From “A Sunflower for Daddy”
The smell of soiled bedding and rotting fruit wafted into the hall as Abigail approached Dottie’s room. Her door was open, and the faint sound of a laugh track did its best to breathe life into the stale atmosphere. Abigail paused as the memory of what happened washed over her mind. Her nose wrinkled. She could almost still smell the bleach that permeated the bedroom air that day. Before it happened, it was Dottie who had made the sandwiches. Before it happened, Abigail had still referred to Dottie as Mommy.
But the day Abigail had found Daddy in what was then Grandmother’s room, with his head in his hands, all that changed. “Grandma was just so old and sick, Abigail,” Daddy said, his eyes glossed with tears, “and Mommy just couldn’t cope with it. She’s…” As Daddy spoke, Abigail’s eyes swiveled to a dark spot on the peeling paisley wallpaper. “…Mommy’s in the hospital, Abigail,” Daddy said.
At the hospital, Abigail thought Mommy resembled a dead cat, with its eyes wide open and its body stiff like a rolled up rug. After Daddy left to get a cup of coffee, Mommy grabbed Abigail’s arm. “Daddy’s done a terrible thing,” Mommy said, her eyes shining with dread. “…Now it’s only a matter of time…don’t listen to them, Abby…..” Silence befell her. The milky substance of an absent mind invaded her gaze. Mommy never said another word again.
When Abigail had returned home that day, she spoke to the sunflowers. “Daddy has a secret,” she whispered. She walked along the line of towering blossoms, reaching up to each one to stroke their petals. Her toe hit an obstruction in the grass. She looked down and saw the shears. A thin smile formed on her face as she took the shears and pried open the blade. She tilted her chin as she returned her gaze to the flowers. The smile slipped from her face. “But you won’t ever tell, will you?”
Thank you for reading this excerpt from “A Sunflower for Daddy”, from the “Compulse” short story horror anthology, available here.