by Red Lagoe
Ma’s soul was so evil that Father Vance forbid her to be buried in the church cemetery. Maeve and Ryan had to put their mother’s remains in the ground behind the farm. That’s when the crops died. It started with the grass over her burial site. It shriveled into brown like the dog had pissed all over her grave.
Ryan took a swig from a bottle of bourbon.
“Aren’t you going to pour a little for Ma?” Maeve had asked.
Ryan shook his head. “She had more than enough when she was alive.” He spit to the side of her grave. “I wish I pissed on her grave myself.”
But then the death spread from around Ma’s burial site and across the field. Tall grasses withered and crumbled to dust. The great row of elm trees that bordered the property shed their leaves. Their branches turned gray. The field of alfalfa was dead the next morning.
“It’s Ma,” Ryan said. “She ruined everything she touched.”
“She did not. She was good to us,” Maeve said, ever the defendant of Ma’s actions.
“She was god to you.”
“Don’t start with that—”
“You were her girl. The girl she always wanted. She kept pushing out boys and when you arrived she didn’t have to keep accidentally losing babies anymore.”
“You can’t honestly believe she killed her own babies. I’m so sick of this rumor. Even Father Vance believed it. It’s crazy…”
Everyone knew it, but nobody could prove it. There was a darkness to Ma that lurked at surface level, it was an eerie evil, unseen, but constantly leaving a mark on the world. Ryan knew all along that she didn’t love him. Just like she didn’t love his brothers that came before him. She only loved her precious Maeve, and even that relationship was a toxic one. Ma spent years grooming her to be a mini-version of herself, including her on her schemes to get rich quick, which always ended badly.
But Maeve was kind. Maeve had a heart that Ma couldn’t touch. Where Ma’s eyes were black as her soul, Maeve’s were a coppery brown—like an innocent doe. For the longest time, Ryan believed Maeve to be untouchable, beyond Ma’s metastatic reach.
After Ma’s body was exhumed from the farm, she was incinerated, and her ashes placed in a small urn which Maeve clung to with delicate hands.
“It’s not right what you did.” Her lower lip quivered. “You shoulda let her rest in peace.”
“The whole farm was dying.”
“You know damn well there’s no way she has anything to do with that.”
Ryan shook his head. “Maybe not, but I don’t want her evil on my land no more.”
“She wasn’t evil… Just broken.” Tears streamed down her cheeks as she stood overlooking a meadow of wildflowers. Maeve claimed Ma loved to visit this hill beyond the farm. But Ma didn’t love anything but her booze, her evil secrets, and Maeve.
“People are supposed to leave this earth, and if they’re lucky, they make a mark on the world… She left scars.” Ryan’s eyes stung from tears that wanted to form, but he stopped letting those tears fall long after he’d escaped her abusive reach. He looked to his sister, who clutched the urn to her chest. “She doesn’t deserve to be here. We should’ve left her ashes in the incinerator.”
“How can you say that?” Maeve unscrewed the lid. The spring breeze whipped her hair across her face. “Ma, I’m so sorry you didn’t have a chance to make things right.”
That monster would never have tried. Ryan was drawn to the opening of the urn. Something inside longed to be released. Something powerful and wrong… it wanted out. Everything about the moment felt sacrilegious in some way.
“Wait…” Ryan held his hand up. “Put the lid back on.”
A moment of panic sent in Maeve’s eyes before she flung her arm out, tossing ashes into the air. Gray ash billowed into a plume and caught on the wind, dispersing into the clear blue sky.
Ryan held a gasp.
“She deserves to be here,” Maeve said. “No matter what she did. Everyone deserves a proper memorial.”
“She deserves nothing beyond death and darkness.”
The wind shifted.
The grass below Maeve’s feet shifted from green to yellow. The blades withered to tan and crunched underfoot. Maeve took a step back. Over the meadow, wildflowers went limp and gray. Bits of Ma’s ashes settled to the earth and killed everything she touched.
Maeve’s hair no longer whipped across her face, but instead it blew straight behind her. Ryan looked to his sister. Her eyes were hopeful that Ma was finally at peace.
But the wind in her face carried with it remnant ash which hadn’t yet settled to the earth. Maeve coughed, gagging on the dust of Ma’s remains. She crumpled to the ground, clutching the urn to her chest. Veins swelled under gnarled hands. Her neck tensed as dark vessels appeared beneath translucent skin.
Ryan knelt by her side, begging that his sister be alright, but before he could help her, she stood tall. Tears drooled from her clenched lids. She took a deep breath and opened her eyes. Irises transformed from bright copper to midnight black. Ryan’s heart shattered as his sister succumbed to Ma’s toxic touch. Maeve stared upon the desiccated meadow and grinned over the scars left behind.
Ma finally ruined everything.
Red Lagoe writes horror, raises kids, and enjoys hanging under the star-studded sky with her telescope. She grew up on 1980’s horror movies and dabbled with writing as a child, but it wasn’t until 2015 that she dove into horror as her genre of choice. She’s been bleeding from the fingertips ever since. http://redlagoe.com