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I hold onto Aria’s hand as we make our way through the crowded streets of Salem, each person we passed gave us a menacing glare. Since the day my little Aria arrived, no one in the town of Salem liked us. Aria arrived on the night of the red moon, some said she was the Devil’s child because of it. Other children her age always say her eyes hold evil within them, but I believe their mother’s put rubbish in their little minds. I glance down at my daughter; her blue eyes stay facing forward. I must admit though, sometimes she seems off. My hold on her hand tightens as we near our destination, “Now Aria I expect you to be on your best behavior whilst we are in the meat shop,” I mumble so only she can hear me.
She flicks her blue orbs up and gives me a small secretive smile, “I promise to be a good girl mommy,” she replied as she squeezed my hand. I smile at her with unease, the door to the meat shop is wooden.
There are great big iron nails bolted into it, I push open the door and hold it open so Aria could walk in. When she entered the room her arm had brushed against one of the iron nails. I could have just been seeing things, but she had flinched at the touch. I smooth out my gray dress and clear my throat, “Hal? Are you in today?” I call. A phlegm cough was his response.
Aria tugs on my dress and signals for me to bend to her height, I do as she asks and bend to her height. She cups her small hands around my ear and whispers, “I don’t appreciate him, mommy.”
I stare at her with a stern expression, “You’ll be fine dear, just be a good girl,” I replied as I stood straight once more.
Hal made his way up to the front, he gave me a toothless smile as he asked, “What will it be today Miss Haven?” I return his smile.
“I believe John was hungry for a leg of lamb stew tonight, so I will take your finest leg of lamb off your hands, Hal,” I reply.
Hal lets out a throaty laugh as he says, “I’ll only be a minute, love,” he returns to the back of the shop, Aria once again tugs on my dress.
I bend so we're eye-leveled, “What is it now dear?” I asked with slight irritation.
Her small mouth sets into a grim line, “I don’t appreciate him, mommy. He’s wicked,” she said once more. I let out a sigh as I stand back straight, I don't understand what has gotten into her. Ever since her birthday past, she has been more sensitive to people in town.
Hal returns moments later holding a fresh leg of lamb wrapped in paper, “That’ll be six pence love,” he says as he lays the meat on the counter, I smile at him and fish the money from the pocket of my apron.
The walk through the streets of Salem was quiet, Aria was never one to talk and when she does it be never above a whisper. She prefers to keep to herself though, I don’t blame her; every child in Salem says she is the Devil's child.
“Do you want mash to go with your stew tonight dear? I’m sure your father will enjoy mash with his,” I ask as I look at her small frame, she shrugs her shoulders and continues to stare forward. Once at home, Aria goes off into her little room in the attic, I sigh and place the lamb on the kitchen table.
John looks up from his letter and raises his eyebrow at me, I give him a small smile and say, “She’s just being her usual self.”
Later that evening as I get ready for bed, the sound of Aria speaking to someone in her room catches my attention. “Mommy can’t see you… nobody can.” Her voice filled with sadness.
I knocked on her door and ask “Aria? Sweetie, who are you talking to, sweetie?” I hear the covers on her bed rustle as she lies in her cot, her soft voice replied with a simple nobody. I return to my room and notice that John is fast asleep, I get into bed beside him.
A loud scream coming from Aria’s bedroom wakes me, “Aria!” I call as I jump from my bed and rush up to her room.
I open the door to see my little girl thrashing as if she were in pain. I ran over to her and noticed that her white cotton nightgown is clinging to her due to sweat. “Aria, get up this instant!” I yell while pulling her from her bed.
Just as I pulled her from her bed, her eyes shot open. They were wide and wild with fear and pain; her breathing came out in a rush. “M-Mommy I don’t enjoy the horrible faces,” she whispers as she stares into my brown orbs.
Aria's brown hair tangled and clinging to her skin, her body was shaking with fear. “What horrible faces Aria?” I asked as I held her to my chest.
She lets out a quiet whimper as she replies, “T-The ones the pale man showed me, mommy.”
That morning I told John what had occurred last night, “Hm… Did she tell you anymore on the ‘pale man’?” he asked.
I take my shaking hand through my tangled blonde locks, “No she didn’t John. She said that she didn’t enjoy the horrible faces the pale man was showing her. She was fast asleep before I could ask her.” I replied as I kept my brown gaze locked with his blue orbs. He rubbed his chin, before he could say another word Aria came skipping into the kitchen.
“Mommy, may I have beans on toast?” she asked as she sat at the kitchen table, an idea popped into my head.
“Yes, you may sweetie, but first you have to tell me who the pale man is. The one who showed you the horrible faces,” I reply as I stand from my chair. Aria casts her blue eyes to the ground, she wrung her small hands together as if she were going through an internal conflict.
“H-He didn’t tell me his name mommy… he laughed at me as he made the horrible faces fly,” she spoke, I let out a great sigh as I turn to fix her the beans on toast.
Once Aria finished eating; I sent her on her way outside in the front yard. “Well, that was a load of rubbish if you ask me, dear,” said, John, as he leaned back in his chair.
My eyes narrow at him as I reply, “Well I wasn’t asking you, John.” He held his hands up in defeat. I drag my hand over my face and slump in my chair.
“I’m sorry dear… I’m just worried for her that's it.” My voice comes out in a low whisper while I wrung my hands together.
John scoots his chair over, he pulls me into a side hug and replies: “I’m worried for her too love… but we cannot make her talk.” I nod as I press my face into his chest.
Both John and I became startled when Aria's screaming reached our ears from inside, I hopped out of my chair and run out to her. “Aria!!” I call out for her, fear caused my voice to tremble.
“M-Mommy! Make the pale man go away!!” she screams once more. Her shrieking came from the edge of the woods, I run to her. There she stood, her white dress all dirty, and her hair removed from her plaits I had put in earlier.
“Aria sweetie there is no one there! Come here right now!” I call to her in my stern voice.
She points in front of her and says in a fearful voice, “H-He’s right there mommy, w-why don’t you believe me?”
I squint my eyes as I try to look for the pale man that haunts my little girl. There is nobody there though, I walk over to her and grab her wrist. “Aria there is no man! Now get inside!” I yell.
Tears pricked the corners of her blue eyes, “B-But mommy… h-he is… h-he said he would take me away from you and daddy!” she yelled in fear as she gazed into my brown orbs. I sigh, I take my free hand through my knotted hair. I don’t reply to her, I drag her back to our small little cottage and send her to her bedroom.
Later that night I am once again awoken by Aria’s screams, I run to her room and stop in my tracks. Smoke poured out from underneath her door, “John!! Wake up!” I yell as I try to push her door open. I got it open, but that was a terrible mistake. My body banged against the wall due to the unbearable heat. To my horror, I see my sweet little girl covered in flames, but they do not harm her.
The flames dance around her body in delight, “M-Mommy please help me!” she yells.
I glare at her and shout “You are the Devil's spawn!” Tears pricked her eyes just as they did earlier that day. She let out a loud cry once the cry sounded the flames had rushed out towards me. I scream as the fire burns at my flesh, my husband’s pounding footsteps catches my attention as he climbs the stairs.
“J-John do not come up here!” I yell, but it is too late. When he is at the top of the stairs he screams, Aria steps out of her room and sends a wave of flames at John.
Before I take my final breath, I ask “W-Why?”
My once sweet and innocent daughter smiles at me as she replies: “I’m a Devil spawn remember?”