The bell over the door rang, and Maggie’s family walked in. Pain stabbed Rose’s heart. Maggie’s mom pushed Maggie’s stroller, her shoulders slouched, her head down. Rose thought she must be melting under her gray cardigan and long skirt. Why would somebody wear that on a day like today? Maggie’s dad walked next to them. Rose smelled the liquor on him from where she sat, but he walked steadily, cocky as ever. He wore a white polo shirt and khaki knee-length shorts. On his head was a cream-colored Panama hat with a black band on it. Her daddy used to have a hat just like it.
Daddy never left home without his. She used to swipe it off his head when he was holding her, and put it on her own. If he was sober, he thought it was funny. He’d clap and tell her to dance with it on. If he was drunk, he didn’t think it was so funny, and would knock it off, often hitting her head and knocking her to the ground. Rose gripped her glass of milk.
“Well, good morning!” said Mr. Brown, as he set the rag on Rose’s table. He stood and offered his hand to Mr. Hopkins. Rose noticed Mr. Hopkins sway a bit as he offered his hand in return.
“Hello, Mr. Brown. Good day to you.”
Mr. Brown glanced down at Maggie. “How’s the little princess today?” Maggie seemed to be sleeping. Mr. Brown looked to Mrs. Hopkins for an answer but she simply looked at her husband, expressionless.
“She good,” Mr. Hopkins answered. “She got a pair of lungs on her though; I can tell you that. Definitely a healthy girl.”
The men chuckled, and Mrs. Hopkins smiled meekly. Rose noticed the purple edges of a bruise peeking out from underneath her hair on one side of her face. She watched, her breath shallow with fear, as Mr. Brown continued talking to them.
The bell over the door rang again, and a young woman entered the bakery with her Yorkie terrier.
“Mornin’, Miss. I’ll be right with you,” Mr. Brown said to her. She looked at the selection in the cases as he continued speaking to Mr. Hopkins.
“You know Rose Johnson and Joey Gray?” Mr. Brown asked, motioning to them at the table. Mr. Hopkins turned toward them. He glanced at Joey and reached his hand out.
Mrs. Hopkins didn’t speak, but her husband greeted Joey. “Yeah, I know Joey. How goes it my man?” He slapped palms with Joey and looked at him out of the corner of his eye as his eyes fell on Rose. They lingered a little too long for her comfort. Mrs. Hopkins remained silent, but Mr. Hopkins responded with, “Oh yes, I know Rose.”
The stabbing pain returned in Rose’s chest.
“She’s our neighbor. Nice to see you, Rose. How’s your mamma?” His head teetered on top of his neck, and he winked at her. Joey watched his every move but stayed silent. Rose couldn’t take her eyes off Mr. Hopkins, towering over her with a sleazy smile on his face. This man out for a walk with his family on a sunny Saturday morning, this man out to buy something sweet for his family—this was the same man she heard beating his family, day after day. This was the man who was capable of hurting his own family, the people he was supposed to love the most. Her heart raced, and her skin crawled.
“I think I know what I want,” said the woman with the dog. She set her purse on the counter next to the register, sending a vase filled with flowers crashing to the floor. Glass shattered, water flowed, and stalks of delicate, bell-shaped purple flowers lay scattered on the floor. Everyone turned in the direction of the noise, everyone but Mr. Hopkins and Rose. Mr. Hopkins glared at Rose with those sick, evil eyes in a way that sent a chill throughout her body.
The woman’s dog put its nose in the spilled water and sniffed the flowers.
“Don’t let her eat those,” Mr. Brown shouted. “They foxgloves. They pretty, but they poisonous to animals.”
Rose sat, terrified, unable to breathe, her eyes glued to Maggie’s dad. A warm stream of urine ran down her legs and onto the floor, soaking her dress and pooling on her chair and the floor. Tears of fear and embarrassment filled her eyes. Mr. Hopkins smiled and winked at her, rejoicing in her misery. She looked down at the mess she had created.
“I sorry, Mr. Brown. I sorry,” she said.
I work a full-time job with a health insurance company to pay the bills and pursue my writing and editing passion every spare moment. Besides “What Rose Saw” I have one other published short story titled “Daddy's Girl”. It was published under a pen name, Sonia Fogal, by James Ward Kirk Fiction in their Indiana Horror Review 2013 anthology. I am Assistant Editor for James Ward Kirk Fiction and also do freelance editing.
“What Rose Saw” is the first in a series that I'm currently thinking will have five installments. I'm currently working on “What Joey Saw”, which will look at the same situation that is given in “What Rose Saw”, but from Joey's perspective. We'll learn his background and what the events that unraveled in “What Rose Saw” mean to him because of his background. Each installment will do the same thing but from a different character's perspective.
I am very excited about a new endeavor I am beginning on November 1. I can't say what it is right now but it's awesome! If you friend/follow/contact me at any of the links below you'll hear the big announcement!
What's the weirdest or spookiest thing that's ever happened to me? Hmmm. Guess I've been pretty lucky in that department. There was a time though, when I was still living at home, I was probably about 18. I was sitting in the den with my family; we had just returned from a movie I think. We were just sitting there talking, all of us in the den, when we heard footsteps in the basement. (The den had an open “wall” that consisted of a railing leading down to the basement, so every sound in the basement was easily heard in the den). As we were all staring at each other, we heard the basement that leads from the basement to the backyard open and close. We continued staring at each other for a minute, then my dad went downstairs to check it out and found nothing missing or disturbed. There was nothing missing or disturbed in the rest of the house either. Spooky!
Follow/friend/contact me through any of the methods below.
My personal Facebook account
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I recently co-edited an anthology I'm very proud of – Terror Train.
The Terror Train rides, from city to city, from village to village, through states, across rivers and mountains. If only it could tell its tales of grisly murder, of demonic pacts, black holes into different dimensions and portals to other realms where the ghosts of train robbers hunt in perpetuity for that elusive bullion filled carriage that cost them their immortal souls. Behold the terrors the train has witnessed, see firsthand the horrors it has lived through and when you get on board, pray, pray you've entered the right one, on the right track, the one that does not lead to oblivion...
Terror Train contains stories by new and established authors, with a guest story by William F. Nolan.
What Rose Saw by Krista Grabowski
Kindle Edition, 42 pages
Published October 3rd 2014
One man terrorizes his family and neighbors. Everyone knows but no one says anything. Through the innocent eyes of childhood, Rose sees things she knows are wrong and doesn't understand why people watch in silence. This story is about her fight to deal with a reality she doesn't understand.