Rachel liked school. No, she loved school. It wasn’t the teachers, or the playground, or her classes that she liked. In fact, she hated those things. She loved school because it wasn’t home. Nothing was worse than home. Her father left shortly after she was born. Who could blame him? She would have left too if she could, but she was still under eighteen and had to stay.
Her mother was a religious freak. She took her version of the Bible very seriously. Rachel once looked at all the Bibles in the library, but none were like her mother’s. The Bible went everywhere her mother went. Anytime she saw something she didn’t like, she would fling it open and start reading silently from it as if she was trying to ward off some demon.
Everyday her mother would pick her up from school, then drive straight over to Three River’s Church where they would spend the next four hours praying for Rachel as if she were dead or some spawn from hell. Rachel hated her life and couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and leave. Six more years was all. Exactly. Since it was her twelfth birthday, she only had six years…2190 days…52560 hours to be precise.
After church, they ate dinner and Rachel started her homework. Who would have thought that doing English homework would set her mother off, but it did.
“How dare you read that filth,” she screamed.
“Mom, it’s Bridge to Terabithia.”
She ripped the book from Rachel’s hands. “This book supports the devil!”
“What? Have you ever read it? No, it doesn’t!”
Rachel knew she crossed the line the moment the words slipped from her mouth. Not only do you not say no to Meredith Howell, you never, ever, challenge her opinion of something.
Rachael closed her eyes as her mother beat her with the rod of wisdom that her Bible said would beat the devil out of any one. Only this time, she didn’t stop until Rachel stopped moving. She stopped breathing.
Her mother stood over Rachel’s body and dropped the iron rod. She smiled. Rachel was in a much better place now. Just like Rachel’s father. They both bore the same expression when they died. They had finally found peace from the demon that resided in them. The demon she saw every time she looked at them.
She poured herself a glass of sun-brewed tea and calmly planned where to hide her daughter’s body. Rachel’s fingers twitched unseen under her body. Then her toes. Her eyes opened. The rug looked very different from that position. It looked like a sea of red grass. Red. Very fitting, Rachel thought.
Her mother screamed as Rachel rolled over and stood up. Rachel grinned as tea spilled over the dinner table.
“You were right about one thing, Mother.”
Her mother’s mouth opened but no words came out. The only thing she could muster was a small gurgle.
“There was a demon in this house.”
The chair slammed to the floor and the room filled with sounds of scraping wood on tile as her mother tried to flee.
“You’ve been bad, Mother. You were supposed to protect me from the demon. You didn’t do your job. Now, your boss wants to have a word with you.”
Frantic calls to 9-1-1 from concerned neighbors flooded the system at 9:17 p.m.. By the time the police arrived all that was left of the house was a burned shell. No bodies were ever found. Neighbors report seeing Rachel sitting in the ruins of her house smiling, laughing, and playing with toys while a beautiful woman combs her hair and sings. She was finally free. The demon could no longer hurt her — or her mother.