Many say that murderers are made not born. I once subscribed to this view until Charmaine came into my life.
I was the midwife who attended her birth, which was at home. This was at the mother’s explicit request. The birth was a troubling one, causing much pain and trauma. We ran from birthing room to kitchen for towels, both to mop the poor woman’s brow and to swaddle the youngster when it finally arrived.
There was many a moment when I thought we would lose both mother and child. But we all persevered through the burdensome time. There were occasions when we felt certain the child simply did not want to be born and was clinging to the comfort of the womb rather than take the next step in life. We did all this to the sound of the foulest storm outside...clapping thunder and lightning cutting across a blackened sky.
When Charmaine was eventually born, she was the loveliest creature I had ever laid eyes on. She looked angelic as she lay sucking her thumb in her cradle, the lightest golden curl playing softly on her forehead.
But as I bundled this long awaited and much anticipated child in her swaddling clothes, I swear I saw a sly smile crease the new arrival’s rose shaped mouth. I caught her eyes as she prised them open sleepily and captured my glance. My heart froze.
I swear evil looked at me through those black pupils.
Charmaine’s parents gave me the duty of caring for their daughter over the years. She was an impossible child to raise...always hiding and scaring the life out of me by appearing as though through a mist from behind a clump of trees or showing me the latest poor creature which had suffered at her hands ...a wingless fly or broken necked kitten.
I struggled to cope with this torment, but I always excused it by telling myself that children are naturally without feelings. I somewhat naively told myself that they acquire an understanding of other people’s feelings as they go through their own travails and out of sympathy become gentler and kinder. But as time went by she gave me no reason to believe this to be the case. In fact she delighted in tormenting me more and more, hiding my uniforms or stealing my combs so I could not appear as I should to my employer. Unable to tolerate this any longer, I left the McGantry’s employ and found a job at a teahouse positioned in a grand stately home.
As I made my goodbyes, I was surprised when Charmaine, all golden locks and frilly dress, flung her arms around me and burst into heartbroken tears. I cautiously put my arms around her heaving body and I heard her whisper in the cruellest way, “you are not allowed to leave me. I will hunt you down.”
She was just ten years old.
Shocked and shaking, I left the mansion where I had happily lived for eleven years.
Writing order: Lrennes (USA), Gabrielle Burt (NZ), Donna McTavish (NZ), Linda alley (Aus), Rosemary Wakelin (Aus), Ray Stone (Cyprus), Anna Zhigareva (Scot), Hemali Ajmera (India), Suraya Dewing (NZ), Neil Churches (Aus)