Hello!
Remember i said i was working on something new; an experiment of some sort?
Yes! Starts today!
In case this is all ‘new’ to you, I decided to take on the task of rewriting some of my favorite short stories by Edgar Allan Poe. There are three of them and I would be posting them every Wednesday, leading up to Halloween Wednesday.
I was going to make people guess the original stories butttt… figured some of you haven’t read Poe’s works so I’ll be putting the original title works at the bottom.
That said, here’s the first story!

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RED EYE

I am a good daughter. This needs to be said. I have my faults, as we all do, but I have been good.
My mother would like you to disagree but pay her no mind.
She hates me.
She always had and truth be told, I cannot blame her. I am a child of her shame, a child born out of violence. She had always been quick to let me know that; that and the fact that I was born ungainly. Had I been pretty or even petite like her, maybe she’d have found a place in her torn heart to love me. Sadly, Fate dictated differently. I am too tall and too dark; too clumsy.
“Just like that mad demon that raped me!” she’d yell on her worse days. She is OK on her good days. OK meaning she leaves me to my devices –mostly reading torn sections of old newspapers-, hardly talking to me. On her bad days, I am the subject of her well-worded expletives and well-aimed blows.

We live together, my mother and I. I suspect she has a family but she has never mentioned them to me. She mumbles names in her sleep. I think they might have kicked her out of the house; probably due to the circumstances surrounding my conception.
All a guess, of course.
I know nothing and no one.

A trial it is, living with her.
Being poor, I am unable to complete my secondary education- sad, considering the fact that I just happened to be good at school studies- and now I help her in the running of her fish business just few blocks away.
I hate fish; I hate the smell of fresh fish; the cloying disgusting rank that nauseates me every time. Telling her this once had been a bad idea, judging from the sizable welts I received from her beatings. My opinion matters naught and I have learnt to bear the olfactory assaults. I do not own perfumes so I have and will continue to rely on soap and water to wash the smell off me though I suspect the odor has stuck to me, considering the upturned noses I got from students when I was still at school.
“If you know what is good for you, you’ll kill yourself!” She would scream sometimes. Some days I wonder why she hadn’t gone ahead and aborted me when she found out she was pregnant. Even God would have forgiven her that act. My father, after all, is a mad man.
Yes, she was raped by a mad man.
An exception to whatever rule governs killing unborn children.
Even if she was against abortion, why then didn’t she leave me in an abandoned dump-site to starve and die, providing a feast for whatever wild dogs strayed upon my scrawny body? Why did she let me live? Was I some sort of reminder of the fate that had befallen her? A living obelisk; a monument of her shame?
I have asked myself these questions.
Everything has always had a way of being my fault.
The fish mongers sell her rotten fish – “Onome this is your fault!” she would scream followed by a missile of a pan or a cutlery; thankfully, not a knife.
Bad sales- “’This is your fault! You’re too ugly! Chasing my customers away!” -and as usual, accompanied with her friendly missiles. I guess I have to thank Providence for giving her such a bad aim.

The funny thing is that on some days, I do believe it is my fault.
I’d hate me too if I were in her shoes.
It does vex me sorely though when she calls me mad.
I hate it.
I am not mad.
I am not my father.
One would imagine she’d have hidden the condition of my father from me but Oh no!
Not her!
I remember being 12, coming to her fish stall from the public school she barely managed to afford to take me to, in tears.
Bastard child, I had been called.
Of course, I got no measure of comfort from her asides her tongue lashing to clean my stupid tears and help her with customers. I think I spoilt her mood for the rest of the day, judging by her violent chopping of fish and barely veiled insults at customers. A little part of me had been happy, she was angry because they had abused me. She did feel something for me!
I bore her abuses with a smile, naïve me.
Home we went that day, and typical me, I broke a glass cup, her favorite cup. Needless to say, she flew off the handle.
“Idiot!”  Hit. “Stupid fool!”  Hit. “Why won’t they call you bastard!” Slap.
I howled, begging for mercy.
Hit. “You should be happy they did!” Hit. “After all” Slap “Your father was a mad man!” Hit.

That was how I got to know of him.

To be honest, it made life easier for me at school. I would chuckle when the inbred daughters of Satan would gather in their circle, calling me names.
A bastard child is better than a child of a mad man.
“Stupid mad girl” mother would scream and I would bristle angrily.
I am not mad!
I was unfortunate enough to say that to her hearing. Needless to say, I nursed a swollen lip for a week.
I hate my mother.
It is a terrible thing to say about one who gave you life but it is the truth. I hate my mother; I hate what years of bitterness and anger had turned her into. I am unashamed to say that the thoughts of her dying painfully have given me a measure of comfort.

If there is anything I hate even more, it is her left eye. You see, she lost the use of that eye during the rape incident that brought me into the world; another fact she never tires of telling me.
“I’d have been able to see with my two eyes if not for you! Idiot!”
Her left eye is forever partially open; a yellowy mess of dead optic cells filmed over with a red gauzy membrane.
The divine comedy of God or the hand of his son, Satan; I do not know.

Fish eye; red eye.

It became a habit to stand out of the line of sight of her dead eye, frightened as I was by its intensity. It would glare at me, shooting me a look full of hatred. Dead isn’t dead and I am not imagining things.
It hates me and it would kill me soon.
I do not know how, but I can feel it.

******************

It is evening and we’re done for the day.
We walk home, me in silence, she in her usual loud voice complaining about sales, shouting greetings at her friends, mumbling curses at her ‘enemies who want to see her downfall’, screaming at me to walk fast, screaming at me for walking too fast. 
We go home to no power as usual- Welcome to Magodo- and I hurry to light the kerosene lamp which we use. She goes inside to undress and after a while, while I unpack our bags, she comes out with her favorite seat outside the compound.
“Come fan me!” she commands harshly and sighing, I walk over to her, to obey.
She closes her eyes to sleep.
Well, her right eye.
Red eye gleams; I can hear it chuckling.
“Stupid mad girl” the eye seems to whisper.
I shiver.
I suddenly feel the need to close the eye.
Put a paper over it; shut it out!
It is horribly distracting. Tonight, I cannot seem to tear my gaze away from the rheumy, dead orb.
I stop fanning and immediately, the other eye flickers.
“Idiot what are you stopping for” she murmurs sleepily. I continue my task, murmuring an apology. I stare at her faded shirt in the weak light, breast flat with age underneath, hanging freely. A slight wind stirs the compound and her nipples respond obscenely, perking up even in her sleep.
I grimace, averting my eyes in embarrassment. My look is drawn back to that eye.
It glistens dully and for a second, I was sure it quivered.
Something is hiding behind that red eye. I draw nearer, careful to make sure I do not wake her.
Yes! There! It moves!
My skin crawls and I want to draw away but morbid curiosity keeps me rooted to the spot, staring.
I am not seeing things. I am not seeing things.
Suddenly a protrusion sticks out from her eye and with a barely muffled shriek, I fall back, hand on mouth, eyes wide.
“You should have stayed” the eye whispers. “Come nearer so I can poke your eye too”

I shudder, a thousand goosebumps chasing one another, my skin their playing field.
“Mad girl. Keep staring. Come closer. I will poke your eye and eat it”
I shake my head hard, trying to rid myself of its voice.
It wants to kill me!
“You’re mad. You’re better off dead. You will die sad. Come closer…”
I drop my fan, stepping away from it; from her.
“Are you running away? You’re very mad. Madder than mad. Come closer!”

SHUT UP!

It means to kill me!
My mother is snoring, dead to the world.
‘Run!’ my brain screams at me.
“Yes! Run! Idiot! Run from me!”I defy it, legs shaking as I slowly walk away from the sleeping figure. When I am out of its sight, I run to the backyard, burying my face in my hands, feeling tears drop like watery gifts into my shaking palms.
It wouldn’t leave me alone.
It would never leave me alone.
It would kill me.
It would!

**********************

“Onome blow out the lamp! Idiot! What are you waiting for? Don’t you know I use money to buy kerosene?”
Mother’s voice coming from the bedroom.
I study the lamp a little longer, staring at the yellow flame ensconced happily within a globular glass held together by metallic companions.
“Should I?” I whisper.
It just sits there on top of the wick, saying nothing.
I take a deep breath and blow, plunging the house into darkness. I trace my way back to the one room we share, my hands –and painfully, shin- guiding me. I hear her soft breathing as I lay down beside her, making sure to keep a distance. She has the tendency to kick while sleeping. Even in the dream, she stays fighting.
Should I?
I wait, listening to the house speak, begging them to dissuade me.
“Do it…” the ceiling whispers.
“Do it!” the walls cry.

Do it! Do it! DO IT!

I turn fitfully, wrapping my shaking hands under my armpits.
I can still hear them.
“She thinks you’re mad”
“Yes! Mad!”
But I am not…
“But she thinks you are! Stupid girl!”
“It’s for the best…”
“Yes! The best! Do it!”
“The best?” I whisper and I hear mother murmur in her sleep.
I still, waiting for her to finish her turn into a more comfortable position before slipping back to her dream world.
A madness seizes me.
I need to look at her face.
Just one more time before I run away; yes, I want to run away.
I need to!

When I am sure she is asleep, I get up tiptoeing to the kitchen, wincing as my searching hands almost push the lamp down. They steady and I blindly locate the matches. I light the lamp, making sure it’s dim and walk back to our bedroom. I draw as close to her as I can without waking her up and true to form, the eye is open.
“Idiot” It calls out to me. “What are you looking at?”
‘You’ I think, still staring. ‘Looking at you for the last time’.
“Mad animal! I know what you want to do! Always running away! Stupid girl!”
I hear it laugh and I grit my teeth.
“Why are you staring at me with your ugly face? Mad animal!”
“I am not mad” I mutter angrily, fingers squeezing the metallic lamp tight.
Mother murmurs again, and turns. Quickly, I step back, dropping the lamp at the farthest corner.
I am not mad.
I will not run away.
I pick up my pillow, flat shapeless thing and approach my sleeping mother.
I am not mad.
My hands shake slightly as I stand there, staring at her slumbering form.
“I am not mad” I mutter weakly.
What am I doing! I have no courage to…
“She thinks you are mad!” the wall cries out.

“I don’t think you are mad” I hear the eye whisper, “I know you are mad!” It chuckles.
“No I am not!” I shout, forgetting myself in that moment, startling my mother.
She wakes up, groggy.
“Onome…wha…?”
Panicked, I do the first thing that comes to mind.
I climb on her and press the pillow over her face.
I hear her surprised shriek, muffled by the pillow.
What am I doing!
“YES! YES!”
I can hear the house screaming!
“Mad! Mad!” the eye still yells.
“I am not mad!” I shout, pushing the pillow harder.
She buckles hard under me, as her brain gets starved of oxygen trying to throw me off. I press my weight on the pillow, heart pounding loud in my ears. What is this sensation?
I press even harder on her and realization steals up on me.
Pleasure.
Pure, intense pleasure.
“Kill the eye! Kill the eye!”
“Mad! Mad!”
The cacophony in my head increases and I struggle to tune them out.
“Shut up!” I growl, shaking in disgust as I let go of the pillow.
I am afraid to lift the pillow up; to see my handiwork.

Silence.
Shivering.
I have to see…
I slowly lift the pillow, hesitantly and stare into her dead eyes, face sculpted in a mask of fear.
Dead.
“I killed her” I whisper, dazed
“I killed her…”
I slump on the bed, body shaking, tears clouding my vision.
“With these hands…”
I stare blindly at my large, callused hands.
Suddenly, I am seized by an idea.
I get up and move to her. If I gave her mouth to mouth, she could come back.
Yes!
I pry her lips open and without a thought place mine, breathing deeply into her mouth.
I stop and put my head on her chest, listening for a heart beat.
Nothing.
I do it again.
And again.
“Wake up” I mutter, listening. “It was a mistake. I swear!”
I slap her.
“Wake up!”
Slap!
“Up!” I cry, breath hitching.
“Mummy wake up!”
Dead.
The house stays silent, listening to me, watching me cry till I drop off to sleep, cuddling my dead mother.

**************************

Pull, tug, push.
Hide.
All day to myself.
I wander around the house, making sure to avoid where I have hidden her.
Would she smell? When would she begin to smell?
I walk aimlessly, biting my nails to the quick.
What do I do?
Noon.
Hunger.
I sneak out of the house, making sure I am not spotted. Few steps away and I stop.
What if someone walks into the house? What if she isn’t dead?
A wild panic seizes me and I run back to the house as if the hounds of hell were in pursuit.
Walk. Walk. Turn. Bite. Walk.
Tummy rumbles and I wince.
I cannot go out; not yet.
Night.
Yes, night.
Walk. Walk.
I am startled out of my reverie by a knock at the door.
“Mama Onome? Onome?”
The voice is familiar.
I walk out of the room to the veranda.
“Ah Aunty Philo” I say, forcing a small smile.
“Onome you’re home. You people did not sell today? Where is your mother?”
I smile again, tightly. “Oh she went on a journey. No business today”
Mama Philo, the neighbor helps herself to my mother’s seat outside. “Ah journey? But I didn’t see her when she left! Did she fly?”
I laugh, wondering if I sound as natural as possible. “No o! She left early”
Mama Philo ‘Hmms’ and asks for a drink of water.
“Ok Ma” I say, relieved to be going inside.

As I cross into the kitchen, I hear it.
Lub dub.
I pause, listening.
I do not hear the strange sound again and hurriedly, I pour the guest a quick glass of warm water.
As I approach the verandah, I hear it again.
Lub dub.
A beating heart.
I stop, drawing a weird look from Mama Philo.
“Onome are you ok?”
I look at her. She didn’t hear it?
I laugh, trying to cover up the awkwardness. “Yes. Just my…head hurts”
She nods and accepts the glass from me.
The sound comes again, and this time, louder.
I stare wildly around, where is it coming from?
I turn to Mama Philo. She seems oblivious.
“So how are things Ma?” I ask stupidly, trying to cover up the sound of the beating heart with my voice.
She answers me, recounting the tale of something; I am not listening.

It is getting louder.

“Aunty I am coming” I say distractedly, walking inside.
The sound is coming from the room.
I walk in, letting my ears guide me to the source.
My eyes widen when I find it.
Lud dub.
Lub dub.
Beating.
Her heart is beating.
Panic.
I run out of the room, startling Mama Philo.
She jumps out of her chair. “Onome what is it?”
She stares at my horrified expression in confusion.
I smile wildly. “Nothing” I shout, voice unnaturally loud.
I clear my throat. “Nothing” I repeat.
I start laughing.
I don’t know what is so funny but it seems appropriate to laugh.
“You can’t hear it?” I suddenly ask. I need to confirm.
Her face clouds up in confusion. I burst into gales of laughter.
She can’t hear it!
SHE CAN’T HEAR IT!
“Hear what?” she asks slowly, looking at me like I just grew two horns.

LUB DUB

LUB DUB

I laugh louder, trying to drown the sound with my voice.
Beating. It’s beating!
HER HEART IS BEATING!
“Nothing! Hear nothing!” I scream out, laughing harder.
Laugh harder she must not hear it!
She shifts warily. “Onome are you alright? What is inside the house?”
“Nothing!” I say too quickly; too loudly.
Louder.
LOUDER!
“Are you sure?”
Why can’t she hear it?
“Yes! I am fine”
Why am I screaming?

Suddenly I grip her arm, pulling her into the house, ears shut to her screams for me to leave her alone.
Is she struggling? Why?
I need to show her.
I MUST!
SO LOUD.
TOO LOUD!
MY EARS!
“See!” I scream, tearing off the clothes i used to wrap mother’s dead body.
“THERE SHE IS! SEE HER! HER HEART IS BEATING!”

Why am I laughing?

WHY CAN’T I STOP LAUGHING!

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This story was inspired by Tale Tell Heart -Edgar Allan Poe

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