Mother. & The Shrieking. Short Stories.


She sat on the couch, carefully brushing the hair, it was important to take care of it. The brush moved through the strands with ease, the motion was relaxing, reassuring. She always enjoyed this. She put the brush down, then turned the doll around and studied it, staring at its porcelain skin, its wide, staring eyes, its rosy cheeks. It was so pretty, so very, very pretty. She cradled it for a moment, then stood and put it on the shelf with the others. She had twenty now. All lined up carefully in their spots. She looked at them for a moment then left the room, gently closing the door behind her. It was her quiet room. Once the door was closed she went to her bedroom, to her mirrors. She sat on the little stool and arranged her make up and brushes.

The application of the make up took almost an hour, she could do it quickly if she wanted, but she enjoyed taking her time. When she was done, she admired herself for a few moments, then wiped it away. It wouldn’t do to be seen like this. Her mother disapproved of make up, small amounts were fine, but the amount she was wearing would be considered gaudy. Whorish. She looked at her watch, then cleaned everything away, with the done she went to the kitchen, turning on the kettle. Mother would be home soon, she would like her tea. The tea was made and ready to go when her mother arrived, a woman of sixty, with grey hair pulled back into a bun, her mouth, puckered and wrinkled. Her mother took the tea from the counter, then left the room, ignoring her entirely. Once her mother had gone she let out a breath of relief. Her mother could be cruel. She left the kitchen and went back to her quiet room. She took down her favourite doll and sat with it cradled in her lap.

When it was time to make dinner, she put the doll back and went downstairs. Dinner was easy, her mother seemed to enjoy it, though she didn’t speak. That wasn’t unusual. After dinner she cleaned the plates and put them away, then she returned to her quiet room. She cleaned the dolls carefully and arranged them, lovingly putting them each in their place. Once they had names, but not anymore. It had angered her mother, so much so that her mother had shattered two of the dolls. She gripped the doll tighter, remembering picking up the shards of porcelain, how cold it had felt in her hands, how lifeless it became. She shook her head slightly. No, she wouldn’t think of that. It wasn’t right to think of it. Her mother didn’t mean to hurt her. It was an accident. That was all.


The Shrieking

It was that damned shrieking. That was the worst part of it all. Just outside, every night, every goddamned fucking night. High, grating, making you want to claw your ears off if it meant you would no longer have to listen to it. He would sit, awake, always awake and try to block the noise out, but nothing worked. Nothing helped. Nothing. It was madness to go outside, to try and stop them, he knew that, his brother had already tried that, as had their father before. They were a cursed family, cursed for some long forgotten slight. His mother had killed herself long ago, unable to listen to the noise, unable to live, knowing what she had subjected her children to. It wasn’t long after her death that his father tried to stop them. The shrieking had stopped, it was miraculous, silence, blessed silence, and then, screams. The screams of his father. There was nothing left of him the next morning, a few scraps of blood soaked cloth and that was all that remained. They had lived together, he and his brother, for twelve years, twelve years they endured the noise, they had supported one another. Then his brother snapped. Screaming incoherently. He had tried to stop him, but it was no use. Nothing he said would sway his brother. He would forever remember his brothers last words, as he screamed that they would kill him, his brother paused for a moment and looked at him, “If I’m dead then the noise will finally stop.”

That had been three years ago. Since then he had been alone. He would not subject another person to the noise. Once someone married into the family the curse affected them too. He would never wed, he would never have children, that’s how it should be. How it should have been with his own father. He had loved his father once, but that love turned to hate. How could they subject children to that noise? How? They knew what it was like. They were selfish. Evil. No better than the creatures that camped outside the house. He had never seen them, he never wanted to. Sometimes he would be tempted to pull back the curtain and look out the window, look upon the vile creatures that tormented him, but he couldn’t do it. He could not bear to look upon the faces of the creatures that could make such sounds.

Outside they continued to make their noise, he sat in silence, trying to endure it. Would it ever stop? He remembered his brothers words and wondered how true they were. He looked at the door, would it be worth it? That brief agony for the bliss of silence?


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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