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The Creatures They Become
The narrow, winding path vibrated the small automobile. Each rocky turn shook the vehicle as it moved upward toward the gloomy mountain village. An unexpected pothole made the two young children bounce in their seats; and the car erupted with laughter. Their mother glanced in the mirror, smiling at her beautiful, giggling sons. The two boys sat, buckled into the backseat, chuckling away at the bumpy, dirt road. A sigh escaped their mother’s lips as she hit, yet another, pothole, slinging the children around the back of the car. She let out a nervous chirp as the two children merrily awaited another dip in the pathway. Her hand reached for the knob on the car’s stereo. A few seconds later, the car filled with the soft sound of a piano and the boys listened to the music quietly. Their mother hoped the music would calm them down and maybe put them to sleep. she knew they had been up for hours on the long drive and she worried they needed some rest. The car trudged along the path that was considered a road. Silence, other than the light piano notes, filled the car as they drove along. The boys had finally dozed off in the back and were uncomfortably sprawled across the seat. The sight of her sons tangled together and drooling on each other made her laugh.
The sun was starting to set as they drove further and further from their old home, away from everything they once knew. The family was hours away from their new home and the mother was getting tired. She had been driving all day and needed to rest for the night. Her eyelids felt heavy as she pulled into the almost empty parking lot of a small, homey Inn. Stopping the cramped mode of transportation, the sleepy mother turned to look at her boys. The young lads had dozed off in the back seat after their cheerful drive on the rough mountain path. A smile crept onto their mother’s face as she stared at her two sleeping children. She quickly got out of their packed vehicle and rushed across the almost deserted parking area. There seemed to only be one other car which she assumed was the owner’s. It struck her as odd that not many people were staying at the Inn. Once at the door of the Inn, she took a second to smooth her frizzy hair and readjust the baggy clothes that hung from her body. A deep sigh escaped her lips as she pulled open the large wooden slab they considered a door.
It took her a second to get the heavy door fully open; but as she entered, a gust of warm air hit her bare arms. She blinked, letting her eyes adjust to the dim lighting in the quaint building. The room was empty and silent, other than the soft pat of her feet on the stone floor. Her eyes glanced around the room, catching glimpses of dark reds and black decorating the entry way. Two plush chairs sat facing a large, brick fireplace and square, chestnut tables with woven chairs littered the room. She frowned at the idea of no one enjoying the homey feel of the Inn. It saddened her to see so many empty chairs; and the silence the should have been filled with chatting families made her want to cry. She walked up to the desk that awaited anyone who entered the Inn. Her fingers tapped the little gold bell, sending a sharp ringing sound throughout the building. The noise cut through the thick silence that filled the room. Waiting, she looked back at her car to check on her sleeping boys. She was worried they wouldn’t like their new home located in a tiny mountain village just barely inside the Russian border. The sound of a throat being cleared startled her as she turned to face the man standing behind the counter. He stood tall and brooding with dark hair and eyes. A strong jawline met perfectly with his muscular neck and chest. The man, once again, cleared his throat as the woman stared at his gorgeous features. She was in awe of his beauty. He reached down below the counter and pulled out a large, leather bound book. He flipped it open, about halfway, to a page labeled like a schedual. Room numbers, dates, and neatly written names were scribbled on the tattered, yellowing page of the old book. The man picked up a pen, clicked it so he could write, and wrote the date perfectly on the page.
“I’m assuming you are here for a room. I need to know your name and how many people will be staying.” His voice was deep and raspy. The woman was caught off guard when he spoke. She had been so transfixed on his every move; she had barely expected him to speak.
“Duskin, Maria Duskin. It will just be myself and my two sons and only for the night,” she squeaked. She suddenly felt more aware of the ratty, old clothes she was wearing. Her oversized T-shirt, covered in stains from the years of disgusting mommy jobs, and her jeans, mom jean as the teens would call them, wearing away in the crotch seemed so out of place in the nicely kept Inn. She looked down in embarrassment, only to catch sight of her tennis shoes, a gaping hole in the front. She wiggled her big toe, watching it tear the hole more than it had been before. The sound of the pen gliding across the paper made her look up again. The man wrote down her name in neat curved letters that made the woman almost jealous of his divine penmanship. He looked up at the woman as he finished the last letter of her name. Their eyes met; his a delicate, soft gray and hers a deep green. His eyes darted away from hers and back to the page of the book. He had left the room number blank but he didn’t seem to care. Her turned to the wall of cubbies behind him, scanning the shelves for the perfect room key for the small family.
“You said two boys along with yourself?” He asked her as he narrowed down the rooms. He knew the family would need a room with enough space for the three of them; but he was unsure if there were any rooms big enough for three and smaller than the rooms for large six people families.
“Yes,” she stuttered. Yet again, she had been startled by his voice. The two had been quiet for some time while he wrote in that big leather book of his; and she was not prepared for him to speak. She could see his back muscles tensing under his tight, button down shirt as he stood, his back facing her, to look at the rows of cubbies that housed the room keys. Each muscle could be easily seen through the thin fabric of his shirt; and once again she realised how under dressed she was compared to him. Just the thought of how he was dressed, sparked the memory of that morning. They were in a rush to leave their home and head to the new place. She had told the boys to pack all their things into their tiny family car while she made them breakfast. She was so busy making sure everything else got done, she hadn’t combed her hair. Her hair was usually brushed nicely and pulled back to make her look sophisticated; but today it was loose and frizzy. They had piled into the car, shoving their way through the clutter, and ate their breakfast as they drove. She smiled at the memory. Her shirt held the remains of her jellied bagel breakfast, a nice red blotch stood out against her white shirt. She had dropped her bagel after making a sharp turn, creating the medium sized stain. The man didn’t seem to notice the disheveled mass that was her clothing. He had barely paid any attention to the woman’s appearance, caring only for customer's name for his book. His back was still facing the woman, searching for the perfect room. He knew the woman had mentioned children and became anxious at how much time he was wasting searching for them a room. The decision would have normally been easy, but with this one it felt different. He felt as if he needed to impress the woman. She was the first customer at the Inn for almost a week now; and he felt like she deserved the very best, even if she was only staying for a night. He could almost feel her annoyance at the long wait. Quickly, he grabbed a key to one of the six people family rooms, deciding to give her the large room for the regular room price. The woman took the key set from the man and smiled as a thanks.
“The room is on the first floor, just down that hall on the left,” he muttered. He grabbed his pen and neatly wrote the number three in the box. He felt satisfied with himself and his choice of room for the guest. Business had been slow at the Inn for about a week due to some weather problems. He was preparing for the usual fair crowed to pile into the place over the next few weeks. Fair season was his busiest time of year. People from all around came to the fair that visited the small, mountain village every Fall. He watched as the woman shuffled out the door, struggling to push it open. He laughed at the sight of the small female pushing on the large wooden door.
The woman practically skipped across the parking lot. She was happy they had a room to stay in for the night and she couldn’t wait to get the boys into a proper bed. Her hand wrapped around the handle to the back seat of the car; and she pulled it open. Pieces of clutter that had been stacked close to the door, tumbled through the new opening and hit the ground with a semi-loud crash. The sound of the trinkets hitting the wared pavement made the two sleeping boys shift in their uncomfortable, twisted position. Their mother was so distracted by the ceramic objects the were scattered on the ground; she didn’t notice the two boys eyes flutter open. They untangled themselves from each other and both rubbed their eyes to get the goo that had formed in their slumber to leave their faces. The youngest of the two wiped his hand below his bottom lip, wiping away the clear liquid that had dripped from his mouth as he slept. His fingers, now covered in slobber, moved to unbuckle him from the seat. He hated the seatbelt because he always felt so trapped when it was pressed against chest; but his mother insisted that he wear it incase they were to get into a nasty wreck. The familiar click sent the textured, fabric sliding across his body and back to its normal spot, hanging beside the seat in the car. His brother made the same movement to unbuckle his own seatbelt. The two boys slid out of their seats and bent down to help their mother pick up the odd ceramic trinkets that had tumbled out of the automobile’s open door. The three stuffed the items back into the car, only taking a few clothes into the Inn with them.
The little bronze key slid perfectly into the lock of their room’s gold tinted door. Inside, the room was large and neatly decorated and arranged like many other Inn rooms are. To the left as you entered the room, was a small restroom with a marbled sink top and tiled floors. One of the boys flipped the light switch, illuminating the entire room. A living-room like area was set up in the middle with the kitchen and dining room are off to the right. There was a narrow hall to the left of the living-room space that led to two doors. Each of the two doors led to bedrooms with two bed side by side, a night stand separating them, and a dresser across from the beds. The walls in both bedrooms were an awkward shade of green that paired awfully with the pale pink comforter that was sprawled across each twin sized bed. Overall, the rooms were nice enough for the small family.
Both of the young boys picked the room in the far corner of the hall as the room they would sleep in. The boys entered the room silently as they tossed their wrinkled wads of clothing onto their designated beds. The oldest of the two chose the bed closer to the door of the room because he thought it looked bigger than the other bed even though the beds were the same size. Neither of the two knew what time it was, but they knew they were tired. Without saying a word to their mother, the two boys changed into their ratty pajamas and slipped into their chosen beds. The boys didn’t mutter a word to each other and a thick silence filled the bedroom. The youngest boy reached for the pin to turn the old lamp off, a clicking noise cut through the silence and the room fell into darkness. The two boys felt themselves drifting into their own little dream worlds.
The mother of the two boys wandered around their room at the Inn trying to organize the things they would need to take with them in the morning. The room was quiet other than her feet slapping against the floor as she paced around the living room area. She dodged the bright orange couch as she anxiously walked in a funny shaped path. Something, a noise that sounded like a lamp being turned off, caused her to stop in the middle of the room. she knew that meant her two children had gone to bed; and she was thankful they weren’t up to witness her mental breakdown. Her eyes glared at the tacky orange couch that was positioned weirdly in the room. Everything inside her wanted to rearrange the room to be perfect, but she knew that she had no right to mess up the arrangement the man downstairs had set up. She could feel her stress levels rising as she stood in the horribly decorated space. The idea of taking a well deserved bubble bath popped into her head. She grabbed her old, ripped night gown and walked to the bathroom they had passed as the family entered their room at the quaint Inn. Her fingers shook slightly as she filled the tub until the water was almost spilling over. The water was warm against her bare skin as she stepped into her own little heaven. The stress disappeared as she sunk deeper into the warmth of the water. She laid her head back, fully relaxing in the quiet space. She finally felt calm as the water absorbed every ounce of worry from her body.
As the woman lay in the warm water, a haunting thought entered her mind. She hadn’t had these thoughts since her husband had left months ago. Her whole body shivered at the nasty thoughts that swirled in her brain. No amount of water could every wash away the things that filled her brain at that moment. A dark voice echoed in her head, forcing her to feel disgusting inside. The thoughts grew louder in her mind and, at that moment, she wanted to die. The thoughts were strong and the voice was erging her to give in. The woman pushed her hands against the sleek, white walls of the tub. The force of her pushing down, dragged her body under the warmth of the water. As she laid there, her mind went crazy with thoughts. She knew she needed to fight the bad thoughts because she was all her sons had in this world; but she couldn’t take the pain any longer. All she could think of, in that moment, were all the things that had gone wrong. Who was she kidding? Moving wouldn’t bring her husband back or make her feel like a better mother. She shoved harder, pushing her body further into the water so much that her back was flat against the smooth surface of the tub’s bottom. Her body had instinctively held onto what little oxygen was left in her lungs. She let out the small breath she had been holding and took a deep breath. Water filled her lungs and she struggled to breathe. As her vision blurred from the lack of oxygen, she thought of her two children; the two beautiful boys that slept just down the hall. She smiled at the image of her two sons sleeping from earlier that day and took one more breath. The water rushed down her throat and into her lungs, killing her.
The woman’s lifeless body floated to the top of the tub, splashing water over the rim of the white cast iron. Her face looked almost calm as if death had relieved her from the hell that was her life.
The two children awoke the next morning, refreshed from a good night’s rest. They both hopped out of their oddly comfortable beds and dressed in their clothes they had brought in with them. Their shirts suffered from major wrinkles, but the boys tried to look their best for the long trip ahead of them. They walked to the door of the room and slowly turned the doorknob. The eldest son felt as if something was wrong so he instructed his brother to stay in their bedroom. He walked anxiously to the bedroom across from theirs and opened the door. A squeak from the old, rusted hinges of the door, startled the young child. He looked around the room for his mother, but found no one in the room. He could just feel that something was wrong and he knew his brother would be worried because he had told him to stay in their bedroom. His heart was almost beating out from his chest as he walked down the dimly lit hallway. The living area looked as if no one had ever entered it but the light in the kitchen was on. The boy knew that his mother wasn’t cooking breakfast because they hadn’t brought any food with them. His eyes glanced at the barely open door that led to the bathroom near the entry way. The air felt thick, to thick to breathe, as the fear grew within the young child. Something about the door being slightly open made the boy more terrified than he had been earlier. He took a deep breath, feeling the sticky air fill his lungs, as he walked toward the door. he was a few feet from the door when his foot landed in a puddle of warm water. The warmth of the liquid seeped through his sock and the boys face showed a disgusted expression. He hated how the water made his sock soggy and the feeling against his skin made him shiver. The water was coming from inside the bathroom, flowing along the room’s floor. A sigh escaped the boy’s lips as he pulled open the door to the bathroom.
The boy’s eyes were met with a horrid sight. His mother lay naked and lifeless in a tub full of water. Her lips were chapped and pale; and most of the color had left her skin leaving behind a haunting shade of whitish blue. The boy stared at his dead mother, unable to speak or react. He couldn’t look away from her eyes that stared forward as if they were reaching deep into his soul. His chest felt heavy with sorrow and his throat was slowly closing up from the need to let out all his pain. A part of him didn’t want to accept that his mother was no longer breathing, but he knew he needed to stay strong for his younger brother. The door behind him squeaked as the second child entered the now cramped bathroom. He looked at his older brother seeing the tears that were forming in his brother’s eyes. The youngest of the two followed his brother’s line of sight. His eyes landed on the disturbing sight that was his dead mother. Both boys stood in the room not saying a word to one another or even acknowledging that the other was in the room with them. The room was heavy with the emotion of grief. Neither of the two wanted to be the first to speak. The younger boy took in a large breath, feeling the air expand his lungs. He let out a blood curdling scream that formed goosebumps on his brother’s bare arms. The shriek vibrated the room and echoed in the nearly empty Inn.
The Inn keeper sat at his desk, scribbling notes in one of the many books that cluttered the work space. Each book was bond in, a deep shade of brown, leather and marked with his initials in the bottom corner of the front cover. The man had ordered multiple copies of the book because he liked the feel of the leather and the sweet scent the cypris paper emitted when he wrote. He used the books as journals, sketchpads, and schedules. Each page in every book was either covered in ink or would be soon. He focused on the book that laid open before him as he jotted down a list of things that needed to be done at the Inn before the fair came to town. Towels, bars of soap, and a few extra pillows were needed desperately at the little Inn. The man was busy writing when a loud scream distracted him from his work. He had almost forgotten the family of three that had arrived late the night before. He slammed his book shut and rushed out of the office and down the hall toward the room where the family was staying. The man had never moved so fast in his entire life.
The door of the Inn room swung open and crashed against the wall as the Inn keeper rushed in. He turned to look at the open door of the bathroom, his eyes landing on the two boys. The man took in the scene before him. The woman’s body in the tub, the crying children, and the water covered tile. He knew there was only one thing he could do now to help the poor boys. As he walked toward the phone that sat on the kitchen counter, images of the woman he had met the night before flashed through his mind. Her over-sized shirt and frizzy hair popped into his thoughts as he walked. He could still see her smiling as she gazed out the window at her parked car. He didn’t understand why the woman would have chosen to die this way. She had seemed so happy the night before, when they met. He pushed the buttons on the phone, dialing the emergency responders. When the police and coroner arrived, the man and the two young boys were sitting on the tacky, orange couch that was in the living room area. They were silent as the body was taken out of the room and away from the Inn. A woman escorted the two boys to a car that awaited them in the parking lot of the Inn. The two children climbed into the back of the car and buckled up. They knew they were being taken to an orphanage because they had nowhere else to go. The Inn keeper watched as the car pulled out of the Inn parking lot with the two boys in the backseat of the car. His eyes followed the car’s path until he could no longer see the vehicle. He prayed the boys would be going somewhere nice and safe.