Hello once again, and in spirit of the month of Hallow’s eve, I’ve decided to pull something out and share some spirit. It was a bit of a stretch, and one night I decided that I wanted to do this thing, and so I did. I’m posting this a day early from Halloween , but nonetheless, the shivers and fear will still be encapsulated. However, is my story a pure horror per se? Not really , but I do want you to read it through till the end, and really think about what happens, and what is reality, and what is not. I didn’t just want to make a scary horror story, no…. I wanted to make the reader think, I wanted to have this sense of strangeness, a sense of discomfort, and a sense of despair. Things crash so fast, and things happen before you even know it. This will be unsettling. And if not, then hats off to you. Here you go, “Bounded”.
The sharp winds howled at the dead of morning; it woke all but the dead. Anna’s mother reluctantly got out of bed and opened the curtains. A stream of light engulfed her face, and caused her to flinch once before her eyes had adjusted. She stretched her arms above her, and gave a big yawn. Once she was done, she trudged to the room next to her’s and opened the door gently. Anna was still sleeping silently, and as her mother crept up on her, she jumped out with both her arms out and growled like a bear.
“You’re not scaring anyone,” Anna’s mother said.
“Says you, you’re practically shaking!” Anna’s mother placed her hand on top of Anna’s head and pushed it down mockingly, “You wish!”
Anna got up and did her morning routine before heading down to the kitchen. She could smell a plate of bacon and eggs waiting for her at the dining table. However, she knew she had to be on high alert. As Anna stepped into the kitchen, her mother suddenly jumped out with a brandished kitchen knife and pointed it at her while yelling.
“Hah! Take that! I wish you could see how bad your shaking!” Anna’s mother gleefully gloated around her daughter, while Anna stood unchanging with an annoyed expression on her face.
“You cheated you know. You can’t just wave around a knife around your daughter like that.”
“Come on, be a sport! It’s all about using your resources. You know I would never hurt you.”
“Whatever.” Anna pouted her way to the dining table and sat down. While she was stuffing her face with an assortment of freshly cut bacon and pepper-seasoned eggs, her mother asked a question.
“Are you going this year as well?”
“I thought I told you this already –” Mid-thought, and mid-slice, Anna’s mind flickered, and she corrected herself, “No. I definitely told you this already.”
“And what did you tell me?”
“That I’ll be going this year. Just like every year. Come on mom.”
“Well, you can never be so sure these days. People your age tend to make plans and change plans on the spot.” Anna grabbed her cup and peered inside; there wasn’t a single sip of cider.
“You love that stuff way too much,” Anna’s mother said in reply to her action.
“No I don’t. I just have this…. really bad craving during this time of the year.”
“You’re an addict, then. A yearly offender, if I have to add.”
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” Anna replied softly as she placed the cup to her lips.
“By the way…. who are you going with this year?” Anna’s mother added. Anna bit the cup and grabbed onto it with her teeth. The glass grinded on her teeth, and it wasn’t long before Anna placed the cup down. She then grabbed her fork and twirled it around her fingers. Anna’s mother grew apprehensive at the continued silence. Anna’s mother cleared her throat and asked the question again. Silence. Even worse this time as she knew she had spoken the question within audible distance.
“Oh! Did you get that thing this year?” Anna changed the subject, or rather, she avoided the question, Anna’s mother thought.
“Yeah! The carving knife you were talking about. It’ll make those pumpkins a cakewalk.” Anna’s mother had only answered out of courtesy, but she knew that she wouldn’t be getting an answer out of her if she pried further. All she could do now, was wait. She’ll know who Anna’s going with eventually, and when that time comes, she’ll have to be prepared.
“Don’t you love Halloween, mom?” Anna’s expression and tone had become monotonous. It was as if she was speaking in rhythm to a script; a script without punctuation. After they had finished eating breakfast, they immediately shifted gears and began carving out pumpkins for the porch. Anna’s mother drew a cat, while Anna had a face of a person on hers. The face was too distorted to distinguish an actual person, but Anna’s mother had noticed that it didn’t resemble anything human at all. To her, it was all scratches and scribbles. Incomprehensible, and irrational. Filled with dread, and loneliness. And stubbornness.
“Can you help me with the decorations too?”
“Sure! We’re just going to use last year’s aren’t we?” Anna said playfully, teasing her mother’s prudency.
“The more torn they are, the scarier,” Anna’s mother said with pride defending herself.
“Only in your world mom. If they’re torn, that just means they’re weak. It doesn’t give you the same sense of fear. ”
“Just a generation gap, I see,” Anna’s mother replied sarcastically. The day grew old as they finished the decorations. It was the mid of afternoon, and Anna and her mother were both lounging around, waiting for the dead of night.
“By the way…” Anna turned her head towards her mother, but her mother retracted her question. Instead, she made small talk, “What are you dressing up as this year?”
“Nothing special. My friend and I decided on a theme.”
“Oh? What’s the theme?”
“Yeah. People like us. People like her. Those that are alive, and those that are dead. Humans. I’m dressing up as a human.”
“Doesn’t that just mean you’re not dressing up at all?” Anna’s mother ignored her rambling and simply replied.
“No, in fact, I’ll be honoring her this year. I’m dressing up as my friend, you see. It’ll be fun! I can’t wait.” Anna’s mother couldn’t bring herself to ask who her friend was, and simply waved off her excitement.
“Be back before eleven.”
“Come on mom, I’m old enough to protect myself. A little night stroll isn’t something I’m scared of. I’ll be back before one.”
“No later than twelve, you’re back here at the turn of the day.”
“You know how us girls are, we can’t help ourselves. It’s going to be a fun night, don’t be a stick in the mud.”
“I’m just worried, Anna. So please, just listen to me.” Anna’s mother had dropped her tone, and her voice was now barely audible. Her eyes glistened with worry, more so than normal, and only because of this event is she this anxious.
“You expect me to listen to you? How about you listen to me for once!?” Anna snapped unexpectedly. Her voice shook the house, and her eyes widened in hostility towards her mother. Before her mother could respond, Anna quickly calmed down, and looked at her mother as if nothing had ever happened.
“Don’t worry. I’ll be back before curfew. I promise.” Anna spoke with sincerity, her body and tone had slowed almost to a halt. She was now sitting doll like in front of her mother; no traces of anger lingered behind her exterior. It was like, it never even existed.
“Well, you better get ready then. Wouldn’t want you to be running late.” Anna nodded her head and left for her room. Anna’s mother whispered a short prayer and cursed under her breath as she left. She knew all too well what would happen now. It was only a matter of time for her, and so she waited for night.
As night came, her daughter was ready to leave. She dressed in nothing but casual clothing with a jacket over and a scarf. Her hair was tied up in a way that she never wore before.
“Don’t I look just like her?” Anna’s mother refrained from answering, and instead changed the subject, “Well, why don’t you head out before the kids start coming.”
“I can’t head out when she’s not here yet. I’ll wait for her, okay?” Anna’s mother wanted to scream, but she couldn’t. She knew that if she did, she would destroy everything. She would break facades, and ruin the status quo. She couldn’t bring herself to that, she was far too weak.
“Yeah, sure. Wait for her.”
“Man, it’s been…. how long? I mean, I’ve known her for so long.”
“Could you fetch me the bowl for the candy?”
“Ever since she was a child. She’s really grown up now, you’ve seen her right?” Anna dodged her mother’s request, and instead made her feel even more uncomfortable. The notion of “seeing” her made Anna’s mother want to cry.
“What has it been? Twenty years? Time just flies so quickly. It feels like I only met her yesterday.” Anna’s mother began breathing heavily. Her eyes darted back and forth, and her hands began fidgeting. It took her a while to settle down, but she knew that the more Anna talked about it, the more she would be haunted by it.
“Oh! Look! She’s here!” Anna went to the door and opened it, “Come on, take a picture mom! To commemorate! You haven’t seen her in a while either right?” Anna’s mother grabbed her phone, and focused it on Anna. Her hands were shaking, and as she opened the camera, her expression lowered. Her hands were frozen solid, and her legs turned to stone. Her voice had ran, and the only thing she could do was stare at the glassed screen. What wrapped around Anna wasn’t her friend.
“You remember Beth, right mom?” The thing that wrapped around Anna this year around wasn’t her “Beth” either. It was different from last year as well. It was new. But nonetheless, it sent shivers up Anna’s mother, and caused her breathing to perpetuate. The worst of it all though, was that Anna had passed away twenty years ago.