by Ellie Stewart
Little girls are trouble. Nabokov will tell you that. They act like innocents, dancing around wide-eyed in short skirts, but they know what they’re doing. They crawl onto your lap and wriggle their hands against your thigh. They wear their hair loose, and run in the wind with bare skin and careless laughs.
And this one was wearing red.
“Hello,” she said.
I smiled. I noticed that one of her front teeth was chipped.
“Where are you going?’ I asked, walking along beside her.
“To see my grandmother.”
“Well isn’t that nice.”
We walked deeper into the dark. Her hand reached out and touched the fur on my back, and I felt her fingers curling through my hair. My haunches quivered.
“Where does your grandmother live?” I asked.
“In the cottage at the centre of the forest,” she said.
I knew it. I was gone. When her knock came at the door, I was ready. I licked the blood from my teeth.
“Where’s grandma?” she asked.
“Just through here,” I said.
I followed her into the bedroom.
“Is she in the bed?”
“That’s right,” I said, “Hop in. She’ll keep you warm.”
I watched her take off her shoes and red cloak and crawl up onto the mattress. She rolled under the sheets.
“There’s no one here,” she said.
I jumped up onto the bed and pushed myself into the covers.
“Well, just me then,” I said. “Come and give me a hug.”