“Hi Mama, hey Dad! I miss you guys! It’s been so long since I’ve been there to see you two, but I promise I’ll visit soon. I’m just having so much fun at school, meeting new people, learning so much. Dad, you were so right, the pizza here is horrible. We’ll have to go to Marienne’s when I get back to eat a proper pizza dinner! Oh, and Mom, how’s Pepper? I found this adorable bed for her, she’s just gonna love it! I miss my sweet puppy!
Anyway, I should get going! I miss you guys, and I’ll see you soon! Love you!”
The voicemail ended, and my heart sank. It wasn’t. It couldn’t be.
My husband looked at me, face as pale as his collared shirt. He swallowed, hard, a sweat formed on his brow. I opened my mouth to speak, yet nothing would come out.
This wasn’t real.
You’ve been dead for eight years.
“Molly. . . It’s a prank. It has to be,” my husband stammered, licking his lips. The sweat gleamed on his temple.
“A prank? Who on earth could pull such a sick thing like this?” My voice broke, tears had formed in my eyes. “She-She knew about Pepper. Pepper got hit by a car two years ago. And Marienne’s!”
“Anyone could know about that! Anyone! This-” He ran an exasperated hand through his graying hair. “This is a small town. Everyone knows everything.”
“She’s dead Howard!” A sob escaped my mouth. “She-”
“Get a hold of yourself!” Howard shouted, stopping my sob in my throat. I blinked quickly, hiccuping to keep the tears down. “This is a prank. Delilah died, Molly. She died when she was ten. She’s gone.”
I nodded slowly. A prank. A horrible, horrible prank.
“Y-Yea. . . You’re right. Yes, a prank,” I agreed, wiping my eyes. “A prank.”
Howard nodded with me, taking my shoulders in his hands. He squeezed hard, comforting me. I leaned into him, clenching my eyes shut. This wasn’t real. You’re dead. You’ve been dead for eight years.
“I’ll delete the message, alright Molly? Go take a shower, calm down. Then we’ll go get some dinner, okay?” Howard always knew what to do. Always.
I looked up at him, my tension melting away as I looked into my husband’s eyes. He would always make sure I was alright.
“Okay. . . I’ll go do that.”
Howard kissed my forehead, then gently nudged me towards the stairs. I carefully walked up to our bedroom, my eyes glancing at the single pink door to my left, just before the guest bathroom, across from ours. I forced them away, entering our bedroom.
I tried to wash away the thought of your voice with the steaming water. You sounded older. . . Eighteen, if you were alive.
No, I’m not thinking of you.
Howard and I decided on pasta for dinner. A quaint place, the place he took me on our first date. It always felt warm and loving, reminding me of a simpler time, a better time.
We were happy.
I was content, calm. Everything was normal again.
Until we came back home.
You have one new voicemail.
My heart jumped into my throat, blood rushed to my ears. No. It couldn’t be.
“One of the neighbors? Or. . . perhaps Sheila, from. . . from work?” I said, eyes darting between Howard and the answering machine.
Howard pursed his lips into a tight line. He pressed play.
“Hi guys! You would never believe what just happened! I got the job! I’m so excited, you guys know I’ve wanted to be an artist since I was a little girl, and now I’m going to intern for one of the best children’s book illustrating companies in the city!
We need to celebrate! When I come to see you guys, we are definitely partying! The Golden Girls reruns and Mom’s famous casserole, here I come!
I love you guys, bye!”
No, it wasn’t real. You’re dead.
Howard furiously deleted the voicemail, face red with anger instead of pale with fright. I felt the air leave my lungs, and panic ensued once more.
“She. . .”
“Molly, no. She’s gone. This is a joke. A sick joke,” Howard interjected, giving me a stern look.
“NO!” He shouted, eyes ablaze. I quickly quieted, stifling my whimpers. “Delilah is dead. And I’ll find out who’s sending these to us. This is not her.”
I stayed quiet, fingernails digging into my palms. I only nodded, hurrying past him upstairs to our room. I couldn’t bear to look at your little pink door. I collapsed onto the bed, tugging my hair into a wretched bun. I needed it away, away from my face, away from the burning tears in my eyes. Howard didn’t follow me to the bedroom right away. It wasn’t until I had managed to dress myself for bed and convince myself once again you were dead, that he appeared in the doorway.
“Howard?” I said softly.
“She’s dead, isn’t she? Delilah’s gone?”
I nodded, laying in bed as my heart began to return to its normal pace. Howard dressed for bed, not saying a word to me, but when he laid beside me, he wrapped an arm around my waist and kissed my forehead, just like he always had. I sighed, my head resting on his chest. My eyes were almost closed until I heard the answering machine in the hallway beep with a new message.
“I miss you guys. It’s been so long, hasn’t it? Mama, I miss your cooking, and Dad I miss your jokes.
Sorry, I know it’s late. I love you guys, goodnight.”
My heart sank.
Another beep. Another message.
“Hi guys. . . It gets so lonely up here sometimes. Do you guys miss me as much as I miss you two?”
Howard was already getting out of bed, feet moving towards the closet. Another beep.
“Remember my tenth birthday? All I wanted was a puppy. And I was so excited when I came downstairs and there was this little ball of fluff on the couch with a bow around her neck. I was so happy. I love you guys.”
I didn’t remember getting out of bed, but I looked down and my coat and shoes were on. Howard was leading me out of the house to the shed. He was grabbing two shovels. A flashlight.
We were getting in the car. The street lights blurred into the night, almost like a Van Gogh painting. I tried to keep my mind steady, my mind on the stars burning in the sky or the rumble of the car around me. It felt as though I was in a dream, that we weren’t actually driving to your grave. But we had to see you.
That day it happened, it was raining. A cliche, of course, the day you died it would have been dreary, almost as if we stepped out of an Edgar Allen Poe story. But you were as cheerful and happy as ever. You were wearing a blue t-shirt and jeans, in big rubber rain boots, stomping through the puddles in the yard. I yelled at you to come in, you were going to get sick. Lunch was ready.
You came barreling in, muddy boots tossed to the side at the door. Your hair dripped with water, however your smile never faltered.
I want to say I was gentle. I want to say I loved you.
I really did.
The day I found out I was pregnant, I was elated. I had always wanted to be a mother. I had only wanted one name; Delilah Rose. I painted your room myself, I made your clothes. I wrote you letters. I was so in love with you, Delilah Rose.
You were a horrible delivery. It was a long, miserable day. You ripped through my body, you screamed all night. You screamed and fought us the first two years of your life. What was the problem? Why did you hate us so much? You were all I ever wanted.
You gradually became easier to handle as you grew older. But the love wasn’t there. I thought there was something wrong with me. Your father and I showered you with gifts, enrolled you in the best of schools, and read to you every night. But something was always wrong.
Was it as you grew older, you looked less and less like me? That my lie, my secret, was going to be uncovered?
We arrived at your grave. We know it’s you, because of the small rock with your initials marking the spot. No one else would notice unless they knew where to look. Howard began to dig.
You had lovely olive skin. Perfect brown ringlets of hair. Deep brown eyes.
Your father knew.
I had only wanted you, Delilah Rose. I would have done anything to get you, to have my perfect baby. Unfortunately, Howard wasn’t going to help me achieve you.
That day, that rainy, awful day, I did something I didn’t regret.
Soon, we were both digging. My shovel hit something with a hard thud. I gasped, sweat making my hair stick to the back of my neck. There you were.
Howard knelt down, opening the small wooden box with ease. You lay there, still, wearing your blue t-shirt and jeans, maybe not so blue anymore, strings of what was once your long brown hair hanging loosely around the small, broken neck.
I let out a breath. You were here. No one knew you were here, no one except us. Because we put you here, my beloved Delilah Rose.
“There. . . She’s still here. Let’s go home, Molly,” Howard huffed, out of breath.
I nodded, watching him close her small casket and climb out of the hole. We buried your body again, surrounded by only the sounds of clinking shovels and dirt smacking the wood.
The town thought you were kidnapped. I cried to the cameras, begging for my little girl to come home. Howard held me in his arms, the same arms he used to hoist you over his shoulder after I had strangled the life out of you.
Again, I never regretted what I did.
I loved you, but Delilah, in truth, I hated you. In a fit of rage, I ended your small, little life with nothing but my hands, and watched as my husband hid you in the ground
Howard and I drove home in silence, my eyes on nothing but the deep black sky, inky clouds swirling around the pinpricks of stars. I believed you were one of those stars.
The house felt cold when we arrived. I hugged myself, looking at Howard.
He was staring at the answering machine, rigid as a corpse. I felt my eyes move in that direction, a sob forcing its way from my mouth.
You have one new voicemail.
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Creepy! I loved your take on the prompt. I too, felt bad for the parents until that twist at the end! Great job!
Thank you so much!! <3
What a chilling twist at the end!
Thank you! <3
this is one of the few horror stories that has sent chills down my spine in a while
I'm so glad you enjoyed it!! <3
Oh myyy. I didn't know what I was getting myself into when I read this, even though the "horror, suspense, thriller" was RIGHT there in front of my face -_- But gee, I couldn't stop reading. Even though the creeps were running through me and I guessed that reading this right before bed was a very bad idea, but I had to finish it. Oof man...that was somethin else, lol. I won't be getting that out of my head for a while. Haha...
I'm glad I thoroughly got into your brain and kept you awake! Thank you so much for reading!!
Haha, yep! No prob.
What a plot twist that ending was! You truly had me empathizing with the parents in the beginning as they mourned over their daughter, but phew that took a turn. I’m a huge fan of suspense so reading about the voicemails becoming more frequent and persistent had me on the edge of my seat. I would love to read more about the daughter as a younger child as well as the family's history and how the mom reached her breaking point. Great work!
Thank you so much!! I appreciate it!!