She Rocks, She Hangs is a 500-word, horror flash fiction folk tale.
Content Warnings: Abuse, blood, death, death of a child, and violence.
She Rocks, She Hangs
It’d been four months since little Margaret Townsend disappeared in the Hollow House, a one-hundred-year-old colonial taken back by the earth and meadowed by bristly greenbrier. She went with her friends to find the ghost of the Rocking Mother and never returned.
Legend claimed the mother hung her own children. When she was found, she was crouched over the hallway attic entry, above her blue and breathless young, both in her old rocking chair below. She tugged on two ropes around each of their necks like a jockey to reigns, and the chair moved back and forth under her as she whispered curses to their jarred spirits, condemning them to hell. The ropes slackened and tautened, and their heads jerked with each pull. When those that found her returned with help, the mother and children were gone, but the chair rocked and creaked yet. The townspeople claimed to still hear the house creak and moan in the night’s middle hours.
The house is hollow of spirit and sanctity, they say. It is damned. It is evil.
It was four months to the day when the townspeople reported that the old death chair was sitting outside on the front porch of the Hollow House, and the people gathered around it and pointed in shock. None dared move close to it. They watched it into the night by candlelight, and it was assumed mischief. At two twenty a.m., the front door opened.
The Rocking Mother emerged to a symphony of screams. Her jaw was broken and hanging, dried blood in lines beneath her cataract eyes. She was nude and pale. Thin. She croaked and creaked with each movement in imitation of the rocking chair, and she held a long rope that ran into the house behind her. Rich saliva dripped from her shattered mouth. With one withered hand, she grabbed the rocking chair and dragged it down the porch steps. It smacked each step, and the crowd moved back in wails. By the third step, the rope became taut, and a wet dragging commenced. With the rocking chair in the dirt, the Rocking Mother pulled the line. Margaret’s limp and dead body came like a fish on a hook. She was dead, and her body quivered as it passed over each warped wooden board and bled with each snagged nail.
Devil! they cried. Demon!
The Rocking Mother's feet rose from the earth in blasphemy of gravity. Her body stuttered and twitched, and her head rolled back as she ascended into the air over the quiet chair. Then the girl’s body rose with her and swung toward the observers like a rogue pendulum. The mother’s body steadied over the chair, and the child was lowered into it. Margaret lay spilled into the seat, with dead open arms and legs. The crowd was silent, contained by muting palms.
The woman sent sines through the rope, and the girl rocked back and forth in the oaken chair. It creaked.