“Don’t touch that. You might break it.”
Kelly jumped at the sharp admonition from her grandmother. If she had been holding the cup right then, it would have slipped from her hand for sure.
“I’m sorry, child. I didn’t mean to startle you, but it mustn’t break.”
Grandma stared at the teacup, wrung her hands in her apron.
“Why? It’s just a little pink cup. It doesn’t even match anything else on the shelf.” At ten, Kelly now had the privilege of entering her grandmother’s parlor, a place off-limits to the younger kids. The antiques lining the shelves were just odds and ends to her, but grandma said they each had a story to tell.
“That pink teacup has been in the family for over one hundred years,” her grandmother said, settling into the overstuffed chair to wait while the cookies baked. “Would you like to hear the story?”
When she nodded, her grandmother’s eyes took on a faraway look. Kelly sat on the floor next to the chair to listen. Grandma always told good stories.
“The woman who originally owned it was said to have evil powers. Family members recorded that right before she died, she asked for that cup. They said that tears flowed down her face as she held it and several drops fell into it. As she drew her last breath, she muttered an incantation and smoke filled the room for a moment. After she died, the tears in the cup formed a black stain that wouldn’t wash out. After that, people swore that the cup whispered to them.”
“Like it was haunted or something?” Kelly watched the muscles in the old woman’s right cheek twitch, a pained expression cross her face as she fell silent. She looked unhappy.
“Nothing – nothing at all.”
Grandma spoke quickly, tried to smile but her lip trembled now. Kelly didn’t understand the woman’s nervousness, but it had something to do with that dumb old cup.
“Why don’t you get rid of it if you don’t like it?”
“It won’t let me.”
The muttered words were so faint that Kelly imagined she heard wrong. The timer rang in the kitchen, announcing fresh-baked cookies waiting to be pulled out of the oven. Her grandmother left to attend to them, reminding the girl not to touch anything.
Kelly tiptoed over to the teacup, peering into the bottom of it while clasping her hands firmly behind her back. The black stain rested in the bottom, just as grandma said it did.
“What?” Kelly whirled, sure that someone had just spoken to her. Off-balance, she stumbled into the shelf, causing it to rattle. A low laugh emanated from the cup, its sound pitching into a screech as it became louder. Unnerved, Kelly picked up the offending cup and threw it onto the floor where it shattered, silencing the brutal sound.
Her grandmother entered the room and moaned, collapsing to the ground in utter despair. Kelly didn’t have time to wonder about grandma’s well-being, as a cloud of smoke rose from the broken pieces to claim the young girl.