Continued form Broken Dreams
The Twisted Paw:
By Lisa McCourt Hollar
Walking back to her house, Jane thought about what she would wish for. She knew that the Monkey’s Paw could be deceptive, if the stories about it were true. She was sure they would. The old woman at Ye Old Curiosity Shop had started appearing in her dreams soon after the accident with the swing.
“Accident.” Jane snorted. What happened had been no accident. Betty Sue had hurt her deliberately. She still remembered the smirk on the girls face as Jane was being carried away by her father. It was her fault she had lost her arm and Brent had stopped talking to her. It was her fault that Jane’s mother wouldn’t let her go out and play and her fault that her parents divorced.
Jane’s arm ached. Not really, because it was gone, but she still felt the phantom pains. She’d had a doctor explain to her the reason for it once, but Jane didn’t care that it wasn’t real. It felt real for her.
“That’s what my first wish is going to be,” Jane murmured. She placed the package holding the relic on her coffee table and pulled the thing out. Holding it in her hands she said, clearly, so that the magic couldn’t misunderstand her, “I want my arm back.”
The paw twisted in Jane’s hand and she dropped it. The thing landed on her table with a thud. A tingling spread through her arm, what was left of it, and she felt a prickling in the lost portion of her arm, much like the phantom pains. Then it stopped and she sighed, disappointed. Her arm hadn’t magically grown back in the few minutes since her wish.
“Well, it takes time,” Jane said. Picking up the monkey’s paw, she put it on the bookshelf that lined the small side of the room. The rest of the day she waited for her arm to grow back, but nothing happened. One good thing though is her arm didn’t ache anymore either. Still, she went to bed that night disappointed. Maybe the stories were just that, stories and there was no such thing as magic.
“You know that’s not true,” the old woman whispered in her ear. “What did I tell you that first night I came to you?”
“That magic takes time and that if I believed, I would get everything I dreamed.”
“Sometimes we dream things though that we really don’t want. Are you sure this is what you wish?”
“If I have my arm back, everything will be right again.”
The woman didn’t answer and Jane rolled over and went to sleep. She dreamed she was swinging.
Jane’s arm hurt when she woke up. Jane stretched, hoping it would go away after a warm shower, then froze. From the corner of her eye she saw limb that hadn’t been there the day before. Her arm! It had grown back. Then she took a closer look. The appendage was twisted, mangled in a way her other arm wasn’t. The skin was puckered where the chain from the swing had cut into her. She had her arm back, just as it was after her accident.
“No,” Jane moaned, “this isn’t what I wanted.”
In her mind she heard the old woman chuckling and the warning, “Are you sure this is what you want?”
After dressing, Jane went out for her morning walk. She’d put on a long sweater to cover the disfigured arm and set out in the direction of the empty lot. Maybe… she hoped… the old woman and the shop would be back. Halfway down the block, she could see it wasn’t, but she kept going, something inside of her refusing to give up.
“Where are you?” She turned around in a circle, stretching both arms out. “You know this isn’t what I meant! Come on, show yourself!”
The lot remained empty, but behind her Jane heard a giggle. A girl was watching her from across the street. Her hair was red and curly, like Betty Sue’s.
“What are you laughing at?”
The girl frowned, looking startled at Jane’s anger.
“You think I’m funny”
The girl, probably no more than five, backed up. “Nothing,” she stammered.
“Yes you do. I hear you and your friends laughing at me.”
“No… I don’t.” The girls voice trembled and she backed away a little more. She looked over her shoulder, towards the door to her house. It stood open and inside the girl’s mother was probably not more than a scream away.
Jane’s arm twitched. She was only a few feet from Betty Sue and her mocking sneer. The arm jerked forward, lifting the girl into the air. She opened her mouth to scream, but Jane clamped her mouth shut with her other hand. Then she twisted Betty’s neck until she felt it snap.
Dropping the lifeless body, Jane gaped, horrified. She had thought for a moment the little girl was Betty Sue, but now she saw that she wasn’t. From inside the house, she heard a woman’s voice.
“Tina, come inside now.”
Not knowing what to do, Jane picked the girl up and shoved her inside the bushes, concealing her body.”
“Tina?” The voice was closer.
Dashing behind the house, Jane ran through several yards, working her way back to her house. She had just reached her back door when a bloodcurdling scream reached her ears.
Jane watched to police activity through her front window, pulling the curtain back and shielding her body with the material. They were going door to door. Terrified, Jane watched as one officer approached her home.
“Can I help you,” she asked, opening the door a crack. She recognized him. His name was James Thomas. He had been one of the kids that tormented her in school. And now he was a police officer?
“Hi Jane.” He looked startled to see her too. Jane eased the door open a bit more, being careful to keep her ‘new’ arm behind it.
“James.” Her voice was crisp. The last time he’d spoken to her, it was to call her a cunt. He’d tried to grope her in the crowded hallway and she’d shoved her knee up into his crotch.
“You stupid cunt,” his words echoed in her head, “You should be grateful when a guy pays attention to you.”
“Sorry to bother you,” he said, “but there was a girl murdered down the block.”
“We’re asking neighbors if they saw anything.”
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t.”
“Yeah, so far no one has. Early morning, most people are sleeping. Someone said though that you usually go for a walk in the morning. Did you see anything unusual? Maybe someone lurking around?”
Jane shook her head, “No. I wasn’t feeling well this morning, so I stayed in. Sorry.”
“That’s okay Jane. I hope you feel better soon.”
Jane’s arm struggled behind the door, wanting to reach out and strangle him. How dare he act like he’d never violated her? How dare he act like they were friends and wish her well. Instead she thanked him for his concern and pushed the door closed.
“I have to fix this,” she said. Pulling the monkey’s paw from the bookshelf, she sat down on the couch and stared at it. “I have two wishes left. I can fix this. I can make things right again.”
To be continued Re-Writing the Past