A place for horror or darker stories, mostly written for 'Screams!!!'
"It would be good for you, as much as for the child."
So went Alex's argument about fostering. All of our own children had moved on, and Alex was often away. I'd denied that I was lonely, but he had seen through my lies.
"We'll go for an older child," he continued. "So much less work than a baby, and there are so many out there crying out for foster homes. I really think it would be good for you."
We dutifully filled out the forms, attended the interviews and answered questions far more personal than I'd anticipated. Our answers must have sufficed, for a month or so later we were summoned to what I could only think of as a half-way house.
On the way there I had said to Alex that I wanted to be able to make the final choice. It was, after all, me that was going to be left with them for much of the time. He'd agreed with me eventually.
There were twelve kids in the room, ranging from three to sixteen years old. I would not consider fostering the younger ones so concentrated on the five older ones.
Several of them eyed us as much as we looked at them, and I caught a sneer of derision on one of their faces. There was one girl that I guessed to be about thirteen or fourteen who totally ignored us, and everyone else. She sat quietly in a chair apparently reading a book, although I never saw her turn a page.
I asked about her. "Grace, you mean? That's what we call her. She turned up one day; we don't know where she came from, and that is not her real name. She has been with us a couple of months and is very withdrawn."
I looked from the girl to Alex. "It would be too much of a challenge," he said.
"But isn't she just the sort of child you wanted us to take," I'd replied. "One that is hard to foster."
"Well, she certainly is that," said the care assistant, over-hearing our debate. "How about a trial? You could foster her for, say two weeks, see how it goes."
And so we agreed. For the first week Grace barely left her room, a shame as Alex was home, could have got to know her. The meals I served she carried back to her room, then dutifully returned the plate, most of the food untouched, back to the kitchen.
On the second week Alex was away. Suddenly there was Grace sitting at the kitchen table, a drawing pad in front of her.
"Can I see?" I asked, then wished I hadn't, for there was a rough drawing of what I could only presume myself, a knife sticking from her ribs.
I pulled back, shocked, and Grace lifted the pad, retrieved the knife that she had hidden, and prepared to make her sketch more true to life... or death.