Mae and Holly kneel on the bench and stare out the window, their
breath fogging two small circles upon the glass. Holly points. "I
don't like the look of those trees. They look like arms reaching out
to grab us."
Mae laughs. "Trees don't grab people, silly."
shivers. "What does then?"
Mae studies Holly, this woman-child who seems so much older and wiser
than a typical nine-year- old. She's certainly more mature than Lilla
Mae's sister, who celebrated her tenth birthday just before Lilla Mae
was brought here. "A good school," her parents had
reassured her, they in the front seat of their old car, she in the
back, right in the middle so that she could lean her head forward and
speak over the roar of the engine. "You'll get a good
education--better than you could ever hope to have in the village."
must be expensive."
father had looked at her in the rearview mirror then. "They gave
you a scholarship, sweetie."
it's this image that has remained with her: Her father's eyes,
reflected back to her, smiling yet a bit tentative. There was some
emotion he'd held back. Something he was trying to hide.
us a picture, Lilla Mae," Holly says now.
Mae shakes her head. "Last time I drew on the window Teacher
frowns. "She not a real teacher."
Mae?" Holly turns and leans in a little.
don't think any of these people here are real," Holly whispers.
Holly says. "I don't think...Have you ever looked into their
keep my head down, just the way they say."
looking at them next time. The janitor. The teachers. The cook.
They're all...not here."
Mae feels a shiver tickle her spine. "Well where are they, then,
if they're not here?"
like...Like they're...I don't know, Lilla Mae. Have they ever touched
Lilla Mae recalls Teacher's hand grabbing her arm, yanking it from
did it feel like?"
Lilla Mae shudders. "Sad. Lonely."
afraid, Lilla Mae. I haven't heard from my parents in eight months."
even a letter?"
you get a letter?" Holly demands.
Mae shakes her head. "I think my parents forgot about me."
Holly puts a hand on Lilla Mae's arm. "I think they disappeared
don't know. But..."
about the other kids? They can't have..."
not here, either, Lilla Mae. They're cold, too."
Mae looks around the bedroom: two beds, neatly made. Two dressers.
White shirts and blue slacks, neatly folded and tucked inside.
think they want to make us cold, too, Lilla Mae."
Mae looks again at the window, sees Holly's gaze reflected back to
her and just now she realizes the unidentified emotion she could not
recognize in her father's eyes.
Mae raises her index finger to the glass, traces out the words
carefully. "Help us," she writes in the fog.
Holly begins to cry.
Kelly Garriott Waite on Google+
Labels: flash fiction, Studio 30+