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Rob Reynolds

Phaedra

 

The woman lay face down on the bed. The man beside her was sitting up immersed in his laptop, earbuds lost in his stringy black hair. Death metal music blasted from the speakers. A tilted, upside-down crucifix hung on the wall behind them.

 

The woman raised her head, listened. She sat up and set her feet on the ground, her head bent to the floor. Dull tattoos covered both arms, a spider web spanning one shoulder. She rose listing to one side, recovered, and walked toward her daughter’s bedroom, sniffing against the kitchen’s foul odors. Food debris, TV dinner trays, and an empty milk carton littered the floor. A rib cage, stiff fur, dried blood, and odd-shaped knives lay on the kitchen island. She continued to her daughter’s room and leaned toward the door.

 

She rapped twice with her knuckle. “Phaedra?” She pushed open the door.

 

The bed covers were pulled back; the legless doll lay with its hair splayed out on the sheet. A couple of snowflakes blew through the window. The woman hugged herself. 

 

She walked toward the living room, stumbled, stopped briefly, and raised a hand to her forehead. She continued on to the sliding glass door and slid it open.

 

On the edge of the property, a wolf with a dark muzzle skulked one way then back, kicking up snow. It snarled, baring its fangs at the woman, and slouched away through the trees.

 

The woman instinctively took a step backward. She reached forward and tried to shut the door, fumbled with the lock. She gave up and turned back to the main bedroom. The man stared at his monitor and clenched his jaws and moved his lips in a repetitive motion.

 

“Adam?”

 

She walked over to the stereo and turned down the volume.

 

“Adam,” she said, louder.

 

Adam yanked out his ear buds. “WHAT?” he yelled.

 

The woman hesitated. “Phaedra’s gone.”

 

“WHO?”

 

The woman’s eyes grew dull. “The girl?”

 

Adam turned his head and glared at her menacingly.

 

The woman’s voice came out flat, devoid of emotion. “That thing. It.”



 

Rob Reynolds ~ I’m a former contributing editor and contributing associate of the Boston Book Review and the Harvard Review. My novel WIRE MOTHER MONKEY BABY was published in 2017 by Outpost19. My short stories have appeared in the Tampa Review, Kennesaw Review, Mad Hatter’s Review, flashquake, Euonia Review, and Vestal Review, and the Ooligan Press anthology YOU HAVE TIME FOR THIS: CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN SHORT-SHORT STORIES. Excerpts from my unpublished memoir have appeared in Hobart Pulp and Locust Candy. 

 

Bienvenue à la Danse, Rob. 

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