For the fifth time in two weeks, Isabel Perkins awakened in a cold sweat. Next to her, Chicklet, her chihuahua, made a whining noise.
She looked at the clock, sighing. It wasn’t quite five. Knowing she’d never get back to sleep, she picked Chicklet up and carried his squirming body to the kitchen’s back door.
“Do your business,” she said, pushing the resistant dog out into the cool morning air.
She waited for her coffee to brew, and tried not to revisit the dream.
It was always the same.
Carrying Chicklet, she walked through the doorway of her bedroom.
Except it wasn’t her room any longer.
She turned to leave, but the door had disappeared.
“Miss Isabel, I’ve been waiting…”
Turning, she saw Cindy Andrews lying in bed, staring at her. The child’s eyes, ringed in shadows, silently accused her. “I can’t wait much longer, Miss Isabel. You know that.”
Isabel felt herself grow cold inside.
Surrounded by pillows decorated with Disney princesses, the small, white face smiled at Chicklet. The dog jumped from Isabel’s arms into Cindy’s wasted ones, and she planted a kiss atop his satiny head.
She then pinned her gaze on Isabel. “You better move fast. She’s coming… I don’t have much time. You know what’s happening, Miss Isabel. Remember? The bake shop?”
Puzzled, Isabel watched Cindy point to the nightstand where a half-eaten muffin sat.
The nearby hypodermic needle gleamed in the room’s pale light.
“Mama likes her sympathy,” said the girl, her voice bitter. “Such a good mother.”
Isabel’s thoughts drifted to Sam. After that one bad visit when Sam had gotten angry at her ‘wild imaginings,’ things had improved.
He’d been right about Chicklet. She was surprised how much she loved the little beastie. Having a warm body in the house eased her fears. She hadn’t realized how lonely she’d been. Sam seemed satisfied now. Isabel began to breathe easier, no longer worried her boy might feel the need to send her to one of those places for old people.
The monsters under her bed had receded, and Isabel thought she’d put all that behind her.
Such a good mother.
Two weeks ago she’d been having her hair done at Bea’s. While rolling her hair, Bea murmured, “Have you heard about Cindy Andrews? Poor thing – sick like her sister was. Polly’s distraught. I don’t understand God, letting these things happen to good people. Losing her first girl had been hard enough…”
Isabel said nothing. A memory surfaced of running into the pair at Lynette’s bake shop a year ago, and the feeling she’d had at the time… a bad feeling.
And now the dream…
She let Chicklet back inside. “You’re a good boy, aren’t you, baby?” she crooned, picking him up. Her mouth grazed the top of his head, and something bitter touched her lips. Her blood ran cold when she realized what it was.
Isabel, believer in signs, put the dog down and dialed 911.
Author’s Note: This story is a sequel to two previous Schuyler Falls stories, “Monsters Under the Bed” and “The Good Mother.” If you’d like to know more about Isabel and Cindy, and Cindy’s mother, Polly, the link to those stories follow: https://kateloveton.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/monsters-under-the-bed/ AND https://kateloveton.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/the-good-mother/ .
This week’s story is written in response to a challenge to write no more than 500 words about someone who walks through a door and finds herself (himself) not where she (he) expected – and there doesn’t seem a way back. You can check out these weekly flash fiction challenges at Thain in Vain.