Daisy and the Devil on Chandler’s Row
7 April 2020

She said she saw the devil, in the vacant lot on Chandlers Row.

‘It’s true mummy,’ she said tearfully as she kicked off her shoes in the front hallway and shucked her book bag on the living room floor. ‘He had a funny hat. And his smile wasn’t nice it was mean. And his hat covered his eyes, but I could tell they were watching me.’ She consoled her daughter until her sobs subsided.
‘Shhh. Shhh. There’s no such thing dear’, she said.
Daisy, feeling better, plonked herself down in front of the TV and she made her a Nutella sandwich. By the time she brought it over she was giggling at something on the screen.
‘Now only half an hour,’ she told her. ‘And then it’s homework time.’

She called her friend Sheila who lived on Chandlers Row opposite the vacant lot. And just to be sure asked her if she’d seen anyone strange lurking about. She hadn’t.
‘Why do you ask?’
‘Oh, it’s nothing. Just something silly Daisy said.’

What she found curious was that her daughter even knew who the devil was, having never been taken to church or made to go to Sunday school as she had been as a small girl. That stuffy, damp church basement had made her resolute that she would never inflict such trauma on her own children. But Daisy had always had a rich imagination. For weeks after Christmas she’d sworn blind she’d seen Santa clomping across their neighbor’s roof.

Soon, the matter was forgotten.

A few months later she was woken by Daisy crawling into bed with her. Her face was damp.
‘Mummy, mummy. He was in my dream.’
‘Who was darling,’ she said brushing the hair from her daughter’s face.
‘The devil. The devil was in my dream. And he told me I was his.’
‘Shhh. Poor sausage. Don’t be silly. There’s no such thing.’ She said and held her close. ‘Besides you’re all mine. Mine and daddies.’

In the morning, she watched her as she slept and marveled at this peculiar, beautiful creature she had helped create. She envied her daughter her sound sleep. It felt like since she’d become a mother she worried about everything.

‘He smelled of goats.’ said Daisy at the breakfast table.
‘Who did?’ She asked.
‘The devil. He smelled of goats like the ones at Lambton Farm.’ Then she turned her attention back to her corn flakes. Where does she get these ideas from? She wondered. Probably those bloody books her father brings back from god knows where.

The following Tuesday Daisy did not come home from school. Later that evening as she sat weeping on the sofa, balled up kleenex clutched in each of her white-knuckled hands, she answered the questions the detective asked her in a quavering voice.

‘Where is her father?’
‘He is away at sea.’
‘Do you have any family you can call?’
‘No. There’s no one.’ Her father had died a year before and her mother was in a home and no longer knew her name.

She sat for hours, dazed and crying, snot bubbling in her nose. It felt as though she were looking at herself from above. This sort of thing didn’t happen to real people. It couldn’t happen to real people. Could it? She wanted to grab the stupid detective by the lapels of his jacket and shout into his dumb face.


She made random and incoherent accusations about just about any man within the village limits. From Daisy’s PE teacher whom she had never liked and Dexter the kind Jamaican man down the street with ‘hair like grandad’s pipe cleaners’, to the old man who owned the local pet store where they’d go and look at the rabbits. He’d once offered Daisy sweets, which in her addled brain seemed a sure sign of guilt to her then. She wept and she raged, and a policewoman came over and she wept and raged some more and fell asleep on the sofa with her head in this stranger’s lap.

Long weeks passed. Every day she phoned the police, but they never had any new information. Her husband returned but by that time they spoke very little.

Aimlessly she flitted from room to room while something incalculable rattled about in her chest like a plectrum lost in the hollow body of an acoustic guitar.

One day she found herself sitting on Daisy’s bed. She was staring at a poster of Black Beauty on the wall when her gaze fell upon a crayon drawing that had been tacked up beneath it. It was quite good for a small child. It showed a man wearing an odd hat and a strange flowing garment. His eyes were hidden by the hat but his smile was visible. And it was monstrous.

She stared at it a long time and sat there on the bed. And she screamed, and she screamed.