We thought she was going autistic. Every day at 3 pm, she crawled under the table. Mama would have to croon to her to come out so long that she took to piling her ironing on top of the table, so she could fold and make the time have more purpose. She was there crooning, just as she did every day, with all that soft laundry piled on top of that old table when the plane crashed in our field, and the giant picture window she always loved to look out of as we ate dinner, it blew inward and a largish shard kind of chopped off her head.

There was something about the way her shoulders were set when we found her, out in the yard, something about the way she sat as she was waiting with that copycat smile, and we could see where she came out of the rubble, the path she cleared under the clothes that kept the shards away from her tender skin, there was something in the way her eyes were kind of rusty at the edges, the way she seemed to slither behind secrets in her usual silence, it just wasn’t her anymore.

I almost think it started when mama started dating him, well I mean I know I smelled that breath myself once or twice. It was like he was of decay, one of its things walking around on earth in a human skin. We hated him, but he seemed fond of her, I saw her brace herself against his breath every day.

I think it was around then when she started looking lost in her eyes, when she seemed to always be looking upward and aside when you talked to her, when her fingers stared itching over her skin and she started mumbling quietly in the corner. The shrink said it was a self soothing ritual, and I asked why was she practicing magic, but the shrink said no, it wasn’t. But it was then that she started hiding under the table, every day, right at the time that mama died and after that, that man wasn’t allowed to keep us.


Twitter #GrimList2019 prompt: ritual.