some time ago, i submitted a horror story for an upcoming halloween anthology taking place in salem. the story’s called ‘let’s kill her‘ and they just accepted it to be published in the book. more details to come. i’ve put an excerpt of it here before, i just don’t want to dig for it. no need to read any further if you’ve already read it before, it’s the same excerpt. also, please tell me to commit to sleeping more.
i am still working on a novel. 30k isn’t a bad word count for how little time i have to truly get into the mood and let go, and just write and write. it’s a slow process. i am waiting to get my rejections from the reviews i’ve submitted to before publishing my poetry book. it’s nothing that anybody hasn’t read on my blog or on sudden denouement already, perhaps only a few unpublished pieces.
and isn’t it the biggest curse of the creative to find ourselves in stagnate ruts and have no idea how we got there? the stars align for me sometimes, or maybe it’s all ritualistic for me to feel driven. although, i am interrupted often by screaming, or MAMA, MAMA, which doesn’t help my already delicate concentration♡ so much to do, so little time. lately, it seems anything can put me in quicksand. the reason i was so disappointed in the movie a quiet passion, was not only because it royally sucked (my cousin rachel was much, MUCH better, yet strangely has a lower rating? i have a thing for period pieces.) but because i can relate to the isolation that emily dickinson gladly, and at times perhaps not so gladly, placed herself in. it became a bad habit of mine to isolate myself when i was staying in florida. i’ve moved away from that awful place of course since february, having too much of my genes be comforted by the cold to ever stay where i was so lost in the constant heat. even new orleans isn’t as bad. i could sip absinthe happily in the pirates alley all day and get beignets when my stomach went sour, but i couldn’t wait to breathe somewhere that wasn’t florida. the habit has carried over to where i live now, somewhere that makes some semblance of sense, but i’m slowly working on it. the only place i really go is the gym, and everyone leaves you alone there. best place ever. i guess i’m a model introvert who can speak to people easily, but prefers peace. not that i get any with twins. especially now that one of them talks. it’s so fucking cute.
anyway, i was getting at admitting that i am nervous as fuck to go to this book release event that’s coming up. the other book i’m in, well, that my poem is in, has a release event. other poets are reading their work live. i already told them i won’t be doing that, but will be very, very happily attending. by happily i mean anxiously, because it’s going to be quite a crowd. so back to the excerpt.
‘let’s kill her’ is a short story about a murder that takes place halloween morning, and is avenged on halloween night.
They stand there looking like black poles piercing up out of the bleak, spreading colors of a grey horizon. The morning is cold enough to numb and redden the tips of their noses and chap their lips.
They stand there far off enough to be indistinguishable to the coffee-cranked drivers whirring past on the highway trying to make it to work on time. Like wispy-faint statues they stand motionless for several moments in a shared state of shock, silently deliberating what they’d done among them as if the very act of what they had done had given them an unusually empathetic bond; perhaps now they could read each others minds.
The masks are slid up from their young, hollow gazes and onto their filthy hair specked with leaves and other decorations of soil and earth, and clinging to the bottom of their chins by a thin white elastic string that once held the plastic animal characters onto their faces. They’ve become bold in their actions—nothing can catch them, no one can beat them—and they look like wavy outlines of perhaps just imagination appearing as people. Going without their cheap disguises wasn’t originally part of the master plan, but neither was the murder. They just wanted to hurt her and leave, but she’d died instead. Now that they’d killed her, they could do anything they wanted. And the numb, corpselike way that people shamble on about their days, never fully noticing what stranger things go on around them, works out in any modern criminals favor.
The trio of them is in what could be dark suits, one in a dark dress—a ghost-girl with her sickly brothers—early for a funeral or tardy from a wrong turn from French fries long after midnight. There’s the untroubled gaze of the pale girl, with her Parisian black bags under her high school eyes, whiskers of the cat mask in black and gold paint dark as her long hair, and just a smear of blood at the grinning corner of the masks mouth, an ugly, unnerving hint of what occurred.
There’s the two boys with wolf masks, no specific symbolism or plot to function as a reason for their broken unity, other than the Halloween store simply had only one smiling cat left and two big, bad wolves. Like most boys wouldn’t, they didn’t mind the idea of it.
They stand there looking utterly unrealistic against an autumnal backdrop of orange-red woodland and carcasses of abandoned houses. Three characters in search of an exit trapped inside of a bleary scene out of a dark movie. Any other time of the year and their costumes would hardly make sense—they’d easily draw attention to themselves—but they know that they have the advantage today. That was the plan, after all, to start early at midnight and have all day on Halloween to celebrate until midnight again when Halloween was over. Besides, the victory would certainly leave them sleepless.
They rove, seeming to glide in their fatigue, like specters across the road and toward the breakfast place they’d designated as their first meal after becoming murderers. People honk at them because they love their costumes; they even wave and shout compliments at them. A dirty blonde on the road for a while with Bowie’s latest blaring on the radio every ten minutes, emerald-city polyester suit, corduroy black vest with strangely ornate buttons and a pasted mustache passes slowly, ringlets like a baby in a bonnet framing a California tan. He likes their costume more than the others, so much so that he wishes them a happy, safe Halloween, with the biggest smile and straightest teeth they’ve ever seen.
The place isn’t far, and once they sit at the diner, the heavy scent of burnt coffee in their noses, sticky mug circles on the table underneath their hands, waiting on the waitress with their filthy napkins and spotty silverware, they howl with laughter. They view this place as the ultimate jurisdiction of their success. The boys howl, the girl meows, and they laugh until they weep, until everything hurts underneath their ribs. And then silence ensues, hot-cheeked, tired silence.
They make no motion to individually excuse each other and wash the guilty-dried earth and innocent blood from their spidery hands, nor do they rise to relieve themselves in the restrooms from a long night of misdeeds. They’d relieved themselves on the grave they’d left, one final way to mark her as theirs.
The place is nothing fancy, a place for pop and pancakes. Vines intrude up the wall like lines of green paint. The place is as old as they are. The parking lot is gravel. It’s the kind of establishment you find long, black hairs in your food and wonder who’s behind the counter, who’s behind the wall, over that open window you can’t see, swatting the bell when your order is up.
The waitress is a pudgy cartoon, wide in the hips and thighs, charmingly disheveled mid 30s with a spattering of freckles. She’s all smiles and maternal instincts, big red hair, looking down at the cat-girl with a coddling, half-hearted concern.
“You washing your hands before you eat, sweetheart?”
“I spent my whole life being clean. I’m going to be dirty today.”
words – me.
photo – laura makabresku, who is so awesome my eyes could fall out.