Courtenay S. Gray
After packing for two weeks, Edward and Josie finally moved into their new home. It used to be home to a library. They honoured this by having a room dedicated to a humongous bookshelf.
One day, Edward was busy building the bookshelf when he came across an old book. It had been concealed behind some wallpaper. It turned out to be one of those books that you conceal other items in. In the hollow and wordy hole lay a dainty silver puffed heart necklace.
“Josie! Have you got a sec?” Edward yelled, keeping his eye on the shimmering piece of jewellery.
Josie came flouncing into the room, her face painted with delicate curiosity.
Edward gestured for her to come closer. He pointed to the necklace and Josie, misunderstanding the situation, excitedly picked up the necklace.
“Oh, Edward, it’s wonderful.”
Edward attempted to explain.
“No, Josie, it’s not yours.”
Josie froze in surprise, letting a hint of sadness colour her face.
Edward picked up the book from the floor and showed Josie.
“I found it in this book. It had been hidden behind some wallpaper. I don’t know how old it is though.”
Josie examined it in her hands.
“What do we do with it? I could wear it. I’m sure the previous owner won’t mind.” Josie pondered a bit, staring around the room as though the previous owner’s spirit would appear.
Edward could see that Josie really wanted to wear it, so he didn’t argue. Josie attached the necklace to her peachy skin. It seemed to fit right into place even though she feared that her body would reject it like a newly transplanted organ.
“Fits like a glove! I’ll just be in the dining room—shout if you need me.”
Before he could answer, she had seemingly vanished into thin air. Edward continued to assemble the bookshelf. It took him many hours, but he managed to complete it eventually. It was getting late and Josie had already gone to bed. Edward decided to snooze in the living room. He felt that it would be far easier to wake up there and carry on his work in the morning.
Edward awoke to the rising sun boring into his skin like perfume. He immediately returned to working on the house. He had only caught a small glimpse of Josie. She had passed the room in a graceful manner. She didn’t acknowledge Edward, but he was aware of how stressed the moving process had made her, so he didn’t worry too much.
The days that followed saw the house become a restored piece of history. The house seemed to sing with delight as if it had been neglected for many years. Josie had been busying herself with reading from the library. She spent most of her time in there. Edward felt a little put out by this, but he didn’t want to start an argument over something so trivial.
One evening, the air was thick with the sickly scent of grass and mud. Edward was watching the television in the living room when he heard a faint whispering. It appeared to come from within the walls. As soon as he concentrated on the sound, his head became fuzzy. He went to the bathroom and splashed cold water on his face. As he was about to leave, he noticed the book where the necklace had been laying in the bath like a wet fish.
He picked up the book and nestled it into his chest like a new-born baby. He paced around the house looking for Josie, but he couldn’t find her. Suddenly, he heard small footsteps coming from upstairs. He leaped up the stairs, two steps at a time. The whispering had begun again.
“She’s deaaaad,” the voices whispered.
Edward believed he had gone mad. He called out Josie’s name.
“Josie! Josie, where are you?!”
The silence that followed was foreboding. Edward felt a chill that worked its way into his bones. A door to the left of Edward was slightly ajar. He quickly became overwhelmed by the putrid scent of death. In the corner of the room was a body—the skin appeared to be melting off. Flies were dancing around it. Having gotten a closer look, Edward realised it was Josie.
“Oh my god, Josie,” Edward cried, falling to his knees next to his rotting wife.
The whispering started again.
“You killed her—you remember, don’t you?”
This time, Edward answered.
“No, no. She was my wife.”
Edward began to have a flashback of him placing the silver heart necklace in a book. He saw himself carving out a hole inside a book in the library. He screamed at himself.
“No! I didn’t kill her!”
Through the wallpaper, Josie’s face appeared. Edward shrieked in horror, tears adorning his face like little jewels.
“You killed me, Edward. You murdered your own wife. You took my necklace and you buried it. I was never really here.”
“We moved in here together! You were here! You were reading in the library!”
The face inside the wallpaper flashed a paper grin.
“No Edward, you murdered me and dumped my body here two weeks ago before you moved in yourself. I have been up here, rotting and stinking like aging fruit.”
Edward scratched at his face like a wild animal. He leaped up and started tearing the wallpaper from the walls, but the voices continued.
“Ring-around the josie, a pocket full of posies, Ashes! Ashes! We all fall down,” the voice sang, eerily childlike.
The silver necklace rose from the lump of decay that was once Josie and wrapped itself around Edwards’ neck. It grew tighter and tighter. Edward made a gurgling noise.
“I’m—I’m sorry,” he croaked.
“RING-AROUND THE JOSIE,” the voice caterwauled.
Edward’s face had gone from ashen to mulberry. His gut began to squeeze and lots of tiny silver hearts shot out of his mouth. They landed in his lap like coins. More hearts flowed from his open mouth. The process repeated itself over and over as the necklace slowly sliced into his neck. In a matter of seconds, his head was detached from his body, leaving a meaty stump.
When Edward’s decapitated body was discovered, he appeared to be wearing the silver necklace. The little hearts that he had puked were stuffed into the stump. When they picked up his body, the silver hearts fell out like gumballs from a gumball machine.
The daily news reported as follows: Edward Chaser, thirty-four, found decapitated in Silver Heart Manor, Lancashire. His wife, Josie Chaser, found nearby. Investigation ongoing…