‘Lollipops’ by Jane Dougherty

I’m pleased to welcome back Jane Dougherty with her suitably spooky take on ‘an unexpected journey’ given the time of year.  Read it with the lights on!! 🙂

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  • Did it! 500 words on the nail including title.

    Lollipops

    Mary linked with Jim—the vigil at the church had left her feeling the need to hang onto him. The Latin words had not worked their usual spell of making her feel safe. Truth was, they were both uneasy at this time of year, when the door between the worlds opened and the dead visited. The dead they had no wish to meet ever again. They stopped at the minimarket. “You go in,” Mary said. “I’ll be fine. Just don’t be long, it’s bloody cold tonight.” She flipped open a packet of cigarettes. He’d be buying sweets. Lollipops probably. Her favourites. Josie had loved lollipops. Raspberry ones especially. Rotted her teeth, the dentist said. Mary drew deeply on the cigarette. They’d leave them outside the back door. And the candle next to them. And they’d make sure the door was double locked and the dog inside for once. It was cold. Mary stamped her feet to keep the circulation going. She glanced inside the shop. Only one till open and the usual endless queue of kids buying drink. She wandered across the small car park. Between thick hedges a narrow lane dipped into darkness and ran off into the countryside. Mary peered down it, curious. She must have seen it before, things just looked different in the dark, full of shadows. She shivered and took a step back across the car park towards the dingy light of the minimarket. Two steps more and she found herself inexplicably in the lane. She stumbled, watching her feet in the dark, and shadows closed over her head. Before her the narrow lane ran downhill, at either side the blackthorns made an impenetrable barrier. She tossed the cigarette down the hill and turned to face the carpark and the light. She hurried, stumbled in a rut and righted herself. At her feet the dog end glowed. She spun around and ran. She ran, until she realised she was running downhill. Frantic now she turned to face back up the dark slope. Trees grew tall behind the blackthorns, their branches meeting overhead, and a wind murmured among the rare leaves, filling the cold air with a dry rustling. She strode up the hill, and staggered, lurching forward down the gradient. It was wrong. All wrong. Tears streamed down her face. The blackthorns pressed closer, the trees bent lower, and the rustling was a whispering. She could hear the words. No! She pressed her hands over her ears. It was an accident! I didn’t mean to hurt her! “It was an accident,” she screamed at the dark trees and the dark tree voices. The path between the blackthorns went down and down through shades and textures of black. Except for a pale smudge that shone out almost like a star in the howling, whispering darkness. The pale thing fluttered to her feet, and she let out a howl of despair before running down the dark, whispering lane that never ended; away from the lollipop wrapper.

    (c) Jane Dougherty

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