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(STBSS) The price

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posted on Jul, 6 2005 @ 09:30 PM
Andi leaned against the shed and dropped the shovel. Wincing at the August sun, she pushed aside her wet bangs and wiped the sweat out of her eyes. She was used to heat but the Louisiana humidity made the 99 degree temperature feel much hotter than the Nevada desert she was used to. She had come home to the house where she grew up; to all of the old memories and demons of her childhood. Andi looked at the small patch of garden that she had dug up. Papa’s garden, she thought with a smile.

Papa had been an exceptional gardener. The entire back yard had been a show place when he was alive. The trellises dripped with honeysuckle while foxgloves, pansies, goldstrums and irises bobbed their heads to bees and butterflies. The stately magnolia trees stretched out their limbs as if trying to shake hands with each other; and the Spanish moss hung down like beards on old men. The memory brought back the color and fragrances of a masterpiece once filled with life. Andi gasped at the vividness of the memory as tears mingled with sweat rolled down her cheeks. Then as swiftly as it came, the memory was gone. She stared in dismay at what her mother had let her father’s garden become. It was choked with weeds and kudzu; but now Mama was gone too. Summer, she thought. They both left in the summer. Andi banished the memories. She was much too sensible to wallow in self pity. Yes, her parents were gone, but she was a young woman and she would get this place ready for the fall planting. Then just you wait until next summer. She smiled.

It was only 10:30, but the morning sun and humidity was too much for Andi. She picked up the shovel to return it to the shed when the glint of sunlight on metal caught her eye. There in the overturned soil protruded what appeared to be an old coin. As she bent down to pick it up, she felt a slight prick to her finger. Dropping to her knees she quickly pulled her finger to her mouth. “Yuck.” She said aloud. “I haven’t done that since I was a kid.” She pulled her hand away from her mouth and inspected the cut. Although it was shallow, it bled profusely. She picked up the coin and went into the house to tend to her cut.

Andi headed toward the bathroom to wash her hand, when she was startled by the doorbell. Pocketing the coin and wiping her bleeding finger on her jeans, she turned around and walked into the foyer. She opened the door to a dwarf of a woman in an old house dress. Andi groaned involuntarily then quickly put a smile on her face. It would not do to insult old Miss Deveraux.

Miss Deveraux was the oldest woman in the parish. Andi thought with amusement that she was probably the oldest woman in the world. The dress hung limply on her tiny frame. Her face had the color and texture of an old apple doll. Gnarled hands held a crooked old walking cane. She was bent over that cane now but as she raised her head, her cold eyes met Andi’s. The parish folk said they were eyes that no one would ever look into, without feeling fear. This was no senile old woman; this was the parish witch. Fear seeped into Andi but she held on to her smile.

“Hello Miss Deveraux.” Andi said staring into those dark eyes. Oh, dark eyes, like pools of oil. They’ll swallow you up, they’ll. . .
“You’re bleeding!” snapped Miss Deveraux.
Andi shook her head, what had happened? “What, ah, I mean. . . “
You’re bleeding!”
Andi pulled her hand out of her blood soaked pocket.
“Oh, that.” She said. “Come in Miss Deveraux, yes, I was on my way to the bathroom to take care of it when you rang. Do sit down; I’ll only be a moment.”

Five minuets later a freshly bandaged Andi returned to the foyer and a still standing Miss Deveraux. “Please sit Miss Deveraux.” Andi motioned to the parlor.
“I didn’t come to sit and socialize Miss Andrea; I came to get back what’s mine.” She glared at Andi.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand. What is yours?”
“Do you know how your Mama and Papa died?” she abruptly asked.
Andi started. “Why yes,” she replied. “They both had heart attacks. But what does that have to do with what is yours?”
“Ha! Heart attack? Yes, I suppose you could call it that. Your Mama caught your Papa cheating on her. She came to me and begged me put a curse on his lover. But she balked when it came time to pay the piper. And your papa, when he found out what she had done he died of a broken heart. But not before he came to see me.”
“Miss Deveraux, that’s ridiculous. My papa would never do that. And besides, I don’t believe in curses.” She said indignantly.
“You mark my words missy, you either give me what’s mine or the same will happen to you!”
“Miss Deveraux, please,” Andi said uneasily. “What is it that you want?”
“Your mama took a charm from me when your papa got sick and I want it back! It has strong power,” she said eerily. She thought it would give her protection, but she didn’t know what she was messing with. She wasn’t willing to pay, but pay she did. That charm did her in!” she cackled wildly. “And if you don’t give it back, it’ll do the same to you.”
“Miss Deveraux, I don’t know what you’re talking about and I have a lot of work to do so if there’s nothing else I can do for you. . .”
“I’ll leave, but I’ll be back for my amulet.” She smiled at Andi’s bandaged finger. “One way or another, I’ll be back. I always get what’s mine!” And with that said she was out the door and hobbling down the walk.

Andi heaved a sigh of relief and fell onto the sofa. God that old woman gave her the creeps. She thought of what the old witch had said. Could it be true she wondered? No! Not Papa, he would never do that. And Mama loved him so much. Why, she had grieved herself to death in just three short years after Papa died. It couldn’t be true. And even if it were, her parents would never go see that old hag. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the coin. So was this the old woman’s charm, her amulet? Andi walked into the bathroom and held the coin under the faucet. The water washed away the blood and dirt and Andi could see that it was a very old coin indeed. She held it up to the light. She wondered if the coin was valuable. The edges were worn smooth. On one side was what appeared to be some sort of six pointed star. It was very much worn and she was not quite sure whether it was really a star or not. She slowly turned the coin over. Andi stared at the coin in horror for what seemed an eternity. She dropped the coin and gratefully let the darkness overcome her as she collapsed to the bathroom floor.

Hours later, Andi sat up in the dark bathroom. What happened? She wondered. She felt cold and sick. Why was it so dark? This time of year, it remained light until at least eight o’clock. She decided that it had to be the summer heat that caused her to pass out. Then she remembered the coin. She got up and pulled the cord to turn on the bathroom light. The old coin twinkled against the cold floor tile. Andi stared at the horror struck faces of her parents imprinted on the coin. No! Childhood fears tumbled into her mind as she scurried about. What does this mean? How were her parent’s faces on such and old coin? Why did they look so terrified? Does this have to do with the payment the old witch was talking about? She had to bury it. Yes! That’s what she would do. Then she would get away from this horrible little parish and go back to Vegas. But first she had to bury the coin.

Stumbling into the back yard, Andi ran to her father’s garden. Now sobbing, she began to dig into the soil with her bare hands. Her bandage slipped off and her finger began to bleed again, but she took no notice. The full moon caressed the garden in an eerie light and shadows flit across the yard. Andi pulled the coin from her pocket and took one last look and screamed. Slowly the weeds and vines slithered toward her. One wrapped around her ankle while another grabbed her wrist. Now the vines were covering her in a sticky caress. She remembered a scene from a movie where a girl was raped by a tree. Oh yeah, she thought, Evil Dead. It was her last thought. Her heart exploded when the magnolia reached for her.

Old Miss Deveraux stepped from behind a tree and hobbled over to where Andi lay. She pulled the coin from Andi’s hand and smiled. “I only want what’s mine.” she whispered. She held the coin in the moonlight and looked at the faces. Then she dropped the coin in the pocket of her housedress. “Just what’s mine, that’s all.” The coin nestled in her pocket with the horrified faces of father, mother, and daughter. Old Miss Deveraux turned and faded away as the summer mist flowed across the yard.

posted on Aug, 3 2005 @ 06:59 PM
This was one of my personal favorites. A tale well told and worth retelling. You met all my requirements, putting me right there in the heat of summer and brought me to a slow chill by the end. You're very descriptive and easily paint a picture for the reader. Well done.

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