The Tragic Tale of Abby Campbell, Part 4 for October Frights Blog Hop

The Tragic Tale of Abby Campbell, Part 4 for October Frights Blog Hop

Abby removes the baby from the backpack and takes it inside. “I’m sorry, Holly. I didn’t know they had you or I would have come and gotten you sooner.”

Abby rocks the baby. The baby coos and smiles but then starts to cry.  The baby keeps crying.  Abby thinks hard. What do you do to keep a baby from crying?  You hold the baby.  She’s doing that but the baby is getting annoying with all that crying.

You check its diaper.  The baby is wet.  She needs a diaper. Abby doesn’t have one so she pulls the baby’s diaper off and stuffs some paper towels in the baby’s little leggings.  The baby starts to wail.

You feed the baby. That’s right!  You feed the baby. Abby struggles hard to remember what you feed a baby.  She can’t remember. It is all so jumbled and Holly isn’t whispering anymore. She is crying and crying and Abby doesn’t know what to do to stop it. The crying echoes through the little house, reverberating down the hallway and back in a kaleidoscope of sound.  The baby is her baby and it is her job to take care of the baby. The baby is hungry. The baby is crying. The baby is hungry. The baby is crying.

She walks around with the baby, jiggling it up and down.  The baby just keeps screaming louder.  Abby grabs the new jar of peanut butter and stuff some in the baby’s mouth. The baby moves her mouth around the peanut butter and stops making sounds.  Success!  Abby shoves more peanut butter in the baby’s mouth.  She keeps shoveling peanut butter in the baby’s mouth. The baby starts to make noise again, like a sputtering noise and she gasps like she is going to cry again so Abby puts more peanut butter into her mouth, and more, and more and more. The baby stops making noises.

That is so much better, Abby thinks. She is a good mother, feeding her baby.

She takes Holly outside. Abby rests against a tree, sits with her legs spread and puts the baby up against her stomach.   She puts a nearby pinecone in the baby’s hand.  The baby doesn’t want to play.  The baby slumps back against Abby and won’t grab the pinecone. Abby loves the feel of the baby resting on her tummy.  She closes her eyes and hums a tune she knows Holly likes.  Abby falls into a trance, lulled by the sweet scent of the baby’s hair.

When Abby opens her eyes, the sun is going down and dusk is upon the forest.  The baby is still sleeping so Abby gently picks the baby up and takes her inside the house. She places her in a large box and covers her with a blanket.  It seems weird to her that the baby is still sleeping but Abby knows that Abby is a good mother and helped the baby rest by feeding her.  Abby eats some canned soup directly from the can and stares at the baby the whole time. It is good to have Holly home.

She puts the baby’s box next to her bed and sings another lullaby. She goes to sleep, sleeping peacefully for the first time in a long while.

At first light, Abby leans down to see Holly.  Holly doesn’t look right.  She picks Holly up and notices that Holly smells different. Maybe she has a stinky diaper?  Abby checks the paper towels and finds no poop or wetness.  Somewhere in the back of her head, a thought breaks through the static.   Maybe this baby isn’t Holly.  Maybe this baby is dead, not sleeping.  She needs Holly back. This dead baby isn’t Holly.

Abby takes the baby outside and places it in the lake. Once again, the lake accepts the gift.

Abby paces same circle repeatedly. From the kitchen to the living room, down the hall, around the bedroom, back down the hall, to the kitchen.

Something was wrong with Holly. Abby did something wrong, but she couldn’t figure out what it was.  That baby wasn’t Holly. That must be the problem. Abby needed to find the real Holly and then everything would be okay.

When Abby was little, her goldfish died and her parents bought her another goldfish. They told her “that goldfish wasn’t the right one.”  Holly whispers that it is time to find the right Holly.

“I know, Holly. I’m coming for you.”

The next day, Abby manages to stretch normal face over her real one and drives into town.  She stops at the Convenience Store.

“Surprised to see you here today, Abby.  It isn’t your normal day.”

“I wanted to know if anyone heard anything about the missing family?”

“No,” said Rob.  “They haven’t.  The police stop by your house?”

“Yes,” said Abby, holding on tight to normal face.

“No one knows anything about the missing family. As for the baby, they think maybe the parents know more than they are saying.  Maybe they killed the child.  People around here are questioning why they would take a one-year-old camping.”

Abby ponders what an appropriate answer might be.  She manages to create a frown with her lips and cheeks.  It is hard. She furrows her brows and says, “It is a shame.”

“I guess you know what that is like,” Rob says gently.

“Yes.  Yes, I do.”

Abby walks around the store while Rob takes care of another customer.  Babies need formula, she thinks.  Babies can’t eat peanut butter.  I know that now, she reminds herself.  She seeks out the baby section and swipes a tin of powdered formula and a bottle. She hides behind the shelving, sticks them in her bag and walks out of the store, not speaking another word, but notices Rob watching her as she leaves.

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

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