The prompt this week from Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction was the word ‘faces’.
Annie was a fanciful child, always seeing faces drifting in the clouds, engraved in the gnarled tree trunks of the forest, or reflecting in the shimmering surfaces of the lake.
“She’ll grow out of it,” her parents said, though secretly they were pleased that two individuals as grounded and practical as they were could have conceived and raised a child with so vivid an imagination, a child who assigned personalities to inanimate objects and could be heard holding lengthy conversations with her teddies, her dolls and even the pictures on the walls of her bedroom.
Her parents encouraged these flights of fancy, though when Annie started having nightmares, claiming that the face on the door of her wardrobe was saying things that frightened her, they were quick to comfort her – it was the grain of the wood, they explained, or the cheese straws she’d had for supper, or the silly ghost stories her grandmother had told her; and in any case, wardrobes couldn’t speak.
In the weeks after Annie had disappeared from her bed in the middle of the night, her mother would sit in her room, hugging her cuddly toys, re-arranging her books and crying into her pillow, hoping that from these, her belongings and confidantes, she could extract some comfort, perhaps even an understanding of what had befallen her daughter.
And so it was, that one afternoon Annie’s mother climbed into her daughter’s tiny airless wardrobe, closing the door behind her, pushing aside her ballet dress and furry dressing gown until she found a small dark space where she huddled with her head on her knees and waited; it would not be long, the face on the wardrobe door had promised, with a low chuckle, before she would be reunited with Annie.