Flash Fiction: Lily’s Prayers

Dan found the diary with little flowers and butterflies on the cover under Lily’s pillow. He felt a twinge of guilt as he sat on her bed and flipped through the pages but he wanted to know what she found important enough to write down and hide. It couldn’t be that exciting, she was only eight years old.

He stopped at a random page and read.

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Dan smiled. The next several entries were all similar. He was ready to slip the notebook back where he’d found it when he came across something quite different.

It was a drawing. A mad cluster of red scribbles. Long stick-like arms reached out from the edges and at its center  a yawning  black mouth  filled with long, sharp teeth that spiraled endlessly inward. She had drawn herself into the picture, smiling, wearing her striped shirt and purple shorts. She was holding one of the thing’s crooked hands. Beneath it she’d written:

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Dan looked out into the living room. All was quiet. He looked back at the drawing and frowned. Something about the dark crawls of wax made him uneasy. It was like a scab come to life. Kids drew all sorts of strange things; monsters, fairies, unicorns. They carried on conversations with imaginary friends. Had parties with stuffed animals and held funerals for dead birds. They were weird and you couldn’t take anything they did too seriously. Still, the reference to God was new. They weren’t a religious family. They didn’t even own a bible. He knew that she’d picked up the habit of saying her prayers at night from her cousins, but he’d always thought it was just so she could keep the lights on a little longer. He’d never stopped to wonder who she was praying to.

He shook his head and continued flipping through the diary. The next few pages were more observations and doodles. Then he turned to the entry for Saturday, September 9th.

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Below this she’d drawn a picture of her face, blue with a huge drooping frown. Dan’s mind reeled as he pictured his eight year old daughter spying on Charlotte and him in the bedroom. He felt sick. Worse, he felt guilty. He wanted to put the diary aside, but of course, he couldn’t.

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Dan looked around the room. He never really noticed Lily’s things but he knew that her dolls were usually posed around the big dollhouse in the corner. The dollhouse was there, but the dolls weren’t. He read on.

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  The sound of the front door was very loud in the silent house. Dan’s chest tightened. “Lily?” He turned the page, standing as he read.

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“Sweetie, come here please.” Dan’s voice cracked.

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He suddenly wanted out of the room. He tried to move but couldn’t. His right foot seemed stuck to the floor. He looked down. Long, slim fingers were curled around his ankle. They were attached to a hand that had snaked out from beneath the bed. Before he had a chance to scream, his foot was yanked out from under him. He crashed to the floor pounding his fists and kicking his free leg. Another arm, thin but powerfully muscled, slithered out from beneath the comforter and grabbed his flailing foot. Another grabbed at his armpit and another still came out and covered his mouth. They all began pulling at once, dragging him into the darkness under Lily’s bed. In those last moments before he was swallowed up, Dan looked to the bedroom doorway and


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