My story was a little more loosely inspired by the photo than my past efforts. I don’t consider it finished. I’ll work on it some more and probably make it longer at a later date. But deadlines being what they are–here it is. Enjoy.
Word Count: 1168
They hit her with their car on Thursday night coming home from Darcy’s family home. Their car windows were open at the time letting in the cool evening October air and letting out their screaming angry voices.
“I was trying to share our big news and that woman treated me like I was shitting in her mashed potatoes–”
“You know mother wanted to wait til the toast at the end to share any good news. You upset her schedule. She’s sensitive–”
“She’s bitchy and controlling–”
“Just stop baiting her–”
They both stopped when the car thumped and a little face bounded up onto the hood and slid up the windshield and over the top of the car. Paulo hit the brakes, and they swerved so much they ended up in the grassy ditch.
“What the fuck was that?” Paulo yelled.
“What do you mean what was that, you idiot! What did it look like?” Darcy opened the door and swept out of the car. She leaned back in, “Are you going to get out or what? You hit a kid you fucking asshole.” Then she headed towards the back of the car.
Paulo sat in the driver’s seat for just a moment more, all of his anger burned away and fermented to fear. He swallowed over and over again. Had he really hit a kid? It hadn’t look like that to him. A dog maybe?
The door creaked open and he stepped out, glancing guiltily at the windshield first, checking for hairline cracks, astounded that it wasn’t broken. This old car is a tank, he thought.
“Hurry up!” Darcy stood at the back of the car and she looked frozen.
“Darcy, I don’t think that that was a person–”
“Really?” She pointed. “What do you call that, then?”
Just beyond the car’s brake lights was a small figure in a dark dress. She was curled up in a ball, shivering and crying.
“Oh Christ.” He let out a big shuddering sigh. “Oh Darcy, what am I gonna do? I gotta call the police!” He reached a shaky hand into his back pocket and pulled his cell out. He held it up in front of him like he’d never seen it before.
Darcy screeched and knocked it out of his hands. It hit the grass, bounced, slid to a stop.
“What are you thinking? Do you want to ruin everything?”
Paulo opened his mouth and then closed it. He watched Darcy’s breast rise and fall raggedly. “Darcy, what are you saying?”
“You just got a promotion. Finally. They want to pay you a bucketload of money. We finally get to move out of that shitty smelly little craphouse. Do you think any of that will happen if you are indicted for hit and run?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “I haven’t left yet. I’m still here. It’s not a hit and run.”
“You idiot! You’ll go to jail for sure!”
The crying stopped and both of them turned toward the figure. “Oh, god,” Darcy whispered. “It’ll be murder now. You killed her!”
Paulo opened his mouth but the only thing that came out was a yellow stream of vomit. He leaned over until the last shudder left his body.
“Oh Darcy,” he whispered. He stood up and wiped his mouth shakily. “What am I gonna do?”
“Get your phone for one thing,” she said, pointing. “It’s swimming in vomit.”
Paulo gagged again, then reached into his pocket and pulled out a handkerchief. He picked out his phone and wiped it down.
The sound of the trunk popping open made him turn around. She was shoving the contents of the trunk to one side. Then before he could stop her she had stepped out of the light and scooped up the small figure, tossing it distastefully into the truck. The girl landed with a thump but didn’t move afterwards.
Oh, god, I have killed her, he thought.
Then before he could protest, she slammed the trunk closed.
“Get in the car, Paulo,” she said, and stepped around him to the driver’s seat.
They put the girl in the basement, Paulo taking her head and Darcy her feet. The long tangled mess of her hair hung over his arms, and he refused to look into her face, but couldn’t fail to see the darkness on her chin that could only be blood. In unspoken agreement, they left the light out in the basement preferring to bump around in the dark. Neither one of them willing to look at the other as they climbed back up the basement stairs.
In contrast, in the living room, every single light was turned on, the kitchen and dining room, too. Darcy sat in the recliner, laptop in her lap and fingers feverishly flying over the keys. Paulo sat numbly on the sofa across from her and watched the news waiting for an amber alert or a report of a missing child flash across the bottom of the screen. Other than a murder over on the North side, a three car pileup on I-70 involving fatalities, and the same old coverage of the election, nothing else came on. Paulo didn’t know whether to feel relief, or worse. All night long, he glanced over at the basement door.
“You’re wearing me out, Paulo,” his wife said. “She’s not going anywhere, okay?” Darcy closed the laptop. “I think that I know just what we’ll do but it’ll have to wait for tomorrow.”
“A couple of over the counter ingredients, a bucket and some patience. That’s all we need.” She looked satisfied.
Paulo’s shoulders shook. Darcy sat looking at him for just a moment and then set her laptop on the coffee table and slid in next to him on the couch taking his hand in hers. “It’ll be okay. It really will.” She tried a smile on but it faltered.
He shook his head, wiped at his eyes. “You don’t understand. I’ll never be the same person again.”
Exhausted and grainy eyed, they flipped off the TV. As they passed the basement door, the sound of tiny little footsteps on the stairs made both of them cringe and stumble away.
“Oh Christ,” Paulo whispered. Darcy grabbed his arm so hard he finally had to wrench it away. Her heart beat so hard that Paulo could see it throbbing in her neck.
“Mommy–” It was a sound as soft as a whisper. But it didn’t sound right.
Darcy and Paulo looked at each other and Darcy slipped over to the door and locked it. Her hand shook fiercely.
“Mommy, Mommy,” It whispered and it was a teasing, lilting voice. A voice of fun and mirth. “Come play with me.”
Darcy and Paulo stepped away from the door their backs sliding up against the wall.
“Fucking hell, Paulo.” Darcy whispered, her voice shaky. “What do we do now?”
The child in their basement was silent at last, offering no solution, except to giggle.