Sabbath tugged at her seat-belt, pulling the strap away from her neck. To her dismay, it was locked into place–she sighed, placing her thumb in between the strap and her chest, doing her best to keep it from digging into her skin. She looked over at her father. He caught her gaze in the mirror and smiled, then reached to turn the station to something she’d enjoy.
She frowned. Today should have been fun. But Twitch didn’t want to go, and without her, she found herself bored before they’d even reached Miami. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go, it was just that her and Twitch did everything together.
Too bad Twitch found fishing about as fun as watching paint dry.
“We’re almost home,” Ash said. Sabbath could now see five townhouses superimposed against the skyline of the downtown area–the Calusa Shores Painted Ladies. The last of the brownstones was almost double the size of the others–this was the one she called home.
As soon as they stopped in the driveway, Sabbath hopped out of the car and ran inside the house, eager to see her sister. She flung open the door and shouted, “I’m home!” before stopping at the edge of the foyer. She hadn’t noticed before, but the lights were off and the living room was rather dark. This wasn’t really unusual–her mother had a lot of stress at work, and as a result was known to have migraines. Still, the lack of a response made her feel uneasy.
Her father stepped in behind her, blinking as his eyes adjusted to the lack of light. He too seemed worried; in a nervous tone, he called out: “Honey, are you awake?” Again, there was no response.
Sabbath noticed an odd noise coming from the kitchen. She couldn’t make out what it was at first, but the sound drew her to investigate. As she got closer, she began to recognize the sound of a child crying–something she rarely heard in her own home. She opened the kitchen door to find Twitch curled up into a ball. Her sister was afraid. That’s strange.
Sabbath put her hand on her sister’s shoulder. “What’s wrong?” She asked. Twitch stopped for a moment to sniffle, and then broke into a sob.
“Dad, something’s wrong with–”
Before she could finish, the screech of white noise filled the room. Sabbath grabbed her ears in pain. Through her hands, she could hear the voice of her mother overpowering the static: “I did it for her. I did it for her. Ash, forgive me, I did it for her.” Then, the message cut off and cycled to the next one.
“Hey Honey, just wanted to let you know we’re on our way….”
She looked at her father and frowned. He seemed distant somehow, and she couldn’t put her finger on why. After taking a second to figure it out, she decided that whatever was upsetting him was probably not something she was going to understand. It was probably best if she went back to Twitch.
As she turned around, she saw a shadow she hadn’t noticed before–a small blob swaying at the base of the stairs. Looking up, she noticed a dark brown skirt, and a black and white tail with a pair of black legs dangling from beneath it.
Hanging by a bed sheet from the upstairs balcony was her mother, her once bright yellow eyes now dull and lifeless.
* * *
Carter didn’t bother to tell his secretary why he was leaving. He didn’t waste any time calling Fiona and telling her to meet him at the manor either. Throughout the first half of his drive across the island, he was on the phone explaining the situation in detail. When he arrived, he saw the coroner wheeling Anne’s body through the door. Ash was standing there in a daze, with Sabbath clenching his right hand and Twitch at his left. A blank stare was on the young girl’s face.
As the coroner began loading the body into the van, Carter pulled Ash aside. He wanted to say something that would comfort his in-law, but couldn’t find the words to do so. Instead, all he could manage was, “How are you holding up?” something he felt stupid for asking.
“Not sure,” Ash replied. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, I think.”
Behind them, Fiona’s car pulled int the driveway. Carter saw his daughter fling the door open and run toward the house, her eyes verging on tears. She went straight for her father and gave him a hug, pulling back a few seconds later only to do the same to Ash.
“Thanks,” Ash said. His voice seemed surprisingly monotone.
She turned to her father to ask why, but when she saw Sabbath and Twitch staring at her, she bit her lip instead. Carter grabbed her hand. “Why don’t you take them someplace, let them calm down?”
Fiona nodded. She bent down to look the twins in the eyes and asked, “Hey, why don’t we get you some ice cream?”