The Girl in the Cotton Gown

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: House of Ghosts
Be advised that this story is disturbing and may be triggering for some people. Read at your own risk.

Submitted: April 23, 2019

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Submitted: April 23, 2019




The girl stared blankly out the window. She sat at a dainty piano in a well-furnished room on the second floor of a grand house. She faced the street. The first blooms of spring were erupting around her panoramic view. Her fingers lightly, wordlessly fluttered over the keys. A new beginning, she thought without really thinking.

She noticed with renewed irritation the way the pale cotton nightgown clung to her dewy skin. Her hair fell into her eyes, yet she barely noticed. Her right foot tapped along to the now discordant melody she played. She had no sheet music, instead she directed herself to the beat of the heart madly thumping away in her chest. My heart could give out any minute, she observed without concern or particular interest.

A passerby on the street heard the wafting notes as they reached the height of their crescendo. He stared up at the radiant girl through the window, and he couldn’t help but smile to himself, until she pressed a bloodied hand up to the pane as a form of greeting. His face paled. He frantically pulled out his phone to call the police.

Meanwhile, the girl who had long since erased her own name stared at her hands, and the keys striped with crimson. Oh, I forgot to wash my hands, she realized, traipsing to the bathroom. Her bare feet padded softly as she waltzed through the rooms, stopping as she entered her parents room. “Mother, when is di-“ she paused. “Oh, that’s right, you’ll never make dinner again.” She froze in a moment of apparent solemnity before continuing on her way, humming lightly. The room she left behind was catastrophic.

The white sheets were torn and dripped with a vibrant red hue. Two bodies, her parents, laid upon the carpeted floor, throats slit and guts trailing. A large, heavily bloodied butchers’ knife laid at their sides. It was the knife her father had angrily pointed at her as her mother shouted. She had been threatened by them for the last time before losing all guise of sanity. She finally felt safe in the house for the first time.

She completed her journey to the bathroom, and precisely washed her hands and lower body. She had been wearing a veil, none of the blood stained her face. The nightgown was new, her mother had just bought it for herself. The girl carefully braided her dark hair, and examined her face. It showed no emotion, only a dull sort of fascination. She poked and prodded at the now slender cheeks her mother called ‘too fat’. She peered deeply into the green eyes that betrayed her true father. She pursed the thin, delicate lips her mother declared unseeming. Finally, she felt the place where her heart was, the comforting thump that her mother criticized  for ‘caring too much’.

She heard a knock at the door, accompanied by a deep voice. She pulled down the sleeves that covered her battered arms, and itched at the fabric that disguised her bruised torso. “Ma’am, please, open up.” The voice echoed through the empty building.

She descended the winding stairs gracefully.


“Ma’am, I will knock down this door if I must.”


She reached the door and unlatched it.

“Thank you.”


The door swung open. It was a police officer.


“Ma’am, are you alright?”

She stepped towards him, the wind gently caressing her for the first time in months.


Her voice could not say the words.


She fell into his arms and sobbed.


Finally, three words.


“I’m free now.”


© Copyright 2019 Thalia Bronwen. All rights reserved.

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