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We’ve almost reached the end of our WEIRD
WORDS 2 short story contest. Once the deep red ink dries, we’ll be calling on
our readers to vote on their favorite tale… But until that day comes, cuddle up
and enjoy this nasty little hot mess, a scrappy and sexy little nightmare
"WAIT FOR ME"
By M.E. Girard and Melissa Silva
A strange empty feeling settled in the
place where Taylor’s heart used to be as she stared at her pencil drawings laid
out on the office desk. Miss Mackenzie had her counselor face on, betraying no
reaction, but there had to be a hint of disgust or shock hovering right behind
her eyes, even if Taylor couldn’t see it.
this all you have?” Miss Mackenzie asked, gathering the pages and pushing them
toward Taylor. Taylor shrugged and her eyes found those of the girl in the
drawings—CJ’s eyes. Miss Mackenzie sighed and lowered her head to Taylor. “I
know you like drawing, Taylor, but a journal typically includes some writing.
In order to move through your grief, you need to acknowledge it, explore those
just mostly wonder where all the water went,” Taylor said, bringing one ankle
up over a knee and slouching back into the office chair.
reached a hand to the first drawing, lifting it like a teacher presenting
something for the class to see. She pointed to the representation of a swollen
CJ, skin bluish, tongue protruding, and the eyes—CJ’s perfect brown
eyes—unfocused and obscured by heavy lids. “When somebody drowns and they’re
not found for a long time, they fill up like puffer fish. Like a fucking
sponge. I read about it on the internet. Anyway…where does the water go? Do
they have to let the body dry? Does it leak out of every pore and make puddles?”
this is the kind of shit you wanted me to journal about? But it feels like
you’re trying to turn this into some kind of extra credit assignment—which
would be fine if I was getting actual extra credit. My parents already think
I’m some fucked-up sociopath looking at drowning victims online just for kicks.”
Taylor raked her hands through her “faux hawk” with shaky fingers that nearly
yanked her eyebrow rings off her face.
often do you think about CJ?”
ran her sweaty palms against her jeans. “All the time.”
how often do you think about CJ as a dead person?” Miss Mackenzie asked,
folding her hands together and angling her body forward.
black eyes narrowed and she cocked her head. “You’re pretty hot for a high
school guidance counselor.”
Mackenzie shook her head and her lips stretched into a thin smile. “We’ll leave
it at that for today. But, for our next meeting, I expect actual words in your
journal, Taylor.” She rose, smoothing her blouse over the simple black dress
pants she always wore. Always tight in the ass and flared at the feet. “Get
back to class.”
bounced up, swiping her drawings off the desk, and headed for the door. Through
the window, Ashton’s face hovered with his lazy grin. Taylor pulled the door
open and hitched her chin up at him.
you ask her yet?” she asked, closing Miss Mackenzie’s office door behind her.
balled his fists, making his biceps bulge, the way he did whenever he felt like
a douche. “Working on it. But, the three of them are like, stapled together. I
tried to ask her after hockey practice, but she looked too busy with prom
ballots and shit.”
reached into her backpack to glance at her cell phone, then dropped it back
inside. “You could pretend to be some hard-core homework junkie and join Danielle’s
study group. But then I’d make fun of you.”
sucker-punched her in the arm. Taylor tried to retaliate but he ducked. She
gave him the finger and took off down the hall.
“So…how’d it go in there?” he asked,
falling into step next to her.
was so therapeutic, Ash. I think I might be cured.” She uttered a twisted
chuckle and swung her backpack over her shoulder as they wove through the
bodies crowding the hallway. “Whatever. At least I get out of class, right?”
do you think she’d say if she heard you talking like this?” Ashton asked, his
casual attitude having faded into an uncomfortable solemn vibe.
probably ask me to journal about it.”
Miss Mackenzie,” he said, grabbing Taylor’s sleeve to make them both halt, “I
I’m sorry, Ash—CJ’s can’t talk. She’s a little dead right now.” Taylor ripped
her arm out of his grasp.
released a sigh. “Look, Taylor—”
She plodded down the hall, keeping her eyes aimed at the floor. All around her,
the walls and lockers were plastered with prom posters. Who would be King? Who
would be voted for Class Idiot? How did any of that petty high school shit
matter when CJ was dead? When Taylor was still here, remembering every single
second of CJ straddling the guardrail, looking over the retaining wall; of the
carefree giggle escaping CJ’s lips as she threw her hands up…as she toppled
over the edge and…just fucking drowned.
cool breeze crept up, making the posters rustle, riding up Taylor’s back.
stopped, letting all the sounds around her fade away. She reached into her bag
again and pulled out her phone. Through the display screen, a smiling CJ stared
up at her. Looking the way she always had. But soon, the image warped under
Taylor’s gaze. The golden skin fading to a bluish grey, the thick black hair
thinning into a web of something you’d find at the bottom of a bathtub drain.
And the eyes—always the eyes.
threw the phone in her bag and marched right out the door.
One week later, college student Jenna
Morrison stared at her boyfriend, Samir, through her computer video chat
screen. He filled her in on details from back home but Jenna was preoccupied
with the sudden itching spreading through her skin.
The nerve endings switched gears, giving
way to sharp needle-like pains. She stared at the screen, mouth hanging open, a
scream poised to burst out. It was as though every single cell of her body
suddenly needed space, needed to split apart.
And they did.
Like her heart was the bomb and it went
A shower of bloody tissue bits rained all
over Jenna Morrison’s room, obscuring the tiny lens of the camera so that all
Samir could see was red.
Taylor doodled in her journal through Math
class while Mr. Savino taught everyone else how to isolate to find the value of
“x”. When something awful happened to you, you became this translucent body
that people stared at and felt sorry for, or whisper about. Taylor could’ve
written about that, but instead, all she could come up with was one sentence: CJ
and me—that was real and now it’s dead.
bell rang and Danielle sauntered by, flanked by Leah and Allison. Danielle hesitated
and whirled around, sending her posse off without her. Taylor shoved her things
in her bag and eyed her.
want to have a memorial page for CJ in the yearbook. I just figured…I mean,
would you like to write something for it?” Danielle said, clutching her books
to her chest, tight ringlets falling across her eyes.
was real and now she’s dead, Taylor thought, as she pushed to her feet.
Instead, she said, “Not really my thing. But you know who you could ask?
Ashton. He knew her pretty well.”
Danielle said, eyebrows going up in surprise. “Yeah, okay.”
cue, Ashton appeared, bending to the side with the weight of his hockey bag on
his shoulder. Danielle glanced at him with an awkward smile, rushing by during
her escape to the door. Taylor kicked her chair in place and sidled up to
was that about?” he asked.
hooking that up for you, dude.” Taylor wiggled her eyebrows. “You’re welcome.”
just looked at me like I have herpes and ran out of here,” he said, shaking his
walked to Taylor’s locker. The hall emptied as everyone rushed to get the hell
out of there for the weekend. Ashton dropped his bag to the ground and leaned a
shoulder against a nearby locker. “You might not be the only one skipping
says I’m skipping prom?”
because CJ’s dead doesn’t mean I’m not going to prom.” Taylor shoved things in
her bag, then slammed the locker shut. “She picked my outfit. And she had the
tackiest ‘70s baby-blue dress. I’m gonna go, and drink some punch, and wear my
looked ahead, like none of what Taylor had just said made it into his ears. But
Taylor knew he’d heard. He probably didn’t know what to say.
No one ever knew what to say.
Raven Morales padded to the diving board,
staring at the glassy water below. She was alone. The rest of the swim team was
still in the locker room. She’s been feeling off all morning but she couldn’t
skip practice. Raven inhaled a gulp of air and dove.
She surfaced, gasping.
The water ate at her skin. She reached up
to wipe the water out of her eyes and they came back slick with warm blood. Raven
thrashed toward the ladder. Her organs tingled like they were expanding, and
her skin rippled like it couldn’t contain her insides.
The pain sliced through her, making her see
And then there was no more Raven.
Only a large red stain spreading below the
surface of the water that had once again returned to glass.
Taylor stood next to the punch bowl in her
cheesy-ass tux, staring out at the dance floor. A dateless Ashton stood next to
her, gaze zeroed-in on Danielle as she twirled with her two clones. The
spotlights threw colors over the dancing bodies and Taylor imagined CJ out
there, that blue dress flowing.
sauntered over, exchanging a handshake with Ashton. “Hey man, did you hear they
found another dead girl? They’re saying it might be some amped-up flesh-eating
disease. My aunt works for the coroner and she says the biggest piece they
found is the tip of a nose. It was just goo and shit.”
Ashton said, his tone sharp.
rolled her eyes, turning her back on the guys to pour herself punch as Miss
Mackenzie moved up to the table. She smiled like Taylor’s presence was some
sort of therapeutic move. Taylor sipped, avoiding her gaze. She thought of
earlier, of sitting on CJ’s grassy blanket, and staring at the headstone. Of draping the blue dress over the marble. But her
mind wouldn’t stop making CJ’s skin turn the same color as the dress. It
wouldn’t stop stealing the sparkle out of her eyes and replacing it with the
half-open, unfocused glare.
the floor, Danielle folded over. She heaved but nothing came out of her mouth.
Leah and Allison jumped back but recovered quick, grabbing Danielle around the
waist and dragging her toward the bathrooms.
girl’s drunk,” Taylor said, smacking Ashton’s arm.
stared around until he noticed the girls disappearing through the banquet hall
they returned, Danielle seemed shaky on her heels, ankles buckling under her.
But she stared at Taylor and Ashton with a wide grin. She strode over, leaving
her girls behind.
shit,” Ashton muttered, straightening his tie and clearing his throat.
watched as Danielle moved closer, looking pale and coated in perspiration.
wanna dance,” Danielle said, but the words were aimed at Taylor. Taylor glanced
at Ashton, confused looks mirroring each other. Taylor’s mouth opened to
protest but Danielle held a hand up. “I wanna dance like now, Tay. You promised
and it took me forever to get here and I don’t know how long I can stay, so
breath caught as her feet sprang into action, following Danielle. They stopped
in the middle of the dance floor, other couples parting to make room for the
girl who would likely be crowned Prom Queen. She grabbed Taylor’s hands and
placed them around her waist.
Taylor asked, staring into the blue eyes of the Prom Queen, but the irises
seemed to be darkening.
just the dress I’m wearing, Tay.” It was Danielle’s voice but it was all wrong.
She cleared her throat. “This is messed up, I know. I’ve been trying to find a
way to tell you I was coming.”
reached up, running a thumb along Danielle’s lower lid where a drop of blood
had spilled over.
I suck at this,” Danielle said, bringing her hands up between them where the
fingernails were oozing and peeling off. Her eyes, even filling with blood,
were the same eyes that stared back at Taylor from her cell phone screen.
“Okay, listen, I fucked up, acting like some psycho hippy and falling off the
rail. It’s not your fault. I’m the one who wrecked us. I love you so much,
love you, CJ.” Taylor wiped at the blood stringing down Danielle’s cheeks but
more kept coming.
brought her hands to her head, fingers pressing at her temple as her face
contorted with a grimace. The remaining fingernails ripped off and landed in
her hair and on her shoulders. “Dammit! This is worse than drowning. Oh, shit.
I’m sorry, Danielle.”
what’s happening?” Taylor grabbed the sides of Danielle’s face, locking eyes
wheezed and gurgled. Little red lines formed under her skin and they filled
with blood, pulsating to break free.
“Just a few more tries and I’ll get it,”
she said. “Wait for me.”
“Oh my god!” Leah howled, backing away and
bumping into dancers. The rest of the crowd shuffled around Danielle and
Taylor. Screams broke out and feet hit the floor running.
Danielle stood there, little fissures of
blood ripping open.
Taylor took a step back, then another. Warm
droplets sprayed Taylor and whoever was running by Danielle.
The puddle that was Danielle landed to the
floor with a splash. Gold dress stained red, pieces of raw insides making the
dance floor slick. Making those running for cover fall and land on their faces.
Some didn’t get up again.
Taylor stared at the floor until a hand
wrapped around hers.
“Come on,” Miss Mackenzie urged, pulling
her toward the kitchens. Taylor followed. Screaming and crying rang out around
them but none of it was reaching Taylor. They snaked through the prep tables,
and shelving units. Others were running wild, trampling whoever kept them from
getting out. Miss Mackenzie burst through the back door, still holding on to
Taylor. They ran to the back, through an alley, down a sidewalk, until they
slowed their pace in a quiet residential street.
Taylor looked down at herself, at the
pieces of Danielle soaking into her cheesy tux. Then, she looked up at Miss
At those eyes that weren’t quite Miss
Mackenzie’s, but that were so familiar…
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