Our first flash episode is now available, it features the prolific Wayne Scheer and his dark flash story “Annabelle” originally published in Micro Horror, Oct. 2008. and made available to us by the author. This episode also marks the introduction of our theme music “Dividing All the Time” brought to us this week by Christopher S. Carlson.
Flash Episode #1
By Wayne Scheer
Play in this window
I like to watch Annabelle from my living room window. I pull back the heavy gold drapes, just a tad, and squint through the slit of morning sunlight so I can’t be seen. I reach for my new camera with the telescopic lens and begin snapping pictures of the beautiful child.
Mother always demanded that the curtains remain closed during the day. She feared the sun would fade the forest green carpet she had installed soon after my birth in 1975, the year Father left. Mother passed six months ago, leaving me her house and the family inheritance. After a bit of unpleasantness, the police ruled her tumble down the stairs an accident.
Annabelle is playing with her dog, Miss Frizzy, as she often does these summer mornings. I watch her run after the pup, a small, black and white terrier. She crouches down and the dog licks her delicious face as if it were covered with sweet cream. I take more pictures. I can almost hear her laughing. Such a sweet laugh. Soon, her mother appears, obviously annoyed that Annie, as I like to call her, has gotten herself dirty. They get into their car, Miss Frizzy and Annie in the back seat, and drive off to day camp.
I wave good-bye and open the photo album, the one I no longer need to hide from Mother. I’ve collected pictures of Annie since she was a toddler, many with Mother’s old Polaroid. Mother and Mrs. Tierney used to be friends, and I was allowed to care for the child. I will develop the new pictures in the dark room I had built in our basement and add them to the album.
I think about Annie at camp. She told me how she swims and plays tag with other children. Sometimes she pastes beads and shells onto colorful paper. She writes her name across the bottom and up one side, all in capital letters: A-N-N-A-B-E-L-L-E. She gave me one of her creations as a gift two weeks ago, but her mother didn’t approve. She has treated me like some kind of monster after she and Mother had their talk.
I’ve taped Annie’s gift onto my refrigerator door. I long to show her how wonderful it looks there. Mrs. Tierney doesn’t appreciate Annie’s creativity. I think of myself as Annie’s protector and mentor, since her father left when she was a baby. We have much in common, but her mother refuses to accept our special relationship. To her, I’m a monster to be kept away from her sweet child.
When Mother found my photo album of Annie, she had that same look in her eyes. She forbade me to talk with Annie, demanding I stay in the house when the child played outdoors. I found this imprisonment intolerable, although Mother said it was for my own good.
I spend my day developing the new photographs of Annie and redecorating Mother’s room.
At three o’clock, I stop what I’m doing because Annie returns from camp. I walk across the street to greet her. Annie is wearing her yellow shorts with orange butterflies, my favorite outfit. I ask about camp, but her mother tells her to go inside because Miss Frizzy misses her. Annie takes out a drawing from her bookbag and hands it to me before running to play with Miss Frizzy. It is a picture of two people standing on green grass in front of a house–me and Annabelle. The bright yellow sun is smiling.
Mrs. Tierney glares at me and turns towards her front door.
“I would never hurt Annabelle,” I tell her. “I love her.”
She doesn’t turn around. I hear her lock the door behind her.
I will tape Annie’s picture to my refrigerator, next to her other gift. I must find a more prominent place to display her art. That is why I am painting Mother’s room a bright yellow and pasting butterfly decals on the walls. Annabelle’s drawings will look so beautiful there.