Daffodils – Part 4

Millie slipped amongst the graves, embraced by the sunshine. She went from grave to grave placing a daffodil on each. Apart from one, where she laid two.
‘That’s a bit unfair, Mills. Why have you given that grave two?’
She looked at me exasperatedly.
‘Because she is the mummy.’
‘How do you know that? It doesn’t even say when these people died, let alone how they were related.’
‘She told me.’
Despite the warmth of the day, I felt a shiver scratch down my back.
‘This place really gives me the creeps.’ I muttered, as I strolled over to the other side of the chapel. Millie continued distributing the flowers.
I ambled round to the right of the chapel and was instantly plunged into gloom. It was as though someone had turned off the sun. It was windy on that side, and eddies of air sent grit into my face. I continued round the back of the chapel, but it was when an overhanging branch whipped into my face and slashed my cheek, that I decided that I had had enough. It was time to go.
I marched back to Millie, who was sitting on ‘mother’s’ grave, singing to herself.
‘C’mon we’re going.’
‘No, I want to stay.’
‘I said, we’re going.’ I yanked her arm, pulling her up beside me.
‘Ow’ she screamed.
I didn’t care. I took her by the hand and pulled her through the gateway. I could feel the tiny bones in her hand yielding under my tight grip. By now, Millie was whimpering.
‘Shut up.’ I screamed as we marched down the track at a relentless pace.
We were now on the edge of the village and my anger had ebbed. I felt guilty.
I knelt down in front of her and looked at her tear-stained face.
‘I’m sorry Millie. I didn’t mean to hurt you. It’s just that the chapel really gives me the creeps.’
‘I hate you.’ She choked. There was such malevolence in her eyes that it startled me.
‘I know you don’t sweetie.’ My voice wavered. ‘How about we get some juice and some biscuits when we get back?’
She shook her head and would not look at me.
When we got back home, she tore off to her room, slamming the door behind her. She refused to talk to me for the rest of the morning and would not allow me to hug her, when I dropped her off at nursery in the afternoon. I watched as the little figure went, hunched-shouldered, through the door.
‘She’s out of sorts.’ I explained to the nursery teacher, as she raised her eyebrows questioningly.
Then, low in spirits, I headed off to work.


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