Being a house wife is boring and tiring work. Mary-Anne can testify to that. She never thought she would end up living such a mundane life.
When she was nine years old, Mrs Andrews asked the class what they want to be when they grow up. She stood up proudly and asserted that she wants to be an astronaut. A few boys giggled and most of her friends were annoyed because they thought she was being overzealous for attention.
Mrs Andrews encouraged her to never give up on her dream. Mary-Anne managed to hold on to this dream until her life took a turn for the worst in high school. She fell pregnant when she was seventeen and she had to drop out from school. The father of her child disappeared.
Since she had decided to keep the child, her father gave her one year to find a job and move out of his house. But she found something better. She found love. Her husband, Henry, was her knight in shining armour.
She met him when she was working part time at a local restaurant and she instantly fell in love. That was over ten years ago and now in her early thirties, she has two children with Henry and her dream of flying in outer space is a distant fantasy.
Nowadays her daily targets comprise of how fast she can clean the house and catch up on her TV shows before her youngest children come back from school. She has read all of Henry’s novels at least two times. Quite often she is tempted to complain that her life lacks adventure and excitement like that of the women in the novels but she knows she has been fortunate. Her life may have been worse if she didn’t marry Henry.
Cleaning up the house and doing laundry are now reflex duties for her. It is still a tiring task but she does it with speed and precision. She even began taking care of the yard as part of adding variety to her life. She plants several vegetables in her little garden at the back of their suburban house. She also mows and waters the lawn to keep her whole house looking neat and presentable.
Today she is watering the lawn and flowers in the front yard. The weather has been moderately warm so she has been watering the yard at least three times a week. It’s still eleven o’clock in the morning so the street is fairly abandoned. Most people are at work or window shopping in town. The local housewives are probably watching TV, while the naughty ones are entertaining their secret lovers. It’s all part of the neighbourhood drama she often discusses with Julia, her best friend and neighbour.
“Excuse me my dear,” croons a soft voice from behind her.
Mary-Anne turns around with a startle. She notices an adorable old woman clad in a red dress which is embroiled with white stitching of rose petals. She has a well made white chapeau covering her head from the sun. Hair as white as snow is neatly tucked into her headdress. Her round rimmed glasses are black in colour and wide enough to play hula hoops with. She has a hunched back and wrinkled pale skin that attests to her advanced age.
Mary-Anne feels silly that she let the old woman frighten her. The old woman is barely five feet tall and seems harmless.
“I am sorry I scared you, dear,” the old woman apologies.
“It’s okay I overreacted. I had something else on my mind,” Mary-Anne replies with a smile.
“I am Mrs Brickle. My son lives just down the road. I came to visit him. Thought I should go for a stroll in the neighbourhood, I underestimated the heat. May I please have some water?”
“Oh let me go inside and get you a glass of ice cold water.”
“No need, dear, I am old fashioned. I can drink straight from the hose,” Mrs Brickle chuckles.
“Oh, of course,” Mary-Anne agrees as she restrains herself from laughing at the unusual request.
She hands the old woman the hose pipe and watches her drink like a fish. It takes three minutes for her thirst to be quenched and she thanks Mary-Anne for her generosity. The old woman begins mincing down the road.
As soon as she leaves, Mary-Anne’s body starts feeling weak. It is as if she is being drained of energy. She starts feeling light headed and she eventually slumps to her knees. She feels like she has ran a marathon. Every muscle in her body starts complaining of fatigue. She soon feels her body go through years and years of life as wrinkles began to appear on her hands.
Every breath seems like her last as she starts struggling to inhale and exhale. Her eye sight is blurring in and out. She looks down the street for help. She can still see the old woman ambling away.
Mary-Anne yells out to her. But when the hag turns around, she swiftly changes in appearance. A younger woman now stands were the old woman was standing. She is wearing what the old woman was wearing. The red dress that was like a gown covering the old woman’s petite body is now a mini skirt on the slender six foot tall woman. Her chapeau has dropped to the ground leaving her oval head framed with long crimped blonde hair.
The wrinkles that were strewn all over her body have dissipated. She is now wrapped in smooth and flawless skin that is making her glow in the sunlight. The round rimmed glasses she was wearing before that could zoom in on Mars are no way to be seen. The woman’s amber green eyes are focused on Mary-Anne with intrigue but she is taking no action to help her.
The dripping hose pipe has formed a circular puddle on the lawn. Mary-Anne looks down at the puddle of water and she is instantly appalled. She can barely recognize her own reflection.
She looks old. She looks like a hundred year old corpse which is still holding on to its skin. Her previously stout body is now tantamount to that of a starving zombie. Her shoulder length blonde hair has turned misty white and is slowly molting off her head. Her tanned skin has become white as a bone. Her blue eyes are now grey and lifeless.
Every form of movement she tries to take is laboured. She drops down and lies supine on the lawn. She slowly veers her head to the woman who has transformed herself like a butterfly. The blonde haired woman is still staring at Mary-Anne with heightened interest. She barely blinked since she changed her appearances. She is standing still as a statue and showing no intent of helping Mary-Anne.
That’s when it begins to make sense for Mary-Anne. The woman is feeding off her. Somehow she is leeching off Mary-Anne’s life and it’s making the woman look younger.
But why? She helped the woman when she wanted water. The water. The water she offered the woman must have something to do with this.
As her mind scrambles to make sense of the situation, Mary-Anne feels her eyelids become heavy. Her eye sight becomes trapped in a constant blur. But she knows if she falls asleep, she is not going to wake up.
When Mary-Anne averts her hazy eyes to her limp body, she realizes her hands are gradually disintegrating to dusk. She knows she would soon be extinguished from existence. She eventually gives in to the idea of shutting her eyes. And then there is darkness.