I live next to this old woman. She’s usually alone watering the garden in her backyard, but because our fences are chain link, I can sometimes catch her and have a chat before she goes inside to make tea. On some occasions, I’ve borrowed things from her… Maybe it was a bit of sugar or flour for something I’m cooking, or even her watering can…. But she always seems so nice and pleasant about it. The other day, though, she looked like she had to get something out. Something that scared her to death, probably. I called to her from my side of the fence, and she walked over per usual. Today, though, she initiated conversation. She asked me that in return for all of the times I borrowed her things, I listen to a story and then pass this story on. The following words are her own.
“I used to be a pretty little thing, wed to the nicest boy in town and almost immediately pregnant with his child. Though some people thought this was to soon for us, we didn’t complain, and neither did the relatives we told. All of the family was ecstatic. In fact, my husband’s family was so eager to learn about the girl he wed and impregnated that they rescheduled the annual family reunion for that week.
We were the next to last people to get there, my husband and I. From the time that we got there, introductions became the key sport. I was introduced to every aunt, uncle, mother, father, that they could find. I was greeted with every sort of hug and kiss, and once even a handshake. But the entire time, I could feel someone… Watching. It felt quite odd, but I didn’t question it, in case one of the family was some sort of person that watched people and would take offense. These silly introductions to the family carried on and on, until we began to walk up to the grandmother.
She was a slight woman, with hair almost the same color as mine, and eyes the same color as mine. If there was ever a time I had a striking resemblance to someone not related to me by blood, then this topped it all. My husband introduced us, but she never once spoke. She simply looked into my eyes, a strangely fearful, yet knowing, look upon her face. Even after walking away from her, I could feel her eyes upon me, watching me until the time came that she left the gathering early.
Months passed by after that, and I was growing rounder by the day. It was becoming harder to do many of the tasks I was usually left to when my husband was at work. It was when my husband was at work one day... Oh, that fateful day! I cannot get it out of my skull!
It was nearing eight o’clock, and the power had just gone off. Because I was the only one in the house, I grabbed a flashlight and went down to the basement to check things out. I had no clue how to work with the breakers, but if a switch was flipped, I could surely flip it back on.
As I walked down the stairs, I kept hearing strange noise. It sounded like footsteps. Dragging footsteps. The kind you hear when you’re dragging your feet on concrete when you’re lazy or disheartened. I turned on my flashlight, idly flipping the little beam of light around the room… When I saw it.
It looked like some sort of animal, with grass for fur. It stood barely to my knees, and was staring straight at me. The poor thing’s face looked like it had been torn off and another animal’s face sewn on. In fact, its entire body looked patched together in bits and pieces.. I couldn’t believe it was something from this realm. Before I could think on what it was, it opened its mouth and spoke.
‘I have been waiting.’ It said.
‘Waiting?’ I asked, somehow not surprised that it said anything.
‘Yes. You have to choose.’ It replied. ‘Will you choose for your husband to die where he stands, to be sent to a hell of eternal flames and damnation?’
Without a second thought, I replied. ‘No way! I don’t want my husband dead!’
‘Very well.’ It said, and then it was gone.
Something came over me. I felt heavy. Heavy and tired. It was one of the strangest feelings ever. It felt… As if I were flying backwards from the momentum of only one string of fishing line. I realized I began to fall, and steadied myself in a sitting position. If I fell then… Oh, if I fell then. Before I could do any more, I had blacked out.
I awoke on a park bench in what appeared to be the middle of the night. My senses coming back to me, I immediately panicked. Who was it that took me to this mysterious park, this park I had only saw in old photographs taken before I can even remember? My mind began to suspect time travel, impossible as it was, though after the events I had been a part of what seemed only like moments ago I didn't think anything was impossible.
I walked to the nearby trashcan and rummaged for a newspaper. It confirmed my suspicion. The monster that had sent me into the past, but sent me as I was in the future. I was still pregnant. I was still my regular age. Was I to live out my life in this time? The date was fifty years before I was born. Would my younger self be out there somewhere, too, living out my life as I remember it?
No, I thought. No. I will wake up in my own bed, next to the man I love, and it will all have been a bad dream. The monster, the heaviness, being in the past… All a dream. Having told myself this, I waited what felt like hours to wake up. I didn’t. At that point, I realized that I was there to stay, and was utterly alone.
Over the years, I aged. I had my child, a fair girl, and she grew up to be a wonderful woman. She acquired her own husband, and even they had a child together. A boy. I was left out of their joy. As I aged, I seemed to be placed into the background of life, only getting fleeting visits once every Christmas. Eventually, even those visits stopped.
One day, though, I received a nice little card in the mail. It was an invitation to the annual family reunion. I hadn’t received an invitation for that event in so long, I had almost forgot all about it. When I heard, though, I immediately counted down the days. I was like a happy schoolgirl, waiting to see her dream boyfriend.
The day came. I was up early; I made my treats, and started along as soon as I could. It was only once I got there that I realized I was the first one around. It didn’t take long for the family to get there though. The large room, what I suspected was a meeting hall, was soon filled with the happy chatter of relatives. Unfortunately, as per usual, I was left in the silence. I was left to sit awkwardly and gaze around. That’s when my grandson and his wife arrived.
The two were newlyweds, but the girl was pregnant. Oh, the family was ecstatic. They cooed over the girl, giving her hugs and good tidings. I watched her, feeling sort of odd… It was creepy; The more I watched her, the more déjà vu I felt. After many moments, I decided it was nothing, and carried upon looking around the room uselessly.
That was when they walked over. My grandson wanted to introduce the girl to me. She looked shyer than she had before, though she was probably embarrassed, and her gaze was toward the floor. I smiled, about to be polite and say hello, when she looked up.
Only I could have noticed my fearful expression as I gazed into my own eyes.”
(Heh. Wrote this one myself.)