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Revenge Is Sweet

"Nemo me impune lacessit" - Edgar Allan Poe

By Ahna LewisPublished about a year ago Updated about a year ago 13 min read
Top Story - March 2023
78
Photo by Tuva Mathilde Løland on Unsplash

The mirror showed a reflection that wasn’t my own. And I couldn’t have been more pleased. Peering from the cloudy depths of the rippled glass was Janice Holbrook, my nemesis, my archenemy, my bully. And she deserved it. No one could deny, she absolutely deserved it.

---

This all started weeks ago. Alright, that’s not true. This all started years ago. Years ago when Janice and I were just entering middle school. From the moment her sparkly designer sneakers touched the school steps, Janice was Queen Bee. Janice with her blonde ringlets and dazzling brown eyes. Janice whose organic lunches would have consumed my dad’s entire paycheck. Janice who ran track and got straight A’s and just “couldn’t help” being perfect.

Now before you think I’m jumping to conclusions and stereotyping her because she’s pretty and popular and rich, hear me out. In every single one of our interactions, Janice has been mean to me. Sometimes, she’s downright cruel. Whether it's cutting in front of me in line, smudging paint on my art projects, or telling the other girls not to sit with me at lunch, she does her utmost to make my life miserable. And she succeeds. I don’t know if she realizes how good she is at it.

I’ve tried everything. I’ve ignored her. I’ve been nice to her. I’ve reported her to the teacher, the guidance counselor, the principal. I’ve asked my mom to call her mom. Nothing has ever worked. No one has ever done anything. I can hear their voices now, their insipid, disbelieving voices: Oh, that couldn’t be true, Melanie! Janice is such a sweet girl. You’re just being dramatic. Try not to focus on yourself so much. I’ve been smothered by their avalanche of excuses since middle school and I’m getting sick of it. Everyone has a breaking point.

I guess that’s why I took the catalog. I first saw it stuffed in a stack of magazines at the dentist office, slipped in between Reader’s Digest and Highlights for Children. The cover was black and glossy with spidery red lettering:

Revenge is Sweet - Curios and Curiosities of Retribution

I was immediately drawn to it. Fate had dropped it in my path, so of course, I took it. I slid it beneath my coat on my way out of the office, just out of sight of my mother.

I waited until I was alone in my room to read it. It was evening, and the last light of day was slanting sideways through the blinds. Leaning up against my bed, I settled the catalog on my lap and opened the first page.

Welcome Wounded Soul…

This catalog is best perused by candlelight.

Wounded soul? Yeah, I guess that sounds about right. I didn’t have any candles, so I flipped the switch on my star globe night light. Immediately, star-shaped pockets of light decorated the carpet and ceiling. They made patterns on my hands as I turned the pages. I tried to go slowly, studying each item with careful precision. There was a variety of voodoo dolls with fully customizable hair and eye color, needle sets in seven different lengths, blackmail letters in thirteen spooky designs, and even an entire section devoted to eggs and toilet paper. I sighed. None of these were good enough. Not for Janice. I needed something better, something as perfect as she was.

I kept turning pages, each one leaving me more disappointed. Until I noticed something—a peculiar glow emanating from the last several pages of the catalog, a red, fiery glow. I felt drawn to that section with an unexplainable caustic attraction. I flipped ahead to the final page. Looking down, I knew instantly, I had found what I was looking for.

Who’s the cruelest in the land? The Magic Mirror Deluxe will tell you! Choose from three creative revenge options each day. 100% satisfaction guaranteed!

Beneath the text, was a picture of a spectacular gold-framed mirror, similar to how I imagined the Evil Queen’s mirror from Snow White would look. I quickly scanned the page for the price. I wasn’t going to have enough. I was certain. There was no way I’d have enough.

Price undisclosed. Try a two-week free trial on us! If you don’t like it, you don’t have to pay a cent. Guaranteed!

I breathed a sigh of relief. Now this was my kind of business deal. I’d get a full two-weeks of revenge and then I’d just send it back. I wouldn’t even have to use my savings. What could be better? I grinned in spite of myself. Finally. Finally, Janice Holbrook would get what she deserved.

---

It took three weeks for the mirror to arrive. Three weeks of Janice torturing me. She lit my hair on fire in chemistry (supposedly an “accident”), she filled my backpack with kitty litter (definitely not an accident), and she started a rumor that I had a crush on Sean Meadows (which I do NOT). It was clearly her goal to cause me as much trouble and embarrassment as humanly possible. I was just getting home from a particularly challenging day—I had brought tuna for lunch and Janice had taken to calling me “Smelanie” and holding her nose whenever I walked by—when I saw my mom waiting for me on the porch.

“Melanie, dear, a package arrived for you? Did you order something?”

“Uhh…” I felt my heart rate quicken. How was I going to tell her? “Yeah, but it’s like a surprise for you and Dad. For uh, your…anniversary!”

“But our anniversary isn’t for another–”

“Love you, Mom!” I planted a quick kiss on her cheek and rushed the box inside and up the stairs. It was heavier than I expected and I almost tripped more than once. That would have been just my luck to shatter my revenge mirror before I even had a chance to use it.

I closed the door to my room and settled down beside my bed to open the package. Remembering the advice of the catalog, I flipped on the star globe to add a little extra ambience.

The box was black with spider web designs spiraling over the sides and corners. Oh wait, maybe those were actual spider webs. Weird, but mostly cool. I grabbed a pair of scissors from my desk drawer and slid them along the tape. Pulling back the skull-themed tissue paper, I gasped in wonder. The mirror was more beautiful than I could have imagined with its spotless glass, shining gold exterior, and matching gold stand. Intricate carvings of twisted branches graced the frame while a diamond-eyed serpent sparkled at the base. Good thing they had a free trial. I would never be able to afford this on my own. As I lifted the mirror from the box, a business card-sized instruction manual toppled from amongst the tissue paper.

Instructions: Place the mirror on the stand. Press the serpent’s eyes to power on. Read lines 1-2 to conjure the face of the tormentor. Read lines 3-4 to select a method of vengeance. Await vengeance.

Well, that seemed straightforward enough. Might as well get started right away. I put the mirror carefully on the stand and gazed for a second at my fractured reflection. I had been hurt enough. It was Janice’s turn.

I took a deep breath and touched my fingers to the eyes of the serpent. The glass rippled and instead of reflecting my own face, the mirror’s glass turned a hazy blue. Picking up the card, I read:

Mirror, mirror on a stand

Who’s the cruelest in the land?

I paused, my breath caught within me. Then, to my extreme satisfaction, a shimmering picture of Janice Holbrook appeared in the frame. Arrogant, gloating, horrible Janice Holbrook. My heart raced as I read the next line:

Mirror, mirror in the frame

What are ways to inflict pain?

The glass rippled again and the reflection divided into three panels. The first panel showed Janice doubled over in pain and clutching her stomach. Oh, this one looked promising. I read the caption: “Stomach Discomfort.” No, that was no good. Janice was one of those girls who always made a huge deal whenever she had the slightest headache or stomach ache. All of her friends flocked around her and waited on her hand and foot, bringing her water, mints, Advil, and whatever else she wanted. I groaned. That’s all I needed—the opportunity to make Janice even more the center of attention.

I looked at the next panel. Janice’s brown eyes certainly weren’t sparkling in this frame. She held her hand to her throat and looked absolutely miserable. “Sore Throat” the caption read. Hmm, that might work…but it was just so boring. And chances were Janice would get the day off from school tomorrow if she had a sore throat. I didn’t want my revenge to end up a reward.

I turned to the last panel, fingers crossed. Instead of just a close-up of Janice, this one played out like a little movie on repeat. Janice was carrying her Vera Bradley lunch box over to the “elite table,” when Sean Meadows passed in the opposite direction. She bumped into his shoulder and his entire lunch tray, complete with hamburger, baked beans, ketchup, and mustard, went splattering across Janice’s white blouse. Her face turned redder than a lobster.

I grinned. The caption read: “Embarrassed in Front of Crush.” Oh, this was too good. Sean was Janice’s crush!? Ha, no wonder she kept bringing him up. I watched my favorite part again when Janice looked positively ill with embarrassment. She would finally know how it feels to be me. This was my choice. No question. This one was perfect.

I reached out my hand and touched the third panel. It turned green to indicate it had been selected and then, the mirror went blank. I smiled. A deep sense of satisfaction overwhelmed me. Now, all I had to do was follow the final instruction on the card—await vengeance.

---

It went perfectly. Even down to the mustard stain on the right corner of her blouse. I have never in all my years left school in such a good mood. I felt like an avenging angel as I walked home from the bus stop, and it was glorious. Janice was so upset over the lunch tray fiasco that she hadn’t once thought of tormenting me. I was free now—free from her power over me. For once, I was the one calling the shots.

I pulled the mirror out from my closet the minute I arrived home. Removing the blanket I had draped over it for safekeeping, I took a second to admire its beauty. I could have hugged that mirror I was so happy. I grinned instead. It was time to plan my next act of vengeance. I pressed my fingers to the snake's eyes, and watched the glass warm to an inviting blue.

“Mirror, mirror on a stand, who’s the cruelest in the land?” A picture of Janice appeared, looking smug as ever. “Mirror, mirror…” I recited the second verse, but the revenge options didn’t appear. Instead, a warning label flashed across the screen. Only one selection of vengeance per day. I sighed. Guess I’ll have to wait until tomorrow. I touched the snake’s eyes once more to power down the mirror. That night, I slept more soundly than ever, dreaming of all the ways I would get even with Janice Holbrook.

---

The next two weeks passed in a haze of beautiful retribution. Each day I chose something special for Janice, and each day I got to watch it unfold. She talked to Sean Meadows with broccoli in her teeth (ha!), failed her history test (you should have seen her face!), all her friends decided to leave her to sit at a different table (what goes around comes around!), and she tripped down the hallway over her own feet (wish I got that on camera!). A highlight was definitely when I upped the stakes and had her trip down the stairs instead of just down the hallway. She’s on crutches now with a twisted ankle and none of her preppy friend group is even around to carry her backpack. In the hall the other day, I saw her track coach tell her she wouldn’t be able to run in the championships and she actually started to cry. What a baby! If I cried every time she hurt me, they would have sent me back to pre-school. Honestly, Janice should thank me for helping her get tough enough to face the real world. She’s building character and learning life lessons. Janice Holbrook should get down on her knees and thank me.

---

I sat in the red swivel chair in my bedroom, the mirror before me, waiting for my touch. It was the last day of the free trial and just about time to send the mirror back. Whatever method of vengeance I selected for today had to be absolutely flawless, the cream of the crop, the icing on the cake. I couldn’t have been happier. My heart soared at the opportunity to strike one last time.

“Mirror, mirror on a stand, who’s the cruelest in the land?” I sang out the words while spinning in the swivel chair. “Mirror, mirror in the frame, what are ways to inflict pain?”

I stopped spinning to glance at the captions on the panels. I tried not to look at the pictures this time as they are like spoilers and I’ve found they ruin the anticipation. We’ve got “late for school,” –meh, not embarrassing enough–“food poisoning,” –what if she throws up in class…ew– and “attacked by a swarm of bees.” I grin at the last option. For all her stinging remarks, it’s about time the “Queen Bee” got a taste of her own medicine. I reached over and selected the bee panel. It turned green and the mirror went blank.

I leaned back in my swivel chair, put my hands behind my head, and closed my eyes. I couldn’t wait to see Janice when she showed up tomorrow all puffy like a chipmunk. A distant murmuring interrupted my thoughts. I slowly opened my eyes, sitting up in my chair.

“Is someone there?” I hissed into the seemingly empty room.

There was no response. Not at first. I strained my ears, trying to hear over the pounding of my heartbeat. I heard it again, but it was louder, more pronounced this time. What had started as a murmur was growing, crescendoing to a pulsing chorus. What was it exactly? An engine? Dad’s lawnmower? I glanced out the window. It had been sunny, but dark clouds were gathering fast. Or maybe it was just one dark cloud. Yes, that was it—one humming dark cloud growing closer and gaining volume.

Plunk!

Something struck the window pane.

Plunk…plunk…plunk!

Three more somethings struck the window pane. What was going on? Rain? Hail? I watched as little legs slowly started to climb up the glass. A bee? The sound in the cloud was unmistakable now. It wasn’t a murmur or a humming, it was a buzzing. A terrific, terrible, tormenting buzzing. That monstrous cloud was a swarm of bees.

Fear gripped my chest, tearing at my sides, twisting my heart, stealing the breath from my lungs. I scrambled frantically to the mirror and touched the eyes of the serpent. The words felt dry, sticking in my throat as I tried to spit them out.

“Mirror, mirror…on the…stand,” I gasped. “Who’s the…cruelest…in the land?”

The blue glass rippled. Please no. Please. Please. PLEASE. A picture materialized. A girl with dark, curly hair and wide, deep-set eyes. The name “Melanie Montresor” appeared beneath the image. It was me. I was looking into my own eyes.

No. No. No. This couldn’t be happening. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t fair. It was Janice. She was the bully. She was the one who deserved all this. She was the one who was cruel! It was Janice, not me!

Instead of a plunking, there was a pounding now against the glass. The cloud was growing. Their force was gathering. The sky grew dark as their tiny bodies blocked the sun. Then, like an ocean tidal wave, the bees cascaded against the window. There was a loud crack and pieces of shattered glass spiraled across the floor. The buzzing was deafening. It rang in my ears, flooding my mind, devouring my thoughts. Amidst the roar of wings and the tingle of tiny feet and antenna as they encircled my arms, legs, and face, one thought managed to find its way to the surface. One sickening, horrible thought.

I’m allergic to bees.

fiction
78

About the Creator

Ahna Lewis

Just a high school English teacher who never quite got over her dream of becoming an author. :)

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  2. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  3. Expert insights and opinions

    Arguments were carefully researched and presented

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

  4. Masterful proofreading

    Zero grammar & spelling mistakes

  5. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (35)

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  • Naveedkk 10 months ago

    I hope the mirror doesn't end up causing more harm than intended.

  • Kim Loostrom10 months ago

    What a stunning story! The voice, pacing, and twist were perfect! I only wish there was more of this to read!!

  • Roy Stevensabout a year ago

    Terrorific Ahna! Rod Serling himself would have endorsed this story for a "Twilight Zone" episode. That last paragraph is brilliantly descriptive and gripping. This story was excellent and a fun read!

  • The Invisible Writerabout a year ago

    That was do good it would make a great YA book!

  • Vivid Masonganyikaabout a year ago

    that a very nice art hey!

  • Wonderful story. Just as I thought it had become satisfying, if not predictable, you delivered the final sentence. Perfect!

  • Joyce O’Dayabout a year ago

    Brilliant! This was a fun read that checked all the boxes!

  • C Jyl Parkerabout a year ago

    Perfect!

  • Sidney Smithabout a year ago

    This is great!!!

  • Karthick Rajaabout a year ago

    Good story

  • Loryne Andaweyabout a year ago

    Oh this was such an excellent read. How the tormented became the tormentor, how the tables turned and the price that had to be paid (Chef's kiss). Wonderfully done and congratulations on your Top Story 😄

  • Samia Afraabout a year ago

    Great work. I'd love to see the next chapter, if you were to continue the story. Love the plot twist at the end.

  • Stephanie J. Bradberryabout a year ago

    Totally love. It's wild that your subtitle is a line that I based my entry for a previous challenge on "If Walls Could Talk" and focused on Montresor. And I did a not so elegant spin on the magic mirror from Snow White. I really like how you made your magic mirror super modern with a fresh twist.

  • Cordellia Novisabout a year ago

    Yikes!!! THE LAST LINE...Well as Melanie mentioned, "What goes comes around". GREAT STORY

  • R. J. Raniabout a year ago

    Ahna, this might be one of my favorite takes on the challenge ever - and one of my favorite stories by you. Wow! It FLOWS, hooking me with word after word. Amazingly well done. Truly brilliant and very well deserved Top Story. Congratulations!

  • Nikki Clamabout a year ago

    Woooaahhh that twist, it was really an amazing read I loved it!!

  • I like this story ❤️✨😉Congratulations on Your TopStory❗❗

  • Ah, guess no one escapes karma. Awesome twist at the end! Poor Melanie though. Congratulations on your Top Story!

  • Madison Newtonabout a year ago

    Awesome work, subscribed!

  • Keith Maretabout a year ago

    I loved this, especially the twist atvthe end. Very very good!

  • Wonderfully clever AND delightful! You totally got me at the end. I thought that Janice was allergic to bees and she would actually die but this was SOOOOO much better. Absolute joy to read (except that I hate bad endings) but it is horror after all.

  • T. J. Daveyabout a year ago

    This is such a satisfying story. Love it!

  • Dana Stewartabout a year ago

    Top Story! Yay!

  • Dana Crandellabout a year ago

    Congratulations on your Top Story. Well deserved!

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