An Eye for an Eye. Short Story.

Terry patted at the hand, “there, there darling, it’ll be time soon enough. You just relax, I’ll get you when it’s time.” The hand stopped wiggling and lay still. Terry smiled and brushed her blonde hair behind her ear. The thing beneath the ground had been her sister once, now it was just an empty shell, waiting to be filled. That didn’t worry Terry though, she had done this before and, though it pained her to think of it, probably would do it again. Her sister, Jackie, had died almost three months before, the official cause was a fall down the stairs, but Terry knew that wasn’t what really killed her. No, her sister had died three years before, when she started dating Tom. The bright, happy woman was gone, slowly replaced until she was a timid, shaking thing. She had hid it at first, the bruises were easily covered by clothing, he was mean but he wasn’t stupid. Things escalated slowly, bruises turned into burns which lead to a broken rib, a broken wrist, a final tumble down the stairs. Terry tried to stop him, stand up to him, but Jackie had defended him until eventually Jackie cut Terry out. Their weekly coffee turned into a monthly event until finally, “I can’t on Saturday. I’m swamped at the moment, I’ll give you a ring later and let you know when I’m free.” The call never came. Terry tried, she really did but Jackie had ducked her phone calls. When she finally had enough Terry went to their place to find new, and confused, tenants. They had moved out the week before. The next time she rang the phone was answered by someone new, someone who had never heard of Jackie or Terry or Tom and just like that her sister was gone.

That was until three months ago, when she got a phone call, telling her that her sister had died. Terry had missed the funeral, that asshole Tom had her in the ground as soon as he could. The day of the phone call Terry went to Jackie’s grave. She sat beside the mound of dirt for hours, crying and apologising, promising revenge. She left the cemetery but returned that night. Digging up a body is difficult, but not as difficult as people think. It wasn’t something she did often, but it was something she had done enough to know a few tips and short cuts. She had worked into the night until finally she had reached her sisters corpse. Her skin was pale and had a waxy sheen, there was a smell, a smell of chemicals with a hint of decay. That didn’t bother Terry, she was used to it and she had smelled worse. She loaded Jackie’s body into her car after refilling the grave. At home she had the hole prepared and it was a simple matter of placing her inside. She wasn’t buried deep, that wouldn’t do at all, no, she was only about a foot or so down. No animals disturbed the grave, worms didn’t begin to invade her body. The plants around Jackie’s corpse began to die, slowly at first until suddenly their leaves dropped and there was nothing left but skeletal branches. Terry replaced them all dutifully as one by one they died. Life for death, death for life. Soon the poisons would be out of her system and the body would be ready, and when that day came Terry would fill up the empty vessel that used to be her sister.

 

Their grandmother called it a gift, but Terry viewed it as a duty. She learned everything she could to help people, but she always remembered the first and most important lesson, do no harm. How she had fantasised about killing that bastard Tom, it haunted her dreams, but she knew that should she harm him it would come back to her and she would regret it. Jackie never really reached the levels that Terry had, Terry had a natural ability while Jackie seemed to struggle for even simple things. She had made a life for herself, a good life in which she used her gift to help people. People would travel from all over to have a reading done, to buy a spell or a potion. She herself didn’t like publicity, so only a select few knew of her gift and those that did paid well for it. She had a strict screening process and never took more than the person could afford.

 

Terry wiped the sweat from her brow, one more bush and it would finally be ready. It was a hot summer day and the sun shone down on her back, she could see tremors in the soil where the body below shifted slightly, getting antsy, like a baby in the womb, testing muscles, gaining strength until it was ready to burst forth.

 

The body was restless, tossing and turning. It was time. Terry knew it would be draining, it always was, but it was worth it all, the tiredness, the depression, the pain. It didn’t take long, only an hour, but like any birth it was painful and messy. All the hate and anger and fear that Jackie had was poured back into her body, nothing of the real Jackie, the good Jackie was there, but none of that was needed. Terry lay on the ground, looking up at her sister’s body. She truly was beautiful. Her skin was unblemished, the scars and marks of a life lived had been smoothed away. Terry trembled in fear and exhaustion, her sister looked down at her and for a moment Terry was frozen, held in place by the anger in her sisters gaze. With some effort she stood and Jackie helped her into the house. Jackie dressed in the clothes that Terry had laid out for her and left without a word. Terry knew how it would play out, it would be the same as it always was. She had given life and what was done with that life had nothing to do with her, Jackie had a choice in her actions, free will, they all had. Terry knew that Jackie would track him to the ends of the earth, she would find Tom and make him suffer everything he had made her suffer through, every mark, every hit, every bruise. All of it. Only Jackie knew if Tom had really killed her, if he did she would kill him in return, if he didn’t she would leave his battered, broken body and with her task completed she would find somewhere to die once more. Her body would decay quickly, they always did.

Terry was unable to sleep, she was afraid that Jackie’s anger wouldn’t be sated with Tom, that perhaps Jackie would return and exact vengeance on her because she hadn’t done enough. If it happened, so be it. She couldn’t stop it. She spent the next few days lying in bed, unable to get up, unable to do anything. She knew that it wasn’t real, that all these feelings where just a by-product of what she had done but that didn’t make it better.

 

A week later and she was starting to feel better, though she wouldn’t feel completely normal for another month or two, the worst had passed. Terry had heard nothing of Tom, but that didn’t concern her, Jackie was practically indestructible now, Tom would never be able to hurt her again and she would ensure he wouldn’t be able to hurt anyone else either.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 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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