Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1547945-Catharsis
by Amber
Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Horror/Scary · #1547945
A mother's broken life is restored when her missing baby is unexpectedly returned.
Virginia Harrington sat at her dining table, stiff as a stone. She stared into nothingness with lifeless eyes encircled in darkness. Her plumpish but withering figure was covered in drooping skin. She was a motherly-looking creature in her mid-forties. Her hair, a deep reddish brown except in strips where gray had grown, was wrapped in a loose bun against the back of her head, and her clothes were loose and baggy. Her face was cloaked in misery, as she had lost her most precious possession. They had taken her heart, and now all she could do was sit and wait. It was all waiting now.

Virginia had lived alone most of her life, and alone she was again. She had never found a significant other with whom she could spend her life. After years of looking for a spouse, her desire for motherhood overwhelmed her, and she decided to have a child on her own. Then came Savannah. Virginia selected a sperm donor and became pregnant with a baby girl. The cheerfully expectant mother quit her job and made plans to stay at home with her new baby. She spent hours decorating Savannah’s room, putting everything precisely in its place, and purchasing extravagant furniture. When the baby was born, Virginia was fully prepared. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

She doted on the child. Every waking moment was spent caring for her; the world revolved around her. Savannah had given new meaning to her life, meaning she had never imagined, even after a lifetime of yearning for parenthood. She devoted all of her energy to the infant, managing her every need, scarcely taking time to care for herself.

Now it was over. Nothing was perfect anymore. The rooms were empty. There was no crying, no cooing. Savannah was gone, and Virginia didn’t even know how long it had been since she last saw her. Virginia was lost now, in a sea of her own despair, waiting for her only love to come home. It was only six months after her birth when she disappeared, six short months of love and bliss. A tear ran from Virginia’s eye as she sat, fixated on the invisible. Everything was in order around the house, all things in their places and tidy, but she had changed. Although she went through most of her usual routines, such as showering and cleaning, she rarely ate, and never left her home.

Virginia stood up from the table slowly. She ambled around the kitchen, and then her bedroom, where she lay upon her neatly-made bed. She closed her weary eyes, but as usual was unable to fall asleep, and after an hour of trying she finally arose. She sat at the edge of her bed, feet dangling, staring at the floor. She looked at the clock. It was 12:03 PM. The mail always came at 11:30.

She slid off of the bed and walked to the front door, where she peeked out of the window. On the porch she saw a large box. It was cardboard, nicely taped shut, with no writing. She stared at it curiously. She was not expecting any packages, certainly none that were not addressed to anyone. She opened the door to be overcome by an overwhelmingly foul stench that shocked her back into the house. She slammed the door and peeked out the window once again, frightened and disturbed. What could it be? She paced between the kitchen and entry, stopping each time to look out of the little window at the suspicious box.

She could not rid her nostrils of that putrid odor. It was like nothing she had ever smelled before. She stared through the window one last time, waiting minutes before finally braving the box. As she opened the door once again, the nauseating odor whirled past her. She picked up the package, which was surprisingly light, and took it into the kitchen, where she placed it on the counter. Covering her nose and mouth with a dishcloth, she grabbed a pair of metal scissors from a drawer and began to slowly cut through the tape. Highly stressed, her heart beating rapidly, her hands trembled wildly, zigzagging through the tape. She placed the scissors on the counter and carefully opened the flaps of the box. She gasped as she looked inside. It was a rotting baby’s corpse nestled in bunched-up newspaper.

Her heart melted as she looked lovingly at the lifeless infant. It was Savannah! Her child had been returned. She began to sob as she reached in and picked up the remains. Her baby, as beautiful as ever, had been returned. Virginia was overpowered by emotion as she cradled the baby to her breast. She rocked her back and forth vigorously, repeating Savannah’s name and crying with complete joy.

She carried the bloated body to the sink where she prepared to give her a bath. She gently ran a warm cloth over Savannah’s lifeless features, cleaning every crevice with the utmost care. She cooed at her, her eyes full of happiness and passion. She wiped away the seepage and insects that were already infesting the body, then lifted her out of the sink and wrapped her snugly in a towel, lightly patting her head dry and whispering sweetly.

In the baby’s room, Virginia diapered the corpse, splashing powder and smoothing ointments. The decomposing body leaked rotten substances, which Virginia continuously wiped away with baby wipes. Stroking Savannah’s discolored head, she gazed at her child. She rubbed her little decaying hands, tickled her turgid little feet, and kissed her distorted face, then bundled her in a blanket, leaving only her head protruding.

Virginia picked up Savannah and carried her to the rocking chair facing the window. She sat, her head resting upon the back of the chair, and slowly rocked back and forth. She held the baby tightly to her, causing the weak skin to break and excrete more foul fluids. Virginia closed her eyes, rocking, as tears trickled down her face.

Word count: 1002
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