Drew’s Party extract
A traditional tale of supernatural horror
Glenda wakes up, feels the necklace around her throat. She instantly thinks of Gran. Her brain is a blur playing out a patchwork of disparate scenes that seem clumsily strung together making her head throb. She feels dizzy, wretched; hung over from a night’s drinking even though she is certain she’s been dry for a year last Thursday. She meticulously marks each anniversary at weekly intervals. She doesn’t recall ever seeing Gran wearing the sparkling piece of jewellery fastened around her neck.
She rakes her mind to remember the sequence of events that unfolded at Drew’s party. She runs over what happened last night trying to capture any moment she cannot account for. Had she even for the briefest moment lost lucidity? No one had offered her a drink therefore she could not have been the victim of a spiked drink. Glenda scratches at her head then pulls her hand away from a tangle of hair. This isn’t the first morning she has woken up feeling as if she’s returned from a strange place, not knowing where she has been and how she returned home.
She recalls that Gran visited her at night, she supposed in dreams. She counts out these times on seven fingers. Gran appeared different on each occasion, nevertheless Glenda recognised her night-time visitor. And each time Gran said, ‘I’ve got something for you.’ The first time Gran visited she appeared fresh from the grave and in a state of decay. This image of Gran haunted her. She woke up or looked at an empty space and there Gran would be. She shut her eyes, opened them again and Gran was gone.
Last night Gran said, ‘I’ve got something for you Glenda,’ before dissolving. She walked out of the bedroom door or through a wall. Glenda couldn’t say for sure.
She places a hand on her neck, touches the necklace and feels its cool faceted sapphires. She knows only too well a distressed mind can play havoc with the truth. She is charged with a surge of energy and leaps out of the bed, pulls open the wardrobe door and glimpses a reflection of herself in the mirror. The necklace forms the shape of a smile across her bare skin and her mind reels. It was only yesterday she dressed up for Drew’s party, sneaked her way past staff overseeing the event and guests, made a surprise entry then demanded that Drew hand over her necklace.
Desperate to remove it, she tries a number of times to unfasten the clasp. Stubborn and unyielding it refuses to open, pinches her fingers before tearing a shard from a fingernail. She turns the clasp around to sit under her chin where she can see it more clearly hoping to exert enough pressure in the right spot to prise it open. She tries again and this time more desperate she applies greater pressure. Another fingernail bends and pulls away from the finger to the point that it hurts. Glenda uses the other hand, tugs several times and without warning the catch springs open, stabbing her finger. When she pulls it away it drips blood.
She pulls the necklace over her head. It scratches her throat and slices the skin. When she holds the heirloom over her two hands she is entranced by its beauty and brilliance. She examines each minute feature of the piece. The clasp is shaped into an intricate jewelled paw with four hooked claws that close over the catch. Glenda shivers at the sharpness of each primitive and predatory finger and imagines it tearing apart anything that dares mess with it.
Glenda says out loud to herself, ‘How could I have been so foolish? F—k – whatever possessed me to disgrace myself the way I did – make enemies of Drew, Jeremy and Toby?’
She picks up the necklace from the bed where she dropped it. Once again she stares into each sapphire, mesmerised by the light that dances over each facet. She holds the clasp between her fingers; the metal is cold to touch. She rolls the tiny claw through her fingers unable to thaw the ice within. Each claw feels like tiny teeth, still and ready to bite, to attack without warning.
Glenda never saw Gran wear the necklace. As she recalls it remained in the bottom of the chest of drawers in a wooden box wrapped in a blue silk handkerchief. The box appeared handcrafted, made with meticulous care. It had a metal keyhole but no key. She had searched inside the box, under and around it for the manufacturer’s stamp. She couldn’t find one. Glenda thought more about the box, puzzled about its unknown origins than the heirloom. She imagined that it was part of a pirate’s plunder.
Gran was English. She came to Australia with her parents and two younger sisters when she was seven. Glenda strings together a number of scenarios about how the necklace ended up in Gran’s possession. She asked Gran about the heirloom’s origins on more than one occasion only to be dismissed with what her father later told her. The necklace has been in the family for longer than anyone can remember and has always been handed down to the eldest daughter or granddaughter of each generation.