Flash Fiction #29 – Handprint
Claudia pulled into her sister’s driveway and parked behind Addie’s beat-up volvo that was in dire need of a wash. She was obviously home if her car was here.
Claudia’s fury simmered beneath her skin. And if Addie was here, she could damn well answer her phone. Over a week of calls going to voicemail, and Claudia’d had enough. Addie wasn’t even picking up for her parents or her friends.
But, it wasn’t like she hadn’t done this before. She’d get a new video game and spend forty-eight hours doing nothing but leveling up. It wasn’t unheard of for her to call in sick to work when a new MMO released. But she’d never been out of contact for an entire week before.
A small niggle of worry twinged in Claudia’s chest, but she crushed it as she picked her way up the plant strewn front steps, wrinkling her nose at the odor of tomatoes rotting on the vine. It was just like her sister to waste perfectly good food because she was too damn lazy to pick it.
Fitting the spare key into the deadbolt lock in the front door, she turned it, and the tumbler slid over with a resounding clunk, and she let herself in. Nearly tripping over the pile of flip-flops and boots by the door, Claudia shut the door behind her, groaning at the mess covering every horizontal surface in the living room. If the front room was this bad, she’d likely need a HAZMAT suit to enter the kitchen
“Jesus Christ, Addie. If anything ever happened to you, the cops wouldn’t know what were signs of a struggle and and what was your normal decorating scheme.”
No answer. Not even a “fuck off”.
“Addie,” she called again, carefully maneuvering through the piles of mail, dirty dishes and baskets of laundry that might be clean…or might not.
“Adelaide,” she called louder. It was a single story house. There was no way her sister didn’t hear her–unless she was asleep. Bitch slept like the dead. A chill skated along Claudia’s spine at the thought, and she rushed through the dining room that Addie used as a home office.
The computer was on, and the screensaver, a bouncing Apple logo, had been activated. Her cellphone sat between the keyboard and a nearly full cup of coffee on the desk. As she got closer, she saw a cluster of furry, whitish-gray mold floating on the heavily-creamed surface.
The worry she’d tried to suppress earlier bloomed into full-fledged fear as she turned the handle on her sister’s bedroom door. Please let her have the flu. Please let her have the flu. Please let her be okay.
But the bed where she’d hoped to find Addie was empty. And there was no sign of her anywhere. The bathroom door was ajar, and a narrow triangle of light spread from the bathroom onto the bedroom floor. Claudia raced toward it, both hoping and fearing her sister was in there.
She shoved open the door, and it bounced off the towel rack behind it, the tiled room echoing emptily.
“Addie?” Her voice cracked on the word as she stepped into the room. The bathroom was just as void of life as the rest of the place had been. Addie’s usual array of sticky notes bordered the sides of the medicine cabinet mirror. Girl couldn’t use a planner like the rest of the population, she kept track of everything with sticky notes on the mirror.
Creeping closer, she peered at the notes, hoping the one of them would give her a clue to her sister’s whereabouts. She was crossing her fingers that there was one that said “Emergency Camping Trip” or something else that would explain where the hell she was and why she couldn’t be reached.
As she moved closer to the sink, the bathroom door slowly swung almost shut like usual. She scanned the notes. Random phone numbers, a doctor’s appointment, a half-finished grocery list, a reminder to pay the internet bill–due today. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing that looked any different from any other time Claudia had used Addie’s bathroom.
Straightening, she gasped as she saw movement behind her reflected in the mirror. She whirled and found herself staring at a cheap, full-length mirror mounted to the back of the door. She didn’t remember seeing it before, but a mirror wasn’t all that unusual an addition to a bathroom. The movement must have been a trick of the light, because there was nothing there.
She took a deep breath, trying to gather her nerves to look for some sign of Addie down the basement. The one Claudia had insisted was a “murder basement” when Addie had moved into the house. Reaching for the door knob, Claudia screamed as it was jerked from her fingers and the door slammed shut.
Grabbing hold of the knob, she twisted back and forth, but the thing hardly budged. “Addie, this isn’t funny,” she hollered. “Let me out, goddamn it!” She shook the door in its frame, and when that didn’t work, she kicked at it. “C’mon! Let me out! This is bullshit!”
From the corner of her eye, she caught sight of motion in the mirror on the door. Releasing the handle, she took a step back, watching in horrified fascination as billowing steam seemed to fill the mirror, obscuring the reflection of not only her, but the room, too.
All at once, she caught a glimpse of Addie in the mirror. Wearing a dirty, yellow sundress, her red hair a tangled mass around her head she seemed to be tearing toward Claudia from inside the mirror.
“Addie?” she whispered.
The door shook with the force of the impact as her sister slammed into the inside of the mirror. But someone…or something seemed to yank her backward, and the fog closed in again, leaving only her handprint on the glass.
Okay, so that’s it for me. Be sure to check out what the other bloggers came up with when they looked at this picture.