A Horrible Tale by Daniel Lind.
You are thirteen summers old with a skip in the step. With no customers inside, I sneak out from my corner shop to catch a glimpse of you walking home from school. Youthful pearly grey eyes sparkle in the afternoon sun.
Your magical smile conjure a tingling in my bones.
You skip past my shop every morning, but seldom come in. Too many hours pass until I spot you again. Your friend Lucy bought a chocolate bar, but I’d give you one for free. Do you like chocolate? I’ll soon find out.
Short hair doesn’t suit you. And why change glasses? The school uniform doesn’t fit either. The sleeves are too long. I know just the outfit for you–a white sleeveless dress.
I asked Lucy about you this morning when she bought chewing gum. She claimed you were home with a fever. Are your parents taking care of you? I will pay a visit, so I can make sure. Closing the shop a few hours won’t do any harm.
Is it your birthday? Oh, how time flies. You’re in my shop on a Saturday afternoon, wearing an ugly pink dress your uncle probably bought. I’ll get you a gown that fits you. Your hair has become long enough to be tied into a bun.
My heart beats faster when you ask me if I have any Go Girl magazines. No dear, that’s a magazine for girls, but you’ve become a young woman. It’s hurtful to know you’re being influenced by rubbish. I will have to teach you what the right literature is.
You still drink milk?
I have many flavours in the shop, yes, including strawberry.
They’re on the right.
Two for a pound.
Sorry, I’ve got no change.
That’s all right, you can pay next time.
My heart sinks as I wish you a good day when you walk out. The void you leave in your wake threatens to strangle me. I need to know where you’re going next.
This misery has to end.
Soon, I will take you away.
Soon, you will be under my protection.
Soon, I will adorn milk cartons with your pearly grey eyes.
Daniel is a Primary school literacy teacher, working in London. He writes short fiction and is currently involved in a project to steampunk classical fairy tales. He’s on twitter too: @lindhoffen