31 Days of Art, Days 6 & 7: Absorb, Regret

Yesterday, I had a massive push to finish up a client edit (which I did, at around two o’clock this morning), and my daily challenge fell to the wayside. I woke up this morning, ready to pick back up and regain momentum. After, it goes without saying, a whole metric fuck ton of coffee. In fact, I probably could go for another cup right about now…

Anyway, yesterday’s prompt was “absorb”, and today’s was “regret”, and the two of them started swirling around in my head until I started thinking about sin eaters and how once we act on what we think may be what we want, we may realize that we’ll regret it for the rest of our lives… or afterlives. While I originally meant to do one piece for each word, this story idea popped up, and so today’s challenge piece combines two in one.

Days 6 & 7: Absorb, Regret

The little creature squeak-slurped happily, tiny teeth chittering as it gnawed away at its meal. Between every bite, a pale pink tongue licked out, sweeping a few liquid drops from its chin, before diving back in. The black, matter fur glistened as its body trembled with delight.

A noise from the other room froze it in place. The creature waited, jaws half open, listening with its bell-shaped ears.

The moan sighed down the hallway, ecstatic agony that could not give itself full voice. The creature waited until the sound faded away, its small brain dimly wondering if it had been so smart to take advantage of a meal so bountiful. Another moan came, but no footsteps or approaching shadows followed, and the creature bent back to its feast, chittering faster. Something told it, it would not be wise to linger longer than it took to fill its belly.

***

It was everything he’d wanted, planned and executed to the letter, and yet now that he had it, he sat on the floor of his son’s room and cried huge, wrenching, gulping sobs. He’d only come in there to cracking the window a little more, smear a little blood on the frame, the last step of planting the trail that would lead the eventual investigators back out of the house and down the street to where the registered sex offender had moved in three weeks ago.

He’d thought through it many times, always coming up short on that final step. Who would come in to his son’s room, find him gone from his bed, search for him through the house, surprise him in his parents’ bed, his mother asleep—waking to the intruder, who must needs then take care of her before launching his attack, while his father, who’d been having trouble sleeping, it had been documented carefully by the family physician when she prescribed the pills, had lately been passing out on the downstairs couch to avoid being awoken by their son’s midnight trips to their bed. He’d told himself the same story over and over, shed real tears at the thought of it, of them ripped away—his whole world. But he didn’t have that final piece, didn’t know to which house to follow the intruder’s bloody path.

This night, though, this night he had told the story, creeping into his son’s room to place the blood under the window. He’d turned, meaning to go outside, see the path where further spoor could be found, to see where the heavy metal object in his gloved hand should be seen by patrolman on foot.

And yet, as he’d faced away from the colorful cartoon curtains, to look across at the dresser with all the stickers placed on it, the racecar toddler bed with its empty, mussed sheets, he’d sunk to the floor overwhelmed with grief.

And that is when it had crept up behind him, placing gentle claws on his hands, guiding them, whispering to him, the metal still warm on his skin.

“Who… who are you?” he asked in not more than a whimper. His voice sounded very far away to him, his hearing dampened.

The creature hefted itself up, and he felt another set of talons digging deep into the skin of his arms. Leathery wings caught his peripheral vision, and he squeezed his eyes shut “What are you doing here?”

“There isss ssssssin here,” shriveled lips whispered in his ear. “And where there isss ssssin, sssso there am I to abssssssorb it… to eat it…” Its tongue flashed out, licking his ear.

He shuddered, and yet… Regret turned to hope, a desperate flash in the deep, hidden pieces of himself. “Eating my sin?” He opened his eyes. His hands had fallen to his lap, limp, unmoving; the pallor under the skin, waxy and gray, swallowed the light from the hallway. “What does that mean? Will I be absolved? When I die, will I—”

In the darkness above, the shadow’s eyes, burning orange hot in the black against the black, the claws firmly piercing cold skin and shoulderbone.

“Abssssolution, no…” The voice trailed off into a breathy chuckle. “When you die, indeed. Can you not sssssseeeee…?”

No answer, only a dry sob. A child’s toy winked at them from across the room, a bear’s eyes, the glass catching the light.

“You are dead, sssssssinner, and this room shall be your absssolution, and you will be my feassssssst, forever…”

* * *

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