The sign was innocent enough, cute in fact. Never in her wildest dreams could she have predicted what would happen in that cosy bedroom.
Mrs Lilly Harper was everything you would want in a grandmother, just a softly spoken sweet old lady. A little lonely in her elder years, a little short on cash since her widowers pension had dried up, renting a room to help with both.
She was the best landlord you could ever wish for, if you didn’t mind the reproachful tone of voice whenever you arrived home later than 9:30.
She changed the sheets, did the washing, baked cookies, everything you wished your mum would still do for you.
But the best thing about living there was the stories. Every evening, she’d sit in her favourite armchair by the window, a blanket over knees, her wool basket on the floor by her slippered fit, spinning tales while her knitting needles clicked together. These weren’t the usual stories you’d hear from the elderly, Lilly Harper had the heart of a poet and fantasy imagination. Tales of ghosts and ghouls, villains and heroes, saving worlds far stranger than our own.
As time wore on and the more passionately the tales were told, Amanda grew tired of the constant story-telling and began to worry. Was this dementia setting in?
“Good evening dear, I was expecting to see you at 6, is everything okay?”
“Yes, sorry Mrs Harper, I was just held up a little… Studying”
“Oh of course, of course, no need for apologies, you kids these days have so much to do! Come, come, sit, I’ve been saving this story up for you”
“Thank you Mrs Harper but I really don’t have time tonight, I told you yesterday, I’m doing a trial shift at the pub tonight, remember?”
“Yes, yes, I’m old, not stupid, don’t worry this won’t take long, cookie?”
Amanda sighed, took the offered biscuit and sat on the edge of the sofa, “But I really can’t stay long”
Amanda bit into the cookie, resigned to having to sit and listen, mentally she worked out how soon would be too rude to excuse herself but her attitude completely changed as she got sucked into the story. Her eyes started to droop as the rythmic words soothed her busy mind, time seemed to slow and stop, before long she was snoring softly, her third half eaten biscuit dropping to the floor.
Amanda’s mind staggered awake slowly. “What happened?” She asked aloud groggily through her dry, tight throat.
“Oh dear, you fell asleep because of the drugs in the cookies” Lilly said with a twinkle in her eye.
“WHAT?!” Amanda panicked, trying to break free of the fog in her mind but when she tried to sit up, she found she was restrained. Tied to her bed, drugged and helpless, she looked up at the grandmotherly figure knitting by her bedside in confusion. “What’s happening?”
“You were getting bored of my stories, you were going to leave, we couldn’t have that, could we dear?” Lilly replied with perfect calm. “Not to worry, you can live the stories with me now, cookie?”
Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash