"Bloody Lizzie"

“Come on! What are you–chicken?” Sarah taunted. Bonnie laughed.

Lizzie folded her arms over her chest, but she couldn’t help but feel a little twinge of fear. “Bloody Mary isn’t real.”

“So what’re you scared of then?” asked Bonnie.

“There’s real stuff to be scared of out there.” Like real life criminals and robbers. Like her dad, too. She remembered the sounds of shattering glass and the thuds of flesh against flesh. She heard them all through the paper-thin walls of the trailer she used to live in. He got real mad when he had his spells. Things were different now: mom was married to a nice man, and they lived in a nice house.

“Then what’s the problem?” Bonnie asked again.

“I think she’s chicken,” Sarah repeated.

Lizzie rolled her eyes. She wasn’t a chicken, and she would prove it. “Fine!” She marched into the bathroom. Bonnie lit the candles around the sink so that the only light in the small room flickered beneath her, leaving spooky, shuddering shadows on the ceiling and giving her silhouette a pale, ghostly look in the mirror. She could imagine Bloody Mary staring at her through the mirror, but she reminded herself that it’d just be her own reflection, warped by the candlelight and her struggling vision. If she saw something that wasn’t there, she’d recognize it as fake. Her dad could never do that. During his spells, he saw stuff and it made him psychotic–that’s what the doctors called it.

“Remember, you can’t come out until you’ve said Bloody Mary three times,” said Bonnie.

“I know the rules,” said Lizzie. And she forced the door shut while Sarah and Bonnie giggled.

Dad was in the mental institution because he saw stuff and it made him crazy. Lizzie wasn’t crazy, she wouldn’t see anything, and she’d leave this bathroom braver than she walked into it. She knew that was true. And she began, “Bloody Mary.”

Lizzie heard giggles outside, then moaning. Sarah and Bonnie were making fun of her. Lizzie sighed and stared at her own reflection. Again: “Bloody Mary.”

Suddenly there was a loud slam at the door. Lizzie jumped. She heard a squeal and a gurgle, and then felt the door shudder and jolt a few more times. “Stop it, you guys! This isn’t funny!” Lizzie looked back at her reflection and finished. “Bloody Mary!”

Lizzie looked angrily at the door. “I did it! Nothing happened. I wasn’t scared!”

The door opened. A barefooted man in muddy white clothes stepped over two slumped shapes and into the bathroom. He had a screwdriver in his hand, and in the candlelight, she could tell that his arms were covered in something dark red.

Lizzie’s breath stopped cold. “Daddy?”

The man grinned and grabbed Lizzie’s arm. “We’re going home.”