She stands outside my window. The rain is coming down hard. And she watches. Her black hair whips around, the rain running down her skin the color one big bruise. Her eyes bulge. And the trees bend with such violence I assumed they are going to break.
She is happy. So very happy. For weeks I have been dreaming about her. Had seen her sitting in front of a fire in the woods, my parents nestled up to her thighs the way I would when I would watch TV with them late at night. They seemed contented. I never saw them like that.
Not since my brother disappeared.
Parents have a way of listening to you tell something outrageous, without giving away that they think you are making it up. They smile and nod their heads, then they reaffirm with something along the lines of “that must have been terrible,” or “it was just a dream. No need to worry.” So when I told them about the dreams. When I said she grabbed my brother and took him to the woods they just nodded and said they would go look.
It didn't take long for me to stop asking. I knew they weren't going to believe me.
So I collected some things and went to the woods myself. It was very hot. Very humid that day. The sweat made it hard for me to hold onto the cross I had grabbed from the kitchen. I honestly didn't think it would help. In all the stories I had heard about the Black Annis, I had never heard of how to hurt her. Just that she took children in the night. Just that I needed to be good.
It had been years since I had been to the place. It is a spot in the wood where a collection of trees created a small overhang of branches. It wasn't far from my house. Just across a field. It wasn't big enough for adults. But it was big enough for kids. We would bring two blankets. One would be placed on the branches above in case of rain. The other was put on the ground. And we would sit and talk. My friends and I.
One day we came back to the enclave, only to find the blankets in tatters. There was a smell there that I couldn't...that I can't explain. And for a long time I stayed away. I knew there was something wrong there, even if I couldn't understand.
But my dreams. I knew he had to be there. So I went across the field on the humid morning and went back to that spot that I had left so long ago.
My eyes stung from the sweat that was dripping down my face. Even after all those years I could tell where it was, even if the cloth had rotted and the branches had mostly fallen away. And there he was. There was my little brother. Or what was left of him. And the Black Annis was sitting behind his body. Her breath coming out in long draws as her hump rose and fell. And even in the dark of the wood I could see she was smiling.
Not in a mocking way. No.
She was glad to see me.
She didn't say much. Not much I remember. It felt like we talked for hours. And I honestly don't know why I stayed so long. My brothers body...it smelled. Eventually though I found the will to leave. But before I left she said one thing that I can't ever cease to remember.
“Be good child.”
I ran home. I ran home as fast as I could. And that night it stormed.
It has stormed every night since then. This is the third night. On the second night my dad disappeared. Tonight my mom vanished. I haven't dared come looking for her. Maybe she is just sleeping peacefully in her room. Maybe she isn't. I honestly don't know. And I don't want to.
I am going outside now. She seems to have someone with her. Part of someone with her. Her iron nails shimmer with each lightening strike. She is offering me some. I think I see my fathers wedding band.
I need to be good.
I take a bite. I goes down easier than I thought it would.
She says that I am a good girl.
I can't think. I just nod.
I can't think. I am just wondering.
What did my brother do?”
I got this story. It was from the Unknown Author. Said her mother was well. That “they don't hurt those who are like them. Not usually.” I think my life is getting to be normal again. People are inviting Margaret and myself to parties. People plan hang outs and ask for both of us to come. I went to a movie the other week. Everyone seemed so normal. Everything seemed fine.
Honestly though I don't feel fine.
For weeks, keep thinking about the dog. Keep thinking about the blood. And all that rain.
It rained today.
Maybe I'll talk about the dog.
To my therapist. To the doctor.
Cat came to the door last night with something in its mouth.
Thing was still breathing. Think it used to be a squirrel.