The old woman sat patiently at her stall at the spring fair, watching people passing her by. But she didn’t mind. She knew someone would stop and that was all she needed. Just one.
Sally was that one. She squealed with delight seeing the beautiful brooches glinting in the sun and dragged Arthur by the arm for a closer look.
“Oh these are beautiful,” Sally sighed looking at the table of moth brooches.
“Each one is unique,” the old woman said, “but all beautiful. I can find just the right one for you my dear.”
“Oh please Arthur!” She spied Arthur’s reluctance. “As an early wedding gift, from you to me.”
Arthur’s face softened and he smiled. “Which ever one you desire Sally.”
“This one,” the old lady said before Sally had time to look at them all. “This one matches your eyes perfectly,” she said holding up an emerald studded moth set in silver. Sally took the brooch, admiring the detailed silver wings, intricate like lace.
“I like this one,” Arthur said, holding up a gold moth studded with sapphires, so deep and dark, they almost look black.
“No. It has to match the eyes!” she said sternly, them more softly, “Men know nothing of jewels.”
“I want the one to match my eyes,” Sally agreed.
The old woman pinned it to Sally’s blouse. “There you go, it really suits you my dear. If I were you, I wouldn’t ever take it off, at least not today.” Her wrinkled face creased even more into a toothless smile as Sally and Arthur walked away.
The old woman threw everything into and sack, slung it over her shoulder and left just as Sally’s friends were admiring her brooch. One sale was enough.
Back in her cabin in the deepest, thickest part of the forest, the old woman dusted off an old book before opening it up. The pages turned themselves before stopping at a page showing a picture of the brooch Sally had bought.
Muttering incomprehensible words that only the book could understand, she watched as the picture of the moth faded.
At that moment, Arthur let out an anguished cry as Sally crumpled to the ground, her clothes hanging off her now frail frame, her golden hair was now as dry as straw and fading fast to grey. He watched as the years past in seconds on Sally. Wrinkles upon wrinkles, sunken eyes, like thin skin on a skeleton before she vanished into a pile of dust.
The brooch on her blouse fluttered its wings and flew off, towards the forest as Arthur howled with grief.
The moth landed on the old woman’s tatty robes and she breathed in heavily before looking in the mirror at her young, beautiful self.
Written for Laura Jamez' Horror Bites over at Office Mango