Mary was still pretty tired when she woke to her alarm clock and wandered sleepily into the bathroom. Her father, she noticed as she peed, had already hun on the wall next to the vanity the ornately framed mirror her mother had picked up at an estate sale over the weekend. Silly looking, a mirror like that in a little two-bedroom railroad house like this, but her mom always dreamed of a house-on-the-hill kind of life, and insisted on buying things to decorate accordingly. “Champagne tastes on a beer budget,” dad called it affectionately, and if Mary found it utterly tacky to have a row of faux Faberge eggs lined up along the top of the television… well, it made mom happy to have them there, and if mom was happy then everybody was happy.
After a good scrubbing up and toothbrushing, Mary went to inspect herself in the mirror, which in turn led to inspecting the mirror itself. An oval stretched tall, it had a strange almost crackled-looking mistiness to the reflection. Mom had proudly declared that to be a feature of it being a real antique silver-backed mirror. It made sense to Mary that mirror-making had moved on: what was the use of a mirror that didn’t give a clear reflection?
She ran a hand absently over the deeply carved frame, then snatched it back with a hiss; a sharp bit had sliced a little cut into her finger. She stuck it in her mouth to suck on, not bothering with a bandaid before going to get dressed for school.
Unnoticed, the little smear of red left on the frame sunk in and disappeared as quickly as if it were being sucked in by the wood.
In homeroom, before bell, she could see Jenny Harper slipping little notes onto several people’s desks. Purple, intricately folded, and with a glint that bespoke of liberal use with one of those expensive metallic pens, or maybe a bit of time with glue and glitter. She watched from her seat over by the window, trying to watch without watching. Four, five, seven, twelve… it looked like all the girls got them. All the girls that lived in the right houses, anyway.
Getting passed over by girls like Jenny was a bit of old hat by now for Mary, and she just sighed, rubbing one faintly itching eye with her bandaged hand. With a little bit of surprise, she realized that by now she didn’t even really care enough to cry. So Jenny was a bitch; Lindsey was still really nice, and Cara always invited Mary to her birthdays, even if it wasn’t the done thing to do. Still, when everyone had left class and she saw one of the crumples of purple paper on the floor, Mary scooped it up to see what she was being cut out of this time.
The trashcan rang with the satisfyingly deep thrum of a softly struck bell when she tossed the crumpled-up paper into it on her way out the door, absently rubbing at her eye again as she made her way down the hall. Unfortunately, it meant she wasn’t quite watching where she was going, and ran right into Jenny as she turned a corner toward the science classes.
“Ooof! Ugh, watch where you’re going-” Jenny snapped, rounding on her, and her eyes lit upon Jenny’s hand with a smirk. “…ew. Bloody Mary.”
Her stomach and eyes both burning, Mary mumbled an apology and hurried on toward class.
The itchiness came and went throughout the week, but the nickname Jenny came up with in that unfortunate moment came, and stayed, following her through the halls. Friday afternoon didn’t come fast enough, and she was glad to bolt for home.
Her parents cooked up dinner and then went out to visit the Peaney’s, and Mary was left to her own devices… which pretty much meant homework, but through most of it she kept glancing at the clock, thinking about Jenny’s glittery flourishes, and what sort of things they might be doing at the sleepover. The itching came back, refusing to be blinked away, until finally she went to the bathroom to inspect her eyes – maybe there was an eyelash in one of them.
Leaning close to the mirror, she opened her eye wide and held her eyelids there with a thumb and forefinger; what she saw was not a mote of dust, or an errant eyelash. Instead, where the surface of her eye should have been smooth, there were several tunny sections that seemed to have come loose and curled downward like peeling wallpaper. Horrified, she blinked, and leaned closer. Her free hand lifted to gingerly poke at one of the little flaps, and then holding her breath she pinched one and drew downward.
It peeled painlessly, like when she got white glue on her palms in art class as a child and peeled it away, marveling at the imprint of her hand’s lines in the dried clear film. Flap by flap, strip by strip, she peeled one eye, and then the other, and through the strips hung down, her eyes didn’t burst or deflate as she would have expected. She was so rapt by the odd peeling that she didn’t quite take notice of the dark blood seeping faintly down the peeled sections toward the bottom of her lid, some of it dribbling out like tears, some of it leaking down through her nasal passages to mingle with the saliva in her mouth.
All she could think, abruptly, was of the sleepover, and what would the girls think if they could see this? She lifted a hand to the mirror frame, mulling it over.
Across town, the girls were crowded into Jenny Harper’s bathroom (because she had her OWN bathroom, and didn’t have to share with her little brother, thank GOD) trying out all her different makeup while she regaled them with how that half-wit Mary had slammed right into her in the hall just when Bobby Cooper was about to come over to ask her out.
“…so she had this cut on her hand and it wasn’t even bandaged or anything, and it was BLEEDING and she was, like, touching her eyes! So of course I called her Bloody Mary!” A ripple of laughter swept through her guests, and chirrupingly they repeated the clever nickname.
“Bloody Mary! Bloody Mary! Bloody Mary!”
Without warning, the mirror in Mary’s bathroom swam before her, and the framed of it felt almost as if it twitched under her hand… and the misty reflection went dark, and cleared into a vision of Jenny Harper’s bathroom, as seen through the mirror. She stared, and they stared – and dragged close to the mirror by a force she could not resist, she screamed, her grip on the frame useless as she felt herself pulled, bloody-eyed, toward the girls how went white and, as a body, screamed too, shoving and trampling each other in vain attempt to get out the door.
Jenny Harper, Mary felt a dark pleasure to see, simply when sheet-white and dropped hard, her head hitting the edge of the toilet hard enough to crack porcelain and skull all at once.
When the screaming finally stopped, the room was dark.
There was a pile of bodies in Jenny’s bathroom, and those who weren’t dead were too terrified and useless to help Mr. Harper get the door open against the weight of them.
Mary’s parents never did find their runaway daughter, but sometimes her dad thought he felt her presence, when he was in the bathroom.
Her mother refused to sell the mirror.
This piece of Nightmare Fuel was inspired by this picture from MyBigFatBloodyMary.
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