Runner-up in our Hallowe’en microfiction contest
By Charlotte Cartner
When we were little, the living room was where our mother braided our hair and scolded us for our mischiefs. Now we are not little, it is where I sit smoking, finishing paperwork, and sometimes, crying. I refuse to let the shadow in the corner disturb me. Occasionally I ask its name, but it never answers.
When we were little, our mother nursed us through colds and kissed our grazes. Now we are not little, she rests stagnant in a care home after her last stroke. Sometimes I braid her hair; others I barely resist scolding her. She should fight this harder. She cannot answer, but her eyes say enough.
On the night it ends, I am alone in the living room, unaware of what has happened until a single scream erupts from the corner. The shock settles, the shadow approaches, and at last I think welcome home.
Charlotte Cartner lives in North Wales, UK and received her MA in Contemporary Literary Studies from Lancaster University. Alongside her deep interest in overthinking the nature of popular fiction, she has worked in marketing, graphic design, face painting and cupcake making. She is currently editing her first novel.
Featured artwork: “Numinous II”, by Andrzej Masianis.