Wringo Ink. Short Story for the Genre Romance: Bogged Down

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She didn’t like it when they just wouldn’t stay dead. Granted, all she had do to was concentrate on someone to make them keel over. Sometimes, however, the condition didn’t take and she had to work harder to focus. From the backyard, Blue had been watching her mother hug the picture frame tightly to her chest and cry, thinking, “Why does she cry over someone who left her?” The wind had picked up then, alerting Blue that something was up. Scrunching her tiny eight-year old nose, she had sniffed the air and there it had been. The tell-tale earthy scent that the dead brought with them.

Blue looked around and found the man shambling towards their house. His left foot scraped over the backyard soil, making a loud khrrrrrich every time. Swiveling her head to check if it was loud enough for her mother to hear it, Blue found her dozing in and out of a fitful sleep. “Mom can’t hear you!” she said to the corpse, cheerfully. As was usual, the cadaver didn’t display any signs that it had even heard Blue. It just kept on coming… khrrrrrich…khrrrrrich…Blue jumped off the mango tree branch that she had been ensconced in. “This won’t do,” she said, shaking her head at him.

She knew she looked a little bit cross-eyed right now. “But focus I must or this thing could mean trouble for Mom.” She glared at the body who had dared to defy her and told it to “Be dead!” Three be deads and it fell over, as if it had suddenly forgotten how to walk. Blue dusted off her hands, pleased with the results, and walked over to it. Bending to grasp a foot with two tiny hands, she saw the ankle was broken. “Oh, is that why you were making so much noise? Must have happened when you fell off the terrace. Well, can’t do anything about it now, can we?” She kept the conversation up as she began to drag him back to the bog.

By the time they arrived, Blue was a little out of breath. Huffing, she looked down at who she had been dragging and found him covered with all kinds of things…nettle, twigs, thorns and even a piece or fifteen of eggshells. “Well, you could have just stayed put. But noooooo, Mr. Unfinished Business had to come back.” Thinking she must not be late for dinner, Blue bent down, and pushed the erstwhile person into the swampy part right in front of her. Then, she raised her hands to her hair and smoothed it down. She sniffed the air for a few minutes but all she could smell were decaying, rotting, and boggy smells. Satisfied, she skipped all the way back.

Blue climbed and settled back onto her perch, watching her mother have dinner in front of the TV. She looked down at her hands and began the tally. “There was the landlord who didn’t want just the rent…the guy who had followed her home after work…and this man who had come to rob the place. That makes three…ughhhh, Mom will definitely have to move. I’m sorry, Mom! But what else could I have done?” She apologized to her mother who would never hear her. Not expecting any response, Blue almost fell out of the tree when someone answered, “How about trusting your mother to take care of herself?”

In the end, she did roll off the branch and plummeted towards the ground. Leaning forward to look at the newcomer, Blue’s eyes met the softest, kindest, and bluest eyes she had ever seen. She had been named after those eyes when she had inherited them. Understandably, she had fallen. Her father caught her in his arms easily and set her down gently. “Hi!” he said with a smile that she would never forget. She countered with, “You left us…you let go.” The smile became sad with edges sharp enough to draw blood. “I’m so sorry, sweetie. I thought being heavier, I was dragging you down with me. But you are just a little girl and the swamp too deep. I’m so sorry…”, he hugged her to himself.

Blue screamed, her little fists hitting her father’s chest as she tried to free herself from his hug. “Where have you been? I have been keeping Mom safe all this time. Where were you?” Looking as heartbroken as she felt, he said, “Looking for you. When I…woke up again…after uh dying, I didn’t remember anything. All I knew was that I was looking for something or someone. It took a while before it all started coming back to me. I came here as soon as I realized that it was you I had lost.” His arms freed Blue and she moved away from him. “You didn’t just lose me, you know. She lost you too.” Blue pointed in the direction of their home, meaning her mother.

“I know, Blue, but your mother is still alive and we…are not. That is why I have come here and that’s why I have been looking for you. You have to let her go now.” Blue scoffed at him. “Leave Mom? Do you know she cries herself to sleep every night? That she hugs our picture when she does that?” she was yelling again. Her father gave her one of his sad smiles. “Your mom is strong; she never needed us to take care of her. And, if we stick around, she will keep being sad. She won’t be able to move on, even if she can’t see us. We need to go, so she can learn how to be happy again.” Blue knew Dad was right…in her heart of hearts, she knew. She also knew what they had to do. “Do you promise you won’t let go this time?” she asked him, as they walked towards the swamp. He pinky-promised.

The End

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