Flash Fiction: „Dad’s Helping Hand“

graveyard

Graveyard

I wrote this last week, but it’s the perfect Halloween story. Enjoy!

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Leonie decided to go to her father’s grave, to ask for his help. She always did that when stuck in a difficult spot, and it was almost as if he were still alive and she could sit on a stool next to his armchair and just talk.

Except, of course, the grave was in the graveyard, which severely lacked an armchair. But she never failed to bring her stool, and sit on it, pretending she could smell the smoke from his pipe and hear his deep voice.

Dad, I need your help,” she said, perched on her stool. She closed her eyes listening for his answer.

Again? Another rabbit ate your salad? Another hawk got one of your chicken? What is it this time?

I think Gellenia has put a curse against me.” Leonie held on to the indignation she felt, despite the hint of impatience in her father’s voice.

Really? Are you sure?

Yes, I am.” Of course, Gellenia had cursed her.

And what do you want me to do about it?

Punish her! Kill her.”

I shall take care of it. There was a certain finality in her father’s voice.

Thank you.” Leonie sent a wave of gratitude and mimed kisses. Then she got up, picked up her stool and walked home.

She knew the problem would be solved within the hour.

With a little grin on her face, she put away the stool, changed into her better clothes and packed a basket of food. Under it lay the will she had forged, making her the heir. Then she walked over to Gellenia’s cottage.

To her inner eye, a dark cloud hovered over the thatched roof. Her smile got bigger before she quickly erased it.

Yes, soon that lovely cottage would be hers, as well as that fabulous, brown, soft-eyed cow. And the flourishing garden. And her life would finally be good.

She knocked on the door and stepped in without waiting for an answer.

Gellenia was writhing on the floor, to Leonie’s delight.

You!” the stricken woman gasped. “What have I ever done to you?”

Leonie smirked. “You were always better than I was. You won at the village fair all the time. You always took what should have been mine.”

I worked for it,” Gellinia managed to say. “For the memory of my mother.”

Leonie put her basket on the table and knelt next to the middle-aged woman. “Liar,” she hissed. “You did it to spite my father and me. You couldn’t bear he became mayor after your father died, and you lost all the privilege.”

Gellinia simply shook her head and closed her eyes, forcing the words out. “The Goddess knows that isn’t true. See that you don’t lose everything you think to gain.”

You dare to threaten me?” Leonie reached out, intending to throttle the women, then thought better of it. Why hasten her death? She might as well enjoy her father’s work. She sat back and watched Gellinia writhe in her death throes.

What curse did she set on you?

Leonie looked up, not expecting her father to still linger around after sealing her enemy’s fate. “Everything I touch withers and dies,” she said, allowing her anger to show. “It must be her. She has been sucking the life out of everything I ever did.”

It wasn’t her.

Leonie stared. “Who else?”

You did it yourself. Your petty jealousy and spite blighted your life. Her father’s voice sounded harsher than ever in life.

What?” Leonie jumped to her feet. “I? How dare you blame me!”

I watched you. I helped you, hoping you’d be grateful. Hoping you’d change. But instead you got worse, and now you’ve tried to use me to murder Gellinia.

Her heart twisted inside her chest, and she sank to her knees.

This is intolerable.

A moment later, it was Leonie who was writhing on the floor, her chest on fire, her breath ragged.

Gellinia, on the other hand, suddenly took a deep breath and sat up, looking stunned.

Leonie, I’m not your father.

As Leonie’s senses faded, she heard the disembodied voice once more.

I am the Guardian of this village.

The END

Über Hannah Steenbock

Hannah Steenbock is an author, dreamer, and coach.
She has published several short stories in English and German, as well as one novel in German. In 2013 she started self-publishing her work.
In 2014, she has won two awards for her short story „Sequoia“.

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