TITLE: The Collector
GENRE: Southern Gothic/Horror
Granny Enid didn't want to take me in. The social worker really had to work at her to get her to agree. I thought it was me—maybe she thought I was bad luck or something, seein' how Mama died and all. But it wasn't me; it was just one of those secrets that I didn't know about until later. Granny was right, though. It would've been better if I’d stayed away.
When I first arrived at Granny Enid's, Crankston's Landing was finishin' off the driest summer on record. The white sedan the social worker drove was covered in a thick red film from the Oklahoma dirt that seemed to cover everything that year. A white cat sat on the rail of the porch, and when it stretched out I could see the red-stained fur matted on its underbelly. No matter how much that cat licked and cleaned, the stain never came off.
No one answered the door when I knocked. I looked back at the social worker, sittin' in her air-conditioned car, and she motioned for me to try around back. I clutched the plastic grocery bag that held my spare socks and underwear in my sweaty palm, and I followed the path to a half-rotten gate. The hinges squeaked when I shoved the gate open enough to slip through.
Everything in backyard was dead—the yellowed grass, the withered honeysuckle, the pile of rotting kitchen scraps, and the remains of a tiny kitten left near the trash cans.