Laurel Snyder

There was once a little family, and it was happy. Why not?

But then the daughter was exactly 6, and their house fell. Down. Around them. Because of something that the mother had done. It was her fault.

The father was killed in the falling house. He disappeared.

The daughter was unharmed and the mother mostly just wandered around the house wrapped in guilt, humming tunelessly. The little girl went to school and came home to her humming mother each day. She thought things over, as she ate her snack, in knee socks.

The second time the house fell, it fell all around the daughter. Around her— without touching. But the mother was trapped under a falling beam.

The daughter left her there, stood over her inside the falling walls and windows and left her to die. She made a decision. Walked out—

But then went back and carried her. To safety.

The mother stopped humming, was even worse, and now paralyzed. The house was magically rebuilt in an unfilmed scene of the movie. The daughter grew movie-quickly into a young woman.

But she never told anyone— about how she had left her mother for a minute. The mother couldn't speak or move to inform.

But then the mother somehow brought down the house again, despite her immobility. She plotted and the house fell. Just like that.

In the end— only one body was pulled from the falling house. It was missing pieces, half an arm, most of a face, a heel. The remaining whole arm hung weirdly at the body's side. It looked like a rag doll, but it lived. And it lurked in the ruin of the house with a hatchet in its limp arm, throwing the hatchet at things with very little aim, but moving surprisingly fast. The body couldn't speak, but it could spit and make odd sounds.

From a distance, from behind my tree, I wasn't afraid of it. It seemed to make no sense. It seemed to be only randomly striking out with the hatchet, but when I stepped out from my corner, the body was able to somehow quickly find me and strike, and it always just missed me.

So I ran and it ran behind me, making noises that were the gurgling noises of laughter without a face to smile through. I ran and ran around the remaining walls of the house and I could not get out and this thing, this rag doll, chased me.

I was afraid. But not because of the hatchet.