Janine and Fred had a nice dinner at home together. It was still nothing as happy as, say, a year ago, but they were healing. The conversation was carefully edging towards family planning, when the children appeared in the garden.
“I’ll lock the door.” Janine spoke and moved automatically, not pausing to be horrified.
When she came back, Fred stood with the back to the window front, blinds drawn, staring at the sofa.
Lilly, who would have turned nine in three months, sat there, holding the hand of her little brother. She turned to look at her mother. Her face was dark, rotting. Light glittered in her left eyesocket, reflecting off the carapace of a carrion beetle.
“You cannot exclude us. We’re part of the family.”
Janine choked. This can’t be real. Nightmare.
“You left us,” Jimmy. His body was pale and bloated, his voice even fainter than in life, and he had always sounded shy. “That was bad.”
There was distant thunder outside as Lilly told him, “Don’t worry. We won’t be alone anymore.”
She smiled first at her mother, then at her father. He twitched and threw back the blinds to flee, only to find the glass door darkened with soil.
Lilly said, “We’re family. We will always stick together.”