“She sings off-key until she’s gray all over, limbs as stiff as a marionette doll’s. Exhausted, she doesn’t push her sister-in-law away the next time help comes. All the while her feverish head never stops whispering, “I am the madame of the house, and it knows, it knows, my dear little rat.” Her fingers trace figure eights over the walls before being dragged away. “It knows.”
A chill runs through me. “Who’s them?”
The dead girl studies me. “She doesn’t leave the house,” Cam finally says, “but it doesn’t mean they don’t listen.” Her movements are erratic and fast, too quick for me to run before fingers slide over my temples and hold me in place. “I can only show you.” Her breath glides along my ear.
I missed how my mother had filled our home with her singing voice, how gracefully she’d danced, how she’d led me along by my fingers, twirling me around her so my shirt would flare. Whenever I was sad, I told myself to be strong, like my mother. She never cried or showed fear. Once we found a snake under our bed and, while I stood there shrieking, she bent and picked it up by the tip of its tail, flinging it out of the open window.