Free Fiction: Mary

Halloween is coming up (which means I need to get started on making costumes for the kids — and me!). I love Halloween — not as much as some people *coughcough* the people in my neighborhood who have had decorations up since early September *coughcough* — but I still enjoy the time of year. I take any excuse to dress up in costume and Halloween is perfect for that.

One thing I don’t love — but that my sister Amanda REALLY loves — is the spooky stuff. I’m so soft. My brain doesn’t forget things that it labels as scary, and it tends to bring them up at the worst possible times and then it refuses to let me stop thinking about them. I didn’t learn this lesson until unfortunately late, which is why I still have nightmares about Pennywise, but now that I’m wiser I tend to stay away from spooky stuff. I don’t write a lot of horror for that reason. It’s just not my wheelhouse.

Pretty early on when I started writing more seriously, though, I did a few zombie pieces. This one, so far back I was still using my middle initial, was picked up by Everyday Weirdness (and can still be found there.)

I don’t love this so much, but it is nice from time to time to look back at old pieces and see how my style has changed, and hopefully to see some improvement.


Sixth grade:
Mary was wearing
her brand new dress,
and when the children gathered ‘round,
sing-songing her new name,
she didn’t cry
until the nurse took her hand,
led her away,
cleaned her up with unfamiliar kindness,
and sent her home
still bleeding.

Five years in pictures:
kids squirting ketchup on her chair,
saying her name
in a chanty chaining rhyme—
“Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary”—
and then screaming like a horror movie bimbo
and laughing like hyenas,
making jokes about Carrie and prom night
because kids don’t know.

Five years in whispers and their fists behind the door.

The day before the first day of school
Mary cut her wrists in the bathtub,
sinking into the warm oblivion
where there were no taunts,
no hyenas.

The next day
Bloody Mary went to school.
took a big bite from the new year,
and when the kids screamed
“Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary”
and ran away,
they weren’t laughing,
and they didn’t get far.

The school nurse peeked out and saw her shambling
down the hall, gnawing on her lab partner’s lung,
and when Bloody Mary stopped
and turned,
she screamed.
But Mary grinned—
a horrible, bloody grin—
and kept on leaving breadcrumb trails
with Chet Parker’s teeth.

The nurse darted through the bodies,
ignoring their clutching hands and scratching nails,
locked the door to the teacher’s lounge,
crawled out a window
and ran all the way home,
still bleeding.