Miranda Kate’s Mid-Week Challenge : 2022/02/14 (Week 238)

I figured out where to hide so no one ever found me. I found an abandoned house in the middle of the woods at my grandmother’s house. Well,it wasn’t really me who found it. Several of my cousins knew exactly where it was, but they avoided it. “Just an old shack. Like the others scattered here and there.”

The woods of the deep south, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, were littered with abandoned houses. Places where people built a home, and reached for a dream. Property of their own. A house of their own.

Most of those dreams died, the houses abandoned, the dirt driveways long overgrown, turned back to trees and brush. I didn’t know why people left them. I didn’t care. They made good places to hide.

I’d been able to slip away several times when Grandmother had one of her fits. My cousins always got trapped. Doing dishes. Gathering eggs. Picking beans in the garden and snapping or shelling them. Hell, cousin Bob fell off the damn house once, picking figs, where one of the neighbors had bought a bucket full. Grandmother dusted him off, checked for any broken bones, or cuts and scrapes, then sent him back to the roof to pick more figs, “Get your ass back to work! And be careful!”

And always she screamed, “If I find that boy, I’ll tan his butt!”

She never did tan my butt. So I kept hiding.

First time I hid in that old house, I decided to explore it, see what I could find inside. It was an old house, just a few rooms. It was made of cinder blocks, with a concrete slab for a floor. No tile, no vinyl, nothing. Just bare concrete. Looked like it has a general purpose room, a bedroom, a kitchen, and a bathroom. The bathroom had a pedestal in front of a plain mirror, with a bucket on it. No toilet. A big old washtub sat at one end. They’d have used that for the bathtub.

Outside, I found the remains of a pump for a well. The water was long since gone. I thought maybe that’s why the people moved. The water dried up at the well. No kitchen sink. Just another couple of buckets. The remains of an old, wood fired oven sat to one side. What cabinets there were were completely empty. No glasses, plates, silverware. Nothing. I didn’t know if they took it all with them when they left the place, or if it all got stolen over time.

What fascinated me was in the bedroom. The bed in there was awful, rotten, and full of holes. Who knew what was living in that thing. I sure didn’t want to find out. The foot-board had collapsed. The headboard still stood, but it was as much vines as it was furniture.

What fascinated me was the mirror on the dresser. The dresser was empty. Half the drawers in it were gone. The rest were damaged. But its frame still held together. The shelf on the top was still there. Bits and pieces of a runner were still there too. And mounted to that, standing up from the back of that shelf, was the mirror.

It wasn’t big, just an oval in the middle of a slab of wood that had been carved to look pretty. That mirror fascinated me. I kept looking in it every time I hid in that house.

Until one day when I escaped Grandmother, and what lived in that mirror talked to me.

Ellen was her name. She told me how she cut her husband into parts, and used him to fertilize the garden. “It’s what he deserved, making me live in this hell. Not letting me move to the city, where I could have running water, a real bathtub, and a toilet. I wanted a refrigerator so much. And a gas powered oven. But no. He had to live here. In nowhere. With nothing. It made me miserable.”

I swear I could see here in the mirror. Blue eyes. Cute smile. Short curly hair.

“So, I killed him. Cut him up. Used the parts for fertilizer, while I found someplace to live. Someplace in the city.” She’s paused. “Then, his brother found me, and blew my head off.” She sighed. “Now, I’m stuck in this place forever.”

After that conversation with Ellen, I never went anywhere near that damn house again, and always did everything Grandmother asked. I wasn’t in any hurry to find somewhere else to hide, just in case there was another Ellen there.

She cut him up, and used him for fertilizer. And she talked to me. No way was I ever going back to that house.

Who cares how many words. Something like 780 or 790.

Written for Week 238 of Miranda Kate‘s Mid-Week Challenge. Mirror, mirror on the wall. What can I do with you as a prompt? You can learn about Miranda’s challenge here. The stories people share for the weekly challenge are always little works of art, crafted with words, meant to be shared, and enjoyed.


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