On the porch, she felt safer. The warm light high on the wall, next to the rocking chair that was cradling her seemed to tell her so, with its golden reassurance.
Imustnotthinkthat, she repeated in her head, pressing her eyelids shut. Daddy will be good, hepromisedhepromised. She'll be all right.
She hugged her legs as a scream and a bark came from inside the house, making her flinch. Daddy?
"Daddy?" she called out, already forgetting that he had asked her not to make noise. The silence extended until she could no longer stand it. She stepped down from the rocking chair and went inside the house, walking slowly, her steps and breath on a single beat.
The living room door swung open, her daddy coming out of it and hurrying to close it back with a gasp once he saw her; he didn't want her to see, even she understood that. He's scared. "Daddy, are you okay?"
He sighed. "Yes, sweetie, I'm fine."
"But - but I heard you scream..."
"I got scared. She... she tried to bite me... " he started, and her eyes swelled up in acknowledgement of what that meant. "I'm sorry..." he said, kneeling down beside her and caressing her cheek. The girl thought he looked so scared and small for some reason, like the puppy they had found a couple of nights ago. The puppy had slept with her and been with her the whole day, they had played and laughed and played again and she adored her and the puppy felt the same for her, she knew it.
But then she had tried to bite her, (playfully!) and her daddy said she wasn't safe to be around. So he took her puppy and tied her in their unused barn. And the next day he didn't even let her go outside to see the puppy! In fact, he didn't let her go outside at all. She thought he was punishing her for taking the puppy in, but what should she have done? It was so tiny, hiding from the rain under a bush near the fence of their sheep's barn, looking so hungry!
"She was just sad, Daddy, because you took her away from me and she knew you were punishing me! Why didn't you let me see her today?" she blurted out, crying desperately and clenching her fists.
Her dad lowered his head, hiding it in his hands. She knew her daddy was sorry, but she didn't care, clad in that childlike selfishness that was her age's privilege. "I will never talk to you anymore!" she cried, and ran upstairs to her room sobbing hysterically.
As soon as his six-year-old slammed her door shut, his wife came out of another door. "She didn't take it well, did she?" she said, frowning.
"I don't really care right now, Anne. You've no idea what -- what happened..." he replied, struggling for breath, his hands trembling. I killed her... I killed her... I had to, but I didn't know...
Her hands went to his shoulders, questioning. "It was the right thing to do, you know that. You know it was that puppy that killed our sheep and bit the horse and who knows what it would have done to our daughter!"
He was shaking as if dancing, again and again and again. Youdontunderstand, he repeated in his head, crying, eyes shut. And she finally seemed to understand something was wrong. Thank God, I can't tell her what I had to do but she can see for herself, she'll see and understand, she doesn't now but she will when she sees it...
She got up and he followed her shadow with his eyes as it entered the room. Her stifled scream made him run as if a spring was under his ass, forcing him to jump up despite his terror of what -I've done- was inside there.
"Where the fuck is the puppy, Ed?! Where is it?" she whispered, her voice the faintest he had ever heard it be, her hand still over her mouth. What am I going to do now? he asked himself.
"Anne, darling... as-as soon as I k-k-killed it..." he gulped, his insides torn. He made himself look at the tiny body lying on their carpet, naked and innocent. "It transformed..."
His wife looked at him with huge eyes, aghast. Pleasebelievemeohgodplease
"This is impossible. What did you do, Ed, we can't call the authorities or say anything, they will take Lisa away from us..." she said, her hands through her hair, looking at the body. Looking for, Ed hoped, confirmation that that was indeed the puppy once... against all odds... It's there, can't you see that it's not just a girl?
The young girl's neck was redder where the collar had snapped when she freed herself from the barn. Her hair was the same deep brown of the puppy's and her teeth, still glaring from her lifeless mouth, were dark with dried blood; and one of her fingers was missing. I thought it was just a puppy, god forgive me, god forgive me.
"We have to get rid of it, Ed."
She couldn't help but look at the night sky when they went out the house, towards the trees at the end of the fields in front of them. Fuck you, she thought towards the full moon, you and this monster you created to hurt our daughter.
She looked at her husband, who was carrying a sack tied at the ends in his arms, tears streaming down his face. I don't know what I would have done if it had been me killing that puppy, seeing it transform into a little girl. God, I hope nobody finds out what we've done...
As if reading her mind, Ed spoke up. "What if somebody sees us? What if the body is dug up by someone?" he asked. She had never seen him scared but oh boy, today his fear made up for all the times he hadn't been and she had. It was palpable, and she felt sorry for him, but they both had to hold on a little bit longer. They would be back home soon, to apologise to their daughter for putting down the puppy, and hug each other tight in bed and pretend it had all been just a dream.
They stopped right after the first line of trees. "This is our land, dearest, our trees, our fields. No one will dig anything up unless we tell them to. And you know there's no one but us around here."
It was hard work, but they helped each other and in just over a couple of hours they had dug the hole, placed the body and covered it back up. Thank heavens it's fall. All the leaves will cover this spot nicely in just a few days...
She held onto him as they walked back. The moon shimmered red, almost mockingly. I know, I know, it shouldn't have ended like this. But we didn't know...
They were halfway back when Ed stopped abruptly. She turned to look at him and saw fresh sweat coming out of his forehead. A few seconds more, and she knew why -- a howl.
They came for us, oh god they came to get their revenge. Tears came to her eyes as the howls multiplied, nearer. "Run, my love." she said, squeezing Ed's hand as hard as she could, thinking of their daughter sleeping in her bed, of her eyes and hair and beautiful laughter. One of us must make it there...
She looked at their house, a lonely warm light showing them the way. "Run."