New ebook: Motherly Love.
Maria's family had a secret: an ancient tradition she'd always thought was nothing more than superstition. Then her little girl fell ill. Now, just like her mother and grandmother before her, Maria vowed to do anything to save her daughter--even the one thing she feared most.
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Motherly Love - C.A. Verstraete
The kerosene lamp on the table flickered faintly, the feeble light enveloping the kitchen of the small flat with an eerie glow.
Normally, I would've jumped up at the increasing duskiness that masked the worn linoleum beneath my feet and the bulges in the excessively plastered walls. I hated the dark, and usually rushed to find some old candle stubs to dispel the shadows and augment our meager fuel supply.
Now, such things didn't really matter. Instead of feeling uneasy about the approaching shadows, I almost wished I'd be swallowed up by the malevolent beings I imagined hid unseen in the thick blackness.
A hoarse croak floated out of the small bedroom a few steps from the kitchen and stopped my musings. "Maria?"
"Yes, mother. I'm coming."
The dry hacking coughs that followed my mother Anna's call hurried my preparations. The pieces of silverware clattered against the chipped china bowl and plate I set on the tray and carried to her closet-sized bedroom.
For several minutes I stood mannequin-like outside the room, my heart hammering against my ribcage at the raspy sounds and the sickly scents that assaulted my senses. I sighed, struggling to cope with my mother's rapid decline. It was a burden that felt horribly heavy on my fifteen-year-old shoulders. I shifted uncertainly from foot to foot, my two-step of insecurity making the worn kitchenware clank some more.
"Honey, is that you? Come in and sit by me."
I braced myself and went to her bed. "Here, Mother. I made you some chicken soup and some tea. Better eat while it's hot."
She did her best to murmur her thanks, her words of appreciation now wrapped in hoarse whispers and phlegmy coughs that I wished I wasn't hearing.
"Sit, sit." She patted the worn chenille spread covering the small iron-framed bed in welcome.
"No, no, I don't want to shake the bed," I said. "You should eat before it gets cold."
"Cold, hot, it won't matter." She sighed and reached to reassure me when I gasped aloud. "Don't worry. I'm not giving up yet. The soup'll be just fine once it cools a little. We need to talk."
I hesitated but did as she asked and eased myself onto the lumpy mattress without jiggling the bed. She hadn't complained of any queasiness since yesterday; I hoped it stayed that way.
From my vantage point, the sharp angles that had replaced mother's once heavily padded frame were clearly noticeable. Her smile put me at ease until she leaned forward. Her jerky motion caused the necklace tucked beneath her floral patterned nightdress to spill forth.
The s-linked chain flowed out of mother's gown in a fluid motion like a golden snake, and then stopped. A low moan escaped me as I watched her skeletal fingers pull the rest of the chain into view. I glanced uneasily at the decades-old wooden amulet attached at the chain's end.
** BUY: at Smashwords for less than a cup of coffee!
(c) 2010 C. Verstraete http://candidcanine.blogspot.com