• It is in my secluded cottage where I lay every day, staring up at the ceiling, my lazy gaze fixed on tracing invisible patterns on the wooded roof, which was half-rotted and seemed to be aching to collapse at any moment. The creaking and groaning the ceiling emitted during even the kindest breeze did not perturb me or cease my studying of the wooden roof. No, what did snap me out of my half-awake, dreaming state was my young maid coming from the next room over, drifting to my bedside table and setting down a hot herbal tea, which made the softest clinking sound against its tray. I would turn to acknowledge her form, tall, slender, ghastly pale.

    As young as she was, she looked like death. Her eyes were sunken in. The corners of her mouth were pulled tight over her bony face, with cheekbones high. Although my days wasted away with me staring zombie-like at the ceiling, and I spent little time looking at her, her image was intense enough that I shall not forget it as long as I live. After setting down my tea, she would curtsy-a dainty action made nearly unwatchable due to her ghoulish features-and leave. I would drink my tea, and quickly fall to bed. I would not wake for several hours, and when I did, I would go back to my ceiling observance.

    Sometimes, I would reminisce about my previous years, before my ailing health stayed me to my bed. I remember my beautiful daughter, my only child, and how she was the light of my life until she was taken from me in a blink of an eye through An Accident, the terms of which were never detailed to me. No one saw her, no one found her body. I assume she had gone to the woods, as she always had in her youth (although, when she died, she was still quite young, she must have been in her early twenties). She claimed to have wonderful, fantastic friends in her forest fantasia. She claimed friendship of fairies, elves, pixies, sprites, and she had claimed to have seen witches, goblins, demons, and trolls. I would laugh, ruffle her hair, and tell her she was so wonderfully creative. She would smile her tooth grin, the corners of her mouth receding, pulled taut over her youthful, thin, slightly angular face.

    Time passed slowly here, in my secluded cottage in the outreach of civilization. My health stagnated and I would find my maid offering tea more frequently, and to my surprise-she would be there when I woke! Glaring at me, her already sharp features becoming sterner and almost horrifying. Once, she stamped her foot in a childish display of frustration-something my daughter would do when she didn’t get her way. My daughter… Had the same face structure and body build as my maid. They were eerily identical, I’d daresay one and the same! Yet, when I met eyes with my maid, and I saw through the coal blackness and hellish redness of her eyes, and I could feel corrupt, demonic hatred piercing her very soul, I knew she could not be my daughter, who looked at me with love and affection, and who had pure eyes of heavenly blue. This young maiden, who bore the title of maid, seemed like my daughter if she were a puppet of demonic influence, a devil in the physiognomy of my kin. The day after I realized this, she came lunging at my throat, and caught it, and slowly, as I lost my breath and my sighted blurred, slowly I realized where my daughter had gone.