At least Covid 19 meant no children knocking at the door this year. My own ten year old had gone to her friends’ house to do Halloween and my husband was picking her up after his shift finished. We were still medium risk in our area and no one in Maya’s class had tested positive, but it might be the last time she could see friends if we were heading for a second lockdown. Anyway, I was going to leave the television and radio off and read my new book. I did not want to hear any Covid news.
Two pages in and I was startled by the door bell ringing frantically. How annoying, Maya and her friends must be playing a joke.
I opened the door to see a pale very solemn child standing there, peering from beneath a hood. Her costume and acting were rather good. I peered over her head; the street light by our front gate revealed no parent or older sibling looking out for her.
‘Are you out on your own?’
‘I’m always on my own.’
Her voice was faint. That’s all I needed on my evening off, some child from a dysfunctional family, probably one of those who needed food hand outs at half term. She looked like she needed feeding up, but I could hardly invite her in, I might be accused of kidnapping and anyway, I did not want to get involved.
‘Perhaps you had better run along now, I haven’t got any sweets, my daughter took them to her friends’ house.’
She remained silent.
‘How about a bag of crisps and a banana?’
She remained silent, so I turned to nip into the kitchen and see what we had in the fruit bowl. I grabbed a carrier bag and put in two bananas and a few satsumas; she probably never got any fruit at home. But before I could turn back to the kitchen door I sensed her behind me. There she was, standing in my kitchen, this was getting creepy.
‘Where do you live?’
I didn’t like the way she looked through me, I felt a chill; despite her translucent pallor she looked familiar. Now we were in the light I noticed the ginger curls escaping from her hood were just like Maya’s bouncy hair and she was the same height.
‘Now don’t be silly, your parents will be worrying where you are.’
‘No they won’t, they don’t want me, why didn’t you want me? You love Maya, why didn’t you love me?’
I felt chilled to the core. I hadn’t mentioned Maya’s name and I was certain she wasn’t one of the neighbour’s children or in Maya’s class.
‘You have done your tricking and you have your treat. Now I want you to leave my house.’
‘Why can’t I live here?’
I felt sick, should I call the police… where had I left my mobile… I didn’t want to take my eyes off her, this could be a burglary attempt with a big brother waiting to slip in the front door… it was upstairs charging and the landline was in my husband’s office…
‘Why don’t you tell me your phone number and we could ring your home.’
‘This is my home Mummy, it took me a long time to find you.’
What kind of sick joke was this, could she really be… no that was ridiculous…
‘My daughter will be home soon and it’s time you left.’
‘She’s not coming home.’
‘Her Dad’s bringing her.’
‘Maya’s not coming home, so I can stay now.’
‘Of course you can’t.’
‘Why don’t you want me, you wanted Maya.’
I tried to think rationally, so why did I find myself trying to explain?
‘It wasn’t the right time, it wouldn’t have been fair to you.’
‘You should have given me a chance.’
Who or what was this strange child? What could she possibly know about… I tried not to let my imagination run wild, prayed that Maya and her Dad would be back soon… no, I prayed this frail creature would leave before they did return. I stepped back, nauseous as she held out her blue veined hand.
‘Please go’ my voice was shaking ‘I told you my daughter will be back soon.’
‘I told you Mummy, she won’t be coming back.’
I closed my eyes for a second, trying to think. I heard a tread, felt the floor vibrate, they must be back. But when I opened my eyes a policeman was standing there.
‘Sorry Madam, the front door was wide open, didn’t you hear me calling?’
His voice was muffled behind his mask, but his eyes were darting around nervously.
‘Thanks for coming, were you looking for this lost child, will you call social services?’
He looked puzzled. I followed his gaze round the kitchen, the girl was not there.
‘Oh she must have crept upstairs, we better check.’
‘Madam, madam please, I need you to sit down. Is anyone else at home?’
‘No, my husband and daughter are out.’
‘I am very sorry, I have to tell you there has been a serious accident and we think… ‘
For more dark stories why not dip into Dark and Milk. Only $1.29