by Mike W
What is the truth about the two not-so-sweet old ladies who live at the edge of town?
Miss Pink and Miss Bell have lived all alone in that big old house for as long as anyone can remember. Hundreds of years some say. Jeff's dad says they were ancient when he was a boy. Us kids know to avoid them.
Some folks say they're witches. Some devil worshippers. Or ghosts or vampires or some such. Everybody agrees they steal children. They chop them up and bury the bits in the woods. Or they cook them in a big oven, like in the fairy tale, and eat them. I even heard they lock them inside a trapdoor in the basement and let them starve in the dark.
They eat live critters. Folks have seen this. Jeff saw it once. One time, when they came into town for provisions, which they do every once in a while, Emily Pink was standing waiting outside the general store while Constance was inside talking with Mr Hardaker. Jeff was passing and stopped to gawk. A mouse appeared at the edge of the pavement and Miss Pink immediately fixed it with a piercing stare. The mouse stopped, paralyzed, and just gazed helplessly up at the old woman. Then Miss Pink quickly plucked it up by its tail, threw back her head, and popped the poor thing into her mouth. She swallowed it whole. And then winked at Jeff.
Jeff swears this is true. But then everyone knows Jeff is a big fat liar. He said his mom came over from Albekistan where she was a princess, but the Albekistanis decided they didn't want kings and queens anymore, so she escaped before they could kill her, and came to live in our town, where she married Jeff's dad, who works in the sawmill. Jeff says if the people of Albekistan ever change their minds he'll go and live there and be king. His mom does speak funny with a foreign accent, but somebody looked it up. There ain't no such place as Albekistan.
So who knows about the mouse thing.
But then again Mikey, who's real shy and never says much and blushes if a girl speaks to him, told us once that he'd been in the woods behind the old misses' house, reading his books with no pictures, which he liked to do when he wanted to be on his own, and lost track of time. It was getting on for dark, so he set off home. As he passed by their garden he saw there was a fire burning there and Emily Pink and Constance Bell, as old as the hills, were dancing round it like two-year-olds, naked and laughing and yelling fit to raise the devil. When they saw Mikey they laughed even harder and beckoned him to join them but Mikey just ran and ran and ran until he got home. We asked him if he'd seen their shrivelled old titties but he wouldn't tell us and he never spoke about it again. And he never goes in the woods no more.
Suzie says we should feel sorry for them. Says it's sad really. She thinks they are just two lonely old women who, when they were young, fell in love with each other like moms and dads do, only two women instead of a man and a woman. And the townsfolk at the time didn't like it one bit and tried to drive them out, so they had to live all alone in that big lonely house away from everybody. Jeff laughs in Suzie's face. Says she's stupid, says there's no such thing as two women who love each other like moms and dads.
But I was there once, in that house, with those women.
Me and Jeff went out that way on our bikes one day and we had a fight. Can't remember why now, but he can be a real dumbass sometimes. He pushed me, and I pushed him, and we both rode off, furious, in opposite directions. I was so mad and nearly crying that I lost control and came off my bike hard. Messed up my knee pretty bad so I couldn't hardly walk. And then suddenly Miss Pink and Miss Bell were there, fussing over me, wanting to help fix up my knee. And before I knew it I was there, inside that house, that big old house at the edge of town, and they were giving me lemonade...
It was all like a dream then. I couldn't move, couldn't speak, and everything went blurry and far away. They carried me down stone steps into a cold and fusty place. On the concrete floor was a big old metal ring, like a handle, like trapdoors have. They lifted it and inside it was pitch black and smelled like death, like I think death would smell. Not recent death, ancient decayed rotted death.
Then they put me inside.
And shut the trapdoor.
Sometimes it seems like this all happened yesterday, but other times I think fifty years or more have dragged by. My mom is real nice and kind and pretty, but she is probably old now, worn out with the worry and pain and not knowing. Not old like Emily Pink and Constance Bell are, those two evil witches, but too old now to have a boy my age.
I'm still here though, mom, in the dark, alone and scared, not knowing if I'm alive or if I died years ago. And I'm waiting, just waiting, for you to come and fetch me home again.