WRAPPED IN BLACK
Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult
NOT THIS TIME
by Mike Lester
I decided to take a walk.
Melanie would have liked that.
The day was lovely, breezy, bright under a blue sky, bluer than I ever thought possible. Not at all the kind of day I expected it to be. The grass was dry and golden and waist high. Soon it would be taller. Tall enough to hide in. Tall enough to get lost in. Almost. I ran my fingers through the grass, blade tips tickling my palms like blinking eyelashes.
I looked back to the house, back the way I had come, my path a darker shade running through the field. I picked up the bucket and kept on. The bucket was heavy. The wire handle dug into my fingers and I had to keep switching my grip from hand to hand, careful not to spill.
They were all still inside, eating and drinking and telling stories about Melanie, no doubt. As if they knew her.
Up ahead, I could see the lane and the tall trees that lined it, tall and straight, two green, even rows falling all the way back to the highway. I remembered foggy mornings. Walking along the path. The tops of trees shrouded, swaying. Melanie and I would always run ahead of the others, trying to get lost, thinking the fog would take us away, away from the paths and the field and the world. But then Uncle Brad’s voice or footsteps or some other human noise would reach through and bring us back.
I had seen the look in her eyes and recognized it.
Not this time. Soon.
That was a long time ago.
I stepped out of the dry grass and onto the lane. Looked up to the tops of the trees, half-expecting them to be blotted out like before. But no, not today. Today they were golden and green and bright yellow, leaves flickering like shiny coins. I set the bucket down in the gravel and looked back home again. Chimney. The roof, smaller now, far off on the other side of the field. Solitary. A dollhouse.
Mother wouldn’t let me take my tie off, not even after the service. Not even up on top of the hill with the sun beating down on us all. It was hot and still and I couldn’t look when she was lowered. Not because I was sad though. I could hardly keep from smiling. At one point I thought maybe Uncle Brad had noticed, and so I started to feel bad and did my best not to smile.
Now everything is different. Now I could smile if I wanted to and I even whistled a bit. Just a bit.
Read the entire story in
WRAPPED IN BLACK: Thirteen Tales of Witches and the Occult
RELEASE DATE: October 18, 2014
Mike Lester is the author of An Occasional Dream, published in 2002 by indie crime publisher UglyTown. His story “The Courtier” will appear in Aaron J. French’s upcoming expanded edition of The Shadow of the Unknown. He currently lives in South Carolina.