Queens of the Cattails
Terror was a tiny spark in my gut. The back of my head hurt so bad, I really didn't care much where I was. I wanted Mama to put a chunk of ice in a rag and hold me in her lap while she nursed the pain away.
My mouth opened to call her, but the fear flashed inside, and I remembered I wasn't in a monster's throat. The monster was gone, somewhere else in the house. He'd put me in an attic and locked the door behind him.
In the dark, I patted my hand on the floor around me, reaching out for something, though I didn't know what. The palm of my hand caught on the head of a nail sticking up out of the wood. Dust curled into balls under my fingertips. Little living things scurried around me, and I knotted my hand into a fist, afraid whatever they were might take the skin off my bones if they managed to get their teeth into me.
I shifted my weight just a bit, and my left foot brushed something soft. It was a rotting blanket.
Just then, a cat meowed from behind the door. His small, pitiful wail barely masked the sound of a man's singing. The song was a hymn I knew well, one Mama sang in the church choir at least once a month. But the man's voice was flat, the notes sour like the stink of the attic. Suddenly, I remembered where the spark came from and why I was scared.