A Change of Season by Jess Landry [horror]

Imprint - Horror Imprint Logo 200wA Change of Season by Jess Landry

Mama didn’t come tuck me in. She didn’t check under my bed for monsters or read me a story or kiss me goodnight. She didn’t close the blinds on my window, so the Moon’s light spilled into the room like an avalanche tearing down a mountain. Across from where I lay, wrapped under Sleeping Beauty bed sheets, the Moon set fragments of Ginny’s side of the room aglow. Shreds of her empty bed lit up like patches of pearlescent snow. The Moon’s icy grip touched hints of her bed sheets, tossed like they’d been through gale force winds. It licked the rims of books she had intended to read, books that defied gravity with their tilt. It hung on posters coming loose off the walls like snow weighing heavy on spruce branches.

I clutched onto my teddy bear, drawing him closer towards my face. Teddy had once belonged to Ginny; she had once clutched him as I did then, feeling the scratch of his chocolate-colored wool against her chin, running her fingers along the soft ridges of his button eyes. The faded scent of Ginny wrapped around Teddy like a warm blanket on a cold winter’s night, and I felt the scrape of his fur against my quivering chin. I squeezed my eyes shut, the tightest I’ve ever shut them, and imagined with all my might that it was her I was holding.

“Please,” I whispered into the back of Teddy’s head. “Please, Ginny.”

When I opened my burning eyes, my big sister’s bed wasn’t empty.

Ginny lay on her back, eyes fixated on the ceiling, porcelain skin lit up under the Moon’s spotlight. She wore the plain blue T-shirt she often wore to sleep, the one she said that made her feel warm. Her mouth was wide open. Her chest heaved like she was having an asthma attack, but no sound followed the air escaping her lungs. Her fists clutched at the mess of sheets underneath her.

“Ginny?” I barely whispered, hiding my face behind Teddy.

My big sister didn’t stir.

“Ginny?” I asked a little louder, peeking out from behind his scratchy wool.

Nothing.

I watched for a few moments, waiting for her to respond in some way. When nothing came, I gathered courage from myself and Teddy and stepped out of bed onto the cool hardwood floor. I paced my steps from my bed to hers, locking Teddy against my chest, cringing at every creak my weight made against the floorboards.

Her body continued to heave silently as I came up beside her. It must have been the shadows playing tricks, but her eyes, once blue like sapphires, seemed like bottomless pools of black water.

“Please,” I whispered to my sister. “Say something.”

I loosened my grip on Teddy and reached out my shaking hand to touch her.

She immediately stopped heaving. Her body relaxed. She closed her black eyes.

The room fell still. The air around me thickened like sap from a bleeding tree. Outside the bedroom window, it felt like the world had paused.

Then Ginny opened her black eyes, and they were on me.

I ran back to my bed as fast as I could, throwing the safety of the sheets over my head, wrapping myself and Teddy in a protective cocoon. I lay in a ball for what felt like days, sweat dripping off my palms and into Teddy, my ears focused in on any out-of-the-ordinary sound. When no sounds came, I began to relax. I shifted a little in my bed, enough to force a crack in the sheets.

Ginny’s bed was empty, just like it had been the night before. Just like it would continue to be. Ginny’s gone, Mama had told me. Nothing’s bringing her back.

Somehow, I managed to fall asleep.

***

Sunlight drowned my room the next morning, bleaching everything it touched. I squinted over to Ginny’s side as I stretched and yawned and told her to wake her lazy bones up. But as my eyes became accustomed to the light, I saw her bed hadn’t changed. The sheets were still a mess. Her tower of books still leaned. Her posters still wilted.

I reached over and grabbed for Teddy, pulling him tight against my chest.

Ginny’s dying scent exhaled from his pores and I closed my eyes, waiting for the night.

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