“Why is there an extra chair?” Mildred asked.
I didn’t like Mildred, she was loud. Sometimes when I tried talking to her she would change the topic really quickly. When we were little, she took my toys before I could finish playing with them. It was like living with an alien.
“That’s where mom used to sit,” I said.
“Oh,” Mildred said, “then we don’t need that seat anymore.”
“Yes, but we’re going to leave it there for a little while, alright sweetie?” My dad said.
“Sure, I guess there’s nothing else to do with it anyway,” she replied.
We slipped into a heavy silence.
“I really like the mac and cheese,” I said.
“The secret is the bacon bits and bread crumbs on top,” my dad answered.
The rest of the dinner was eaten in silence. Afterward, my dad practically shoved Mildred and me out the door. He didn’t like us being cooped up inside all day. Mildred started talking before we’d even stepped out of the driveway.
“What’s your favorite book?” She asked.
“I don’t think I can pick just one,” I told her.
“Oh, mine is The Haunted Mask, by R.L Stein. It’s a goosebumps book, and it’s really scary.”
“I don’t think that I’ve read that one.”
“You should, it’s really scary.”
Up and down our suburban street, back before sunset, the key is hidden under the welcome mat. The soles of my grey rubber boots sloshed through the snow. Mildred was still talking about something.
“Are you listening to me?” She asked.
“I asked if you were listening to me, I was talking about The Haunted Mask.”
“I was listening to you, Mildred.”
“So what did I say?”
“You were talking about The Haunted Mask.”
“I just told you that, do you remember anything else?”
“You weren’t listening to me!”
Mildred pointed her finger at me and got ready to shout. I considered shoving her, I was a big guy, like my father. The snow would cushion her fall. My hand reached up and made it’s way to her, almost instinctively. Was I going to go through with this? It hovered over to her upper back, then, as if out of my control, it went up, resting above her neck. All I had to do was squeeze my hand around her annoying little neck. It was going to snow tonight, by morning nobody would even be able to recognize her. My train of thought was interrupted by a loud scream from Mildred, she had just stepped in something. The body of a deer lay under the snow, concealed like a landmine. As soon as Mildred stepped on it Maggots shot out like water from a geezer. She fell back. I lifted her off the ground and carried her away, back towards the house. She looked up at me with wide eyes.
I don’t know if it because I saw death up close, or how light her body felt in my arms, but as I carried Mildred home, I felt a deep shame. Was I really considering hurting her? It must have been another episode. I promised myself to never harm her, no matter how badly I wanted to. I would be Mildred’s protector now. It’s the least I could do, especially after I failed to protect my mother. No, that’s not true, there was nothing I could do. She got into a car crash, it happens.
Mildred started hyperventilating and sweating, shit, a panic attack. I ran home as quickly as I could. She began to tremble, and it was getting harder to hold her in my arms. I tried putting her down, she collapsed. I caught her, picked her up again, and continued back. The wind was blowing against us, my eyes stung with tears. I struggled to keep them open, to see ahead of us. Two headlights appeared from behind, I should have turned around to look, but I didn’t. We were almost hit.
My mother was in a car accident, right? That’s what my dad had told me, and he was an honest guy. She called me that night, I could hear her scream for just a moment before the phone cut off. There wasn’t a crashing sound, just a scream, running footsteps, fire, then silence. Wait, how did I recognize fire through the phone?
I carried Mildred up our driveway and the front steps. I lowered her into a sitting position against the door. She sat there with big, glassy eyes, like a doll. I unlocked the door and carried her inside.
“Come quick, Mildred’s having a panic attack!” I yelled out.
“Coming,” my dad said.
A moment later he was at the door; a big man with a warm face, blue eyes, and brown stubble. He’d never hurt anyone, right?
“What happened?” my dad asked.
“There was a dead deer on the road, she stepped on it,” I said.
“Is there anything I can do?” I asked.
“Go make her green tea with two teaspoons of honey, and get a paper bag for her to breathe into.”
I ran to the kitchen, savoring the proud look on my dad’s face. He picked Mildred up and took her into the living room, resting her on our plush, brown couch. Next, he took a couch pillow and slipped it under her head. He left Mildred’s side for a moment and lit the old wooden fireplace in the living room, casting a calm orange haze over everything.
I let her breathe into the paper bag. Her hyperventilating slowed down and the trembling stopped. The final traces of her panic attack seemed to fade away like a bad dream in the morning. When the trembling and hyperventilating stopped entirely, Mildred started talking again.
“He was ignoring me while we were walking,” she pointed an accusing finger at me.
“Sorry,” I said.
“Listen next time, okay?”
I fought back the anger rising in my throat.
“Good. I’m bushed, can someone read me a bedtime story?”
It was as if nothing had happened to her at all. It’s amazing how easily people can forget, especially when they’ve been traumatized. My dad was about to volunteer, but I beat him to it.
“I’ll read to you, Mildred.”
“Alright,” she went upstairs without another word.
“You handled that well,” my dad said
The fire crackled and another memory shot through my head. My dad burned something, the same night my mom died.
“You’d better get going,” he said.
I didn’t want to meet his gaze. I kept my head down and ran up the stairs. I loved my dad, right? Why was his gaze making me so uncomfortable? Usually, it carried nothing but pride and joy, but now there was something else, something much colder... already halfway up the stairs, I turned around and peered into his icy blue eyes. Another memory, it was the same way he used to look at my mother. Cold. No! They got into a car wreck, it happens, but how had she died while he was left unscathed?
I was still thinking about it as I entered Mildred’s room.
“Why does your face look like that?” She asked.
“I’m just thinking.”
“What are you thinking about?”
“The Haunted Mask, and how it’s the least scary goosebumps book.”
“I thought you said you’ve never read it?”
“I haven’t, I was just joking Mildred.”
“Oh, you’re not very funny.”
I nodded and went over to her bookshelf to pick up the same book of fairy tales we read to her every night.
“Read me Goldilocks and the three bears,” Mildred said.
I flipped to the right page and began reciting the story without looking down.
“Three bears went out for a walk one day,” I began.
“That’s not how the story starts,” Mildred said, “there was a great big father bear, a middle-sized mother bear, and a tiny baby bear, that’s how the story starts, look at the page and read.”
I resisted the urge to smack her across the face, why shouldn’t I? No, wait, something that night had made me promise myself not to hit her. I couldn’t remember what though, shit, the memory loss is always the first stage. We were on a walk, but something happened to her, and I promised to protect her…
“Shit, what happened?”
“Hey, you can’t swear,” Mildred yelled.
“Did I say that out loud?”
“Stop it, you’re scaring me! Just read the story, you can improvise if you want but not too much.”
I nodded, dimly aware of the fact I was having another episode. Memory loss, saying random thoughts out loud, then...the last stage.
“A little girl named Goldilocks went down the forest path. She got hopelessly lost, and soon the sun began to set. She ran down the path until she arrived at a small house in the woods, with all the lights on. She entered the house and saw three bowls of porridge on the table, one was too hot, one was too cold, and one was just right.”
Mildred cowered under the covers, she did that sometimes when she was upset. I put the book down, she couldn’t see it through her blanket anyway. I‘d just improvise.
“Goldilocks ate the porridge that was just right, then she ventured further into the house and found a bed for herself to sleep in. The girl lay under the covers, even though this wasn’t her house and she didn’t belong. It turned out that the house was owned by the three bears, who decided to raise her as their own. The bears tried their best, but it was hard for the animals to raise a human child. Father bear was the first to run out of patience, he demanded that they kick the little girl out. Mother bear refused, and in a fit of rage father bear mauled her to death. Ashamed of himself, he swore to protect little Goldilocks. Unfortunately, his animal instinct eventually took over, and he mauled the child to death too. The end.”
Mildred was trembling under the covers.
“I’m sorry if I scared you,” I said.
“You should be,” she mumbled.
I nodded and started walking towards the door.
“Wait,” Mildred said from under her blanket, “I like scary stories. can you tell me another scary one?”
“Tomorrow,” I said, “good night, Goldilocks.”
“My name is Mildred!”
“I know, I was just joking.”
“I knew you were joking, I was joking too,” Mildred said.
“You’re not very funny.”
I left Mildred’s room and walked downstairs to make sure the front door was locked for the night. My dad was already there. Was that grey hair in his beard? We went up the stairs together. Another memory hit me, my stomach dropped. Three years ago, pushing someone down the stairs. I turned to face my dad.
“How did she die?” I asked.
“Mom, how did she die?”
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Alright, let’s go downstairs so we don’t wake Mildred up.”
We sat on the brown couch together. My dad leaned forward, clasping his hands together. The fireplace was off, and the room was cold. Cold, like my dad’s eyes. Wait, what color were they? I looked over at him, they were dark, the darkest shade of brown I’d ever seen. They had always been that color, right? Word association: I’ve always thought of them as cold, and nighttime is cold, and they’re dark as night. That makes sense. Blood pulsed through my head.
“She fell down the stairs,” my dad said.
“Could I have more details?”
“Don’t you remember?”
“Well, you were the first one there. I heard you yell, so I ran down the steps and called an ambulance. Your mother asked me to light the fireplace while we waited for them to arrive, she was cold. And, um, as you know, the ambulance was too late.”
“Was I having one of my, um, episodes…”
“I think so.”
“Where were you when it happened?”
“I don’t think that’s something we need to be worried about.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I think so."
We settled into a deep silence.
“So I’m father bear.”
“Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to say that out loud.”
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Hello! Sorry for the late read!! But, I am so glad I got to read this story! I loved this mysterious and dark story you wrote! So creative and just purely good! :)
Of course, better late than never. Thank you!
You are so true! Also, your welcome!
Something about those last few lines has me believing that he just might end up mauling his father, too. You really are getting darker, but I dig it. I do love a dark story. I think this one was really, really well thought out. The episodes that inevitably lead him to do something unforgivable. (At least, that's what I'm believing) And the moments where he wants to hurt his sister. Creepy. Just so creepy. Deliciously creepy! Here are my own two cents: the father looks at him coldly because he's the reason for his mother falling down the stai...
Thanks for your usual insightful feedback! I wanted to make the son and his father both seem guilty of killing the mother, while at the same time suspecting each other. You're totally right about the father looking at his son coldly because he suspects it was him who did it. Uh oh, I guess it's too late to change the geezer/geiser thing...strangely enough, the image of water shooting out of an old man might just fit well with the tone of the story 😂 Hopefully people get a kick out of that one.
I am intrigued. There is more to this family- the son's episodes, mother's death and father's suspicious actions. Great tale!
I've been meaning to read your work and well, oh well, I LOVED THIS. All the three tags you've categorized this story under, are my favourites. This is beautifuly grim. I love how dark stories leave you uncomfortable. I mean, that's the purpose, but if you don't feel it, your story doesn't have much unsettling component to it. But this one.... is a fudging masterpiece. Mildred is such a pretty name. And when you say you're a new writer, this is exceptional. Grrreat job!
Thank you so much, I've been wanting to check out your stories for the longest time too, I promise I'll get to that asap. I love dark stories the best, I've tried writing romances and generally happier stuff, but it's just...not as fun to be nice to your characters, you know? When you said Grrreat job at the end I couldn't help but imagine tony the tiger 😂 Anyway, thank you for the feedback! I hate that someone actually downvoted this comment, I'll upvote it to balance that out.
Oh, have you? That's amazing. People have been flattering me since a past few days and I'll say it, "I'm flattered." XD Yeah that's correct. Romance isn't my forte but when I write it, it comes out cute which I'm not fond of. And we're on the same line. I love dark stories preferably dark comedy lol. What genres would you say you specialize in? Lol. I have a thing for commenting that on every story I read. Right, no problem.
Yay, glad to see you getting the attention you deserve. Well actually, I've never read one of your stories so I can't be sure they do deserve it...that's probably not very flattering 😂 I'm sure your stories are worth the hype. Most of my stories are psychological thrillers. Black comedy is probably my favorite to read. I'm okay with cutesy romance, but it's so exhausting to have it be the main focus of the story, I'd rather it just be a smaller part. Preferably a smaller part of a dark story... like in the begging of a horror movie when ev...
Oh. That pricked my heart 💔 I love pyscho thrillers. I wrote a story on it too but it didn't turn out the way I wanted. It's still good, though. Oh I hate romance-horror movies to bits and pieces. As a horror lover, I can't bear to watch characters make out amidst some catastrophe or while their friend is missing. What are they doing?? That's seriously so moronic. I'd say I specialize in thriller/suspense/horror basically anything along that line AND fantasy and I'm trying to come up with more comedies because who doesn't love it?
Uh oh, medic! Romance-horror, what on Earth are people thinking? I totally agree, the romance has got to side-step and let horror take over at some point, I do not want to see melodrama between a bunch of horny teenage vampires or whatnot while the world is falling apart. Actually, that sounds like a pretty epic idea...gee I wonder if it's ever been done?? I've posted like 5 really dark stories in a row now, and I'm seriously trying to mix things up. This week's prompts are supposed to be all cheerful and stuff, but I've already started wr...
Dang I wish I read this sooner, this is so deliciously grim. If the goldilocks analogy is to be believed, then that means mildred is next on his hit list... Good stuff, anyway 😙
Hey B, sorry I didn't respond last time you said hi, I was just busy with exams. What're you sorry about?
That's fine, I guess a lot of others still have exams and stuff. Though read my bio since I explained it a bit better and then come back to say something on here.
Not me, I'm done! Ok, one second I'll go read it.
Yeah, I guess some others have tried to cheer me up, and I've tried to cheer myself up by listening to music and some other stuff, though I'm not really sure any of its helping, at least not that much. The truth is, I kinda suck at lying to be honest, even on the internet and stuff, I'd probably stop lying if I was and just immediately say what was going on.
Right, I don't think that's a bad thing at all. Was there anything specific here that made you feel bad, or is it just in general?
Oh, so you feel like you're sounding annoying and rude? I don't think you're either of those things, but I guess I understand why you might feel that. I think you're one of the most real people on here, most will pretend to always be in a good mood and are too afraid to ask for help, but you aren't afraid to admit when you're having a bad day or need some help with stories. If someone finds you annoying they'll just ignore you, and you can ignore them too, that's the nice thing about the internet 😂 Have lots of friends here reached out to tr...
I love how you weave the subtle undertones of horror and creepiness into the story. On the surface with the narration, it seems innocent, but then when you delve deeper, there's that ever-present darkness of the events, and how that last sentence correlates with the twisted version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, just amazing. Wonderful work, Itay!
Thank you! I'm really glad you enjoyed my dark, twisted take on a wholesome fairytale 😄
Hi Itay! I wish I'd read this earlier. I loved the premise of your story, and the darkness hovering over it! There's certainly more to the characters, and the story was very well thought out and written. I enjoy reading dark stories as well, and occasionally try to come up with one myself. To be honest, I like anything that is mysterious, thrilling, or suspenseful. Your story was a fantastic read till the very end! Keep it up!
Thank you! I love dark stories too, but I try to mix it up a bit so I'm not just writing about the same things over and over. What kind of stuff do you prefer to write?
Of course! I do the same. Sometimes I write happy stories and sometimes I do ones with a bit of tragedy. I usually like the mix because I can experiment with different types of storytelling/writing and experience all of them! Mostly I prefer stories with action and unexpected twists. Those stories mostly come under thrillers and suspense stories, hence my favorite genre. :)
I really enjoyed this short! My work can be a bit dark, so this resonated with me. Keep them coming...
Yes, I love a story that's a bit dark! I'll go check out your new one.
I'm keeping this short and just going to say that its another great story you did and it gets a 10/10 :)
Thank you, is there anything you particularly liked or disliked?
I liked everything about it ^^