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Bedtime Horror Fantasy

This story contains themes or mentions of physical violence, gore, or abuse.

They were too busy, the women of the town, to notice me when they gathered at the diner, Miss Lolly’s. Every Sunday, it was the church ladies, melty pink mints in their purses, lips pressed tight to hold back curses as their self-appointed leader, Ms. Amy Sprechen, a woman of no personal reflection, would share what no one else dares. Ms. Amy’s limited view of everything new allowed her to stay in the past, the power of her perfect hair and hourglass figure built to last. Ms. Amy’s husband, Mr. Ben, owned the bank, a dress shop, and a lunch counter deli, unoriginally named Mom & Pop. In matching short skirts and tops, the sales girls would supply Ms. Amy with all the juicy gossip, then lick their chops, anxious for approval, sucking up Ms. Amy’s breadcrumbs like little hoovers. No children, Ms. Amy grew her own flock, which wasn’t hard to do with eyes so big and Little Bo Peep locks. Her looks alone could convince anyone to cross a line, and for Ms. Amy, that worked out just fine. She enjoyed local celebrity status, gathering crowds under Miss Lolly’s outdoor arbor and blooming lattice. My roots ran deeper than hers, but Ms. Amy had a draw like no other, so over me, no one hovered.

Book club on Wednesday, Ms. Amy, instead of her house, had her mother, who looked half-shrew, half-mouse, drive her to and from Lolly’s, Ms. Amy sucking down wine to find jolly. She employed her mother for these things out of pity, the poor woman with her parlor skin and life so shitty. She was once married to a man, Amy’s father, tall, broad, and tan. His eyes were the color of the sea, lips wet with other women’s curiosity. He died when Amy was thirteen; the crash that took his life had his wife happy, wiping her eyes, tears streaming to hide grateful surprise. The town wept for the loss of their movie-star handsome; what did it matter if he held other women’s hearts for ransom? He had been a man born to stray, forgiven easily on every Sunday. Ms. Amy was her father in female form, sea glass in an ocean of so much need, the small town of Bentley with its version of greed. Just like when he was alive, on her father’s coattails, Ms. Amy did thrive. 

For all she thought she knew, Ms. Amy couldn’t tell a shrub from a tree, a cat from a small dog, or a piglet from a wild hog. She only enjoyed the sport of gossip, ponies, and how to con a phony. But all the shallow bliss slipped away the day Ms. Amy decided to stray, plucking a red slip-skin fruit from the diner’s outdoor vine, waving away the server who told her the grapes were only for Miss Lolly to harvest for Easter wine. 

“What nonsense!” Ms, Amy huffed. “What does it matter if I eat a few? It makes no difference to me; why should it to you?” 

With that, the server slunk away, knowing it was best not to stay. Ms. Amy’s tongue was as sharp as her razor-cut bob, always apple crisp; next to Ms. Amy, everyone’s a slob. 

Summer into fall, Ms. Amy plucked Lolly’s grapes, popping them in her mouth like candy, the stain of sweet juice pointed out politely by a woman named Mandy. 

“Don’t forget to brush your teeth, even after nature’s sweets!”

Mouth scarlett, eyes narrowed, Ms. Amy snapped, “What did you just say?!” in her hand, ready to toss, a half-caf, no whip, 120 degrees without a please, latte.

Realizing her mistake, Mandy cowered, tucked her tail, and ran home to shower, sweat beading along to her sobs bleating. 

Once Mandy was gone, Ms. Amy talked on, speaking of nothing while huffing and puffing. The more she talked, the redder she got. Her face was round, so adding color is all it would take for her to look like a grape. The other women began to notice and peeked around, squirming in their chairs, their queen turned magenta clown. 

Noticing their movement, Ms. Amy frowned, ‘What is wrong with y’all? Pay attention! I’m belle of this fucking ball!”

But the force of Ms. Amy was wearing off fast; in their seats, they couldn’t last. One by one, the town ladies sprang from their seats, lies filtering through chiclet white teeth. 

Hands on hips, Ms. Amy, shouted, “Get a grip! I’m not fucking done! I want MY FUN!”

It didn’t work; they only saw Ms. Amy’s jerk. As each one excused themself, Ms. Amy became more undone. It wasn’t until she changed her finger-wagging direction that Ms. Amy caught sight of her reflection. With a loud gasp, she clutched the clasp of her pearls, gifted as a little girl. Hands to her face, Ms. Amy ran from Lolly’s as if in a race. Her speed and panic propelled her fast and, like her father before her, causing a crash. The driver, her mother, hadn’t seen her coming, too busy ruminating over a new lover's honey. As soon as she hit the brakes, her daughter was against the windshield, smashed like a baker’s bad cake—or big grape. 

Shocked and awed by the sight, the whole town stopped and dropped, dead in their tracks, hardly able to comprehend Ms. Amy’s end. Everyone that is except for me and Miss Lolly. Gently stroking one of my broad green leaves, Miss Lolly whistled through her teeth, “Another mess I don’t have to clean up. Darlin, let me get you a cup.”

Water for me, wine for her, Ms. Lolly started to purr. Something she only did when the mood was ripe with the loss of a no-good life. With a sly smile, Miss Lolly decided to sit for a while under my shade where she had it made. 

“Oh, Caroline, my sweet crawly vine, if it didn’t mean I’d be wrapped movement along a trellis, of your powers, I’d be jealous.”

May 28, 2023 03:10

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