Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | October 12, 2009

Old Auntie

Pokrovka, Kyrgyzstan. Winter 2005.

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Part 1: Old Fakey

Old Auntie sniffed the air. Drizzly rain coming, the best time for bogeys and spooks.

Her favorite had been Old Fakey, a wisp of congealed bad dreams who’d lived in the root cellar and sung his dreadful tales of horror at all hours of the day and night. A regular person wouldn’t hear nothing but the wind. But Auntie heard beneath that, beneath the chomping of worms and crackle of growing grass.

And the girl heard it, too. Auntie knew it. Her big sisters walked over that cellar as blithely as if it were filled with angels. But not Gilly. No, the littlest girl shied away from Old Fakey like she smelled him.

And it was her fault he’d been banished. If the sniveling little girl hadn’t gone running to her daddy, the best bogey in this part of the forest would still be down in the deeps, feasting on dark thoughts and haunted dreams.

There was the girl Gilly now, staring out her window into Auntie’s wrinkled eyes.

“What do you see, girlie?” Auntie asked under her breath. “What haunts lie in the shadows?”

Auntie had something Gilly didn’t: time.

She’d already lived and died  77 times. Each death was more brutal and astonishing than the last; each life drawn from the power of the death. Last time it had been a bear that done her in. He ate her insides and roared for more, but Auntie was already faded into her next life, relishing her somewhat younger and much revived body and mind.

Next time it will be a shark, Auntie decided. A Great White, if possible. That should give me another 25 years at least.

In all that time, Gilly will grow up. She’ll fall in love. She’ll forget things that go bump in the night. He Daddy won’t be nearby any more to work his do-gooder magic.

“I’ll get you, my pretty!” Auntie cackled at the window, just loud enough so the little girl would be sure to hear.

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