My hands cupped these devastated ears. I wished not to know, not to hear, not to be. The screams… No! I will not hear them. I hear only the patter of their small feet as they dashed through the hall, the oaken floors sounding their playful joy as they rushed to be the first to the finish. Time and again, I had asked them to mind their jostling. The gaslight at the top of the stairwell far too close to the draperies, yet they would not heed my warning; what small boy would – let alone two. Beautiful, cherubic faces framed in locks of golden curls. These were my children, my angels. All who saw them commented upon their beauty, their grace and their charm. Well mannered to a fault in public, how could I deny my darlings the simple love to race the second floor corridor of our home. The narrow confines, the striped paper upon the walls, the red velvet terminus all but beckoned them: ‘Come, play, be children of joy, race my length to see who would win first place.’
I believe this house to be evil; I believe it wished to steal the souls of my beautiful children. I believe it encouraged them to the joy they found only to trap them within the hell in which they perished.
Yes, perished; my dear, sweet ones. Taken in a fit of outlandish foolery, foolery that rang through the house in peels of gleeful laughter. Foolery that this house sought to use to turn the devil’s eye upon itself.
Seeing to the summer linens, I was storing them in the hope chest at the foot of my husband’s bed while I listened to their giggles drift from the hall. By the time the sound of their screams reached my ears, the velvet was fully engulfed in licking flames. My fear realized at last, the drapery had been set alight. I called to them, but Samuel, the older by just shy of half the hour, used his jacket in an attempt to extinguish the blaze. His younger sibling, Matthew, tugged upon the coverings in an attempt to dislodge them from their hangings. Before my foot could leave the floor, I watched as the heaviness of the fabric tore free and descended upon him.
My knees near buckled. Samuel — I could at least save Samuel from this fate. Then yet again, my eyes betrayed me as his arm tangled within the drape. In his panic to dislodge it, the poor child only spun the roaring fabric tighter about himself. One final look he offered me. A look of fear beyond my imagining as he toppled forward; the two tumbled down the wooden stairs tangled together in the burning shroud.
My heart stolen from my chest, the breath I was holding released in a fevered shriek as my impotent arm shot forward. I stood there, watching, waiting, hoping beyond all sanity that what I had just bore witness to had not transpired; though my destroyed mind assured me it had. I retreated backwards into the bedroom. I sought not refuge from the inferno raging at the end of the hall, but refuge from what my mind’s eye would show me over and over again. Finally, finding my back to the corner, I sunk to my skirts, as I prayed to God Almighty to return my darling sons to me.
As the coolness of the wall upon my back began to warm, and the plaster ran with cracks, my tears finally found their way to the flickering light. Again, I did not mourn for myself, I asked only to be granted the peace to no longer hear the screaming of angels.
© Copyright 2013 Nina D’Arcangela. All Rights Reserved.
Coffin Hop Goodies!
How do you get them? Comment on my Coffin Hop 2013 posts on this blog – I’m posting something new each day, so keep coming back for more chances to win. When will they be announced? When the hop ends (after October 31st). What are they going to be? A surprise! I like surprises, don’t you? ;}
and the Sirens Call Publications blog:
The Sirens Song
plus the blog for the writing group I belong to:
Pen of the Damned
and all the other amazing hoppers on the Coffin Hop list!