Agatha

Note: credit for the inspiration for this story goes to http://thecultofme.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/april-short-fiction-contest.html … the idea came too late for me to enter the competition, but – having had the idea – I had to write it anyway!

Agatha stood, alone, in the cold dark room. No-one was coming. No-one would ever come. She had been abandoned by that horrid Maria – mean, nasty, deceitful Maria, who had been so full of hugs and endearments when it suited her, but who’d just run like all the rest when she was called upon for support herself.

Such larks they’d had. Tea on the lawn, with cakes and scones and lemonade set out on the tartan rug. Walks in the woods, hunting for heffalumps – not that they ever found any, of course, there’s no such thing as a heffalump, but Maria had seen it in a book and was sure they would find one among the trees.

There had been others before Maria, but Agatha couldn’t remember them very clearly now. There was Anna, who had a limp, and Theresa who had been cross all the time, and Mary who was always sad, no matter how much Agatha tried to cheer her up. All gone, one before the other.

And now Maria had gone, too. Just because Agatha’s lovely dress had got dirty. It was Maria’s fault, anyway, throwing her into the air as they passed the pond. A trip, a slip, and a drop – and Agatha was in the muddy water with the fishes and the frogs and the weeds. It had felt like hours before Maria’s father came and fished Agatha out with a net. “Looks like she needs a bit of a wash,” he’d said.

But when Maria saw the crack on Agatha’s cheek, and the missing eye, she screamed and run away, which explained why Agatha now stood where she did. In a corner of the junk room, waiting for a repair that would never come.

She’d be sorry, that Maria.

Agatha considered her options. Meningitis? That had seen off Theresa, but it was one of Agatha’s rules that she never played the same trick twice. Scarlet fever? Hadn’t she used that for Anna? No, now she came to think of it, there had been that little accident involving a horse and cart. That had been fun, hearing how little crippled Anna hadn’t been able to jump out of the way quickly enough. No, it was Mary she’d seen off with the fever. Funny how she’d seemed almost happy at the end.

Something appropriate. What could it be?

A heffalump, that would be it. Not a real one, of course, but close enough. It was so easy to plant the idea of going to the zoo in her mother’s head. They’d have to drive that old car through the lion’s enclosure. Meals on wheels.

In a horrific accident today, a six-year-old girl was mauled to death by lions after her mother’s car caught fire in the lion enclosure at Longleat safari park. Faced with burning to death, Maria Murchison ran away and, despite attempts by rangers to rescue her, was caught and killed by Sofi, a five-year-old lioness.

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