Michael Wombat’s Picture Choice: Both
The angel’s head was too big, and the wings too small. Those were the first things I noticed. I had said that we should use the stonemason from Brasov, but no, Grigore had insisted that we save money by employing the village blacksmith instead. I suspected that the blacksmith had simply crept into a graveyard in dead of night and severed the head of an existing statue and the wings from a second to add to the childishly carved body and hands. Our own little angel, Mirela, had been perfect. This mawkish grotesque was nothing but an insult to her memory.
The midnight breeze chilled my back as cold as the moonlight that cast across the bare winter trees and the book held in the angel’s hands. A book, for the love of sacred God! Mirela hadn’t even started learning to read when she was murdered, her innocent soul snuffed out by an evil monster.
De mormânt, how I had wept. I had roared, I had screamed into the black heavens for God to help us, but He wasn’t listening. I had ranted at Grigore, but he was not listening either. Grigore had not allowed me to attend to any preparations for the funeral, nor even the ceremony itself that morning. He had said it was for my own sanity, but I knew I needed to see Mirela’s grave with my own eyes in order to bring peace. What the Americans call closure. I could not be certain that she was truly gone unless I saw for myself.
I felt a slight tremor through the thin soles of my slippers. It was beginning. I took a pace back, shaking with trepidation, although the prospect of seeing my baby again filled me with an exquisite agony. The freshly-dug earth shook, then poured aside as a pair of small white hands broke through the surface. The fingers clawed at the soil, but were unable to push it aside.
I reached down and took the thin forearms in my hands, giving a gentle tug. With my help, my little daughter emerged from her grave, coughing out gobbets of dirt and spittle. She looked up at my face, her clear eyes seeking recognition.
“Mămică?” she whispered.
“Mirela, fiica mea prețioase,” I purred, reassuringly. The moonlight lit clearly the ugly scars on her neck, and the lengthened incisors when she smiled at me. “Te iubesc.”
I released her wrists and she reached for me. I stooped to pick up the wooden stake at my feet.
“Îmi pare rău, dragă. Fii la pace acum,” I said gently, and, tears rimming my eyes, plunged the sharpened point deep into her chest. She screamed, and a look of pure evil drenched her eyes. She clutched at her pierced chest and ran into the shadows beyond the gravestones, still impaled on the shaft of ash that I had sharpened that afternoon.
I must have missed the heart, because she still lives. My daughter creeps, hissing, just out of my sight, in the dark shadows cast by the ranks of bitter gravestones. She is hunting me, and I do not know whether I have the courage, or the heart to hurt my little girl again.
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Michael Wombat has published several books - search for him on Amazon, or go talk to him on Twitter where he is @wombat37.