Rough Draft: The Braid

StairThe month has been so busy and stressful I haven’t gotten any of my own writing done until tonight. I’ve started a short story I’ve been thinking about since last month. This is just the beginning, but feel free to share thoughts and suggestions to make it better. I’m looking forward to a long weekend and, finally, some time to work.

Before I share some of my new story, I’d like to thank people and friends who take time to visit and read. The other day a friend brought up that she had been reading my blog. Inside I was ecstatic and flattered, but outside I played nonchalant. I apologize. If you are reading this, thank you. Knowing someone is reading is the biggest compliment. I just get shy when I know someone’s paying attention :)

And now, here’s the beginning of my rough draft, more to come. Comments and critiques welcome.

The Braid

Nine o’clock—time to put the brat to bed. Cambria yawned, stretched and groped for the remote. Clicking off the television, she listened to the quiet house. It seemed too quiet.

“Hey Brat!” she called out. “What are you destroying now?” Silence. Cambria felt a shiver go through her bowels. “You better answer me…” Her voice trailed off as her ears picked up a gargling sound from upstairs. She dropped the remote and ran to the staircase. She rounded the corner to see Missy, the kid she was babysitting, on the top step, her eyes bulging out of her head, face blue. The five year old’s tongue protruded from her mouth and she gave a guttural, gargling cry.

“Oh my God!” Cambria yelled out as she took the stairs three at a time. “Oh my God!” she yelled again and she grabbed Missy and shook her. “What is wrong with you?” She stuck her fingers in Missy’s mouth to search for whatever she was choking on.

“Merph… stop it,” Missy said around the invasive fingers. Cambria pulled her fingers out while the little girl pushed her away. “What the Hell are you doing? You scared me to death,” she scolded. Missy giggled. “Your fingers taste like butt,” she said.

“You are such a brat,” said Cambria. “I’m going to tell your parents I can never babysit for you again because you’re so bad. They’ll probably spank you.” She pushed the girl to one side and sat down. “I guess you better go to bed so you don’t piss me off anymore.”

“No!” Missy protested. “I’ll be better. I was just pretending I was like the woman with the braid.” Her chin trembled as she looked up at Cambria. “She was making funny faces.” The little girl turned her face away from Cambria and looked up into the empty air above the stairwell and Cambria followed her gaze.

The ceiling was high enough to be slightly in shadow with a dark wooden beam crossing over the stairwell for decoration. The beam creaked slightly as the house shifted and Cambria felt thick silence stuff itself into the empty rooms around them. “What woman,” she asked in a low voice.

Missy pointed to the beam, creaking softly with the invisible movement of the house. It was regular, rhythmic and Cambria wondered why she’d never noticed the sound before. She swallowed. “There’s no one there, stupid.” Cambria shook off the trembling feeling that was settling into her stomach.

“C’mon,” she said said, standing up. Her voice seemed to ring through the house. “Let’s get you to bed.” Missy was still staring at the shadows over the stairs. Cambria tried again. “C’mon now and I’ll give you a braid your like hers.” Missy looked up at her babysitter, blue eyes wide with shock.

“No!” she cried. “No Cambria, don’t give me a braid like hers. That’s why she makes funny faces.” To demonstrate, Missy cocked her head at an unnatural angle, and let her jaw go slack. She rolled her eyes up as she held her breath and stuck out her tongue again. Realization washed through Cambria’s mind and her chest tightened. Missy gargled and choked before taking a breath.

“The braid’s around her neck,” she said. Cambria turned her head to look back up at the dark ceiling and the beam that still creaked softly, under the weight of nothing.

To be continued…

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, author, and publisher with over 20 years of experience in newspaper journalism. She is a Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020. She co-publishes Space and Time, a publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction since 1966. Join the community at
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9 Responses to Rough Draft: The Braid

  1. Sandy says:

    I’m no good at critiquing someone’s writing, was immediately thinking as a parent how I didn’t like her style of babysitting. Didn’t like her using the word brat, and that made me not want to read the remainder. I don’t know if others will react that way though. I should also say, my age perhaps plays into that.

    The child seeing a woman whom she thinks is hung by her braid is pretty scarey for people who like darker stories, they would surely want to see what happens next.

    • Thanks Sandy, I think you are excellent at critiquing from what I can see. I am trying to make the babysitter unlovable but not evil as well as show a small slice of reality. I’ve known a few babysitters and child care workers, that make this girl seem like a peach. I’m glad you read on and took the time to let me know what you think. Maybe I should tone the babysitter down a notch :)

  2. M.R.R. says:

    Creepy story.

    It is a little weird when someone you know face-to-face is reading your blog, but it’s still pretty great.

  3. Robin says:

    Very suspenseful. Can’t wait to see what happens next.

  4. T.M. says:

    well – thought this might be about a scooter but lo and behold it scared the crap out of me! At my age I stay away from horror pretty much all the time. Very well written – now I have to tune in and see what happens next – even knowing it probably isn’t gonna get warm and fluffy right away.

  5. Pingback: Writer Work Weekend! | :DandiFluff…

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