It takes me a minute to recognize you
Mary, Mary quite scary, how does your writing go? With lightning strikes and cadaver parts, and pretty skulls all in a row. Mary Godwin’s mother made her a writer, but didn’t live long enough to raise her. Mary Wollstonecraft, a girl who had always argued that women were meant for more than the home and confinement bed died there, her very womb poisoning her from the inside out. Mary had been born of death, a fact she never really could forget.
Bonnie wanted to be a writer. She filled her notebooks up with poems she scribbled on the porch to escape the Texas summer heat. Time would drip slow as molasses through her fingers. She was bored, she was broke. She, above all, had the nagging feeling she was meant for so much more.
We watch shows about serial killers in disguise. When you lay your arm against my neck to hold my face in your hands in the dark of our bedroom, you tell me that you are thinking of all the ways you could kill me like this. You test the weight of your elbow against my jugular. You talk about where exactly to apply the pressure and how hard. How beautifully easy it would all be. You smile into the black. I can barely make out the warm whites of your teeth, but I smile too. You trace the seams of my body with a calloused fingertip and tell me all the simple ways that I could come undone at your hand. A slice here, a break there. Sometimes it feels as though you are searching for zippers in places they cannot be. How simple, how easy it would be to unravel me. I want to tell you that I already know, that I've already seen it happen once or twice. That it will happen again when you go away. But for now, I just laugh, tell you what a beautiful mess of mine you are. I pretend that we're both just joking. I pretend that lonely is only a killer we see on TV.
In the beginning, there was the woman. Not just any woman, that woman. That woman standing with her hip held akimbo in the parlor of her decaying Victorian mansion. A mask of politeness hung about her face, trying to urge a vacuum cleaner salesman to turn on his heels and retreat back past her front door. A “ruined beauty,” Charlie would call her. The woman with a dress as black as night that hugged every curve of her skeletal figure before pooling down at the floor, reaching like the tentacles of something monstrous. The woman with blood red nails, long enough to pluck your eyeballs from your very skull if she had a mind to. That woman with skin as pale as a tomb. In the beginning, she was standing there, staring up from the page at him, smirking, as though she knew something he never would.
They are sleeping, just sleeping. This is what Llorona would tell herself when she closed her eyes; gaping mouth, black night, too tired to remember to forget. Her babies, her seven angels and all seven of her deadliest sins, had died peaceful, their skin unbroken, their mouths closed against any chance of a scream. They hadn’t struggled when she scooped them from their beds. They had not cried out when she submerged their impossibly small faces in the tub she had bathed them in just hours before. They had known it was not the boogeyman, a bruja coming to drag them away into the night. The skin that grabbed them smelled of vanilla and chili powder, the arms had smelled like their mother and so they snuggled closer to her chest, even as she drowned them. They never had the chance to wake up.