Saturday, August 25, 2012

Re-Writing the Past: Wish Two

Sorry this is late. Life got in the way. My third installment of the Monkey's Paw Fan Fic for #FridayFrights

Continued from The Twisted Paw
Re-Writing the Past
Wish Two
By Lisa McCourt Hollar

Jane sat staring at the paw. The trick was to get the wish just right. She could wish the little girl back to life, but everyone that knew anything about magic knew that while the body could be reanimated, the person was never the same. They would come back strange, exhibiting odd, even bizarre behavior. And their flesh would rot. So she couldn’t do that.
Jane didn’t know anything about the girl’s parents. She always kept to herself and tried not to talk to the neighbors. The child and her family had only moved there a few weeks ago and since she never left her house except in the early morning, she hadn’t had spoken to them. Now she felt the urge to go and say something to them. She should, shouldn’t she?
“It’s the right thing to do,” she said to herself, putting the monkey’s paw back in the bag.
“They’ll know it was you.” The old woman’s voice echoed in her head.
“Shut up. You started this. It’s your fault that the girl is dead, not mine.”
“You made your wish and the paw granted it. Don’t blame anyone but yourself. Be happy with what you have and then you will see how truly blessed you are.”
“I’m not blessed, I’m cursed.”
Taking her sweater from the closet, Jane put it on and headed out. She wanted to see the girl’s mother and tell her she was sorry, even if she couldn’t tell her it was she who had taken her daughter from her.
When she reached the house, Jane stood outside, nervous. What if they knew it was her.
“That’s silly,” she told herself. “No one saw you. You’re just a neighbor coming over to offer condolence.”
Hesitantly she climbed the porch steps and knocked on the door. After a moment it opened and she found herself looking into a pair of familiar green eyes.
“Jane.  What are you doing here?”
Jane’s knees buckled and she caught herself on the door. She had mistaken the little girl for Betty Sue and now she knew why.
“Jane?” Behind Betty, Brent came into view, his eyes red from crying. His wife dabbed at her eye and looked expectantly at Jane, waiting for her to answer.
“I… I live down the street and heard what happened. I wanted to come and offer my support; if there’s anything I can do…”
“Oh, you must be the woman that the neighbors told us about. I didn’t realize...” Betty Sue fell silent as her eyes trailed to Jane’s arm.  Realizing that Betty was looking at an arm that shouldn’t be there, Jane covered it with her other arm.
“Jane,” Brent said, “Did you get an artificial arm?”
“Yes,” Jane said weakly.
“Just marvelous,” Betty said. “My daughter is dead, but Jane has a new arm. All is well with the world.”
“You know, it’s not Jane’s fault,” Brent said. “Sue Ellen was only four. She should never have been outside by herself.”
“I told you, she went out to get the paper. I didn’t see the harm in letting her get the paper while I made breakfast.”
“You couldn’t see the harm? Of course not, because you can’t see past your own nose. You’ve always been selfish.”
“Just great! Our daughter is dead and you can’t stop blaming me for one second to realize that I am in pain too.”
“See what I mean? Selfish!” Brent was looking at Jane for confirmation.
“I think maybe I should go.” Backing down the steps, she turned and hurried back to her house. Behind her she heard the argument continue.  Stopping halfway down the block she looked back. Brent was as handsome as ever. He was right, it was Betty Jane’s fault. Jane couldn’t help but think that if she’d been Sue Ellen’s mother, she never would have left her outside by herself. She’d also have given her a better name than Sue Ellen. If only she’d never lost her arm, things would have turned out different.
“That’s it!”
“What’s it?”
The voice behind Jane startled her.  Turning back towards her house she was startled to see James standing in her way. “What’s what?”
“You said, That’s It. What’s it?”
“Oh…I didn’t realize I was talking out loud.”
“So what’s it?”
“Umm, I don’t know,” Jane said, shaking her head. “Went out of my mind, I guess. If you’ll excuse me…” She went to step around him, but he stopped her, putting his hand on her arm.
“I came back because I thought maybe we could talk about old times.” He squeezed her arm. Jane pulled it loose.
“I don’t think so.” Then she moved around him and hurried home. When she closed the door behind her, she flipped the locks, then looked through the window to see if he had followed her. Breathing a sigh of relief that James seemed to be gone, Jane retrieved the package from the bookshelf and sat on the couch.
“I wish my arm had never been injured.”
The paw twisted.
Jane went to bed, sure that when she woke, all would be right with the world. If she never lost her arm then her whole life would be changed.
Jane was on the swing again. Beside her, Brent pumped his legs, going higher and higher.
“Swing,” Jane whispered to herself. “Swing, so Betty Sue won’t want to push you.” In her mind, Jane willed her legs to move and start the motion of swinging, but they just hung there, useless.
“What’s the matter,” Betty Sue asked, “don’t you know how to swing?”
“Yes, I can swing,” Jane said. Staring down at her legs, she ordered them to obey.
Betty Sue smiled, her teeth looking strangely sharp to Jane. There was something familiar about it. Jane felt a slight tremor of fear in her stomach. “Come on,” she hissed at her legs, “move.”
“Here, I’ll push you.”
“Tha… that’s okay,” Jane stammered, sliding out of the seat.
“I insist.”
Jane tried to say no, but her voice caught in her throat. She looked past Betty Sue to her parents. Her mother was wringing her hands nervously while her father nodded at her, encouragingly. He didn’t know she was scared. Betty Sue pushed her back down onto the swing.
“Hold on tight,” Betty Sue said.  
Reluctantly Jane wrapped her fingers tightly around the chains. Betty went around behind her and took hold, pulling the swing back. Then she let go, sending Jane soaring into the air. When Jane came back, she felt Betty’s hands give a sharp push into her back and she found herself flying forward again. Over and over Betty pushed her, sending her higher and higher.
“Please stop,” she begged.
“Betty Sue,” Brent yelled, “you’re pushing her too high.”
Betty Sue kept going. Suddenly her hands shoved so hard into Jane’s back, that she lurched forward. Jane let go of the chain and went sailing through the air. When she landed, a sharp pain shot through her leg. Around her she heard screaming… her mother’s she thought, but then as her father’s arms wrapped around her, holding her still, she realized it was her own.
“Don’t look, baby, don’t look.” Her mother’s hands holding her face, trying to make her look into her eyes. “Just look at me, it will be alright.”
Jane did look though. Her leg was hurting and she wanted to know why. Then she saw her bone sticking though her skin. Why was everything red? Then her vision began to fade and Jane passed out.

Continued in Forever and Always: Wish Three

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