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My mother ties my hands behind my back, so I can’t flap away my fear. I kick my legs instead, until she ties those too: then I rock the chair, as much I can, and push the fear out of my throat with my tongue. Ululu, ululululu… Then she slips something into my mouth, harsh rough cotton weave, the taste of textiles. The ropes itch on my skin, cutting tight, fraying tickling light touch, pain against the hairs on my ankles and wrists. I can’t stop it, can’t stop the feeling – only rock, and flex against the ropes, and cry dampened moans through the thick wrong textile feeling in my mouth. Curl my tongue away from it. Try not to touch.

“All right,” she says, sweet-voice, thick sticky syrup trickling down my ears, coating my bones with wrong. “There you go, all ready. I’m going to fix you now. I’m going to make everything all right.”

I’m not broken. I don’t want to be fixed, don’t need to – I kick harder, and the rope digs in tight, tighter, and the chair squeaks and bends but doesn’t move. It’s bolted down. I’m bolted down, tight, and I can’t move and all I have to cling to is the pressure of the ropes when I flex.

“I’ve figured it out, see,” she tells me. Light touch, fingers trailing on my face. Nerves singing, a lingering, echoing smear – pain, more than a memory. Want to scratch at it, tear my skin off, make it stop. Make it stop. Can’t. Can’t. Can’t.

“You,” she says, “are not my child.”

It hurts. It hurts, more than I know what to do with. I flex harder, let the ropes cut off my blood.

The basement is cold, concrete smell, air all damp and stale. Darkish. The light hurts my eyes – cold white, fast-flickering – but the smell is good, calm, the smell of games played, hiding, sorting the buttons from her sewing kit. Soft clatter, bright colours, smooth round feel in my fingers. Good memory. Safe. Not enough to drown out the now.

My mother is drawing chalk against the floor, squeaking-grating, lime dust scent swirling through the air. Pentagram, circle, me in the centre. The angles are uneven, the curves lopsided, stray marks escaping their bounds.

“I knew all along there was something wrong with you.” Her voice is vicious now – hurting – better, still, than the sweet. “Everything about you is wrong. It’s like you’re empty, or dead, like there’s nothing inside you –”

More marks, around the circle’s edge. Stick-slip squeaking jabbing through my brain. The marks look like letters, words, but I can’t read them, can’t make sense, can’t find the pattern.

“I thought of killing you,” she says. Her voice breaking, like she’s the one that’s hurt. “I thought of drowning you. People would understand. If they knew what you put me through, they’d understand me, they’d understand I had no choice.”

Five black candles at the points of the star, dropping into place like tolling bells. She takes out a lighter: flint spark, hissing gas, flickering flame in her shaking hand.

“But I couldn’t – I couldn’t kill you. I knew my sweet baby was still in there, somewhere – that I just had to – to cast out the demon inside you –”

My mother turns out the light. The candlelight is better, warmer, gentler. It's a relief, but altogether the world is still too much: the frayed rope brushing my skin, the cotton upholstery taste of the sock in my mouth, the fear. And the hurt. The hurt she gave me, too much, too vast to understand.

“You’re not my child,” she says again. “You’re the Devil’s own, and I mean for Him to take you back.”

My mother has a knife in her hand, small and sharp; it feels like apple slices, like peeled potatoes, but instead she slices the flesh of her palm. The smell of her blood is iron in the air, running over her skin, dropping down to mingle with the chalk dust at the points of the star.

One for sorrow, two for mirth; three for a funeral, four for a birth; five for Heaven…

She crawls over the chalk, not touching the lines. Like me, like me, for the first time – but she takes no care not to touch me as she crawls beneath my chair, staining the circle’s centre with her blood.

Six for Hell…

She smears the last drop onto the back of my left hand, where it clings and sticks and dries. I shake, struggle, scream through the gag – have to get it off, get it off, get it off – but my bonds are tight, my hands growing cold and numb. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t.

Seven for the Devil, His own self.

I don’t notice when He comes. Gently, quietly, He bleeds out of the darkness: a long black coat in an elegant stance, with a shiny black boot at the bottom of one leg and a horse’s hoof below the other. His breath is slow and steady, and soft as if it belongs to the room, the air, the darkness.

Deep voice, quiet, strong. “Why have you called me here?”

My mother gasps, a gurgling catch in her throat, and whirls to point at me with her shaking knife. “You – this – this thing, this demon – take it back. Take it back to Hell with You and give me back my child, my sweet child, my baby!” She is screaming now, shrill, harsh, the sharp wet sound of it drilling through my ears. “I conjure You by the blessed crucifix and the Holy Book – do as I command You!”

He stands for a moment in silence, looking me over. The smell of Him is sulphur, fire, horse’s sweat.

“I see no demon here,” He says at last. “I see a mortal child, your own flesh and blood, bound and abused and full of fear. Is this what you do with your children?”

“You’re wrong,” she says, vicious and angry. “My own child would touch me, hug me, kiss me – would look me in the eyes, at least –”

“A mother must love her child in the child’s way, not her own.” He takes a step towards her: the clop of a single hoof. Almost an afterthought, he motions to her crucifix: “That trinket of yours holds no power over me.”

She cowers back, fingertips bloodless around the handle of her knife. “If You won’t take the thing I’ll kill it myself. I’ll sacrifice it to You with my own hands if I must.”

Too much, too much, too much – the fear, the hurt, the blood on my hand and the cloth in my mouth and the rope where it lies light on my skin. I can’t anymore. I can’t. The world fades to nothing: I am still and silent, a stone in a hurricane, and inside, inside, I am screaming.

I barely hear His voice when He speaks, though it is soft and strong and steady, an anchor through the storm. It is shot with an undercurrent of laughter.

“If you insist, I suppose it would only be polite to do as you ask of me. I’ll tear the soul from the body of the evil one here, as it might be said to deserve, and keep it wherever seems most fitting – devour it, perhaps. What say you, mortal mother: shall I?”

If she answers, I do not hear it. I barely hear her skin split open, her bones rupture, her heart with all its veins rip out of her flesh. I don’t smell the blood until later, after He unties me and takes out the gag, after the nothing-moment passes and I return to myself.

My mother is a broken heap of carnage on the floor, the smell of blood and bowels, bare ribs jutting from a carcass turned inside out. Too vast, too deep – I feel too much to feel what I am feeling.

I flap and rock and ululu myself from the worst of the horror. He stands by, and does nothing to stop me.

“And you, mortal child,” He asks at last, when I have come to some sort of calmness – “What is it you wish for?”

I want a mother who loves me.

“I want a mother who loves me.”

I want a mother who loves me.

I don’t see Him change, but the darkness breathes and shifts and then She stands before me in a woman’s shape, a long black coat and a shiny black boot and a horse’s hoof, and a strong and steady stance. She does not touch me, does not force my gaze into Her eyes, but offers me Her hand in welcome.

“Well,” She says, voice deep and rich and full of promise, “I’ll do the best I can.”
Content warning for parental child abuse. Warning goes double for disabled people, and triple for autistic people (and cousins) in particular.


I entered into a bargain, whereupon I received these extra criteria:
Stipulation: POV character/narrator begins the entry with a significant physical or mental challenge (disability, restraint, disorder, injury, illness or disease, etc.).
Prompt: Involves a nursery rhyme or song.

Of course, this directly includes a version of "One for Sorrow" (which is usually about magpies rather than drops of blood), but the premise is also heavily inspired by "Old Lady and The Devil", which as far as I can tell isn't even in the Roud Folk Song Index. For shame. (Also, uh, thank you Google.)

Remember, parents, filicide is bad.

11.04.2018: Results have been announced! "Mother" placed as a runner-up, but you should definitely also take a look at the other winners (and, indeed, the entry galleries).

DD 31.12.2018: Thank you so much to everyone who reads and comments, and especially to akrasiel for the feature!

Also, you should read this.

Wordcount: 1,474
Add a Comment:
 

Daily Deviation

Given 2018-12-31
Mother by GDeyke ( Featured by akrasiel )
:iconoviedomedina:
oviedomedina Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2019
What a rollercoaster of emotions!
Really love reading this!
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2019   Writer
I'm glad to hear it. :D Thank you so much!
Reply
:iconoviedomedina:
oviedomedina Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2019
It was a pleasure! :)
Reply
:icondiabladelasflores:
DiablaDeLasFlores Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2019  Hobbyist General Artist
What in the what??? This is brilliant! But also wrenching. However, I LOVE that this poor, frightened, abused child is finally going to get a loving mother. What an amazing read! :clap: Congratulations on the DD! 
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2019   Writer
Thank you! :D Having a happy ending to this one was really important to me.
Reply
:icondiabladelasflores:
DiablaDeLasFlores Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2019  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm glad you have it a happy ending. :)
Reply
:iconsubjugatedsandwich:
SubjugatedSandwich Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2019  Hobbyist Writer
As usual an excellent piece of writing. I don't know why but it was the ulululuu that made it viscerally horrifying to me. The moment I saw that the first time I suspected what I was about to read and my gut was wrenched. 
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2019   Writer
Thank you! I'm very glad to hear it had an effect.
Reply
:iconn30n-t3ch:
N30N-T3CH Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Lovecraft? Is that you??

Jokes aside this ran chills down my spine, something that rarely ever happens. Massive kudos and praise. Keep it up, you could write a book!
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2019   Writer
Thank you so much (and for watching, of course!) I'm delighted to hear it had an impact. :D
Reply
:iconn30n-t3ch:
N30N-T3CH Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2019  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No worries!
Reply
:iconslnmten:
slnmten Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2019  Hobbyist General Artist
Amazing!!!
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2019   Writer
Thank you so much - and for watching, of course! :D
Reply
:iconthewarofthering:
TheWarOfTheRing Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2018  Student Writer
Congrats on the well-deserved DD!
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2019   Writer
Thank you! :D
Reply
:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Nailed it. ;] Congrats on the DD, my friend!
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2019   Writer
Thank you! :highfive:
Reply
:iconlindartz:
LindArtz Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2018  Hobbyist Digital Artist


Congratulations on your much deserved DD!  :)

For My Personal Use DO NOT USE!!! by LindArtz


Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2019   Writer
Thank you!
Reply
:iconnamelessshe:
NamelessShe Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2018
This is badass excellent. I haven’t had my coffee yet so words are failing me. But I loved it. 
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2018   Writer
Thank you so much. small heart - black 
Reply
:iconmidnighttiger8140:
MidnightTiger8140 Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Whoa... Amazingly well-written. :wow:

You did an excellent job of taking us into the main character's world, one that is often difficult for others to understand. I love how the supernatural twist in the story helps clarify hard truths in reality, and your depiction of the Devil not so much as the embodiment of evil, but one who punishes evil-doers. Beautiful work, and congratulations on a very well-deserved DD :love:
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2018   Writer
Thank you! :D I'm glad the Devil's function as a moral judge came through clearly here. And, of course, I'm very glad that you enjoyed it!
Reply
:icontanyasimpson:
TanyaSimpson Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2018
This is absolutely wonderful! Heartbreaking, powerful and hopeful :heart:
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2018   Writer
Thank you so much! small heart - black 
Reply
:icondoughboycafe:
doughboycafe Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2018  Professional Writer
Holy god in his heaven (not that he can help us now)

I'm blown away by this. You're always good for a good story but my god this one really takes the cake. I hope you're proud of this because it came out scary and terrible and a whole host of other things.  Well done. Well done. Might I ask what the Old Lady and the Devil is?

There really isn't enough praise I can give this, so I won't babble on about it. There was only one thing  found unclear and that was this line: “A mother must love her child in the child’s way, not her own.” He takes a step towards her: the clop of a single hoof. Almost an afterthought, he motions to her crucifix: “That trinket of yours holds no power over me.”
^why is the devil giving parenting advice? I sort of expect him to be more unfeeling considering everything else he's done/is about to do? but other than that, stunning piece. I was hooked and couldn't stop.
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2018   Writer
Ha, pride is really hard for me to hold on to right now, but thank you so much! I'm thrilled to hear it had such a strong impact.

"Old Lady and the Devil" is an apparently pretty obscure children's/folk song (here's a link) which I found by googling children's songs about the Devil. Summary: the Devil comes up to a farmer and says he'll take one of his family; the farmer says he can't have his son, because he's useful for the harvest, but gladly gives up his "scolding wife" - although he doubts the Devil will want to keep her. Essentially, the usually-catastrophic deal is a means of disposing of unwanted family members.

On the parenting advice, I can give you the reason for it - as I believe is common with this kind of horror, it's pretty much an escape/power fantasy, so it's important to portray the Devil as very firmly On The Child's Side (and also he's something of a moral judge here) - but regardless of that, I do agree that that line in particular is probably a bit too heavy-handed. I'll have to see if I can't tone it down a bit whenever I get around to revisions on this.

And again, thank you! This comment honestly made my day.
Reply
:iconjessamar:
JessaMar Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
This is powerful, overwhelming, and the ending oddly satisfying.
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2018   Writer
Very glad to hear it. Thank you so much!
Reply
:iconikazon:
ikazon Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2018   Writer
I regret it taking me this long to get around to reading this. I definitely saw the ending coming as well, but it didn't make it any less satisfying. Congrats on the runner-up placing, and thanks for sharing your work!
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2018   Writer
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Reply
:iconlily-lucid:
Lily-Lucid Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Maaaaan this gave me goosebumps. The sensory descriptions you gave were spot-on and very relatable. I also like how you made the Devil sympathetic to the child, and give the mother her just desserts. :P
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2018   Writer
Had to give it a happy ending. ;) Thank you so much!
Reply
:iconlily-lucid:
Lily-Lucid Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome!
Reply
:iconliliwrites:
LiliWrites Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2018
I read this on my lunch break at work. It's really good. I saw the ending coming, but loved it anyway. I've always had a sympathetic disposition toward the devil lol. Congratulations on placing. Very well deserved! 
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2018   Writer
Thank you so much! I've always had a fondness for sympathetic devil figures. :D
Reply
:iconzara-arletis:
Zara-Arletis Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
You gave me goosebumps there. The sensory descriptions and imagery are really fantastic. I particularly like the devil flowing out of the darkness with his one boot and hoof. The ending was well done - I can't help but appreciate the just desserts the mother gets. Of course, I can't help but worry about the poor kid with a devil mother. Though I can't imagine the actual devil would be worse than the one that made the deal . . . 
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Edited Nov 4, 2018   Writer
Thank you! Comeuppance stories are something I'm sometimes a bit unsure about, but horror definitely seems like the place for them.

I hope things will get better for the kid from here on out, but it's definitely not going to be a normal childhood. ;)
Reply
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Chilling stuff. Great incorporation of the theme,
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2018   Writer
Thank you! :D
Reply
:iconbattlefairies:
BATTLEFAIRIES Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2018
Hitting a nerve there! Excellent work, once again :heart:
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2018   Writer
Not the most comfortable of stories, I'll admit. Thank you! small heart - black 
Reply
:iconthesmileydinosaur:
TheSmileyDinosaur Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Oh my gosh. This was amazing. Wow. Your descriptions were actually so disturbing.
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2018   Writer
Ah, thank you! :D
Reply
:iconjes6ica:
jes6ica Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2018
Ooooooh, love this! So many good ones!
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2018   Writer
Thank you! :D
Reply
:iconthe-inkling:
The-Inkling Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2018   Writer
:heart: This is gorgeous, and so gripping all the way through. One can't help but imagine what kind of interesting future such an unusual duo might have in store.
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2018   Writer
Thank you! :D I doubt that I'd ever write about that future, but I've nonetheless gotten a lot of pleasure from thinking about it.
Reply
:icongoddess-of-gales:
Goddess-of-Gales Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2018  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh wow~ It started off a bit too dark for my tastes—especially considering I'm a mother myself—yet I'm glad I stuck with it. At first, I was thinking the Mother was going to attempt an exorcism, but I like your version much better. ;) Wonderful twist ending and your portrayal of the devil in particular is very interesting. Great job! :thumbsup:
Reply
:icongdeyke:
GDeyke Featured By Owner Edited Oct 26, 2018   Writer
Thank you! It did turn out awfully dark, huh. ^^; Though so is the reality it's based on.
Reply
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