The Price

July 27, 2008
By Ashley Messinger, Stafford, VA

Sitting in the empty bathtub Alice grabbed the shower curtain and pulled it across the tub to provide a kind of shield from the door. The bathroom was dark; the only light came from the crack under the door. As she tried to remain calm her body started to shake. I’m going to die she thought in horror. I am going to die and I’m going to go to hell. No matter how bad things had been before, she knew that nothing compared to this. She wished she could turn back time, before she had sold her soul.
SLAP! Her cheek stung. “Never ignore me! Do you hear?!” Her father swung again. This time his hand was balled up into a fist.
“I’m sorry!” Alice whimpered, trying to persuade him to stop. After rendering her to the ground, he turned and left to get wasted at the nearest bar. Tears streamed from her eyes, soothing the throbbing in her cheek. Getting up she mumbled “Stupid old man.” After her mother had left them he had started to get angry at the smallest things. She had become his only way of venting. She grabbed her jacket from the hook on the wall, left their apartment and decided to go for a walk. Perhaps the cold autumn air would provide comfort and help her to calm down. Walking down the street she passed the barbershop, tuning to look in the window she saw her reflection. She was red faced from the abuse and crying she had experienced. Hate bubbled up from inside.
“I hate him.” she said through gritted teeth. “I wish he was dead.”
Returning to the apartment Alice pulled out her keys. As she put them in the key hole she found the door to be unlocked. Knowing she had locked the door before she had left horror filled her when she realized her dad must have come home early. Crap she thought as she tried to sneak in as quietly as possible. Her father would beat her even more if he found out she had been out when he had left her to make dinner. Tip toeing into the kitchen she grabbed a pot, filled it with water and put it to boil. When that was done she went to her room to take a nap. The only problem was that someone was already on her bed.
A little girl, about six or seven was sitting Indian style in the middle of the bed. She was dressed in a purple fairy princess costume. Her hair pulled into pigtails, was almost white. Her eyes were a light blue. Tuning around Alice shouted

“Dad! Dad! Whose kid is this? Did you pick up another single mother again?” turning around to the girl she gave a forced smile.
“And what is your name little girl?”
The girl stood up on the bed. “Your daddy isn’t here.”
Great, he left me to baby-sit a little brat while he takes advantage of her mother.
The little girl continued. “Your dad didn’t let me in. your door was open so I let myself in.”
“So, you’re the kid of one of the neighbors. Well my dad can’t find you here, so you have to go home now.” Alice started towards the bed when out of the corner of her eye she thought the girl’s eyes looked red. When Alice took a better look she realized it must have been a trick of the light.
“My name is Lucia. I’m six years old!”
“That’s nice. Now you really have to leave.” Said Alice trying to sound nice.
“Why is your face all gross?”

Alice gave an exasperated sigh. “My stupid father hit me. Now scam.”
Lucia jumped off the bed and ran to Alice giving her a hug at the knees. “Is he a bad man?”
Alice took Lucia’s arms and unwrapped them from around her. This little girl was kind of cute. Giving a small smile Alice picked the girl up and started walking to the door.
“Yeah, he’s a real jerk.”
“Do you wish he would die?”
Alice stopped in her tracks. This was not something she expected to hear from this little girl.
“Yeah…” suddenly she didn’t want to make the girl leave. Lucia seemed to want to listen to her. Walking into the kitchen she sat Lucia on the counter. “He wasn’t always this way. He used to be a good person, when my mom was still around.”

“What happened?” Lucia asked. Her eyes were so big, so cute that Alice couldn’t stop talking to her.
“My mom left us. Then my dad started drinking. He stared out just yelling at me, but now he beats me even if nothings wrong.” opening the box of spaghetti Alice poured the noodles into the boiling water.
“I would do anything to get away from him.”
“Yeah, it’s that bad.” Alice grabbed a knife and started to cut and apple for a snack.
Suddenly Lucia jumped off the counter and started skipping to the door.
“Hey! Where are you going?” Alice had been comfortable talking to this little girl and wondered why she was suddenly leaving. “Ouch!” looking down she saw she had cut her finger.

Alice looked up at Lucia , but she had disappeared.

The next afternoon after school when Alice walked through the front door she saw her father lying on the couch. As she walked over to wake him up she saw his shirt was covered in blood. Where his heart should have been was a hole. Screaming she ran to the phone. Picking it up, she heard on the other side “Don’t you like your present? Now you are free.” Alice recognized the Voice as Lucia’s. Hanging up she shakily turned around. There stood the girl.
“Who are you?” Alice’s voice was shaky.
“I told you, my name is Lucia, but others call me the Devil.”
“But you’re just a little girl!”
“Who expects the devil to be a little girl?” the Devil asked as she took a step towards Alice.
“You wished your father to be dead. I preformed my side of the bargain, now its time for you to pay your debt.” Alice turned to the kitchen counter top. Grabbing a steak knife she held it protectively in front of her.
“What debt? I never made a deal with you.”
“You bled in my presence. You confided in me. You unintentionally took an oath.”
“Exactly, unintentionally!” she said backing up against the wall as The Devil took another step closer.
“I’m the Devil, do you think I care?”
Alice in her fear of her life stabbed the girl. Nothing happened.
“Didn’t you know,” stated the Devil “You can’t kill the immortal.” Alice ran. She ran to her room locking the door behind her. Then she went into her bathroom, closed the door and jumped into the bathtub as if it were a fort that could somehow protect her.
Now as she was sitting in the empty bathtub she wished she could turn back the time, before she had sold her soul. Outside the bathroom door she could hear the Devil say “I love playing hide and seek.” Then suddenly she felt someone next to her. “Especially,” said the Devil, her eyes now glowing “when I win.”

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