and dust became stronger, trying to suffocate me. I could almost hear Aina’s harsh laughter as she watched me through her security cameras. 

I was back in the room of my deepest fear. 

God. Jesus. Please help me. 

My mind couldn’t take it any longer. Haunting memories hung in the room like ghosts. The face of Aina seemed to blend with the spiders. The room spun in circles.

It was too much. It was too much for me. 

God. Jesus. Please help me.

I blacked out and slipped back in time.


*~*~*


*Nine years ago*


“Wh-Where are you taking me?” I asked Aina quietly, my voice shaking. 

“Somewhere,” Aina snapped back at me. “That’s where. Now shut up and walk.” 

My mouth closed immediately, and I straightened before Aina could scold me for my posture. Even back then, I knew not to mess with Aina.

Aina stopped at a door, picking me up with her strong arms. 

“I hope you learn your lesson,” Aina whispered into my ear. Her breath felt ice cold against my skin. 

Then she threw open the door, tossed me inside the room like I was a sack of potatoes. The door slammed shut, and the sound echoed through the mansion. I heard the sound of a lock clicking. 

My eyes fell on the first spider, around the size of a gumdrop. And then I noticed the other ones. Dozens, maybe hundreds, creeping across the room and even the walls. Cobwebs hung in the corners. Huge posters of spiders, some bigger than I, draped the walls. 

I would never forget the sound of my first scream in the room. It resonated through my ears until it was the only sound I could hear. My eyes stung with hot tears as my throat grew hoarse, and the spiders surrounded me.

Fear raced through every inch of my body as I lay there, paralyzed. I could only stare at the spiders, wishing for them to go away as tears ran down my cheeks.


*~*~*


I woke up in my room, comforted by the warm blankets that wrapped around me like I was a human burrito. Aina must’ve picked me up and put me back in my room while I was passed out.

I felt slightly embarrassed. I passed out when Aina injected me back in her car and again in the room of spiders. What type of girl was I? 

Those thoughts bugged me as I climbed out of bed and headed toward my closet. Staring at my clothes from two years ago all lined up neatly, it all started to come back to me. I had been kidnapped by my stepmother and thrust back into my own life. 

What were Isaiah and Ruth thinking? What about Sarah and Jonas and all of my other friends? Did they think I had died? Were they out looking? Were they praying?

All I wanted to do was find my siblings and step-siblings and get out of here and go back to the church. I didn’t belong in this cursed home anymore. 

My door creaked open. I braced myself and turned, expecting Aina or my parents to barge in, but Zeth stood at the door. 

Before saying a word, Zeth rushed over and hugged me tight with his strong arms. His embrace seemed to make everything feel better.

“I missed you,” he admitted as he pulled away. “One year and ten months are too long to be without my sister.”

I nodded, blinking back happy tears. I couldn’t remember the last time Zeth had shown me such affection. “I missed you too.”

“I heard screams from the spider room last night,” Zeth told me. “I had thought it was impossible, but I checked inside. It was you! So I carried you back.”

I stared at him. Out of my five siblings, Zeth had been the most distant from me. Constant failure seemed to work that way with him. Even before I got kicked out, I rarely saw him. Except for on the news occasionally. 

And now he was the one who found me first?

“Thank you,” I managed. “I hate that room.”

Zeth shook his head. “Those spiders creep even me out. I know I wasn't that friendly with you in the past, but you're still my sister. I don’t know how you handle those spiders, Zunairah.” 

I winced. “Could you call me Esther? My real name?”

Zeth raised an eyebrow. “Why? What could’ve happened in one year and ten months that would make you want to change your name?”

“I’d rather wait until the other four are with us as well.” I frowned. “Where is everyone?”

“Aris, Alya, Arnaud, and Zizi are at home and still sleeping. They’re all fine. Mostly.”

I sighed in relief. All of them were alive, and none of them were away. 

But at the same time, none of them being away was also a bad thing. I didn’t want them to suffer from Aina’s wrath. 

Especially Zizi. Her room was nothing special. Just one that was empty, with no form of life or entertainment. Zizi’s fear of being left alone went crazy there. 

I couldn’t imagine what it would be like for a girl like her. She was only twelve, the youngest in the family, but she had already gone through so much. 

Ziz’s legs had been amputated a few years ago. She didn’t deserve to be stuck in a room with the memories of being alone in the hospital, dying. The only thing good that came out of her hospital time was her kindness and empathy.

I shuddered as I remembered the others’ fear rooms. Germs and dirt plagued Aris’s room. She had studied germs for years, studying to be a microbiologist. Her study had overwhelmed her, turning her passion into her fear.

Zeth's room contained all sorts of memories and photos of all of the times he had failed. All of the lost ice skating competitions, all of the times he tripped and fell on the ice at the most important spin. It haunts him. Zeth sometimes saw himself as nothing but a mistake. His room only boosted those untrue thoughts.

Arnaud’s room was smaller than a closet, and Alya’s room was pitch-black dark. The rooms were truly masterful. It reflected the darkest times of our lives. Arnaud and Alya weren't in the best juvenile detentions. Tiny and dark, it caged them. With no way to escape.

As for my spiders . . .

No. Those memories had to be caged.

I never quite understood where Aina had gotten the idea of fear rooms from. Nor did I understand why Aina trapped us in our own fears in the first place. She never explained her reasons or much of her childhood. Just words to describe it.

My siblings didn’t deserve to be locked up with their fears while I was in the safety of a church with kind people. 

For the first time, I felt determined to speak up to Aina and tell her how she’d been ruining our lives for years. We’d been through too much. 

The door creaked open, and Aina poked her head into the room. That dissolved any determination and bravery that I had a moment before.

“Breakfast’s ready,” she called. “Get downstairs!” 

We immediately ran down the stairs towards the dining room. We didn’t want to disobey Aina.


*~*~*


Hugs, tears, punches, scoldings, smiles, laughter, and wheat bread with butter were the majority of my breakfast. All of my siblings were overjoyed to see me. For just one meal, everything seemed bright and happy. For once, it felt like we were a happy family.

“I was back in my fear room once more, but Zeth thankfully got me out of there. And now, I’m here with you guys!” I finished my story about what happened while I was gone.

“It’s not a happily ever after story,” Alya complained. “Look at our family. We have siblings who don’t get along. Not to mention brainwashed stepparents who we see once in a gazillion years and a mom that hates us. We’re all terrible!”

Arnaud snorted. “You’re calling me terrible? I’m the best guy you’ll ever meet!”

Alya shoved Arnaud lightly, barely holding in her laugh. Arnaud flicked her back, which started a fight of swatting each other like they were seven years old. 

Zizi bit off a chunk of her bread, her wheelchair squeaking. “Are you moving back for good? I hope so. You're a good sister."

I shrugged. “I honestly don’t know. I was brought back against my will. But I’m glad I’m back, even if it’s only for a little while. I missed you guys.” 

Aris smiled. “I missed you as well. You’re my sister, after all. One year, ten months, two weeks, and four days is an immeasurable amount of time to be without my beloved stepsister."

"You counted?" Alya asked, rolling her eyes. "Wow, what a shock."

Aris ignored Alya. Her eyes wandered over to Aina. "I'm jovial that you've returned, but—" She didn't finish her sentence.  

“What about the crazy and psychopathic mom that still miraculously lives in our household?” Arnaud supplied. "The woman who's ruining my awesomeness?"

Alya laughed and rolled her eyes again. Even Zeth and Aris stifled a chuckle. Zizi did a double-take to Arnaud’s bluntness, but she didn’t say anything and cracked a smile.

I imagined that two years ago, I would’ve laughed as well. But my time at a church had changed me; I felt less connected with my siblings. My church had taught me not to hate others. Especially my parents. 

Was it right to judge Aina in this way? We didn’t even understand her motives!

As if in response, the memories of my childhood flashed through my mind. In the fear room, the very sight of those spiders overwhelming me; getting yelled at by Aina, feeling the sting in every word; getting hit by her ruler, which I found ironic because I was sure that she never measured how much the things she did to us hurt inside. 

How could any motive or past make that right? 

Despite my inner conflict, I didn’t say a word. I didn’t have the right to defend Aina when she had hurt us so much. I talked with my siblings for the rest of the meal, enjoying myself. 

A few times, I glanced over at Aina, who was sitting at another table just out of earshot. She had been watching us, her eyes filled with sadness and wistfulness. I couldn’t help but wonder why.

When she saw me looking, her eyes would harden again. But I couldn’t miss that other side of her. It was still there. 

Summer vacation trailed on. Every day, I went through mind-numbing activities automatically like I was a robot. The same actions meant the same thoughts.

The fear room. My wonderful siblings. The memory of the church that used to be my home: Something so close, yet so far away. Aina. That glimpse of another side of her. The few things I remember about Aina's childhood: Abuse and fear. I wondered if that had to do with my sibling's fear rooms.

All of those things swirled around in my mind. 

Day after day, I felt myself get overwhelmed with memories and questions. Even after one year and ten months, I was still going crazy in my own home.

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160 comments

Writer Maniac
11:58 Apr 17, 2021

Woah, this was quite an interesting story! The way you described the spiders was quite vivid and terrifying, so well done on that. I liked the sibling-dynamic in the story as well. I felt like you could have shown instead of telling in a lot of places. There were too many siblings, let me be honest, and quite a lot of them didn't have a defining characteristic or something that set them apart from the rest. That's all from me, I really liked the concept, but felt you could have done much better with the exploration of it itself.

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13:02 Apr 17, 2021

Thank you for your feedback! I’ll address your critique. 1. The showing not telling: Yeah, I struggle with that. Do you mind giving me a few examples so I can fix them? 2. Too many siblings: I figured. I can’t change the amount of siblings (because this is a continuation and in the last part, I specifically mentioned that there are five siblings), but maybe I could send one (like Aris) away? Would that help? 3. Defining characteristic: I tried to do something like that, but I guess it didn’t show. Any tips on how to do that better? 4. Could’...

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Writer Maniac
15:06 Apr 17, 2021

1. "I winced at the sound of my old name. “Could you call me Esther? My real name?”" Here, you could remove 'at the sound of my old name' completely, and just keep 'I winced'. It's unnecessary and the meaning stays the same. Another part was towards the end when Aina was looking at the children with sadness. You mention that it looks like she was looking at something she could never have. Maybe don't tell us straight up, and give some indication beforehand that she does feel some sort of regret towards the children. Instead of telling us ex...

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20:55 Apr 17, 2021

Wow, that's a lot. I'm sorry for the late reply! I'll do my best to fix them.

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16:56 Apr 18, 2021

Hey, Mania. I edited my story a little. What do you think about it now?

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Writer Maniac
17:17 Apr 18, 2021

I'll read it soon :)

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17:29 Apr 18, 2021

Thank you :)

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Whisper .
14:36 Apr 22, 2021

Hi, Sky! (can I call you that?) Wanted to let you know I changed my name! You may still have no idea who I am, but read my bio.

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14:38 Apr 22, 2021

Ofc! Oh, hi, Bucky! Your POV is going to be in this week's Reedsycast, by the way.

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Whisper .
14:45 Apr 22, 2021

I might change my name again, because the name now was kinda rushed, but I dunno. Maybe it'll just be Whisper. Yay!

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14:55 Apr 22, 2021

Lol, Whisper is a nice name.

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Whisper .
14:57 Apr 22, 2021

It's not my real name, though. :D

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16:32 Apr 22, 2021

Yeah, I figured lol.

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19:21 Apr 21, 2021

Oh wow! This was so unique and the spiders gave me goosebumps! I was super curious to read this because of the title- and woah! This was super different from some of the other stories I've read and I loved it! The plot was well thought out and great to read! The siblings' were //~slightly~// hard to keep track of buttt I love the relationship between them! Your description's though- wwooaahhhhhh veeeery realistic and added to the vivid imagery! Have I said that before? Maybe? You totally deserve and award for your descriptions though! Fant...

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19:28 Apr 21, 2021

Yes, I agree. I tried to give them distinct personalities and such. But six siblings can be hard to keep track of. Thank you so much for your feedback!

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15:42 Apr 22, 2021

Yeah lol!!!! Of course! No problem!

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16:33 Apr 22, 2021

How are you doing?

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16:47 Apr 22, 2021

pretty meh you?

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16:48 Apr 22, 2021

I'm doing ok.

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00:41 Apr 21, 2021

Hi!

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01:10 Apr 21, 2021

Hi

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01:34 Apr 21, 2021

Hii! What’s up?

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11:27 Apr 21, 2021

The ceiling.

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14:47 Apr 21, 2021

TRU THO

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14:51 Apr 21, 2021

Lol

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21:00 Apr 17, 2021

the descriptions of the spiders are literally my fear described so well- the end was :) gRaTe 🧀🧀🧀 will there be a part three? "Zizi did a double-take t Arnaud’s bluntness,[...]" did you mean 'to' instead of the single 't'? " Germs and dirt plagued Aris’s room Memories and photos[...]" there should be a period between 'room' and 'Memories' :) ahmazing job!!! ~ Amethyst

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21:28 Apr 17, 2021

Yes, there will be a part 3. Eventually. Probably. *coughs in part 2, which had come out 20 stories later* Oop, I'll fix those. Thanks for the feedback!

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21:34 Apr 17, 2021

okee :) lol XD :) np!

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21:35 Apr 17, 2021

:) Hru?

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21:38 Apr 17, 2021

gOoD I think xD wbu?

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22:10 Apr 17, 2021

I'm doing ok :)

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04:00 Apr 23, 2021

heyyy, I just wanted to let you know that I'm not going to be using Pinterest any more, Reedsy will be my main form of communication. Thanks, L.W.

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11:52 Apr 23, 2021

Ok, good to know.

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14:40 Apr 23, 2021

:)

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14:52 Apr 23, 2021

I don't think I ever commented on "Gasper.". I'll comment soon!

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15:00 Apr 23, 2021

okay, sure. Take your time :)

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15:05 Apr 23, 2021

Thanks!

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00:22 Apr 20, 2021

Yes?

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00:30 Apr 20, 2021

Why not?

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00:50 Apr 20, 2021

Lol

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Isaac Aaron
13:17 Apr 19, 2021

OoooooOOOOOoo this was wonderful, each sentence held suspense and kept the reader hooked the whole time. I could also really connect with the characters you made; their feelings, actions, etc. My only critique is to add a tiny bit more drama so the story has a tiny bit more excitement. also, the variety of words you used made it even better than using the same words twice. Great job Annabelle! :)

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14:02 Apr 19, 2021

Thank you :) Hm, I tried to. But this is the second installment of a series, and those tend to be dull sometimes. Any tips? A thesaurus does come in handy ;) Thanks for the feedback!

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22:01 Apr 17, 2021

lkjhgfdrftyuiolkjhgfdwertyuio another great part More stuff that touched me: "Especially Zizi. Her room was nothing special. Just one that was empty, with no form of life or entertainment. Zizi’s fear of being left alone went crazy there." I can really relate to Zizi, her loneliness and differences...they're really close to home for me. "Was it right to judge Aina in this way? We didn’t even understand her motives!" When I read this, I was just like 'tHaNk YoU'. I get that. You can't judge someone by their actions. Maybe (if you decid...

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22:05 Apr 17, 2021

Hm... i'M nOt ReVeAlInG aNyThInG! Thanks for the feedback!

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22:11 Apr 17, 2021

np :) doing any better?

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19:06 Apr 17, 2021

Eeep I love this! I don’t know if I read part two so I was kinda confused during half of this, but I love being half-confused so yea. You describe her fear of spiders really well (I was totally getting Annabeth from PJ vibes) and also, idk, the names air the siblings are all pretty unique, so love that XD. Awesome jobbb!

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20:54 Apr 17, 2021

Lol XD Thank you!

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21:45 Apr 18, 2021

My pleasure hehe

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22:10 Apr 18, 2021

:)

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Oh wow, this gave me like... pure anxiety. I love how you kept everything sort of wrapped almost in this childhood fear element, leaving it for us to figure out and relate to ourselves. Great story!

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18:45 Apr 17, 2021

Lol XD Thank you!

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Sarah 💜🌸
12:51 Apr 17, 2021

Oh, I liked this as a sequel. Learning about the other siblings and their fear rooms, watching everyone reunite, and the weird mystery about Aina and what the heck is wrong with her. "Still going crazy in my own home" yeah I can relate

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13:03 Apr 17, 2021

Lol, thank you!

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11:25 Apr 18, 2021

Did you read my story

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02:32 Apr 17, 2021

This was written during sever Writer’s Block, so feedback is appreciated! This is not my best work. I haven’t edited this completely. In a rush to publish this, there are 13 or so premium errors on Grammarly. If you see anything that requires some editing, feel free to point them out! For those who don’t want to read the first part: Previously, Esther/Zunairah had taken a vow for her Christianity. She had been homeless for a while, but a church took her in. After the vow, she got kidnapped by Aina, who had tracked her. Also, I’m so sorry if...

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Nainika Gupta
11:17 Apr 17, 2021

Hey! Great continuation of the first one, I thoroughly enjoyed this! Spotted a few minor mistakes 1) "My siblings didn’t deserve to be locked up with their own fears while I was in the safety of a church with kind people." (Own doesn't need to be there) 2) "The dank smell of cobwebs and dust became stronger like it was trying to suffocate me." (Try to remove 'like'. I'd put instead: stronger as if it was trying) 3) "The door slammed shut and the sound echoed through the mansion." (Comma after shut) 4) "My eyes stung with hot tears as my ...

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12:56 Apr 17, 2021

Thank you so much for your feedback! I’ll make sure to fix those!

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Nainika Gupta
16:50 Apr 17, 2021

No problem! :)

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18:45 Apr 17, 2021

:)

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20:57 Apr 17, 2021

🕷🕷🕷 ahhhh I hate spiders XD

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17:03 Apr 18, 2021

Really , some roasted spiders for you , enjoy the treat LOL

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20:17 Apr 18, 2021

lol XDD thanks?? XD

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This is fantastic! The spiders are almost like metaphors for her fears, and her fears themselves, because, c'mon, SPIDERS! The stepmom is so scary! Love it, love it, love it!

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10:52 Apr 26, 2021

Thank you!

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Amarah Friedman
18:56 Apr 25, 2021

Sooo... I didn't read the first part of the story like you said I should, BUT I really enjoyed reading this part. It's creepy and sad and starts off with a great hook. You've created a really nuanced protagonist who empathizes with her captor-- I'm getting a whiff of Stockholm Syndrome. That said, it's a pretty abrupt shift into kindness. The majority of the story describes how horrible and abusive Aina is (cool idea with the microbiologist passion/fear thing. I'd love to read more about that), and then suddenly, our lovely, spider-fearing...

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19:16 Apr 25, 2021

At the time (a week ago), Esther pitying Aina a little bit made some sense. A church had been Esther's home for a while, where she is taught not to judge or hate others. And she also knows that Aina had been abused in her childhood, and Esther could understand that as a fellow abuse victim. But now, I see what you mean. It kind of comes out of nowhere. I would edit what you have suggested. But unfortunately, this story has been "approved" (I put it in quotes because my story is not part of the contest. I am underage). Because of this, I cann...

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Amarah Friedman
20:37 Apr 25, 2021

Gotcha! Anyway, I love your story. Keep on writing! :D

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20:40 Apr 25, 2021

Thanks! You too!

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10:29 Apr 20, 2021

INTERESTING

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11:06 Apr 20, 2021

Lol

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21:49 Apr 17, 2021

“I don't remember the last time I read something as good as your story

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22:10 Apr 17, 2021

Lol, thank you :)

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