Fade to Black
by Beth Ostrander
“It’s so cold though.”
A rag doll blowing in the wind, anchored to earth by her big brother‘s hand.
“We’re going up there past the tree.” His voice cold as bare toes in rubber boots in winter.
“Peter, can I work in your forest with you?” She wipes a red raw hand across her cheek.
“Your forest with all the flowers.”
“Florist,” he snaps.
“FLOREST.” She spells it in her head ... F - L - O - R - E - S - T. Flower forest. This makes her smile. “Please?”
“Just hurry up.” Another hard tug on her hand. She wishes for a hat and mittens; warm, fluffy, heavy ones like on Campbell’s Soup commercials.
“Why are we running? Mom won‘t catch up to us.”
He stops so fast, they collide, and half-whispering asks, “Why would you say that?”
The house was right behind them, if she turned her head just a little, she‘d be able to … he pulled hard on her hand.
She shrugs in response.
“You must know that it’s … it’s wrong.”
Peter’s eyes a farmhouse faucet. She reaches up to his wet cheek with her blood red hand.
“I didn‘t mean to, Peter.”
“You never do … Aunt Ellie, Grandma. I can’t now … ” He shivers, knees hitting the still frozen earth, burying his face in both hands, almost soundless, “We have to go back.”
She fingers the sharp blade in her pocket as everything fades to black.