The Gray One

“Time to go to bed, dearie,” Gramma said. The smell of her evening tea crept through the cabin. “There will be more time for stories tomorrow.” She began to stand from the chair by Henrick’s bed.

“But I wanna know what happens!” Henrick complained, as he did every night. “Do they get to the castle or not?” Even as he spoke, his eyes were hooded and he nestled deeper into the comforter.

“Yes, dear, I know,” Gramma replied. “And I’ll tell you the rest of the story tomorrow night.” She dimmed the lamp by his bedside, keeping it just bright enough to find her way to the hallway. “Sleep well, dearie.” The boy was asleep before she’d even made her slow, careful way back to the kitchen.

The Gray One was waiting for her there, as it was every night. “Tea?” Gramma said, holding up a cup.

It simply stared at her. Silent. The gaping holes it had for eyes followed her movement around the kitchen. The dusty rags that draped from its form skirted the floor.

“One day you’ll take me up on that,” she said. “You’ll see.” Gramma settled into her favorite easy chair. “Now what story do you have for me this time?”