Barbie Doll – Julianne

Savannah disappeared last Tuesday. Nobody had seen Melody since the Sunday before. The police found both of their bodies, or at least what was left of them, two days ago. There are grief counselors and investigators both at the school today, but nobody talks to me. I am invisible.

Not that I care, really. When people do notice me, it’s not for something positive. It’s not for having the highest score in the class on the Algebra midterm. It’s not for trying out for the soccer team. It’s not for my brilliantly white, straight smile that I suffered four years in braces for, not that I really smile much anymore. I’d rather not be noticed at all than noticed for my faults.

Melody noticed me, once. Fifth grade. That awkward year when, as a female, your body starts morphing, spreading, shaping into something new. Most call it puberty. I called it Hell. I had never considered myself unattractive. Average, really. Average height. Average weight. Average features. I didn’t stand out at all, at least not until that day.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Pity – Julianne

A gnashing pair of jaws bursted forth from the water to devour the large chunk of raw chicken I’d tossed in. I watched as this wild, powerful creature mangled the meat in its mouth and then swam greedily closer. When I was little, Momma had told me the gators were around in the dinosaur days. This had led me to believe that gators never die, and in my young mind, that made them the perfect pets. I spent my childhood on the bayou behind our house narrating the soap opera lives of Rory and Sophia. They weren’t fearsome beasts. They were friends.

I’d grown older, wiser even, but standing on the dock with a glass of Pinot Noir, now warm from the humid air, brought me back to simpler days and simpler thoughts. We may have been poor, but we always had the bayou, and I thought I’d always have Momma. It had been Momma and me against the world from the time I was born until the day she met George. A faithless mechanic with a penchant for price gouging, George was a slob with wandering eyes. I’d never understood Momma’s attraction to him, other than she no longer had to feel alone. To me, that wasn’t worth the heavy handed blows he’d deal her whenever the mood struck. I’d been only fifteen when they married, but the wedge he drove between us lasted the rest of Momma’s life.


Today, we held the funeral. Momma looked so beautiful laying on that lamb white cloth. George shed his obligatory tears and shook all the necessary hands. I’d left home only eight years ago, but now most of the faces were unfamiliar to me. Instead, I dwelled on the thought of how flowers must have become customary for funerals to help cover the sickening stench of death. These thoughts helped distract me from the burning stares I felt tracing my body from the black pumps on my feet to the thick brown curls that shrouded my face. I met George’s eyes only once with a cautioning glance.

Continue reading

Run, Rabbit, Run – Julianne

Harold chanced a glimpse behind him. Bad move. His eyes filled with terror, surely taking in the sight of me – sweat dripping from my brow, feet pounding the pavement with the force of an Olympic sprinter, and a deadly stare that must be reminiscent of the way a cheetah locks on to a gazelle. He bolted. Funny how quickly even the feeblest of creatures will move when they know it is Death chasing after them.

It wasn’t his fault, his life having to end this way. Harold Smith was just a means to an end. A means to avoiding my end. He might not have realized it, but Harold’s life was precious to me. Death chases everyone. You’ve just got to be quicker than Death. Harold was fast, but not faster than me. I’d had a lot more practice outrunning Death.

The watch face that was fused to my wrist and central nervous system illuminated as I ran. Fifteen minutes. I was cutting it close this time. Tick tick tick – I could hear it counting down in my head.

Continue reading

Blood & Ink – Julianne

“I want to be an author,” Ariana declared.

The village square went silent. She was met with bewildered stares, most adults fearing what kind of child would willingly choose such a profession. Some of the adults whispered behind open palms to one another, but in such silence Ariana could hear them swearing she must be mad.

The Presentation was a yearly event, one in which all of-age children would profess their desired occupation. Community members of that occupation would then volunteer to take on the child as an apprentice, training them better for their desired trade. Ariana was only 13, but she’d known she wanted to be an author from the moment she was old enough to talk. Growing up in the orphanage, the other children had needed a distraction from the harsh realities of their world. Ariana had a vast arsenal of stories locked away in her mind, and she longed to put them to paper. The den mother of the orphanage had taught her to read and write, both of which she excelled at, but Ariana had been warned never to use to use the ink to write her stories.

“I will take the girl,” a low, gravelly voice called from the back of the audience. The village of Canal had only one author, so Ariana had anticipated Jackaby Bardolf being her only option for an apprenticeship. Nothing, however, had prepared her for actually meeting him. She had read his works, of course, wanting to familiarize herself with his style of prose, and found herself rather disappointed. She had hoped her only choice of Master for the Presentation would at least be one she’d enjoy, but his stories were dark, dismal, and often uncomfortable for Ariana to read.

As the man approached the stage, Ariana sharply inhaled and set her mind to accepting him as Master, no matter what her prejudices against his writing style were. He was a professional author, and if she truly wanted to be one as well, she would have to learn from him. The sea of villagers parted as he passed, none wanting to get too close to the man, some out of reverence and some out of fear.

Jackaby Bardolf looked as menacing as his stories. A towering man dressed in a suit the color of rainclouds, he stood beside Ariana on the stage. The announcement came from the plump Mister Hargreve, Master of Proceedings for the Presentation. “Ariana Wylde, I present you to your Master for the profession of Author, Mister Jackaby Bardolf.”
Continue reading