Short Fiction – By The Yellow Light (By Melissa R. Mendelson)
By The Yellow Light
by, Melissa R. Mendelson
I was nine when my parents got divorced. I could hear them arguing downstairs as I clutched Teddy in my arms. I always felt safe in this house. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay with my mother, and for awhile, I did. But then my father came and took me away.
His apartment was small. It was also cold. My bedroom felt like a shoebox. It was big enough just for a bed and dresser, but that was it. And if not for Teddy, this room would feel more like a prison than a haven, but I did my best to put on a smile for my father. And for awhile, everything was okay.
It was around three a.m. when my father came crashing into my room. He said that the door was locked, but I never locked it. My window was also open. I never opened it. He claimed that I screamed like I was being attacked, but I don’t remember screaming. All I knew was that my left foot was ice cold, and that was the foot that was dangling off my bed. As I tried to rub my foot back to life, something dark touched my mind, and an icy feeling raced through me. But I couldn’t explain it. Did something attack me?
My mother came over the next day. My father didn’t want her here, but she begged him to let her see her daughter. He agreed, but he left when she walked in. And she didn’t come empty handed. She was holding a white, plastic bag, and whatever was inside looked really heavy. She ushered me into my bedroom and closed the door. She held a serious expression on her face, and I sat on my bed, awaiting more bad news.
“Look, what I am about to tell you can never be repeated.” She sat beside me. “I shouldn’t be telling you, but I’m trying to save you.”
“The Darkness,” she replied, noting my confused expression. Instead, of speaking further, she withdrew an hourglass from the white, plastic bag. It was beautiful. It looked like it was made of gold, and inside was a river of yellow sand. She placed it on the floor near the bed, and I reached for it. But she pulled my hands away instead. “A fairy blessed this yellow light, and forever will it keep away your darkest fright,” she said.
“I don’t understand,” I said.
“It will keep the monster away. Just leave it where I have placed it. Don’t touch it. Never touch it until it’s safe.”
“When will I know when it is safe?”
“You’ll know,” and she kissed me on top of my head. “You’ll know,” and she stepped away from me.
Little did I know that would be the last time that I would ever see my mother again. Almost a year had gone by, but with each passing day, she became a shell of herself. She never answered the phone when I called. She never replied to any of my letters. I knew something was wrong, but nobody believed me. And then one day, my father even got worried, and he went back to our home, where he found her. But he wouldn’t tell me the details, but he was never the same after that.
I’m ten now. The hourglass remained where she had left it. When the sands had finished falling down to the bottom, they would rise up like magic to the top. Then, they would fall again. I used to find peace in watching this. I used to feel safe, but the absence of my mother cut me deep. And then, the dreams began.
I would awake in the darkest of night. My mother would be sitting on the floor near the bed. Most of the time, she wouldn’t look at me. She would just cry, and I wanted to run to her, to hold her. But I couldn’t move. It was like some invisible force was holding me in the bed, and then she was gone.
I awoke late tonight. It was just brushing past four a.m. My mother was here, but she still kept her back to me. She wasn’t crying tonight. Instead, she was whispering. It took forever to understand her, but then I did. “It’s your fault,” she said. “If only I stayed by the yellow light.” Now, she looked at me, and a chill raced right through me. “We can be together, if only,” but then she was gone.
“If only,” I asked. “If only what?”
I waited for my mother to reappear, but she didn’t. The nights passed by, and my emptiness grew. Where was she? Why wasn’t she coming back to me? Was it the hourglass? Something told me that it was. What if I moved it, but what if that didn’t do anything? Should I break it? Something told me that was a bad idea, but I wanted my mother. I needed my mother. She would protect me from the Darkness.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s been two weeks. I knew for sure that the hourglass was keeping her away. Maybe, I didn’t have to move it or break it. As I studied the hourglass, I realized that the top part did open, so when those yellow sands flew up to the top, I grabbed them and put them in a small jar. And then I waited.
My mother appeared that night. She was early. It was just after two a.m. She smiled, and that smile used to melt my heart. But I shuddered instead, and she reached for me. I took her hand in mine and realized how cold she was. She must be this cold because she was dead, but no, she wasn’t dead. She was here with me, but as she spoke to me, something seemed off.
“Are you really here?”
“Are you really my mother,” and her grip tightened on my hand. “Ow. You’re hurting me,” and she tried to pull me closer to her. As she did, her image shimmered. There was something dark here, sinister, and I screamed.
As I screamed, my bedroom door flew shut. The lock snapped into place. The window flew open, and a cold breeze filled the room. The thing before me flashed between my mother and something else, and it was drawing blood now. It wasn’t letting go, and as it pulled me closer to it, I remembered something. And with all my strength, I turned around and seized the jar left on the bed.
I thought I had missed. Then, all those yellow sands that escaped when the jar crashed to the ground rose upward. They hovered in the air for a moment, and then they hurled themselves at the monster before me. The Darkness howled as it released my hand, and then a pulse flashed across the room. I fell across my bed just as my father came crashing in, but before I could say or do anything, I passed out.
I awoke in a hospital bed. The room was a soft white. The sun kissed my hand. A nurse smiled at me and then hurried to get the doctor. My gaze rose up to the ceiling, and for a moment there, I could see those yellow sands. Then, I looked downward to the man sitting in a chair nearby. He looked tired, older, and he cried when his gaze met mine. “Daddy,” I said in a hoarse voice. “Is that you?”
“It is, sweetheart,” and he grabbed me up into his arms, holding me tight. “I thought I lost you,” he whispered into my ear. Then, he kissed me again and again. “I thought I lost you.”
“Dad, I just passed out. I think,” but I noticed a strange look on his face. “I saw you last night. Dad? Dad, what’s wrong?”
He sat back in his chair. His tears were flowing now. He wiped them away and avoided my gaze. Then, he looked at me and said, “It’s been two years.”
“It’s been two years,” he repeated. “You went into a coma, but I shouldn’t be telling you this. Let’s wait for the doctor,” and he fell silent.
“It was the monster,” I said. “It was killing me.” I could tell that my father wanted to say something, but he didn‘t. Did he know, or did he think my mother was just crazy until now, until the monster came after me. “Daddy?”
“Yes, dear,” and I cringed at that. “What is it?”
“I want to go home. Not the apartment. Home.”
“The apartment is gone,” he said. “We have our house back.”
“So, can we go home?”
“We can go home,” he said. “Just rest,” and he left the room, probably looking for the doctor and nurse. But I couldn’t rest. Instead, I looked up into the sun’s rays, admiring its golden sands.
Melissa R. Mendelson graduated college with both an AA in Liberal Arts and BA in Mass Communication: Critical Analysis. She was a Long Island news reporter from 2002 to 2004 and later went to work for the State of New York. She has written a variety of writing that continuously is published by the Antarctica Journal News, and she recently finished writing her first Horror/Sci-Fi novel, Lizardian, which can temporarily be found as an E-book on Amazon Kindle.