Donna L Greenwood
Our Mary is sleepwalking again. I tell Mam, but she hisses in the dark, “Go back to bed, don’t wake her up. She’ll be fine.” She flops a dead arm onto the prone flesh of my dad and the pair of them disappear into snores. I climb back into bed and watch my sister whispering to the wall. I can’t make out the words but the growl inside our Mary’s throat prickles the hairs on the back of my neck.
In the morning, I ask Mam why I can’t wake Mary while she’s sleepwalking.“Because she could go into shock and have a heart attack. Just let her be. She’s harmless.”
I’m not so sure. Mary is glaring at me over her cornflakes. When Mam’s not looking, she’ll grab my wrist and twist it, like she does every morning. I think our Mary is the Devil.
At school, she finds me and slides her nails into the soft flesh of my belly. Her breath is hot as she whispers, “Tonight, I’m gunna wait till you’re asleep and then I’m gunna cut your thingy off.” When I look into her eyes, I see an empty black sky.
Our Mary’s out of her bed again. She’s facing the wall and spitting out her hoodoos to the shadows. I creep past her and head to my parent’s bedroom. On their bed, I see two mounds shrouded in sheets.
“Mammy,” I whisper, “Our Mary’s at it again.”
The mounds do not move.“Mammy?”
Something is whispering beneath the sheet. I move closer.
“Tommeee. Tommeee.” The mound sits up and the sheet falls. It’s Mam’s face but her eyes are Mary’s eyes.
I run a fast as I can back to my room. Our Mary is still whispering to the wall. I walk around her so I can see her face. Her mouth is opening and closing faster than I’ve ever seen a human mouth move. Harsh, alien words are spewing out from her lips. I look at her eyes. They’re closed. Suddenly, she snaps her head sideways, “Tommy. Tommy. Tommeeee.” My name comes firing from her lips like machine gun fire. She pushes her face into mine and looks directly at me. I slap my hands onto my mouth to stop the scream.
Oh Mary Mary, where did your eyes go?
Our Mary is the Devil. Of this I am quite sure.
I grab her arm and shake her furiously.
“Wake up, Mary. WAKE UP!”
She blinks and looks confused. Her face grows pale and her hand grabs at her chest. She falls down in front of me, her arms flapping by her sides. I wait for Mary’s body to go still and then I put my ear next to her mouth. Only when I hear her last breath putter out, do I walk down the corridor back to my parent’s bedroom. I won’t tell them I woke her, but I will tell them that the Devil is dead.
This story was the winner in the UNCANNY themed flash competition.
About the author: Donna L Greenwood writes flash fiction, short stories and poetry. Her work has been nominated for Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction. Her debut novelette-in-flash ‘The Impossibility of Wings’ was published by Retreat West Books in June 2021.
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