I never really loved that child.
I mean, she was an easy birth. And when she got a little older, and I could start putting little bows and ribbons and things on her, she was cute enough.
But I knew right from the start she was evil.
It wasn’t one of those things you could see easily. Hell, I had a hard enough time seeing it myself.
When we’d go out to the market, she’d be sweet as pie. All the old women would come over and tug on those blonde ringlets. They’d caw like ravens and pinch at her cheeks. She’s got these dimples, see, that make the little grannies just about weep with adoration.
I used to tell those biddies they could take her home with them, if they loved her so much. They always giggled from behind their dentures and shook their smiling heads. I wish, just once, that one of them had realized I wasn’t kidding.
I caught the first hints of the demon in her when she’d cry out in the night. Most children, see, they wail. Their little chests suck in all the air they can hold and force it back out, loud as a foghorn through the darkness. Annabelle was different. She hissed. It sounded like a basketful of snakes let loose in her room.
I started turning down the baby monitor. Then I shut it off. Before long, I was closing her door and sleeping with a pillow over my head.
Of course I took her to the doctor; what kind of mother do you think I am? He checked her front and back and upside down and said there wasn’t a damned thing wrong with her. I wanted her to startle at his touch, to cry out so he could hear what I’d heard. She sat there instead, half a hand shoved in her mouth, and the doctor didn’t suspect a thing.
So I bundled her up against the Fall wind and wheeled her back home in her stroller. The strangers we passed all cooed at her. I think that was part of her witchcraft, being able to fool them all like that. They didn’t feel what I felt…
There’s something different about Annabelle. Something unsettling. Something…demonic.
Mommy’s little monster is here.
Annabelle, short horror from Stefanie N Snider
Available now at Amazon